To help students prepare for an assessment on the services the 3 levels of government provide, students worked together in groups of 3 to write songs to the tune of "Head and shoulders, knees, and toes..." with only with one level of government as the focus; e.g., fireman, police, and library...municipal, municipal, etc. They needed to include actions for everything in their songs (pretty funny, especially sewer and water actions!). They did a great job on these, had a lot of fun with it. Engagement was high, presentations had accurate information and enthusiastic participants! This was after doing a tableau activity where they had to demonstrate a government service in their group for the class. Again they did very well with the activity.
So did these fun engaging activities help them learn the content? The assessment was a cut and paste quiz where they were given 20 different government services to cut up on one sheet of paper and a 3 column chart on another paper. They had to glue the service in the correct level of government column. I spoke with the class after the assessment about what they thought of the cut and paste quiz format. The response was unanimously positive.
Some of the things they said were: "Didn't have to put all my energy into remembering the big list, could think about where it belonged"; "Didn't have to do a lot of writing, makes my hand hurt, don't like to write that much" (which might lead to reluctance to complete and maybe not a true assessment of what they know); "Could move them around in my hands before gluing to think about where they went, change my mind."
These comments make me think that we probably got a more accurate measurement of what the students actually knew by removing the writing/memory barriers and increasing the tactile methods for some of our students who respond better to this learning style.
Overall the marks were good. A few students were not very successful, they were students who often have difficulty academically. So now to figure out why? Is it a reading barrier? This is my suspicion, when these students see a fair bit of text they need to extract meaning from they often "shut down" as they struggle with their reading. So I think I will re-test them orally to find out if their knowledge is better represented if it is read to them first one item at a time then they decide which level of government the service described belongs in.
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