Friday, January 07, 2011

Time for Non-Exams

It's that time of year again.

This year, I've designed non-exams for my Human Geo students that will assess their ability to apply what they've learned over the course of the year to real-world problems using full open access to the Net as well as collaboration with their peers during "exam time".

Here's the note I sent out to them today briefly explaining what they'd be doing while other kids are pouring over Scantrons and writing five-paragraph essays.
 Let's not call it an 'exam'.
Instead, let's call it your final projects in Human Geography.

Basically what you'll be doing is choosing from among a menu of options of mini-projects related to each of the topics we covered in class. You will complete several mini-projects and you may choose the assignments that appeal to you the most. For each mini-project, you will write a short explanation of why the subject matter resonates with you.

Here's a list of the topics:

1. The Post-9-11 World
2. Regionalism and Language
3. Forced Migration: War, Famine, Natural Disasters
4. The Changing Environment
5. Food and Us
6. Regional Conflict and Cultural Effects: Israel & Palestine / Afghanistan / India & Pakistan / Tibet
7. AIDS in Africa
8. The Rwandan Genocide
9. South Africa and the History of Apartheid
10. The G-20
11. US / Mexico Relations
12. Immigration in Western Europe
13. What is a Country?
14. Religion and Geography

Some of these mini-projects will be individual and some will be collaborative with other students. Everything will be done online and you will have full-access to the Web.

To prepare, go back over each of the topics we covered this semester and re-read your blogposts. Get together with friends and talk about the topics and help one another think about them. If you don't have time during the day, Skype is a great option.


  1. Stealing this next year for a human a&p class...

  2. We've been using something similar at our school, which we call "Experiential Exams." The students have a week to produce projects for 4 or 5 of their core subjects. Only our 10th grade middle school students (IB MYP school so 6 - 10 = Middle School) have exams. Unfortunately they take our provincial exams.

    It works fairly well, although I've noticed consistently that students who know how to just start working consistently do better on these types of assessments than students who fumble around hoping for help from the teacher.

    A paper test, while not such a great indicator of a student's total knowledge on a subject, is incredibly easy to follow & do.

  3. Definitely more engaging than just a paper test. Why should our kids only be working towards a "grade" in class. Learning occurs when the material is brought to a meaningful level or it is more personalized to the student. Will certainly look into using this in my classroom.

  4. Love it- very cool idea. This is much more authentic and hopefully meaningful.

    Will you share the mini -project list as well?

    - @newfirewithin

  5. Can you share some ideas of the projects you are doing? I like this concept and would like to try it myself. The exam time is coming up at the end of January.

  6. This is really interesting. What is the time frame for these mini projects?

  7. Support the idea and how it fosters a personal connection with the course.

  8. this is what evaluation should be about!!! teaching paperless isn't just about integrating tech into education... but the way you are doing this allows your students to show not only what they have learned, but also to show how they learn, what they find most important, and allow them to personally invest in what they are learning.
    Regardless on whether or not an educator "goes paperless" they should strive to integrate these same ideals into their classroom instruction and evaluation!


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