Although I have lots of ideas about how to make Wonderland Cafe successful, the truth is unless I have some way to measure the outcomes, I won’t know.
True enough, from a commercial standpoint, I do have some ways to measure it. If I get a number of book sales and good reviews then it means that the materials that I create for the project have reached some measure of success.
However, that kind of measurement doesn’t apply - at least not right away - to the classroom. I need a different kind of measurement. That’s where assessments, summative and formative come in.
are considered part of the learning, they need not be graded as summative assessments (end-of-unit exams or quarterlies, for example) are. Rather, they serve as practice for students, just like a meaningful homework assignment. They check for understanding along the way and guide teacher decision making about future instruction; they also provide feedback to students so they can improve their performance.
Luckily, the scope of my project lends itself to two of these types of assessments.
I chose drawing and journaling as my formative assessments of choice. These tools are extensions of the work I’m already asking students to do. As you may recall from my last blog post about this project, my driving question really asks for both drawing and writing. Here it is as a refresher:
How can I/ we create a graphic-novel style cookbook that teaches people about culture, literature, or history?
While the question doesn’t spell out the need for journaling, I did expand on that in my assessments page for the project.
Students will write three essays based on their research for the project. Their research findings will be posted on their blogs. Once they’re ready to assemble the essays, they can then go through their work and look for material for the essays. The essays also form portions of the books they’ll create.
And as this is a graphic novel project, students will be drawing their books. Drawing is the second formative assessment. They’ll be asked to keep a sketchbook that they draw in daily. As well, they will begin creating illustrations for their books. By drawing their research, they develop non-verbal and visual communication skills. While they may not be perfect draftsmen, they will learn the value of choosing the right images to get the point across.
Summative Assessments - Publishing a Cookbook
As for the summative assessment, again, the project lends itself to that. Usually, a final test comes at this point of a project’s completion. However, a final project also is a means to measure or assess students’ progress.
In this case, students will assemble their graphic novel cookbooks. These books will be the cumulation of their research on some aspect of food culture. It will include:
1. 10 recipes that fit the project’s theme 2. 3 essays about the culture that produced the food. 3. Illustrated drawings 4. 1 front cover, 1 back cover, 1 book spine 5. Other interior materials
This project fits the eight criteria for projects in a PBL environment, including giving students something to present at the end - a full book published via CreateSpace and for sale on Amazon.
So that students aren’t overwhelmed for the duration of the project, the formative assessments are designed to not only help them in their research efforts, but also to help them gradually create the materials for their books. While it’s still a big job to publish a book, it becomes more manageable if it is done in chunks over a longer period of time.
I would be a resource for the students throughout the project. I felt a bit overwhelmed by the publishing process initially. I was fortunate in that I had worked as a newspaper editor for many years. I knew about graphics and layout. Still, publishing a whole book felt crushing at times. I am hoping that by doing this project, I could guide students around the pitfalls of the publishing process.
I would estimate that for a semi beginner, this project should be a year-long project, broken up in two semesters. It should walk students through the process of publishing books from start to finish. They will have a great deal of research to do to make that happen, but in the process they should build the skills they need to do it in the future.