Foundations of Education and Instructional Assessment/Performance Assessment and Rubrics/Elementary Social Studies

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Assessing Today's Students in Social Studies
By: Shelby C. Blair

Learning Targets

Students should be able to:

  1. Name at least two different types of assessments that can be used in Social Studies.
  2. Have working knowledge of some tools used for passing assessments.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

The classrooms we teach in today are so diverse. Inclusion in the classroom helps to add to classroom diversity. With this diversity you have students with different abilities and talents. The days of taken regular assessment of test and essays are a thing of the past. Not all students are great test takers nor are all students are great at creative projects. Assessing students with one type of medium does not help to show whether a student has mastered a concept. This is even more evident with the subject of Social Studies because it can deal with simple knowing facts about an event in history to interpreting and using sources to understand history.

Types of Assessments[edit | edit source]

While working on my observation in both 5th grade and also with all the substituting I did in elementary classrooms I have seen and heard first hand about different assessments current teachers are using to assess students in Social Studies. Some different types of assessments are the general test, research projects, class presentations, K-W-L charts and journals, and finally folding booklets. Most of us know what general test, research projects, and class presentations are, so I will not go into detail about there. K-W-L charts and journals are a really interesting way to assess students’ knowledge and to help them remember facts and understand history. K-W-L stands for Knowing-Wanting-Learning and actually answers the “what” question (Gammil, 2006). In my class observation for 5th grade I saw students completing this in their science journal. The first thing they did for the new science topic they were learning about was to spend 15-minutes writing down everything they knew about the topic. Then they started to take notes. This was the beginning of the K-W-L journal. K-W-L charts could be in the form of a tri-folding booklet. For tri-folding booklets on the first row, the students draw a picture of what they know about one aspect of the topic. The second row, they draw a picture of what they want to know about the one aspect. The third row, they finish when they have completed the lesson topic on what they learned. Folding books can also help students with concepts to prepare for SOL testing. In a 4th grade class I substituted in, I had to have the students make small booklets on the Virginia Tribes. Every so many pages they started and titled another chapter in the booklet on a particular tribe. On each page of the book, they had to write one fact to go with the category for the tribe of that chapter. After they wrote the one fact they then had to draw a picture to go along with it. These booklets were made out of 3 ½ by 5 index cards. The students turned them in before the test the next day.

For some examples on different type of assessment activities for Elementary Social Studies click here:

Tools for Assessments[edit | edit source]

There are many different tools to assess the above mention assessments. Some tools are the standard answer grades to test. Like when you take the VA-SOL (Standard of Learning) test for Social Studies and all you have are multiple-choice questions. As we all know multiple-choice questions yield only one correct answer in most cases. For essays a lot of teachers use to just grade them based on the opinion of how well they felt the student wrote and if they mentioned all the facts. There was so much room for bias on that. However, there is a way to grade projects and essays that can eliminate some, if not most of the biasness and also allows fair grading. This way is by using a rubric. Before Foundations of Education and Assessment I had never heard of the term rubric and never experienced it as an assessing tool. The rubric in my opinion made it a lot easier to rank my fellow peers articles and also gave me insight in how great they would be to use for my future students. Using a rubric allows you to be able to have certain criteria that need to be met to get a certain score ranking. As a teacher you can use students input in helping to create these, though from what I have heard and seen in the public school systems, they have their own rubrics to be used. Given the rubric to your students allows the student to know exactly what they have to have and do to get a certain score on their project or essay. The following is an example of a rubric used in elementary school and tied both Language Arts and Social Studies together.

John and Abigail Adams Online Research and Writing Rubric
Uninspired Patriotic Revolutionary
Database Research Skills Printed letter only Printed letter including 3 dates Printed letter, dates, and cited the MHS website
Letter Writing Responded to letter Responded to letter using date, heading, salutation, and indents Responded to letter using date, heading, salutation, and indents. No spelling errors.
Revolutionary Understandings Wrote letter as either John or Abigail Adams Wrote letter as John or Abigail and included convincing details of the times Wrote letter as John or Abigail and included details of the times and understanding of the Revolutionary Conflict

(Tannetta, 2008)

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

With the classrooms being as diverse as they are and not all students having the same abilities to perform well on one type of assessment, you need different types of assessments. Some examples of assessments are the K-W-L chart and journals, as well as, they folding booklets. To assess these assessments there are so many different tools out there for teachers to use. One assessment that can eliminate some, if not most of the biasness and allow for fair grading is the holistic rubric. This type of rubric could also allow for the student to know exactly what is to be expected for a certain grade.

References[edit | edit source]

Dammil, D. M. (2006). Learning the write way. The Reading Teacher,59(8) 754-762.

Hindsdale Elementary School. (n.d.) Retrieved October 21, 2008, from

Tannetta, M. (2008). Abigail and John Adams Online. School Library Media Activities Monthly,25(2) 17-18.

Questions[edit | edit source]

1. What does K-W-L stand for in K-W-L charts and journals?

A. Knowing-Wishing-Learning

B. Learn-Know-Want

C. Learn-Know-What

D. Wish-Learn-Know

2. Which of the following is a tool that can be used for passing assessments?

A. Drawings

B. Folding-Booklets

C. Journals

D. Rubrics

3. You are a new teacher and are planning on having students do a poster presentation to the class. Which would be the best type of assessment tool to use?

A. Essay

B. Judging Panel

C. Rubric

D. Standardized Test

4. You are a Social Studies Teacher in 3rd grade. Your class is an inclusion class. What is the best way to assess your students understanding of the material?

A. Have multiple assessment activities for students to complete

B. Have a multiple-choice test

C. Write in a Journal

D. Write an Essay

Answers[edit | edit source]

  1. B. Learn-Know-Want
  2. D. Rubrics
  3. C. Rubric
  4. A. Have multiple assessment activities for students to complete