Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Designing a "RAFT" - World War II Performance Assessment

About midway through this semester, I decided to change things up a bit regarding the mastery progression through our course.  Up until this point, each standard had it's own stand-alone summative assessment.  After putting this system into practice, it became evident that there were some practical (and philosophical) flaws. Without going into too much detail, we decided to group multiple standards into a more comprehensive performance assessment.

My colleague Brian Germain proposed a RAFT project.  In general, students assume the role of a historical figure and have control over the following:

Role  (Ex. Arms Manufacturer, War Correspondent, FDR, Interned Japanese Citizen)
Audience (Ex. American Soldier, Military Recruiter, WWI Veteran, Self)
Format (Ex. Propaganda Poster, Letter, Political Cartoon, Radio Speech, Military Field Guide)
Topic (Ex. Wartime Industry, Pearl Harbor, Scientific Research, Ending Segregated Units)

Click here to view the entire World War II RAFT performance assessment guide.

Their final "product" depended upon the format they chose.  For instance, it may be a letter, poster, audio file, etc.  

We also tried to make the war letters and journal entries look more authentic by using techniques that make paper look old.   In the photo to the right, you can see how students were actually using tea to create this effect.

Since there were many different phases to the project, we created this template to help guide students through the process.  It included specific steps to take while also proving some graphic organizers.  Sharing this document back with us also helped Brian and I track students' progress and provide feedback and support when needed.

As for grading, the following four standards were tagged to this one performance assessment:

Craft & Structure: Comparing Points of View
Research: Selecting Relevant Sources
Research:  Conducting Sustained Research Projects
Speaking: Integrate Sources & Present in Diverse Formats

Overall, I feel that students not only enjoyed this performance task, but were better able to demonstrate proficiency in the skills since the task was much more authentic.  Students also commented that they enjoyed how much choice they had when designing the final product.

When I work on redesigning the mastery progression for next year's course, I will develop more of these performance tasks that enable students to grapple with the content in more authentic ways while also providing them with opportunities to demonstrate mastery of multiple standards in a single project.