Using Project-based Assessment for Reading with History

Are you trying to figure out how to assess your child’s learning with Bookshark’s Reading with History? When using this wonderful curriculum, you may feel a little unsure when you reach the end of a topic or when you try to document your child’s learning. But don’t despair. There are many creative ways you can document and assess your child’s learning. And the best part? No tests required

Assessments of learning need not include tests and book reports, yet this is often the default for measuring history knowledge.

When I was growing up, we generally followed the same schedule for each chapter in our history textbook: Read, take notes, answer end-of-chapter questions, end with a unit test. There was nothing of substance and it led many children, myself included, to dismiss history as boring and irrelevant. 

Wrong! History is an incredibly interesting topic, serving as the map of how we got where we are today. It’s a blueprint to remind us not to repeat some aspects of our history as well.

BookShark’s Reading with History offers the unique opportunity to get creative when assessing learning.

While these changes may be totally unlike your view of traditional education, a curriculum free of textbooks and tests makes room for authentic project-based assessments instead. 

My favorite way to choose projects is to chat with my child to see what she might like to do for the project. Here are five standbys for project-based assessments that we turn to often.

1. Keepsake Book

Reading with History is categorized by age range, with literature chosen to cover various topics within certain times in history. Children can read each book and then create their own keepsake history book by making an illustration or writing a piece that represents a memorable moment from that time in history. Continue adding pages with each new topic covered. Let them create and decorate a cover, a title page, and voila! 

2. Digital Presentation

Using Project-based Assessment for Reading with HistorySince children typically enjoy using computers, a digital presentation is a wonderful way to present what they learned. Children can include images, text, and even music within this program to create a presentation that displays memorable moments from history. 

3. Dioramas

Dioramas are 3-dimensional models, created in miniature, or in large-scale, as you would see in a museum. Children can use shoeboxes and decorate them to represent a scene from a moment in history. For older children, you might want to also include a written component where they describe in more detail what the diorama represents and why it is important. 

4. BookShark Lap Books

Lap Book Kits are amazing for compiling the important information covered in the curriculum. I love the simplicity of the papercrafts because it makes learning the focus, which can sometimes get lost in the details of more complicated projects. 

5. How Might It Have Been Different? 

Imagine if one important component of the time period were missing. How might the world look today?

  • If, for example, the Egyptians never learned to embalm the dead, how might things be different in that area?
  • If the Europeans had never made it to the Indies, how might America look today?

Have older children explore this based on what they are learning in history and have them write an informative piece to cover this. 

How to Create a Rubric to Evaluate the Project

One of the keys to success with project-based projects is getting your children involved in the evaluation process, for example with a rubric. A rubric is a tool that shows your child what is expected for the project and the corresponding grade for each level of fulfillment. 

A clear rubric that you both agree on ahead of time eliminates the arbitrary feeling of subjective grading. Again, it is a great idea to get children involved in this as well, even letting older children make the entire rubric themselves prior to starting the project. 

What do you expect to see in the final project? Note, this will look unique based on the project that is chosen. Give points value for this.

  • A narrowed topic

  • A certain number of examples to support the topic

  • A bibliography (for older children) 

  • A certain number of reliable sources

  • Will you count appearance as part of the grade? If so, give points value for this. 

  • Was the project completed on time? If you follow a more structured schedule this might be included on your rubric. Give points value for this. 

Making history fun and relevant is important for helping children make connections and build a solid foundation of knowledge that they can carry forward in their education. Project-based assessments give children the opportunity to get their hands busy and their creative ideas flowing. 

See BookShark Reading with History Programs

About the Author

Resa BrandenburgResa Brandenburg is a former teacher who is now passionate about unschooling her daughter. She lives with her husband in an old farmhouse by the river in Kentucky. Her favorite thing to do is spend the afternoon with her family, including her grown sons and two grandchildren. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and quilting. She blogs about life, love, and learning at A Musing Mother.