View Lessons by Category > Creativity > Humanities/Interdisciplinary
Assignments that I feel have been successful, and that I think students have also found meaningful, are essay assignments that are mapped visually in a sketchbook. The purpose of these projects is to provide an alternative to the usual essay form by visually mapping key points and ideas that should be included in the written essay. This project also provides a way for us to cover stylistic periods and artists that we may not otherwise be able to touch on in class. Additionally, it is also meant to help students who have issues structuring a cohesively written essay.

Assignments are generally given once a month. Students are given an essay question that is based on the type of essay questions they will encounter on the AP exam. They are either given art works to discuss or may choose their own. Students are challenged to answer the question using any and as many visual media as they wish to fully answer the question: Venn diagram, collage, drawing/painting, writing, etc.

The day sketchbooks are due, students lay out the notebooks on studio tables, exhibition style. Students look at each notebook and use post-it notes to make comments. Then each student’s work is assessed by two students using a form that is provided. Finally, I grade the notebooks also using an assessment form, also giving comments and suggestions.
I have used, as a major evaluation, a single, somewhat open-ended question about the very intricate and interconnected nature of material of the Humanities class, itself. When the question is assigned, the students are clearly made aware of the reasons for this type of assessment. They are told that the Humanities, as we have explored it, is about culture, art, craft, connections, enduring questions, human accomplishment, and much more, and that their culminating final assessment can therefore not be a sit-down-and-only-write-words-and-regurgitate-answers exam. Instead, it deserves to be multifaceted and creative: to exhibit art or craft, to make connections, and to wrestle with enduring questions.

The question they are given is, "What is Humanities?" They are then told that they may address this question in any humanities-related manner or media they might choose. Whatever medium they choose, however, they must all do the following things:
1. Offer a sincere, thoughtful response (not necessarily “answer”) to the question;
2. Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge of what we have studied;
3. Produce a “work” that works on more than one level;
4. Make connections.

This final project is to then be presented to the class so that the students can demonstrate, exhibit, listen to, view, perform, participate in, construct, and/or debate the responses presented in such a manner as to offer an explanation/validation as to why a particular medium was chosen, and how each student’s response specifically addresses the question.