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Museum Artifacts Project

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by Alyssa Crawford on 7 June 2013

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Transcript of Museum Artifacts Project

Assessment in Pioneer Schools County-Wide Assessment Teachers from across McPherson County were required to submit samples of their students' work from various subjects as a way in which the county's superintendent could check students' progress and keep teachers accountable for their instruction. By examining the various samples submitted by all the schools, the superintendent was able to compare and contrast the strengths of instruction. Arithmetic Assessments in arithmetic were mainly based on "real life," applicable word problems. The agricultural communities in which these students lived greatly influenced the wording of these mathematical problems. Educators seemed focused on preparing students for the world they would enter upon graduation. Very few would continue their education in college and instead, many students would become farmers and farm wives. In addition, memorization and recitation were key to success in math assessments. Students often had to stand in front of the class and recite times tables and solve long division problems mentally. Language Arts Assessments in language arts focused on reading, grammar, penmanship, and composition. Students had to tell the basic rules of capitalization and punctuation as well as name the basic rules of grammar, which definitely points to the emphasis on rote learning during this time. Penmanship was also practiced through all years of school and was not disregarded after the third grade (like in my personal case). Sentence diagramming was also practiced by students. (I remember completing these exercises in seventh and eighth grade). Finally, students composed essays, especially narratives, detailing their personal experiences. Social Studies The social studies assessments circulated throughout the county school districts seemed to emphasize "regurgitation" of facts, especially in the fields of history and government. Basically, questions were on the lower level of Bloom's Taxonomy, including verbs, such as "tell, describe, etc." However, in the field of geography, students drew their own maps of specific countries, detailing the nation's geographic features and natural resources. While researching, I also came across hand-drawn maps of Kansas in which the main rivers were noted. This exercise definitely encouraged higher-level thinking skills if they were drawn free-hand from memory. Science and Health Science was a subject that was not disregarded. Once again, science instruction seemed to be health-related and applicable to real life. Students demonstrated their knowledge of science mainly through creating diagrams of human organs, such as the eye or the heart. Parts of the organ were also clearly labeled. Some of the diagrams I came across in my research were extremely detailed, and I was impressed with students' artistic skills. In addition, students demonstrated their knowledge of personal health care in the form of essays. Making real-life connections to science definitely made the learning experience more meaningful to students. Fine Arts While one may think the fine arts, including music or drawing, were disregarded in pioneer schools, this was not necessarily the case. The superintendent of schools actually requested that students' drawings be submitted in the "portfolio" of academic work gathered by the teacher from each district. While I was unable to find any actual evidence of music education, in teachers' gradebooks, there was a section dedicated especially to a music grade. Recording Grades Teachers were required to submit a term report to the district clerk, which detailed not only the students' grades, but their attendance, as well as any tardies. The term report was divided into three major sections, including "primary, intermediate, and grammar," in which the student's age determined under which category he or she would be defined. The teacher had to keep track of every student's grade in each subject! Grade cards were sent monthly to the students' parents. From looking at the attached gradecard from 1932, exams were given every two months in each subject. Grades such as "E," stood for "excellent or exceeds standards," while "M" stood for "satisfactory work." Research Research for this project was conducted at the McPherson County Old Mill Museum. According to the museum's archivist, Lenora Lynam, documents from over 120 pioneer schools in McPherson County were digitalized through a state grant. The fact these documents were in electronic form made the research process much more smoother. Most of the samples of student work in my presentation are from 1904, while a teacher's term report and student's grade card are from 1889 and 1932, respectively, showing how long these one-room schoolhouses were in operation. Samples of school work were taken mostly from the Lone Tree and West Kentuck districts. I did not include samples for every kind of assessment I came across in each subject, so I simply described the others I found. Purpose After perusing the documents from the Old Mill Museum's pioneer school collection, I was interested in how students' knowledge was assessed across all subjects. I paid particular attention to the types of questions on those assessments, such as how they were worded, if any "real life" connections were made, and finally, if any of the questions moved beyond lower-level thinking. Could you pass the eighth grade exam? In the late nineteenth century, most never graduated from high school. In fact, graduating from the eighth grade was considered the final milestone in one's education. This final and significant assessment determined whether or not a student was ready to leave his or her experience in public education behind. Could you pass the eighth grade exam? Sample Questions from the 1895 Eighth Grade Exam 1. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
2. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
3. Name the events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800, 1849, and 1865.
4. Give two uses of silent letters in spelling. Illustrate each.
5. Name all the republics of Europe and give the capital of each.

To view the test in its entirety, go to the following website: www.salina.com/1895test/ Concluding Thoughts Assessments in pioneer schools were greatly influenced by the world and time in which students lived. In math, problems were linked directly to real life problems and situations that students would encounter in the future. Language arts assessments tested students' ability to properly and effectively communicate, while science and health assessments ensured students understood how the human body functioned. Finally, social studies gave them a grasp of the world around them but exposed them to places they most likely would never see in their lifetime. Although students were largely assessed on their ability to memorize and recite information, the assessments across all subjects seemed to prepare them for the challenges they would eventually face in their lifetime. Sources Armstrong, J.W. "Examinations in Salina, Cumbria, Gypsum City, Assaria, Falun, Bavaria, and District No. 74." 13 April 1895. Salina Journal. www.salina.com/1895test/.

Lynam, Lenora. "Pioneer Schools Archive." McPherson County Old Mill Museum. 120 Mill Street, Lindsborg, KS, 67456. 31 May 2013.

"One Room Schoolhouse: About the Students." College of Education: Blackwell Museum. Northern Illinois University, 04 Jun 2013. Web. http://www.cedu.niu.edu/blackwell/oneroom/aboutStudents.shtml.
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