ASK A TEACHER: How do you assess in a Facing History class?

Posted by Mary Hendra on November 19, 2011

When we ask students to reflect, to think, to journal, to discuss - what do you grade? In this series, we asked a number of Facing History teachers to respond to a common question. This is a question we often get when working with teachers. Projects are one thing, a rubric can be made and there are some great examples, but what about the daily work?


For journaling or reflection I look for thoughtfulness and depth especially if they make specific connections I know they are getting it. Depends on the FHAO project I grade for different things such as the Weimar cafe activity I grade on what costs level question it is. The depth of answers and or knowing their character/history.

Maritza Cha currently teaches U.S. History, Government and Peer Counseling at Social Justice Leadership Academy


As part of every unit I teach, I include a Socratic Seminar assessment to go along with more traditional forms of assessment. It takes some groundwork to be laid ahead of time: establishing norms (such as “no side-conversations” and “respect time”) as well as connectors to use in conversation (such as “ I hear you, but I disagree…”). Once these are in regular use, students are ready to engage content in a way that can be assessed.

I employ the use of a rubric that clearly designates the requirements for earning points during the seminar, and use different color pens for the different categories of the rubric, such as Listening Attentively, Contributing to the Discussion, and Engaging the Historical Content. I use a map of the conversation with every students name on it and use the different color pens to keep track of the conversation and assign points after.

What stands out most to me with this type of assessment is that there are many kids that have in depth, analytical ideas about a given topic, but often lack either the writing or test-taking skills to relay that knowledge to the teacher. An assessment like this not only gives these students a venue in which to show what they know, but a confidence in their academic abilities that can have a ripple effect on their performance in other aspects of class.

David Jauregui teaches World History at Alhambra High School

Topics: A View from the Classroom

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