Student Created Study Guides

As a teacher who emphasizes reading and historical literacy to my high school students, I have mixed feelings on using study guides. Do they help our students read the texts we assign them? Are they used only by students who haven’t done the reading, but want to project the illusion of work? History teachers can solve this problem by asking students to create their own study guides focused on what happens to the historical figures, which vocabulary words a reader might have trouble with, and illustrating timelines that help the reader get a better understanding of the story.

Hellfighters

These students had five days of class time to read a graphic novel called The Harlem Hellfighters by Max Brooks and illustrated by Caanan White. I have used this text several times in my World War One unit and have noticed that students have trouble tracking who is who and who does what throughout the story.

This post is to showcase some exemplars from this assignment. I have also included the reflections from each student describing how they managed their time in italics. There was a 70% completion rate on this assignment. Grades were distributed as: 42 As, 48 Bs, 22 C/Ds, and 40 students didn’t turn in anything. Students receiving an A generally had 10 or more character descriptions, suggested WWI vocabulary words, or events on their timelines.

The first day in class, I spent the day trying to figure out what the prompt was and I was planning out how I was going to organize my information. The following days I read the book and wrote my information as I was reading. I also found a pdf of the book online which allowed me to work on the project at home. One of the major issues I have is that I get distracted easily when people are talking while I’m reading, so that’s why I also had to work on it at home. I think if I didn’t get so distracted, I would’ve finished sooner. In total, I would say I spent about 1.5-2 hours doing the assignment.

I think I earned an A because I worked hard on my slides and looked for characters and searched for different WW1 timelines. I probably would have made my vocab and WW1 facts more detailed.

This next student created a seven page book. I was impressed how historical context and vocabulary were front-loaded. There was also a very consistent citation method employed, no doubt due to this students concurrent enrollment in AP Research.


I believe that if I spent more time on identifying the characters and explaining the timeline it could have performed better. I worked all days, however, I definitely forgot to work on the Commonlit after being too focused on the study guide.

Another project that got an A was this unique creation on Canva. This student had turned in some work on paper and I did not check her electronic work. When you see her comment below, you will understand why she came to me after school very quickly so I would change her grade. She was proud of her project and I love students who advocate for themselves.

Hellfighters Study Guide

I GOT AN A! I really think i got an A because I really put the effort on the presentation of the time line. The only thing I would say is the amount of information I used could’ve been more but other than that I cited, used pictures, used more information than ____. This is very honest btw.

Overall, I was very pleased with how creative my students were in response to this assignment. There were a few instances of shared images and text, which necessitated some classroom discussion on plagiarism. I can see repeating this assignment next month when we read …

Maus

My next post will delve into the reasons that 40 students did not turn in anything at all. This semester we will be doing a lot more work reflecting on our classwork and documenting how students manage their time.  #FailureIsNotanOption

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