Assessment of Learning in Geography
© Beverley Paine, August 2007
[this article forms part of a series on Geography you can buy as a Practical Homeschooling booklet from Always Learning Books]
How do we know our children are learning? This is a huge question for many homeschooling parents and can often cause a great deal of anxiety. Often it isn't until we've been home educating for some time that we begin to relax and feel confident, impressed by our children's ability to learn even without explicit teaching or structured lessons. The home education environment is one that fosters and encourages a great deal of informal learning.
Until we reach that level of confidence however, there are things that we can do to help us know that are children are learning. I'm a fan of recording, especially in the early years of homeschooling. I liked to develop learning plans that covered what I thought essential in each subject area and developed a set of checklists that I could use as a reminder. With checklists I would place a tick and date for 'first covered', 'revision', and 'mastered'. It might be months, or even years, between the first and last dates!
In general terms, progress in geography is characterised by:
- an increasing interest in how location affects how people live and how people adapt and change their environment; this may be shown by
- making comparisons between life at home situations and those of friends or others,
- independently following up an activity with another related activity,
- talking or asking questions about environmental issues
- commenting on news and current affairs items
- creating a model of something they've experienced, read about or seen in a movie
- role playing using props characters from history
- starting a KESAB project
- sustained study of areas of interest
- gradual increase in use of geographic terminology in every day contexts
- movement from focus on local issues and situations, to community, regional, national, continental, and global focus
- an increased depth of study; the gradual development of general ideas and concepts, such as the causes of erosion, or patterns of migration
- a deeper understanding of complex processes, patterns and relationships; this may be shown by
- comparison between the trails that wild animals make, ants make and patterns of human transportation
- asking about how milk gets from the cow to the factory that makes cheese
- the link between whirlies and tornadoes and what causes them
- make hypothesis and test them to create generalisations; this may be shown by
- suggest that water erodes, test by pouring water on a sand castle and other methods
- suggest halos around the sun mean a weather change is coming, using a chart to record halos and subsequent weather effects
- an increasing understanding and use of scale appropriate to the task at hand
- demonstrating an increasing understanding of how to use and create increasingly complex maps
- understanding and ability to use and create diagrams, charts, tables, graphs, etc to present and interpret information
- development of research and inquiry based skills pertinent to geography studies
- increase in ability to make inferences and create links from information to build relationships and concepts; this may be shown by
- a hot sunny day means a hat and sunscreen must be worn
- warm sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean may create an El Nino effect which might result in drought in Australia and floods in Chile
- if cows get milked later because of daylight saving
- the ability to take into consideration other points of view, empathy and respect for diversity of opinion, culture, religion and how these and other factors affect the daily lives of people and their interaction with the environment
- a growing interest in applying geography skills to every day life tasks to help achieve personal and group goals.
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