Students have completed their expeditions. Now it is time to determine whether they have gained understanding of and appreciation for mountains. Why are mountains important? Students may come up with the ideas that mountains are valuable to them for their recreational uses-skiing, hiking, climbing, rafting, and so on. Encourage students to think about the many other resources that mountains provide (water, timber, mineral resources, food). If they haven't already, challenge students to consider their life without these things. Why do mountains need to be protected? What do they need to be protected from? Mountain ecosystems are fragile. Throughout the expedition, students have "seen" the thin soils, eroded slopes, and threatened native plant populations that are the result of increased agricultural practices, logging, overgrazing, tourism, and resource exploitation. Mountain communities are also fragile. Most mountain people are self-sufficient and rely heavily on their natural surroundings. They are often also poor and unable to deal with the rapid changes in their surroundings.
Listed below are several suggestions for how you might assess students at the end of the unit. Whichever assessment option(s) you choose, it is important to incorporate the knowledge of each member of the cooperative learning community. In real expeditions, team members have specific roles and responsibilities and must rely on one another to reach their goals. At the end of this simulated expedition, challenge students to depend on one another in order to meet with success. One way to accomplish this is to assign each team member a task within the overall assessment activity that each team is responsible for completing. For example, the:
- Environmentalist could be responsible for documenting the current threats to the team's mountain and its people.
- Geographer could produce a map of the mountain and its surrounding region.
- Sacred Mountain Expert could retell legends or religious practices of the mountain culture.
- Historian could create a timeline representing the history of the team's mountain.
- Botanist could create a graphic of the vegetation zones found on the team's mountain.
- Zoologist could report what animal species were encountered on the mountain.
- Anthropologist could be responsible for documenting the life of mountain people.
- Logistics Officer could report on the events of the expedition.
- Expedition Leader could summarize what was learned on this expedition and make suggestions for improvement.
Have each team:
- Create a teaching basket for their mountain. Teams will need to decide what they want people to know and what items should be included in their basket to accurately reflect this information.
- Create a poster or game that illustrates the physical and cultural characteristics, value, and important issues of their mountain.
- Create an expedition guide for their mountain. Teams will need to decide what information is important to know before beginning an expedition on their mountain.
- Write a final journal entry or a book about their experience in the mountains.
- Work with the other teams to create a triptych representing a single characteristic of all three mountains.
- Contribute to a classroom mural, tying together the cultures of their distant mountain and their local community.
- Create "fact or fiction" statements about their mountain or expedition. This is a productive way to begin a discussion about the similarities and differences among the three mountains.
- Submit a portfolio that portrays their expedition experience. Students can choose some optional pieces to accompany the pieces you require them to submit.
- Create a PowerPoint presentation on their expedition.
- Create a press release, complete with photos, announcing their return.
- Act out a skit to recreate an adventure from their expedition for the other teams.
- Work with the other teams to create a Venn diagram to describe and compare the characteristics of the three mountain regions. Some aspects to compare include: weather, elevation, vegetation, food, religion, people, and animals.
- Recreate their climb in a three-dimensional clear Plexiglas or cardboard model. Shelves built inside the model could be used to display artifacts. When finished, the three teams can glue together their models to create a pyramid.
Teams can present these products to the rest of the class. End the unit with a class discussion on the similarities and differences between these mountains in terms of biodiversity, cultural diversity, ethnobotany, and hydrology.