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City Semester is project based, so most of your assessments will be oriented toward larger projects such as simulations, fieldwork and the end-of-unit “Big Apples” (see below), but there will be more conventional assessments as well, such as short essays, labs write-ups, language skills homeworks, class participation, etc. Each teacher will give grades within their discipline and the interdisciplinary assignments will receive grades both within each discipline and in an overall “City Semester” category, so your transcript will show each City Semester course, such as “Nature in the City” and “Writing the City” as well as an overarching “City Semester” grade. Of course, more important than the grades are the comments, which, due to the unconventional nature of many of your assignments, will more usefully and accurately represent your achievements.

To see tutorials and grading rubrics for all assessments, please go to the Resources page

The Placebook

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“Big Apples”

The Big Apple is a comprehensive expression of your learning and new understandings that culminates in a 'mini' portfolio at the end of each unit. This is your opportunity to take a bite out of your experiences and metaphorically chew on them. The hope is that you will use this opportunity to reflect on your individual and collective experiences in each unit. This is a graded assessment and is the equivalent of a unit test in a more traditional course. For each Big Apple you can choose both the format of the Big Apple and the curricular hook (more on this below). Each Big Apple will be assessed on your demonstrated engagement, new movement in your learning, and how successfully you have attended to the interdisciplinary ties in the unit. The City Semester experience is primarily concerned with Interdisciplinary Study, Experiential Learning, and Civic Leadership. Your Big Apples should show your engagement in these three areas.

Format - your Big Apple can manifest in a variety of forms (written essay, photo essay, poster presentation, performance, other form of artistic expression). You should be able to articulate why the format you chose is the best way to manifest your learning for that unit. You should switch up your formats for each Big Apple in order to give yourself a range of experiences.

Curricular Hook - for each Big Apple you must highlight a particular discipline and focus on that as the culmination of your learning. You may find that different units lend themselves more fruitfully to particular disciplines or modes of expression. At the same time you need to attend to your learning/tie-ins in the other disciplines.

Example #1- You might write a paper on food justice issues in the Bronx and focus on the various ethical considerations. Within this paper you could look at the various food economies that inform the contemporary justice concerns (Math and Economics); you could look at local poetry that comes from the community related to poverty and hunger (English); you could look at the environmental concerns of food production from a sustainability perspective (Ethics/Science). You might also explore how concepts of sustainability and food justice are understood across languages, i.e. what are the conceptual manifestations of these terms in Spanish, Chinese, French, etc. (This example needs to be more thoroughly vetted.)

Example #2For a study of the Bronx River you might devise and enact an experiment that gets written as a lab report. As you present your findings you might discuss bias in data collection (Ethics) and the significance of your findings for the larger community and how your findings relate to other contemporary/historical concerns (Culture and History). You might also compare your scientific findings to literature that comes out of that area as a way of providing a fuller "illustration" of the area (English).

To see the Big Apple Grader please go to the Resources page.