World Religions Autopsy Project and Gallery Walk

Our 9th grade Social Studies teachers had reached an impasse with their World Religions Project as it had evolved over the last couple of years. Plenty of Autopsy Analysis projects exist—this Autopsy of a President from C-SPAN classroom, or this Character Map from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction—and this one used the format to explore and compare six major world religions. A small group would trace a student on chart paper and would answer questions about their assigned religions, hang them in the hall for a gallery walk, and that was that. The problem in approaching the project this year was that the most recent version had ended with groups spending half a class period gathering inconsistent information and the rest of the week coloring posters in the hallway. The assignment needed an overhaul.

We began by taking the initial autopsy questions and creating an easy digital substitution. Instead of a life-sized poster created by a small group, each student was assigned one of the five religions of study (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism) and completed the initial note-taking independently on the first slide, using media and text placeholders to navigate.

From there, each student produced a comparative slide for each of the other four religions (i.e. If Student A is assigned Christianity, they complete the “autopsy” response slide for Christianity; they then produce a comparative slide each for Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism). Requirements—in checklist form—for each comparative slide follow:


Each of the requirements links to a slide with resources to complete the task, both informational and technical. (Our resource links rely fairly heavily on tools we use in our district, so those links would need to be tailored to meet local needs and availability.) Students had nine prompts from which to choose to make their comparisons among their assigned religion and their comparative slides purposely chosen to prompt deeper exploration and connection among ideas than the previous iteration of the project allowed. The center option allows students a simple compare/contrast option, promoting differentiation in thought:


Students also had nine “Tech Tricks” from which to choose in presenting information on their comparative slides, allowing for differentiation in technology skill, as well. Students were allowed to use the same “trick” for each slide or to diversify their skills, working as simply as embedding a YouTube video or creating their own enhanced text, images, or video:


Each of these options link to slides with instructions—GIFs, videos, Apple-sourced tutorials, Everyone Can Create skills segments, etc.—to foster as much student independence as possible. As always with instructional technology in the classroom, the goal was to focus on the thinking and allow the technology to highlight.

With differentiation in both cognition and communication as the goal, student results produced a much more accurate view of their skills in both. By offering response options for the comparative slides, we were able to assess which students were focusing on the concrete and separate details versus those who were building a comprehensive, enmeshed understanding of the state of religion in the world overall. By offering different “Tech Tricks” we were able to assess a variety of communication skills. We assessed more than just comprehension and written expression, including both speaking and listening, revision and refinement, pre-planning and metacognition that this project has rarely produced in the past.

Once complete, students posted to a discussion board, virtual bulletin board, or shared via a projected Apple classroom display and further explored what made for a thoughtful response, skillful presentation, attractive design, or clever use of the tools, further extending the scope of the overall work.

#DPTech #DPHSNorth


2 replies

February 27, 2024

Credit for the project basis, comparative prompts, and coordination with the World Geography team goes to Kathryn Camp, Social Studies Instructional Facilitator, also from Deer Park High School.

February 27, 2024

This is really fabulous, especially the Technology Tips and Tricks interactive slide.

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