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Biology Mural Project

By Linda Culp

Type of Entry:

  • Hands-on
  • Authentic assessment
  • Group/cooperative leaning
  • Review

Type of activity:

  • Hands-on
  • Authentic assessment
  • Group/cooperative learning, and Review.

Target audience:

  • All courses and disciplines
  • All grade levels (upper elementary - high school--Including special needs students)


Students working in small groups, choose a selection of the most important concepts and/or terms in a unit of study. After discussion and elimination, the group decides on the most important terms/concepts. These terms are then used to develop a concept map with one overlying theme. From this concept map, the students construct a mural which is to be displayed in the halls of the school or other appropriate place. This activity forces students to decide on the major concepts and come to an agreement wi thin a group as to the relevance and relationships of the concepts. They must then cooperate to create a mural that will convey their message with a minimum of words. This activity encourages creativity, cooperation and analysis.


Too often activities require students to passively participate in the learning process and then express knowledge acquired on an objective recall type examination. The mural activity allows students to express their knowledge in an unconventional mode wh ich encourages creativity, analytical skills and cooperation within a group. Furthermore, it stimulates pride in students because they are able to showcase their abilities. There is almost always one student in each who is able to draw and create an app ealing picture. These students are often the students that are not proficient on written examinations. Non-English speaking and low academic performers are often the most active on this project. This activity may be used as a review for a unit before an exam or as an independent assessment tool.

No preparation is needed by the teacher or the student if the teacher has previously instructed the students in concept mapping. However, it is not necessary to develop the concept map to create the mural and it is important to understand that the studen ts are not to transfer a concept map onto a larger piece of paper. The concept map is only used to help the students organize and relate the material.

The class time required depends on the abilities of the students to work outside of class. 1-4 days of class time should be sufficient for an average class of students to complete this activity in its entirety in the classroom. An important aspect of th is project is that students are often forced to develop a realistic schedule for completing the mural as they are essentially on their own for the duration of the project.



Markers, crayons, or other paint medium. Poster board, blank newsprint, butcher paper, or any available paper. News print can sometimes be obtained from newspaper offices at a very nominal price.


Part 1: Concept Analysis:

Student questions:

  1. What are the main concepts in this unit. There may be only one or two main concepts in each unit.

  2. What are the other terms or ideas in this unit that you feel are important. Try to limit the number to fewer than twenty.

Complete a concept map that shows the relationships between these concepts. Bring the concept map to your teacher for an OK before you continue. Attach okayed concept map to student worksheet and turn in with completed project.

Part 2: Mural Construction:

On a 4 - 6 foot piece of newsprint, which I will furnish but you will measure and cut off, design a mural illustrating the concepts that you have found to be important in this unit.

  1. You are to show a relationship between the concepts of this unit using drawings and a minimum of words.

  2. Your grade will be determined by the following criteria: accuracy of concept relationships, completeness of project, creativity in expression, the amount of contribution that you make to the group effort, and punctuality.

  3. You may work with up to three others in a group. You will complete a peer evaluation form assessing your contribution to the group as well as the other members' contribution.

Assessment: Students will be evaluated using a scoring rubric on a project assessment form and peer evaluation form which I developed and which are available for preview, if desired.

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