Live From Mars was active July 1996-December 1997.

Teachers' Guide

Activity A.1: Mars Mission Logbooks

Teacher Background

Portfolios are generally examples of student work that provide student-generated evidence of progress, accomplishments, or special challenges. The Mars Mission Logbook might include any or all of the following:

  • student-selected writing samples
  • lab reports (completed student worksheets and other items)
  • journals
  • drawings
  • projects
  • photographs
  • diagrams
  • online downloads
  • descriptions of favorite WWW sites
  • videotapes
  • computer disks
  • copies of awards or prizes
  • copies of written tests or quizzes
  • research reports
  • news articles about Mars from current publications (print or online)
  • weekly student entries regarding new learning
  • new vocabulary
  • summaries of activities they disliked, or found boring, with explanations
  • Objective:

    Student will create, organize and maintain a Mars Mission Logbook which may be used by the student, teacher or others to document and assess student involvement in the Live From Mars module, and positive or negative outcomes.

    Materials: for each student

  • 1 binder
  • notebook
  • folder
  • box
  • crayons
  • markers
  • scissors
  • tape
  • Suggested URL


    Discuss with students the necessity of tracking their academic progress. Brainstorm, list on the chalkboard and discuss all assessment practices with which students are familiar (quizzes, tests, essays, verbal presentations). Introduce student portfolios and explain their use. Share with your students your goals for their learning (and what you yourself hope you will get!) during this unique adventure. Solicit their ideas and input.

    Generate with your students a list of the kinds of materials which might be included in each Mars Mission Logbook. You may have a standard set that each student must include, and then let them add more examples which they feel best illustrates their own individual achievements or challenges. Providing students with a written copy of this assessment plan is recommended.



    1. Have the students design covers for their Mars Mission Logbook.

    2. Establish assessment/grading criteria.

    3. Complete the KWL pre-assessment activity below.

    "What do I know about Mars?"

    Have students start to document this learning experience with the KWL Assessment activity. Each student should create a three-column chart, "Know," "Want to Know," and "Learned." In the first column, the student should list all the facts they already know about Mars. Small group discussion is perfectly acceptable, with students "reminding" each other of knowledge otherwise forgotten! After appropriate discussion and writing time, teacher should validate students' knowledge by recording as many individual responses on a whole class chart as time allows. If the hardware is available, hook up a computer to a projection device; class responses can be saved to disk and/or reproduced for students to add to their Mission Logs. There may be disagreement about the validity of certain Know items; allow students freedom to state their opinions, but avoid judgments about the absolute correctness of listed items. (But think of ways to provide evidence bearing on misconceptions as the project continues: help students bring evidence to bear, and correct errors or misperceptions with more valid information.) Tell students they should keep an open mind; science is, after all, the continual testing of hypotheses and theories-our "body of knowledge" is changing and evolving.

    Similarly, students should also complete the Want to Know section, recording their individual questions (this might be completed as a homework assignment, including discussion with family members about this new and different school experience. "My father says why spend all this money in space when there are so many problems down here... My sister heard there was this face on Mars..." ) Student responses should be added to the class chart. Throughout the electronic field trip, teachers and students may refer to the class KWL chart to assess how their ideas have changed, note what questions have been answered, with what kind of information, and what questions remain as a springboard for further learning.

    At the end of their Live From Mars experience, students will complete their chart by listing what they have Learned.


    Insert dividers into the logbook. These dividers might be organized by calendar months of the project, or type of activity, type of assignment, etc.

    Add a student generated Glossary, a project-oriented list of words, terms and concepts learned.

    Students (in turn) could create a Live From Mars Newsletter, applying writing and editing skills to what they read, saw or found on-line. Consider sharing these with other schools you know, or find on-line. Perhaps internationally! At the end of the project, a compendium of these might be contributed to the school library (listing authors and editors) or submitted with an article by the teacher to various education journals-and sent on-line to PTK!

    Summarize class' responses to "What Do I Know About Mars?" pre-assessment activity and submit them to the LFM website: Teachers' Lounge