Criteria for ranking can be objective or subjective. An objective ranking is one where there is a correct answer, such as the order in which the amendments to the United States Constitution were adopted. Subjective rankings are ones where students place items in order based on their analysis or opinion. For example, students rank the constitutional amendments in order of importance to their own life. Objective rankings are most useful in assessing factual understanding. Subjective rankings reveal a student's or team's reasoning and understanding of the problem.
Opinions can be a factor in ordering a list. The Visual Ranking Tool is designed to spark discussion, making it useful in a project that involves controversy, differing viewpoints, or other perspectives. For example, ordering a list of great novelists would involve more discussion than ordering a sequence of events in a novel.
Sorting lists is only part of a good project. The use of the tool can be one of many different kinds of learning activities.
Consider ways to extend the learning community. You can add outside experts, students in other classrooms or schools, parents, and others as team members in your project. Because the tool is Web-based, they can contribute their rankings and join the discussion from anywhere.
Look at how opinions change over time. Consider projects where comparisons with earlier lists can lead to reflection on learning.