My brainstorm of three options I have in mind for Course 5 project. Keeping in mind the following:
- Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?
- What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?
- What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?
- What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?
My grade level has been revamping our Social Studies units this year and it would make sense to use this as a possibility for the Course 5 project. We are in the process of creating three new units that run about six to eight weeks in length of the course of a year from Early Explorers, Colonial America, and the American Revolution to a more current lens of Digital Citizenship, Justice, and Taking IT Global.
All three social studies units tie together through the lens of rights and responsibilities. In unit 1, we look at individual student responsibilities to follow responsible, respectful, honest and safe behavior (as outlined in the Acceptable Use Agreements). In unit 2, we will take a historical view of a variety of social justice issues. In unit 3, we’ll tie together the digital piece from unit one and the social justice piece from unit 2 to examine a more contemporary view of case studies in which groups or individuals have mobilized people for a cause.
The 5th grade units are designed to intentionally build on concepts covered in earlier grades, particularly 3rd grade where they teach individual growth and goal setting based on the SLOs, Global Citizenship (the qualities that make someone influential in a contemporary, not historical, setting), and Global Comparisons (the conditions of various communities around the world and how peoples’ needs are being met, perhaps with a specific look at Tohoku, the area hit my the earthquake and tsunami in 4-11).
My concerns at this point are that this is a new unit, one that we have not taught yet and while my learning curve is steep, we have not finalized our formative or summative assessments yet.
As for a shift in pedagogy, I will need to brush up on my human rights issues. Perhaps one of the bigger shifts will be allowing the students become the experts when doing their research on a specific topic. Here are our essential questions:
- What can we learn from historical human rights issues?
- How have people protected and promoted human rights? (what happened?)
- How have people made a difference? (value or belief in the power to make a change)
Research is going to be a fairly new skill for many of the students especially with how to find information on the internet that relates to their topic and at a reading level they can comprehend. How we are going to present this information will be another skill to learn. We are not sure of how they will share their information.
A second idea I am grappling with is a science unit we teach: Human Growth and Development. A three week unit that we teach at the end of the school year. This unit needs to be re-vamped and brought into the 21 Century learning schema. I have thought of using iBooks Author and creating our own digital textbook that covers our essential questions:
- What changes occur during puberty?
- How can I prepare myself for puberty?
- How can I show sensitivity to my peers while they go through puberty?
My concerns for this unit would be the time frame. The last three weeks in May would push this past the due date for Course 5. Things are also ramped-up at the end of the year with report cards and the end of the school year may not be the best time for pulling this assignment together. However, this unit needs to be changed and brought into the realm of 21 Century learning. We always have good intentions of working on this unit, but where it falls within the school year calendar it never gets the attention in needs and deserves.
As for my own pedagogy, nothing would really need to change other than trying to bring more technology into the unit. I have begun to explore more resource options and there is some great information on-line from very reputable sources. There is also some very inappropriate information and we would have to be very careful in how we use our MacBooks and the internet to teach this unit.
This unit is more paper/pencil in style. Not that I am saying there is anything wrong with this. This could be a unit that we could flip, in the sense that work could be completed at home, which might help with parent involvement. We have created our own workbook for this unit and it would be neat to explore how iBook Author might enhance the learning for this unit. The skills they would learn from this program would be incredible….in my mind!
The last idea I have been thinking for Course 5 is how I use portfolios. My team has been moving away from the paper style portfolio where everything is in a binder and then presented to parents at a student-led conference in March. Last year we began to have students create their own blog using Weebly.com and used this as a digital portfolio. Although, they still had a binder with much of their work in it to share with their parents. My goal would be to completely eliminate the binder of work altogether and just go with a digital portfolio.
My concern is that this isn’t really a unit of study. Would this still meet the requirements of the Course 5 Project objectives?
This idea would require a shift in pedagogy in the sense that all student work would be in digital format as opposed paper. I like this idea as I want to eliminate their binder portfolio in its entirety.
We have been using Weebly since the beginning of the year and it is taking time to get all their work onto their blog. We are getting close and about ready to publish, hopefully, before we leave for winter break. Student skill level has been very high as they have learned to embed video, documents, and maintain a blog each week. Some students are further than others in the process (much like learning) and it’s been fun to watch students helping each other with this program.