For Course 5, I have decided to team up with my colleague and fellow ‘Coetailer’, Karen Robb. Karen is a Grade 3 Teacher and I work closely with her and her grade 3 team in creating, developing and reflecting on the units of inquiry in my role as Primary Years Programme Coordinator. Working on a project together makes sense and I am excited to have the opportunity to do some team teaching with Karen. We also plan to work with our technology coaches and literacy coach in a collaborative way. Karen and I had a great deal of discussion about our ideas and so far we have come up with the following.
We know that we would like to work on the unit for Where We Are In Place And Time – an inquiry into orientation in place and time; personal histories; homes and journeys; the discoveries, explorations and migrations of humankind; the relationships between and the interconnectedness of individuals and civilizations, from local and global perspectives. This unit will run from March 10 – April 25 which should allow us time to plan out what we want to do before the unit begins and still have a bit of time after to reflect upon how it went.
The central idea for the unit is currently: Exploring ancient civilizations broadens our understanding of their impact on our world.
|Key Concepts:||Function, Form & Connection|
|Related Concepts:||Impact, Civilizations & Exploration|
|Learner Profile:||Open-minded & Knowledgeable|
|Attitudes:||Appreciation, Enthusiasm & Empathy|
|Skills:||Research & Social|
Why is this unit a good possibility?:
We think this unit will be a good fit for Course 5 not only because of the timing but because it is a chance to incorporate some international mindedness with the content. When we were thinking of ideas for the technology component we thought back to the S.A.M.R. model and we are trying to focus on achieving Redefinition – the computer allows for the creation of new tasks that would otherwise be inconceivable without the technology.
Here are our project ideas:
- We could use technology to document our thinking and learning throughout the unit. Sort of a learning journey scrapbook using apps like Explain Everything or Voice Thread or a sketching app. Also, students can use digital cameras to take pictures and movies.
- We could try to connect with other classrooms in the countries whose ancient civilizations we are studying (Ancient China, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Aztec, Rome and Greece) by means of Digital Handshakes and Skype interviews.
- Creating a digital story about their visit to an ancient civilization or about a fictional character from the era (our writing genre is narrative).
- Creating a virtual museum of artifacts for a particular civilization using images collected responsibly on the internet (searching safely and citing sources).
Some of the concerns we have about redesigning this unit include the access our students have to technology. While our school is moving toward being a 1:1 iPad school, this is not the case in all of the rooms so far. One way of alleviating this problem will be to allow students without school iPads to ‘bring their own device’ or have access to the teachers iPads and/or class computer. Another concern is that there are so many ideas that we need to remain focused on our central idea and lines of inquiry. We will be better off doing a few things well, rather than overwhelming students with too many ideas. I know I will have to manage my time effectively as well so that I can be in the classroom as much as possible to observe students on their learning journey.
Shifts in Pedagogy:
We want to ensure that we are integrating technology in an authentic way. We want to make sure that technology is not just an “add-on”, but a way for students to effectively demonstrate their learning. As we roll out iPads and move eventually to 1:1 integration we want students not solely focusing on ‘content’ apps, but stress the importance of ‘creation’ apps (such as Explain Everything, iMovie, Voice Thread, Garage Band…) that allow students to demonstrate their understanding of our concepts, central idea and lines of inquiry.
Our transdisciplinary skills that we focus on for this unit are research and social and our attitudes are appreciation, enthusiasm, and empathy. Depending on the ideas we choose for technology integration, our students will also need technology skills taught as well.
While brainstorming ideas, Karen and I have had many discussions about all six of the units our Grade 3 students study this year and although this is the unit we want to redesign, we have many other ideas for our other units of how to integrate technology more effectively. As we move through the planning and implementation process, I know we will use much of what we have learned in our first 4 Coetail Courses. I look forward to blogging about the process and learning along the way. Getting good feedback from others is crucial to our success. Please offer your insights and expertise!