This week’s task was to build the frame for my unit of study. The beginning of the planning is always interesting. The most grand ideas come to mind. Then, reality sets in. In building a unit, the grand ideas need to be tempered with reality of my students’ abilities and interests.
My idea for a unit was to have students study the history of Point Hope, Alaska. I want my students to be able to connect with the history of the land via the history of their families. I want this to be a very personal project.
I, honestly, have not previously looked at social studies standards for Alaska. I knew the standards well for California and figured the standards would be similar. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The standards don’t center around history, as much as government and geography. The Alaska Department of Education does have guidelines for what districts should do as they develop their own social studies programs. It seems my project won’t align with social studies standards under Alaska’s state standards. So, I will fall back on designing this unit as a language arts unit with heavy emphasis on research.
I initially built this unit to be accomplished over a school quarter, or eight weeks. As I laid out the lessons that need to be taught, I can see that this unit will take a full semester to ensure students have enough practice to be successful with their own projects. My students will need a lot of support. I intend to build the unit as an online course that can be taught in a classroom with 1:1 laptops. I think they will need short instruction videos and then ample opportunity for independent practice with feedback. I think Evernote folders for individual students will help them keep organized and give me an easily accessible place to provide immediate feedback. As students need to go back and remind themselves of instructions they missed or need to see again, all the material will be available online. I envision us working on this project one 50 minute period per day.
I have read that many asynchronous projects are not successful with students. My students are still learning to work independently. I think a fully asynchronous project would work if my students were more skilled at independent work. A learning environment where we work together initially and then they can go back and review and practice skills, will swing the odds toward more learning and a higher completion rate.
The draft of the unit follows. It is being built using the “understanding by design” model from Wiggins and McTighe. It is still a work in progress. Consider this the skeleton.
Title of Unit: Point Hope History
Grade level: 6
Curriculum Area: English Language Arts
Time Frame: 1 semester
Writing Standards 6-12,
Text type and purposes: 2. Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content. 3. Use narrative writing to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well‐ structured event sequences.
Production and distribution of writing: 6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to create a piece of writing.
Research to build and present knowledge: 7. Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and refocusing the inquiry when appropriate. 8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources.
Students will understand that…
- using relevant descriptive details will make their writing interesting.
- using technology to peer edit is an effective way to edit writing.
- being prepared with interview questions will make their interview more effective.
- assessing the credibility of their source will make the students’ projects more credible.
- gathering many sources will help cross-reference materials.
- quoting or paraphrasing will help avoid plagiarism.
- providing a bibliography will give credit to the original authors.
- What impact did people have that lived before us in Point Hope?
- Why does a researcher need to gather relevant sources and assess each source’s credibility?
Students will know:
- About their families’ histories in Point Hope.
- Why quoting and paraphrasing is important.
- Why using more sources helps validate material.
Students will be able to:
- Peer edit other’s papers.
- Cite sources.
- Create a bibliography.
You are a journalist who will tell the story of people or a person from the old town site of Tikigaq (Point Hope, Alaska) to your family. You will tell this story using a documentary style PowerPoint, iMovie, or Aurasma (AR).
- Watch examples of AR, PowerPoint and documentary iMovies.
- Introducing and using the project rubric.
- How to create interview questions.
- Using a timeline to tell a historical story.
- Validating information by using multiple sources.
- How to cite Internet sources, print sources and interviews.
- Using images and graphics to help a story.
- Augment reality with aurasma or layar.
- How to create documentary on PowerPoint.
- How to create documentary on iMovie.
- Creating a draft of the story.
- How to peer edit/the art of constructive feedback.
- Create documentary.