It Takes Two

Sometimes the first idea is a good one, but not the right one.  It turns out my plan for course 5 wasn’t quite on track so here’s a remix.

This will be the second year my classes have worked on an oral history project as a service learning and cross-curricular unit.  It went well last year, but as with any first time project, it could use some tweaking.

Why do you think this unit is a good possibility for your Course 5 project?

Last year the project incorporated several different types of digital storytelling.  However they were not fully developed ideas and were put together as we went along.  The students created a “day in the life” Google Slides presentation based on their social media use as well as a video with audio clips from their interviews that was supposed to link the ideas with images of the area being discussed.  I think that this time around each of these aspects of the unit can be drastically improved based on the learning from Course 3 around infographics and digital storytelling.

What are some of your concerns about redesigning this unit?

Its always a challenge to redesign a unit, but this year I also will have a new language arts teacher to collaborate with as well as an additional humanities teacher working along side me.  It can be a little more difficult to get my own vision for a project completed when collaborating.  I’ll add that I still haven’t met the new language arts teacher as she was an emergency replacement over the winter break.

Other than the human element, time is always an issue.  I felt like the project was rushed last year even though we spent over four weeks on it.  Time is always hard to carve out of a school year when you are working across curriculums.  We’ll see how it goes.

What shifts in pedagogy will this new unit require from you?

I think one of the main shifts I’ll have to make is in my planning stages.  I tend to like working in the moment, but with the way things are shaping up here and in order to work with multiple teachers, I’m going to have to buckle down and really map this thing out.

I also want to make sure that we focus on teaching the technological skills that the kids need.  Too often, we assume that students are experts with whatever technology we throw at them.  This time around I want to make sure that I work in little tutorials and work sessions for the varying platforms or programs that we ask them to use.  I’d love to see these be student driven where they teach each other or take turns sharing tips.

What skills and/or attitudes will this new unit require from your students?

I think this unit will really push the students out of their comfort zones.  It requires them to go out and talk to adults that they don’t usually interact with and really think about the questions they are asking.  They have to learn to ask probing questions instead of yes and no questions and figure out how to get people talking to them and not just answering questions.  Just as I stated for myself, they also have to really think about their deadlines and working with others.  Group work is hard and they’ll have to figure out the best ways to collaborate, and the best partners with which to work.

Below is the updated version of last year’s unit plan.  I’ll be annotating as I go along this year as I make improvements and changes.  This way you can follow along live, kind of like a stat tracker for your favorite ball game.  Exciting huh?