Wow! I can’t believe we’re already at the end of the first course! It has been great working through this course as it’s forced me to take the time to reflect on my practice and really think about the reasoning behind why I do what I do. I have enjoyed reading through the posts of others and look forward to continuing on this journey in Course 2!
Increasing Student Agency
My teaching team has worked hard over the past few years to open up a lot of our units to allow for a lot more student voice, choice and ownership in their learning. Here are a few examples of this. We start the year with How We Express Ourselves, in which students explore the concept of originality as they work as an artist in a medium of their choice. In our Who We Are unit (with the central idea – transitions are a part of life), students engage in a guided inquiry looking at the physical, social, and emotional changes that children go through during puberty. They also have the chance to construct their own personal inquiry into an area of their choosing that relates to the central idea.
By opening up these units, we have seen huge growth in students’ engagement and in their approaches to learning. Students learn how to be good learners. They learn to manage their time and materials. They learn about goal setting and self-motivation. Arguably, the biggest benefit is the perseverance and resilience that begins to develop. So with all that said, the unit I have chosen to modify for this final project is one that we haven’t spent as much time working on, and doesn’t have as much choice for students.
Every story has more than one perspective
I have chosen to look at our Where we are in place and time unit. Our driving concept for this unit is perspective; the idea that throughout time, people living through the same historical events may experience things very differently. For the past three years, we have used historical narratives as a means to access this idea. Our GRASPS task has reflected this and has asked students to work independently or with a partner, to create a historical narrative that demonstrates the understanding that every story has more than one perspective.
Many students love this task. And many students create great narratives. But, for many others, this medium has not provided them with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding of perspective and has instead, caused a lot of frustration. For many, the writing itself causes a block which has led to some disengagement.
To open this unit up and provide students with the agency that they crave, I thought that instead of expecting all students to create a historical narrative, the GRASPS could be changed to allow students to create a final product in a medium of their choice. This will provide students with the opportunity to use their strengths to demonstrate their understanding. It also allows for an authentic integration of technology in which students are using the tools that fit their need in order to create.
We use a workshop model in which students sign up for the workshops that fit their needs and interests. By opening up this task, there will be opportunities to work with our Tech Integration teachers, as well as opportunities for students to run workshops for each other on the technologies they become “experts” in.
I have created my unit plan using the template my school uses. We do not have Tech Standards, so I have selected one of the ISTE standards, that I felt was most relevant.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts. If anyone has any tips or ideas for good tools that could be used in this unit, I would love to hear them! Unfortunately, we have just finished this unit for this year, so will have to wait to try it out until next school year! But I’m excited to see what the students will create!