My first thought is that this is a very thorough way of setting up a Unit. I like the beginning outline, page 41. This is definitely something that I would use prior to planning out my lessons for the unit. I like the idea of identifying the Standards, the Concepts and Generalizations and narrowing it down to Unit Objectives, Instructional Strategies and Supporting Materials. We have a planning day each 9 weeks and I can see using that time to set this up. Once it is set up, each year would require just a few tweaks. The format that I like the best though is on page 43, where each lesson is broken down with whole-class components and differentiated components. I like this format, because it is a good way to keep focused on specific strategies that you will be using in your differentiation with your students. Since we use Eduphoria, I’m not sure how to set this type of template up, but I’m going to play with it. If we can’t set up a template, using this design, then the issue becomes time. It would serve no value having to do it pencil and paper, then transcribe it into Eduphoria. However, I think it’s worth it to try to set up the template as demonstrated on page 43. I didn’t really like the Teacher Reflection on page 45. I know, I know. I hear all of the time that it is important to go back and reflect on your lessons and see what works and what didn’t work. However, using this type of format, I find very time consuming. I can’t imagine having this much time to do such extensive commenting on each lesson. It was 15 pages of commentary! I like the concept of Anchor Activities, page 61 for those children finishing early and then sharing them on a Friday. I also love the Learning Contract, in Unit 3, page 87. I think this is a great way to differentiate activities in my class. I did get some great ideas on how, and what to teach in our Plant and Social Studies unit.
I like how the objectives for the whole unit are stated at the beginning, as seen on pages 41-42 and pages 68-69. This focuses the units on what the students are to accomplish, instead simply the topic of study. I also like how the unit overviews are separated into whole-class components and differentiated components. It shows how the teachers have thought through their units very carefully. I would like to be as organized and meticulous creating units in the future.
In response to Ms. E's comment about Eduphoria: I agree that Eduphoria's format is not very conducive to planning for units or differentiated instruction. Also, on too many ocassions my plans were erased after spending an excessive amount of time typing them. By the end of the year, I was creating my lesson plans either in Word or in Excell and then attaching them. In the part where we're supposed to type our plans I would simply write "See attached plans." Technically, I had my plans in Eduphoria, but it was much more time effective.
D.Pico - I love your work round with Eduphoria! Also, by doing them in Word or Excell you will have them, no matter what electronic lesson plan program the district decides to adopt. I don't think they will keep Eduphoria any longer than they kept any of the other ones they have introduced and discarded over the years (this is year 21 with SBISD for me).
I teach PGP as an add on to my main job, which is running the school library. Consequently my PGP plans tend to be done very much "on the fly". On page 74, rather than having the students write a sentence under I might have them create a Blabberize (blabberize.com) Rather than a "thinking map" (p.74) they students could use Mind Meister (http://www.mindmeister.com/ ). All these final products could be posted on a blog - I am so tired of fighting printers that I'm going to go to an online portfolio for my PGP students this year. The one paper and pencil activity I'll use is the one in Lesson 3 (p.75). That's one that needs to be done the old fashioned way! :-). I can come up with a product for each item in Lesson 5 (p.80). I would have everyone create a Glogster. No small groups for PGP this year. My school is no longer a part of the pilot program and my PGP groups have gone from 10 -12 students to 2 or 3 students. Consequently I'll have to come up with another activity for Lesson 6 (p84).
I was really impressed with the format of both units. This format is something I can (and will) try in my classroom. Both units started with a whole class pre-assessment (pages 45 & 73) and move into mixed readiness groups (pages 49 & 74) by the second lesson. The units are very thorough, which is something that might be difficult to do for every unit. However, the structure is similar, so it would be easy to swap out units, while keeping the same format. I like the Anchor activities (pg 61) and the learning contract (pg 87. I could see my students getting really into that.
Responding to Of Life, Education, E-bay, Travel & Books: so based on your experience, about how much longer do you think we'll be putting up with big Ed?
I am the Librarian on my campus, and so the way I design my lessons, both for PGP and for my library classes, looks a little different than the "traditional" type of Eduphoria lesson planning that we're doing these days. I personally love the format and the way these units are laid out. I'm a person who benefits from having everything laid out for me in order with details. I don't always do that for myself, but I do love it when it's done or when I take the time to do it. I will have over 10 PGP students this year, and so I think that many of these activities will go right into my lesson planning for PGP, again with a focus on how some of these paper/pencil tasks (example: the writing prompts on p. 82 could be done as a group online, perhaps in a blog posting). I will use both of these units in my PGP classes this year, with slight modifications to address my students' areas of giftedness and to integrate the technology component that is required. I see many areas where I can directly apply these units to my classes (I can't wait to use unit 2 to work with the students to plant a fall garden). In addition, I love the Anchor Activities on p. 61 and I truly can't wait to turn Unit 3 into a fabulous iMovie activity to see what my students take away from their study of communities!
In response to Ms. E... I agree that this type of lesson and unit planning is EXTREMELY thorough... I'm not sure that our classroom teachers will have the time to put into creating these in Excel, trying to copy and paste into Eduphoria (which only works half the time on a good day), and then making sure to reflect in writing all the way through the unit and spend such a good amount of time in post-unit reflection. Usually, 2 days before a unit is over, we're already on to the next one and making sure the plans are written. Who takes time to reflect in this kind of detail anymore? Really great units, though!
In response to Of Life... what is a Blabberize? I need to get with you on this. I hate that I don't know what this obviously new and cool web 2.0 tool is! Also, I agree that my PGP lessons tend to be not as thoroughly planned as I'd like, but these units really give me a great jumping off point and will offer all kinds of assistance with multiple ages/grades/ability levels working side by side.
I like the learning contracts presented on pgs. 87-90; using these in my intermediate level music class projects will minimize grading anxiety later on. I appreciate having the objectives concisely listed (pg.41-41 and 68-69) and the units written in such detail. Having these to follow and plug in my own projects will be great time savers throughout the year. I can easily adapt the lesson plan format in lessons 2 & 3 as I venture further into differentiation in my music classroom. A couple strategies caught my eye that I can implement in my lessons as well. “The alphabet bag” on pg. 48 offers vast cross-curricular opportunities and the “resident expert” ,found on the same page, will fit perfectly into my keyboard unit.
In response to Dr. Pico,"Time consuming" seems to be the common theme for all of us. I think once we have a unit well planned out and developed, plugging others in will come quite naturally.
In response toOf Life, Education, E-bay, Travel & Books: Thank you for introducing me to Blabberize!
There are several key components in the format that I found especially helpful and that I would like to try. First, was the part under Unit Objectives that states, " As a result of this unit, the students will understand that....." I think this bumps your objectives and intentions up a notch in the way it is worded. It helps one to focus on how the instruction will relate directly into making our students "lifelong" learners. I would like to try this to see if it stretches me in regards to my planning a unit.Secondly, the section labeled "Unit Overview; Time and Sequence,"mapped out nicely the timeframe as well as the sequence of the unit of study. I have done this in a calendar format before but this particular format structure is very concrete and shows the whole process. I think I will try this on a unit next year and see how it works.On p.46, The whole column of the running Teacher Commentaryis a new concept in regards to having it alongside the instructional plan. It helped pull the unit together as well as allow me into the teacher's thinking. I will try this to see what I might like to add to a unit of study in regards to reflection, reasoning, etc.On p.47, when the options were planned with certain Multiple Intelligences in mind that was an approach I have considered and used in planning, but never "spelled" it out that way. I will try that to make sure I am covering those options when designing or planning a unit.
In response to Karen Donathen, I agree that the "resident expert" idea is a great one and a real timesaver for the teacher. I used this last year and would just refer the student to the resident expert who had mastered that particular skill in imovie creation or Garageband. This allowed me to be more flexible as well as gave me time to monitor and travel around the room to observe or troubleshoot.
In response to Karen Donathen...I also like that the objectives are listed so concisely. It will make this easy to use in our lessons and very easy to adapt for other lessons.
I liked how detailed the units were and the unit cycles: pre-assessment/introduction, the various lessons, review/concluding activity, and assessment. It all flowed and made sense. It's a smart way to plan a unit. I really liked the anchor activities on page 45. I thought it was nice that she had a list of extending activities to challenge her students further one the regular lesson activities were completed. I also liked how the teacher from Unit 3 considered the multiple intelligences in her room and made lessons to accommodate those learners on pages 77-78. I think sometimes we as teachers forget that kids learn in lots of different ways. It's something I need to remind myself of more as I plan.
In response to what D. Pico said on June 19 at 6:12 PM, kindergarten was also allowed to attach plans to Eduphoria. I'm changing grade levels next year, and I have to admit, I am a bit afraid of having to put plans in Eduphoria the "regular" way. I don't think its format is appropriate for elementary school where we have so many integrated lessons (like language arts/social studies and science/math) and many TEKS that are covered in just one lesson (like with shared reading or shared writing.) I think more teachers would like to be able to plan more like Units 2 and 3 but can't get Eduphoria to work for them in that way.
The two units were designed in a simple and easy to understand format. I think a novice teacher could easily follow the plan and an experienced teacher could benefit from the commentary ‘on the side’. My two favorite strategies from the lessons are the use of anchor activities and the learning contracts.Students are forever finishing whatever class-work has been assigned and are looking for something else to do. The concept of Anchor Activities will keep that student engaged and learning while others complete work. I think I will add to this idea by having the student design some of these Anchor Activities and by having the student design how the Anchor Activity will be assessed. This will add even more accountability to them, hence making them even more valuable to learning.Differentiation is all about meeting the needs of the individual learner. Learning contracts do just that. The term contract implies a two-way agreement between the student and the teacher. I think gifted students will especially thrive knowing they are partially in control of their class-work and how it will be assessed. Not only is content learned with a learning contract, but also students learn responsibility and commitment. Signing a contract is a big deal and I think kids would love this!
In response to Of Life, Education… after completing the “11 Tools” and the “23 Tools” before that, I have so many tools that can be used for pre-assessment which I plan to implement this next year. I’m getting a bit tired of the printing, paper and pencil as well and I think it’s all going to be on docs and elsewhere.
Here is the link for Blabberize http://blabberize.com/ I thought they could take or get a picture of community helpers and have the helper "say what his / her job is in the community.
In response to Of Life, Education, E-bay, Travel & Books post on June 19th: I am new to technology so I am very interested in the two websites you mentioned. I am somewhat familiar with Glogster which will make electronic ‘posters’ about a topic. Similar to the old-fashioned posters about ‘George Washington’. I think my new class will love trying Glogster and I know their parents will love it. I do not know much about Mind Meister. What does this website do? Is it fairly easy for elementary students to work through? And I love the idea of electronic portfolios! I think this is definitely the wave of the future. Once we no longer use Microsoft Office programs and kids are completely using Google Docs, they will have an electronic portfolio. Ah-the future is rolling in like a hurricane!
I like the way that these units are set up. Ideally we would have time to teach this way, but the only subject I can see having enough time to “spread out” and take out time with the curriculum is Social Studies. The way we are zooming through objectives and TEKS ours would look like a fast forward version of these lessons or we would seriously cut down the time allotted in the left margin. I love the idea of anchor activities (61) and learning contracts (87-92) as extensions to the lessons.Miss Roth said on June 20th that she loves the idea of electronic portfolios, I agree. It will be great for the kids to have access to their portfolio instead of it riding around (maybe...maybe not) with the blue and green folder.
I like the way the science unit is set up, but I especially like, on page 45, Lesson 1's scavenger hunt. I think it incorporates prior knowledge, movement and discussion (great for Elementary kids) and gives them a focus. Not only that, but gives the teacher a starting point to see what (and which) kids know.I also liked the closure activities throughout the science unit, as well as how each part is a bit different with either a jigsaw activity, independent and partner work.
In response to Mrs. M Kinders: I like how you already have an idea to modify these units to fit your classes needs. I agree that these are very thorough and can be easily tweaked with our curriculum while keeping the format and rigor.
I really enjoyed reading this plant unit and much of it is applicable to my students because I am teaching science to 5th graders. One particular part that I was interested in using was on pg. 47- the independent or partner work based on learning profiles. I really think my students would enjoy the choices offered, and many of my students would learn a great deal from each other as well. It seems like such a win-win situation. I think the activities such as option 1- writing a letter to a kindergarten student would enhance the writing that is much needed in science. I am really excited about this idea!
In response to Katie K's- I agree with you about the scavenger hunt being an ideal activity to use in the science content area. It enables the kids to test their thinking but in a comfortable format. It ensures that curiousity and creativity are being used as well. After you do an activity like this, the kids will want to create a similar version to help review curriculum as well!
Chapter 3 really was something I could use! Literally, that is!!!I love the way that they break down the unit in a way that is easy to understand. Some of the activities that they have are practical and go with the 21st Century Learner. :) I'm thinking in particular where we could use SKYPE to interview a fire fighter at a fire station during the school day. That would be authentic, absolutely at NO COST to the district, and meaningful to the children asking questions. I also like the Anchor Chart Activities (like on Pg. 61) which correspond to Bloom's Taxonomy. It also serves as a "menu" for students to use after learning a concept.The contracts that page 87 - 94 are pretty cool too. It helps to establish the norms and what the expectations of the teacher to learner are.I have to agree with Karen about "Teacher Reflection." I don't necessarily sit down and reflect each and every time, but I do take quick notes so I change what went wrong for next time.
One thing I really liked about the two units (especially the plant unit) was the use of small groups to learn the information in the unit. Many of the units in our curriculum has so much information that needs to be taught. I really like the way the author uses group activities to teach the information; which she is not teaching in the general sense, she is more assisting as the students become their own teachers. On page 51, she uses a group activity where the students create their own experiment to learn about plant parts. On page 55, they work in small groups to do a research project to learn about plant parts and needs. I think the use of small groups in the unit was great way for students to learn. They become more autonomous and have ownership of their learning.
I really like the idea of designing a full unit of instruction. Starting with a pre-assessment activity such as the plant scavenger hunt on p. 46-47 is a great way to get the kids excited about what they are going to be learning as well provide evidence for what they already know. I also liked how the units started skills that the students would need to be familiar with in order to successfully complete the tasks (p. 48-49). One thing that will be really important for my implementation of this is to tie concepts to my students' communities and learning environments. For example, on page 49-50, the class discusses which skills scientists need to use to study plants. As the teacher goes through the comparisons that will be made about the plants' needs and parts, I loved that she continually talks about what the students will need to do to prove their answers and how they should set up their experiment (p.51-52). Also, of importance for my class will be activities like the jigsaw on p. 52-53. My students often learn throughout their experiences in school, how to avoid doing any work. I really like that the jigsaw activity requires each student to participate and be involved in his or her own learning. The accountability factor makes not participating a non-issue. I also liked that some of the tasks were in small groups, some could be done independently, some based on reading level, and others in mixed groups (p.55). Interest groups were also another type of grouping used. By continually changing the groups, students get to learn more from their peers, aren't bored with the same groups, and get more of a say in their own learning. Also, the review and assessment of the unit p. 57-59 was something that I always try to incorporate so that my students as well as myself get a chance to reflect on the lesson and determine what worked and what didn't, what was learned and what needs clarification, and possibly gives us ideas for how we could have made it better.
I'm glad that Kaycie D. on June 20 pointed out that we don't usually have as much time for the units as they allot in this book. As I was reading through the units, I came away with great ideas, but like Kaycie feel like I am often zooming through the TEKS without ample time to spend on everything. I am trying to form units with my teaching partner as much as possible so that more thorough teaching ocurrs and so that there is more integration, but it's hard when we have so little time to spend on each TEK.
I agree with Ms. E as far as making this the format for lesson on Euduphoria. It makes more sense than trying to rewrite many of the same objectives again and again each day. Many of the lessons took more than one class period. If we could set up units of study in this manner, it feel it would be more thought through because you are able to really see the end of the unit and it might even save time and work. I am the same way about reflecting on lesson, most of the time I just hope I remember what I changed next year. But if the unit is layed out like the one in the book then a self assessment at the end of the unit might be easier than one on every lesson everyday.
I like the way this is set up. I like the way the author broke it down on pages 21 and 22, starting with the standards, then concepts, then objectives, and understandings. It reminds me of the way the Social Studies Lesson Plans are set up. I think planning a unit is the way to go. You can develop the concepts more when you are not jumping from objective to objective. (In this case I am referring to the way the Math Curriculum has been set up. It does not allow enough time to delve deep into the concept before changing to a new one.) I did however, feel that for the most part this type of planning was sort of accomplished in the Science unit. :)
I liked how the Unit Overview showed how many periods were needed for a lesson. I liked seeing that some lessons took more than one period to complete. Some even took several days to a week to complete (ex. p. 44). When using more project-based learning and group activities in a classroom lessons don't fit into neat little one-day boxes so this is a realistic representation of what this type of teaching will look like.I also appreciated the Unit Description and Teacher Commentary. The lesson sequence and description part of the chart gave some really great examples of how to group students in a variety of ways and how to set them up for success in these configurations. This part of the chart also gave some examples of tiered activities for struggling learners, on-target learners, and advanced learners (p. 79). I also appreciated the honest responses and tips in the Teacher Commentary section of the chart.
I totally agree with what Kacie D. posted on the 20th. We DO zoom through the objectives. I think we need to teach deeper and slower. The unit laid out in the book shows a deeper teaching of the standards.
I also agree with Ms. E as far as making this the format for lesson on Eduphoria. I also found that Eduphoria was not set-up for teachers who are planning units with lessons that last for several days. Also, Eduphoria makes it difficult for me to represent the big focus of a unit. I felt like the format in this book made the unit (and thus the planning) feel more cohesive.
I love how well thought out the two units are. With the level of technology we have, more teachers should collaborate together to create units of study similar to these. I really like the CLC’s on pages 87-92. They remind me of the Laurie Westphal’s menus but with more details. The CLC’s are great for whenever students have any extra time. I do like how the teacher utilizes a lot of mixed ability grouping and focuses more on interests- that allows the students to learn so much more from each other.
I agree with Kaycie D. that our curriculum doesn't allow us to take so much time on concepts like the examples. I will be teaching social studies next year and I'm hoping that it will be more flexible. Kaycie- let's collaborate!
In response to cynthiamer, I also agree that the teacher commentary part of the chart was very helpful. I also agree that this would be interesting to add to a unit that I planned so that I could reflect on what I had done and use this for future planning on my own or with my team.
I agree with Ms. E's and others' comments about Eduphoria. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel like in the Eduphoria "box" we just need the meat of our teaching and we can work to create more applicable templates to attach to the daily plans. As we are developing these units, even hand written notes or plans/anecdotal records would be good to scan and attach to our plans for future reference and documentation of differentiation.