- Teaching in a Pandemic: Help Teachers, Help You - February 2, 2021
- The Importance of Feedback in Distance Learning - October 9, 2020
- What a Teacher Wants: One Teacher's View - March 25, 2018
- Artist is Not a Dirty Word - March 18, 2018
- The Death of Reflection in English/Language Arts Classrooms - March 9, 2018
- More Than A Teacher - March 4, 2018
- Real Teaching Resolutions - January 5, 2017
- 23 Times I have Questioned My Sanity While Teaching - September 7, 2016
- Part 3: Adventures in Real Word English/Language Arts - Let Them Be Great - August 23, 2016
- Part 2: Adventures in Real World English/Language Arts: Making Them Care - August 4, 2016
With so many skills and so many concepts, units are a necessity. We can become overwhelmed with the amount of material we have to cover in a short time. I have learned I only focus on one unit at a time. A unit is a set amount of skills or concepts tied to a literary period, a genre, a war period, a mathematical concept, or even the nervous system. It is really easy to just to lecture, let students copy notes, and they have them put their responses on a test, but as we all know that is what makes a great unit. [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent="yes" overflow="visible"][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type="1_1" background_position="left top" background_color="" border_size="" border_color="" border_style="solid" spacing="yes" background_image="" background_repeat="no-repeat" padding="" margin_top="0px" margin_bottom="0px" class="" id="" animation_type="" animation_speed="0.3" animation_direction="left" hide_on_mobile="no" center_content="no" min_height="none"]A great unit is when the students are excited, engaged, and see connections that go just beyond your classroom. Click To Tweet Here are some elements that make a unit great.
Passion. Every teacher has a unit they cannot wait to teach. We wait for it all year and want our students to love it as much as I do. My favorite unit is American Transcendentalism. I love it and I will never apologize for loving it. If you love what you are teaching, it is bound to show. It is completely okay for you to show how much you love the American Revolution, Macbeth, or Cells. When we are excited about our lessons, it will carry over to our students.
Make it Diverse. Great units are integrated with many mediums. For example, my transcendental unit is a combination of poetry, nonfiction, modern songs, Dead Poets Society (a brilliant movie), and personal writing assignments. Students learn so many different ways. If your lesson include different ways to learn, one of them will connect with a student. Is it extra work to plan several different ways to teach a concept, yes, but once it is completed it is done. It is worth the time and the effort for the students to understand.
Make it Relevant. Students do not appreciate a concept until they see how it connects to us in 2015. It is more than just words written by a man, 200 years ago. I try to tie everything to today. With elements of transcendentalism, I pull out modern songs and let them see the lyrics. It is also an excellent opportunity to discuss literary devices and poetry forms. I show them how Thoreau’s "Civil Disobedience" inspired Dr. King and Gandhi. We discuss ways to use civil disobedience in today’s society. Unless you show them how the American Revolution impacted today’s world or why Macbeth’s lust for power reflects modern politics, they may learn it and put it on the test, but will never fully appreciate it. Click To Tweet We want our students to love learning and grow from our lessons, not just learn it to put it on the standardized test.
Start at the End. Think about what you want your students to get at the end of the unit and plan backwards. At the end of the unit, they should be able to do this. What do I need to do to make sure they can do this task? Planning backwards really has helped my students and myself. I have learned that just because an activity is “cool” does not mean it will help my students learn the standard or the skill. I have adjusted lessons and thrown things out. Look at your standards, then plan backwards. Start with what they will have to do on their own, what they do with a partner, what they will do in groups, and what they will do with you as a class. One of the best skills a teacher should focus on developing is effective scaffolding.
Great units are made by great teachers. No matter how great the text-book is, a student will not reach his or her potential without your guidance. Ask questions, share ideas, look online because today’s students are not engaged by just reading a book and answering worksheets. They have to touch it, see it, and experience it. Show students you love them by sharing your passion, they notice how much time and effort are put into your lessons, and when you put effort into them, they put forth effort in your class, on tests, and more importantly, themselves. Click To Tweet[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]