As a reading specialist, I am required to teach with specific materials. These materials include rich literature with a myriad of interesting topics. However the unit structures are very predictable and repetitive. This structure works well with the younger students who are working on foundational reading skills, but induces boredom among the older students in grades 4-5. To be honest, also for myself as the teacher. This boredom of course leads to lack of engagement among the students. This is what initially drove me to make a change. In this blog I will talk about two major changes that I will be making to this unit plan structure.
The original unit was designed to include a comprehension discussion. This was teacher led and students took turns discussing the answers. I had already changed this format several different ways, but even that had become predictable and boring. In the new unit plan, the discussion will be student led and will involve students blogging in a literature circle format. I decided to use the literature circle strategy because it has been shown to provide student choice, increase student collaboration, and be fun (Elena Aguilar, 2010). I have also been working on little ways to find a way to connect every text that we read to something students already know. For this unit, I decided to find a larger connection; because, “students need a personal connection to the material, whether that’s through engaging them emotionally or connecting the new information with previously acquired knowledge.” “Without that, students may not only disengage and quickly forget, but they may also lose the motivation to try.” (Saga Briggs, 2014) Therefore, I am trying to make this connection through the use of technology; because, “technology occupies an important place within students’ lives.” “When they are not in school, just about everything that they do is connected in some way to technology.” (Janelle Cox, 2017).
The second major change made to this unit is in the way that students will show what they have learned from a text. There are specific ideas that students need to have learned from it. Previously, the check of understanding would be through verbal discussion and a reading behavior checklist. In the new unit plan, the students get to choose how to share out their learning. They chose to work collaboratively to write a script and create a Podcast. The reasons for these changes are to provide students with the 21st century skills they need by meeting the ISTE student standards (ISTE Standards FOR STUDENTS, 2018) and by providing them with opportunities to customize their learning through allowing them to have choice in their learning, while still requiring them to “remember and recall” information from their reading, as well as “think critically” about what they read (10 Key Components of Customized Learning, 2012).
10 Key Components of Customized Learning. (2012, May 23). Retrieved February 10, 2018, from https://multiplepathways.info/2012/05/23/10-key-components-of-customized-learning/
Aguilar, E. (n.d.). The Power of Literature Circles in the Classroom. (2010, November 30) Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/literature-circles-how-to-and-reasons-why-elena-aguilar
Briggs, S. (2014, October 4). How To Make Learning Relevant To Your Students (And Why It’s Crucial To Their Success). Retrieved February 16, 2018, from https://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/how-to-make-learning-relevant/
Cox, J. (n.d.). Benefits of Technology in the Classroom. Retrieved February 16, 2018, from http://www.teachhub.com/benefits-technology-classroom
ISTE Standards FOR STUDENTS. (n.d.). Retrieved February 10, 2018, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-students