Sunday, March 23, 2014

Holding My Breath

Social Studies Classes - Late this week, I will give the social studies district assessment on the Classical Civilizations of Greece and Rome.  As soon as the kiddos are through with the test, we will begin the Middle Ages unit and change how we do things in class.  I reread the curricular topics to be covered during the unit and have rewritten them so that kids can take charge of their learning.  Using Google Docs, I will share a template that they will copy and rename. On this planning sheet, they will describe what they will learn, how they will learn it and how they will demonstrate their learning.

I expect that at first, many will flounder.  Let's face it, these days kids are used to having things spoon-fed to them and know that if they don't get it, someone will come in at the end and rescue them.  This year's group has done a reasonably good job of becoming independent but we're not there yet.  This unit should go a long way toward helping that evolution.

As an example of what the kids will see, here is the first part of the template I will share with them. Remember, we are working within the curriculum, trying to learn the various components of the Middle Ages in Europe and relating them back to the overarching theme. This is what some of it will look like to the kids.

The Middle Ages Unit
Student Learning Goals

For each of the following areas of the European Middle Ages, describe how you plan to learn the material, what resources you will use and how you will show your learning.

Premise of the Medieval Unit:
The Rise of Kingdoms, Feudalism and the Crusades all contributed to the development of Europe in the Middle Ages.

Each student is responsible for learning about each of the following points and relating them to the concept of Europe's development in the Middle Ages

The collapse of Rome led to the rise of Feudalism

How will I best learn the story of Rome's collapse?

What materials will I use?

How will I show what I have learned?

There is a feudal social order that includes a monarch, lords, knights, serfs and vassals.  How was the social order structured?

How will I best learn the story of Feudalism?

What materials will I use?

How will I show what I have learned?

I will show the kids where all of my print and online materials are and make them available to the kids so that they can work with what they are most comfortable.  Kids may choose to pair up or work individually.  My role in class changes because, while we will still have the occasional Socratic Symposium (a form of discussion) about parts of the Middle Ages unit, I will be moving around to each student, helping them plan their learning.  It very much resembles a workshop approach to learning.  Throughout the unit, I will be working with the kids and touching base to make sure they are accomplishing their goals.

While the content of our unit is dictated by the curriculum, the process of learning it is entirely up to each student.  I can already tell which kids will choose which resources because they know how they learn best.  I'm eager to see how this unit works.

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