Unit Plans and Ideas

A place to find out what everyone else has been planning and creating. Feel free to check out the other grades for some inspiration!

First 2 Weeks


MAKING CONNECTIONS WITH EACH OTHER


Stage 1 – Desired Results
Goals -Establish course as both rigorous and academically relevant -Familiarize students with technology (Blogs) -Acknowledge students as writers (not "aspiring writers") -Introduce options for alternate forms of expression (pictures, diagrams, etc...) -Model problem solving skills through writing (articulating thought processes) -Motivate students to become prolific in their writing -Establish comfortable environment for peer criticism -Emphasize the importance of audience and purpose in writing (RAFT activities) Activities -Case studies, magazines/newspapers, role-playing writing exercises --> Problem solving -"Pizza box portfolio" -->Writing -"Translate" technical instruction manual into another literary form--> Comic, prose, poetry, etc... -Introduce blogging as regular and continuous activity -Model own writing whenever possible --> more comfortable writing environment -Continuous "small" writing tasks --> Journals, lit letters, etc...

Essential Questions:

• What will the Connections class entail?
• What types of writing will the students participate in?
• How will the writing be assessed?
• What skills do we need to be successful this year?
• What are the goals for the writing assignments?

Students Will Know:

• That there are many different ways to express ideas.
• The most important aspect of writing for Connections will be the ability to express ideas clearly.
• How to think critically.

Students Will Be Able To:

• Understand the requirements and format for different writing assignments
• Use a variety of writing assignments to convey information about themselves
• Think critically to analyze written expression from other authors
• Use one of the writing strategies to express their understanding of the American Dream

Content Standards:

Social Studies: • Use critical thinking to interpret pov and content • Analyze data in order to see persons and events in context • Use effective strategies for locating information • Summarize information in written, graphic and oral forms Math: • Describe these situations mathematically • Use multiple representations Language Arts: • Write for different purposes and audiences • Gather, select and organize information appropriate to a topic, task, and audience • Use a variety of strategies to organize writing • Use relevant graphics in writing Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence Performance Tasks:
  • Who I am - getting to know you survey/visual
  • Read and listen to Harry Chapin song, "Flowers are Red", discuss how the song relates to Connections, thinking outside the box, tolerance, etc.
  • read "How to Get an A in English" by AVI and stress that in this class ideas are more important than Mechanics, Usage, Grammar, Etc. yet, all of those things are still important when a book is published for a larger audiences.
    • Compare and contrast the "How to get an A in English Story" with a publish book written by AVI
    • How are the audiences different for each of the above?
    • How do we write differently for different audiences?
    • How did AVI "earn" the A at the end?
  • Multiple Intelligence and Learning Styles Survey and Graphs
  • Comic Strip - If you could become a super hero, what would your name be? What would you superpower(s) be? Create a comic strip of a day in your life as a superhero.
  • Create a trading card of yourself. Include:
    • Your Full name
    • Your nickname
    • a symbol that represents you or a picture of yourself on the front
    • Your birthday
    • Place of birth
    • Hobbies
    • any statistic you would like to share about yourself ie. # of pizzas you can eat at one sitting
    • three interesting facts about your life
  • Campaign Poster - Create a campaign poster in which you are running for a specific position based on your interests/talents i.e. - member of the Olympic snowboarding team, lead singer for your favorite band
    • Create a slogan
    • Include the talents which will be useful for your desired position
    • Include a graphic to "sell" yourself
    • Write a 1-2 minute speech to present yourself to the class
  • One Sentence - sum up your life so far in one sentence. Post sentence strips around classroom.
  • Life Map
    • Include a specific number of events which have had a significant impact on your life
    • Use graphics/words/symbols to represent these events
    • Present your life map to the class
  • Timeline - Create a timeline of your life
    • Students will create a timeline of their lives
    • Use website dipity.com
  • RAFT - introduce the RAFT format
    • Role:Pretend you are one of your teachers from last year
    • Audience - Your connections teacher
    • Format - a letter
    • T - about you
  • Blog Entry about Yourself
    • Introduce blog procedures/format/permission slip
    • Read existing blogs
    • Post your own blog about yourself
    • Students will respond to one blog
  • Theme Song - Choose a song that best represents who you are. Choose 4 particular lines--write about how they apply to your past/present experiences in life. Select a brief excerpt from the song to play during your presentation.
  • Top Ten List (like David Letterman)
    • 10 ten things you would never suspect about me
    • You know you're a sixth grader when...
  • Expression of American Dream
    • Choose one of the writing activities which have been introduced
    • Use the writing strategy to express your understanding of the American Dream


Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Students will be exposed to a variety of different writing styles in order to establish the idea that there different ways to express one's ideas besides the traditional essays and writing assignments to which the students have been exposed. After using these various writing styles to convey information about themselves, the students will choose one of the writing assignments to express their understanding of the American Dream which will be the next unit covered in the Connections class. These first two weeks will also be used to establish the procedures and guidelines for online blogging which will be used throughout the year.





1st MP American Dreams



The American Dream


Stage 1 – Desired Results
http://international.loc.gov/learn/lessons/97/dream/index.html
"Photo Analysis Guide"

  • Look at your Essential Questions

    • In what ways will they be able to show you how they have learned a) that the American Dream has changed over time, b) there are various interpretations of the American Dream, and c) The American Dream can be detrimental to certain groups of people? In looking at your performance tasks, I see lots of activities that will give the students knowledge about the issues and questions, but how will you know that they have learned it? What assessments are you planning on using? What elements are you grading them on within those assessments? Things to think about sooner rather than later.
  • Specific examples of science and math writing are needed.
    • Can you find areas that tie directly into the 5th grade science curriculum within the readings and activities you do?
      • They cover everything from biology and classification to chemistry and physical properties of matter.
      • If we are examining various groups that have come to America over time, can you find those that have made significant contributions to the scientific community? Can you delve into what they've done?
      • Use a line graph to represent the course of one individual's life as they came to America, with highs and lows as they pass through it.
  • Your final project, the multimedia portfolio
    • how are you going to do it? Will it be using any means they know of, or will you be introducing a new tool?
    • What is the criteria you will use to assess this (see above question)?
    • I love the interview piece. If they could incorporate that into their analysis of the concept of American Dream, that would be outstanding. How could they do that?
  • -pjhiggins 6/18/08 9:09 PM

Essential Questions:

~What significant historical events have affected the American Dream?
~When can the American Dream lead to negative consequences?
~How has the American Dream changed?
~What is your American Dream?
~How is the American Dream detrimental?
~How many American Dreams exist today?

Students Will Know:

• The American Dream has changed over time.
• There are various interpretations of the American Dream.
• The American Dream can be detrimental for certain groups of people.

Students Will Be Able To:

• Support their concepts of the American Dream with examples from source documents
• Use a variety of writing assignments to convey information about the American Dream
• Think critically to analyze written expression from other authors
• Use one of the writing strategies to express their understanding of the American Dream

Content Standards:

Social Studies
~Analyze how events are related over time
~Use critical thinking skills to interpret events, recognize bias, point of view, and content
~Assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources
~Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events
~Use effective strategies for locating information
~Compare and contrast competing interpretations of current and historical events
Science
~Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of data, claims, and arguments
~Recognize that curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and honesty are attributes of scientists
Math
~With the development of mathematical reasoning, students recognize that mathematics makes sense and can be understood. They learn how to evaluate situations, select problem-solving strategies, draw logical conclusions, develop and describe solutions, and recognize how those solutions can be applied.
Language Arts
~Develop a collection of writings

Gathers and uses information for research purposes Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

~Write for different purposes
~Develop and use knowledge of a variety of genres, including expository, narrative, persuasive, poetry, critiques, and everyday/workplace/writing
~Organize a response that develops insight into literature by exploring personal reactions, connecting to personal experiences, and referring to the text through sustained use of examples

Civics Standard
Standard 14. Understands issues concerning the disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life
Historical Understanding
Standard 2. Understands the historical perspective



Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence Performance Tasks:

  • Anticipatory Set - Read "The American Dream" by James Truslow
    • Students will identify the components of the American Dream based on the reading of the paper
  • The Dark Side of the American Dream
    • Use articles, primary documents, videos to identify ways that the American Dream is harmful i.e. groups that are not part of the American Dream
    • Identify how the outcomes of the American Dream are detrimental through the analysis of videos/non-fiction/fiction/statistics
  • Primary/historical source documents analysis
  • RAFT
    • Incorporate RAFT activities where students are forced to take the perspective of different populations in America during different time periods
      • Mexican crossing the border
      • Immigrant child
      • 1950s housewife
      • Wildlife during the settling of America
      • African American after the Civil War after "emancipation"
  • Election Analysis
    • Analyze political platforms/speeches as indicators of the American Dream of today
    • Analye public opinion polls/the public's concerns as indicators of the American Dream of today
  • Timeline of the American Dream - Long Term Project
    • Create a portfolio which illustrates the transformation of the American Dream using songs, poems, non-fiction, short fiction, advertisements, political cartoons to support these arguments
  • Virtual Field Trip of Ellis Island http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/tour/index.htm
  • Create a decade museum in the classroom including literature/commercial advertisements/songs/current events/cultural demographics which reflects the American Dream for that time period. Groups will switch to a different decade to analyze how these pieces reflect aspects of the American Dream.
  • Students will look at the socioeconomic demographics of different areas throughout the country. Kids will analyze these figures and compare the results with their own personal understanding of the American Dream.
  • Interview an older friend/relative.
    • Possible questions: What is your concept of the American Dream? Has it changed over time? Do you feel that you personally had access to the American Dream?
    • Students will compare the answers from the interview with their own personal viewpoints
    • Students will present their findings.
  • Culminating Project - Multimedia Portfolio
    • Choose one of the essential questions
    • Create a multi-media portfolio which answers one of the essential questions
Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Students will examine the American Dream and its evolution over the course of our country's history. Students will also take a critical view of the American Dream in order to analyze the flaws within the dream.
Other links:
America's Story from America's Library search Library of Congress Archives - great for 6th grade
Letters to the President - write a letter to th next American President








2nd MP Be the Change

Be the ChangeSome points to think about as you develop this:I dropped in a link to Gapminder: a data visualizing tool that plots certain variables against one another. It's a great tool for letting students see the relationships between data sets across various countries. I think it will come in handy when you are trying to incorporate some math and science into their studies.Look closely at your essential questions; these should be questions that the students struggle to answer at first glance. If you want to ask questions of them like "what makes you angry?" do so, but do it in the context of an activity. Perhaps you could rephrase some of those in the form of "How can anger be a force of positive change in the world?" Try to connect with another classroom around the world somehow. Use epals.com or your network to find people in other countries that are willing to participate in a joint survey or videoconference to discuss issues that are pertinent to this unit. There is value there for both parties. Make this as big as the students want it to be. One of the things that is unique about this class is that as long as the student interest is high, you can take these projects anywhere. -pjhiggins 6/18/08 7:17 PMCreate a new school for the 21st century and identify a global development issue and make a plan of action

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
  • How can all students feel included, valued, and respected?
  • How do we inspire students to take action?
  • What causes do you care about?
  • How can anger be a force of positive change in the world?
  • What makes you want to speak your mind?
  • What does a leader look like?
  • How does a leader act?
  • What does a school look like for the 21st century learner?
  • What are some global development issues?

STUDENTS WILL KNOW:
  • that emotions are part of our human nature.
  • that their emotions develop when you have a strong opinion of something or someone.
  • that you can channel your emotions toward accomplishing a goal.
  • that as a world leader, America has a certain expectation as to how others should be treated and have a responsiblity to contribute to the world good.
  • that their efforts can make a difference in the world not only today but in the future also.
*
STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO:
  • Identify global development issues
  • Identify a world region they would like to focus on http://www.oambassadors.org/students/elementary-area/world-regions

  • Find a cause they care about
  • Research and learn as much as they can about a cause
  • Identify their goal
  • Identify who can help them reach their goal
  • Identify challenges that you will face, how will you overcome them?
  • Identify long term and short term goals

  • Make a plan of action
  • Make contact with students within another region of the country/world on topic chosen.
Raise awareness about your causeCould we also add that they be asked to contact someone in a different time zone/culture/continent -pjhiggins 6/17/08 10:33 AM

CONTENT STANDARDS:

Social Studies ~Analyze how events are related over time ~Use critical thinking skills to interpret events, recognize bias, point of view, and content ~Assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources ~Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events ~Use effective strategies for locating information ~Compare and contrast competing interpretations of current and historical events Science ~Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of data, claims, and arguments ~Recognize that curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and honesty are attributes of scientists

Math ~With the development of mathematical reasoning, students recognize that mathematics makes sense and can be understood. They learn how to evaluate situations, select problem-solving strategies, draw logical conclusions, develop and describe solutions, and recognize how those solutions can be applied.

Language Arts ~Develop a collection of writings~Write for different purposes ~Develop and use knowledge of a variety of genres, including expository, narrative, persuasive, poetry, critiques, and everyday/workplace/writing ~Organize a response that develops insight into literature by exploring personal reactions, connecting to personal experiences, and referring to the text through sustained use of examples

PERFORMANCE TASKS:
  • create an rss feed in Google reader or your igoogle on your cause
  • create a new school for the 21st century using google sketchup
  • create a wiki on your cause
  • read stories about global development issues http://www.oambassadors.org/students/elementary-area/stories
  • Create a voicethread - about your cause extra points if you can contact students in the town, county, state, North America, different continents
  • Write a profile about an"everyday hero"
  • create a description of your school on google docs

  • include the learning environment
  • how will students be assessed?
  • which classes/skills will be taught
  • schedule ie. full year, 4 days a week?
  • where will you build your school
  • what grade level would you house in your school

  • Research paper either about your cause, a classmate's cause, or education in the 21st century
  • add you cause and your new school to a our google map with description
  • post editorial in Connections eZine
*
LEARNING PLAN

Students will learn that they are the future leaders of our country and by getting involved, they can begin to shape the future. They will understand that their involvement in world issues is very important. They will learn that with the advent of technology, "our world is shrinking" and that concerns that we have are shared by others around the world. Resources:http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/route21/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5&Itemid=2http:www.oambassadors.org/educators/mdg-overviewhttp:www.oambassadors.org/educatorshttp:www.oambassadors.org/students/elementary-area/take-actionhttp:www.who.int/ceh/en/Google sketch uphttp://www.connectivity.fi.ncsu.edu/resources/http:newschoolsproject.org/page.php?p=2.0http:www.ncvps.org/The Ideal 21st Century SchoolCreating the 21st Century SchoolCreate the 21st Century SchoolFree RiceSchool of the 21st CenturyBecoming a 21st century schoolBe the ChangeChildren of WarGapminder





3rd Marking Period To the Beat of Your Own Drum

Some notes for you to think about as you continue planning:
  • I like your essential questions; they are quantifiable and the students will see them as fair because they are things they can "know."
  • Pay close mind to how you "hook" them with this unit. Some compelling activity should occur in the beginning to get them thinking about the nature of what they are going to be looking at. Some of the best lessons I have ever seen begin by altering the students' perception from the beginning.
    • We have been saying "typical assignment, atypical outcome," but we could change that around.
    • An example for this would be to use some examples from the book below. Read biographies of the individuals mentioned, but don't include their names. Have the students try to match up the biographies with the people. They could then discuss these people in the context of "norms" and how they were breaking from it.
    • What about doing some form of simulation? Some teachers have done simulations with the Holocaust whereby some subset of students is chosen as the outcast group, and the rest of the students then react to it. I am sure we could find some to model this after. The types of questions that we could pose to the students is great after something like this.
  • What is great about the groups you selected below is that there are some great statistics available for students to analyze. What would be the best thing for students to use would be some form of visual representation of the data. Check out this video http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/279 (from the TED series that we watched the last time we met) and look at how he uses images he created to illustrate how wasteful culture is. If students could represent the data from these time period (percentage killed, jobs lost, $$ stolen, etc.) in a way that makes people, including themselves, see it differently, that would really drive home the point.
  • That Hawaii piece is interesting. See if you can find anything else out about that. It might even be a good idea to get a Hawaiian school to contact.-pjhiggins 6/23/08 2:32 PM


Possible Books:
Different Drummers - http://www.trafford.com/robots/98-0050.html
Stage 1 - Desired Results
Essential Questions:
  • What are the positive and negative consequences of deviating from the norm?
  • What would the world be like if everyone followed the "norm?"
  • How are "norms" determined?
  • How have people deviated from the "norms" over time?
  • Why do people get punished for being "different?"
Students Will Know:
  • All people are individuals who contribute to the world in their own way.
  • Conformity can be detrimental to society.
  • Fear often motivates people to chastise others for being "different."
  • Which groups have historically been punished for being "different" over time.
  • How peer pressure reaffirms norms and discourages individuality.
  • How seemingly harmless "norms" can have devastating consequences.
Students Will Be Able To:
  • understand that individuality is an important part of our society.
  • identify stereotyping and "profiling" as a negative aspect of our society.
  • make judgments based on fact versus assumptions.

Content Standards:
Social Studies
  • Analyze data in order to see persons and events in context
  • Use effective strategies for locating information
  • Summarize information in written, graphic, and oral forms
  • Analyze how events are related over time
  • Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events
  • Formulate questions based on information needs
Science
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of date, claims, and arguments
Math
  • By using various representations, students will be better able to communicate their thinking and solve problems
Language Arts
  • Write for different purposes
  • Gather, select, and organize information appropriate to a topic, task, and audience
  • Organize a response that develops insight into literature by exploring personal reactions, connecting to personal experiences, and referring to the text through sustained use of examples
  • Use a variety of strategies to organize writing, including sequence, chronology, cause/effect, problem/solution, and order of importance
  • Use relevant graphics in writing

Stage 2 - Assessment Evidence

Performance Tasks
  • Children's Book
    • Create a book about a character who does not fit in
    • Discuss the similarities in the plot of ALL stories
      • Are the "different" characters always punished?
      • Why are the "different" characters punished?
      • What makes the "different" characters different?
      • Are there any positive consequences for the differences?
    • Use story as a springboard for terms: conformity, individuality, peer pressure, ostracize
  • Show Clueless clip
  • Study groups who have not fulfilled the standards for normal throughout history
    • Salem Witch Trials
    • Native Americans
    • Spanish Inquisition
    • African Americans
    • Gypsies
    • Holocaust
    • Women
      • What do these groups have in common?
      • What motivated people to ostracize these groups?
      • How were these groups punished?
      • Why was it detrimental to our society to punish these groups?
      • Include economic date regarding disparities in income.
  • Use current events/articles to explore which groups are ostracized today
    • Study what percentage of population the ostracized group satisfies
    • Hawaii has less racism because there is no dominant group in terms of population statistics
    • Create a PSA using any type of media to build awareness of how these groups are being ostracized
    • Include statistics, demographics, visuals to supplement their point
    • Use examples of other PSAs to show students effective strategies
  • Read poems from Unsettling America
    • Poems show the pain of not fitting in to the norms which exist in modern day America
  • Read excerpts from Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
    • Can kids relate to the experiences of Peter Houghton?
    • Why do these types of events occur?
    • How should kids like Peter handle being ostracized?
  • Analyze song lyrics which address issues of conformity and deviation
    • Why are these songs so popular?
  • Possible Research Project
    • Choose a group or person who has not met social norms but has had a positive effect on society and complete research for a paper
  • Culminating Project
    • Create a society where people would not be punished for non-conformity
    • Create a rationale for your society based on what we have learned so far
Stage 3 - Learning Plan
Students will learn about how differences are handled in our society including how people are treated when they are deviate from norms, what motivates this treatment, and the negative consequences of punishing differences. Students will also hypothesize why these deviant groups have changed over time.


4th Back to the Future


Stage 1 – Desired Results

Essential Questions:

~How has history contributed to the present?
~How can we successfully learn from the past?
~What factors serve to influence our culture?
~How does technology affect the way in which we communicate?
~What type of impact will our current actions have on the future?

Students Will Know:

• New history is constantly being produced. What we do today will be studied and analyzed by future scholars and historians.
• Acknowledging varied, conflicting accounts of the past is vital in forming a larger understanding of the present.
• History can be a rich, fulfilling area of inquiry when properly questioned and analyzed.
• New advances in technology can in influence our culture in both positive and negative ways.
• Actions taken today may have surprising/unexpected results in the future.

Students Will Be Able To:

• Analyze and compare/contrast several historical events from various perspectives.
• Analyze the current state of our language and its progression into the future.
• Make predictions about the future repercussions of our current actions.
• Recognize language as a dynamic, vibrant force that is influenced by its speakers.
• Evaluate present day society and determine which factors are truly important and relevant.

Content Standards:

Social Studies
~Analyze how events are related over time
~Use critical thinking skills to interpret events, recognize bias, point of view, and content
~Assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources
~Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events
~Use effective strategies for locating information
~Compare and contrast competing interpretations of current and historical events

Science
~Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of data, claims, and arguments
~Recognize that curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and honesty are attributes of scientists

Math
~With the development of mathematical reasoning, students recognize that mathematics makes sense and can be understood. They learn how to evaluate situations, select problem-solving strategies, draw logical conclusions, develop and describe solutions, and recognize how those solutions can be applied.

Language Arts
~Develop a collection of writings
~Gathers and uses information for research purposes
~Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media

~Write for different purposes
~Develop and use knowledge of a variety of genres, including expository, narrative, persuasive, poetry, critiques, and everyday/workplace writing
~Organize a response that develops insight into literature by exploring personal reactions, connecting to personal experiences, and referring to the text through sustained use of examples

Civics
~Understands issues concerning the disparities between ideals and reality in American political and social life
~Understands the historical perspective


Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence Performance Tasks:

  • Current Events (RAFT)
    • Students will take a look at current events from unusual perspectives through the use of various RAFT writing activities. In an effort to keep current event discussions relevant, the stories chosen will fall into 3 basic categories.
      • Potential Topics:
        • Communication/Language - Students will look at an excerpt from the article "Cyber-disinhibition" By Daniel Goleman. Potential topics include: Cyber-bullying, chat rooms, "Myspace/Youtube celebrities," etc... (This can serve as either an introduction or a supplement to the chat room experiment.)
        • Environment - Students will discuss new green policies and practices. Class will speculate on how our advances in technology and society affect the environment.
        • Politics/Government - Class will analyze the upcoming election. Students may look at the needs and concerns of various special interest groups. They will be asked to take on these personalities while analyzing the candidates' choices in their race for presidency.
  • Literary/Sci-Fi timeline, Creating a modern Sci-Fi story
    • Students will discuss the genre of science fiction and consider its use as a "technological barometer" through the ages. Students will first look at the sci fi works of the mid 1800s (Jules Verne, etc...) and look at how the ideas of exploration were very prevalent during this period. Students will then take a look at the sci fi heroes of of the 1930s (Superman, Flash Gordon, etc...) and examine the rise of the "pulp hero". Old Science Fiction radio shows are available for listening here: <http://sfcreators.com/> After discussing the differences between these two time periods, students will then look to our present day science fiction. The class will take a look at a few short Bradbury/Aasimov/Vonnegut works, along with modern sci fi movies, and note the progression in values. Using the media center for research, students will look at the progression of this genre of literature, then work in groups to generate timelines. After constructing these charts, students will take a step back and analyze contemporary culture. For example: What are we writing about today? In which areas of science and technology are we interested? Afraid of? Why? Students will be writing their own contemporary science fiction stories as a culminating activity to this portion of the unit.
  • Pitching a "Reality Show That Matters"
    • Students will look at the state of popular entertainment, reality television in particular. Kids will discuss the media's growing tendency to push the envelope and explore uncharted territory with its shows' choice in subject matter. Students will work in groups to essentially pitch an idea for a "reality show that matters". They will be required to choose a topic for their show that should be out there for the public to see. Class will look at clips from some less desirable reality shows in order to see what not to do with their own shows. Students will have to consider the cost of the show, a "mission statement" for their program, potential demographics for the show, and rationale for the subject matter.
  • Virtual Tour Critique
    • In an effort to determine the validity of "virtual experience," students will take a virtual tour of a place that most of know fairly well. They will take notes on the various sensory details that they experience during this tour. Afterwards, students will reflect back on the experience and evaluate its efficacy. A Socratic discussion will be held to discuss its pros and cons. Is a virtual tour just as good as a real one? What's better about visiting a location virtually? What's worse? Is there truly something special about authenticity, or is it a thing of the past? Is simulation just as good as reality?
  • "Letter vs Text Message" Debate
    • Students will look at an example of 19th century courtship by taking a look at their suggested methods for romantic letter writing. Students will then compare this with our current methods of communication/courtship. Students will be split up into two groups. They will stage a debate. Example questions: How have cell phones/email/texting changed the way we communicate? Is the art of letter writing dead? If so, do kids today even care? What's the next step? What form of communication seems more appealing to you? Why have the standards for effective communication changed so drastically over the years?
  • Ongoing linguistic/slang journal
    • In an effort to look at our language and the ways in which it changes, students will be asked to keep a "slang journal". They will be asked to keep a weekly journal of any new slang terms/changes in the language that they have heard throughout the course of the week, barring any foul language they may have encountered. These updates can be from popular film and television, in books, or just in their everyday conversations. Each entry should list the word, its definition, its apparent origin, and a brief personal analysis/reaction. Students will be asked to respond to the following prompts for each of their entries: Do you like this change? Why/why not? How long do you think it'll stick around in our language? Did we have a need in our language for this new change?
  • The Anonymous Chat Room Experiment
    • Students will engage in a problem solving experiment where they will be asked to participate in a partially anonymous message board OR chat room (Whichever option is more feasible). The teacher will assign unique screen names to each student for the purpose of this discussion. The teacher will know the identities of all the students, but they won't know the identities of one another. Kids will break off into random, anonymous groups and go off into separate chat rooms. They will be asked to print out a log of their entire conversation. Each room will be given a series of challenges/problems. These challenges could be as simple as little logic-based problems, or more complex case studies. Participants will be responsible for working through these problems and assuming various leadership positions, all through the framework of electronic anonymity. Afterwards, class will discuss the various pros and cons of anonymous communication over the internet. Questions: How did this make your challenge harder? Easier? What did you notice about the way in which you spoke with one another? Where can you see this type of communication being useful? Can you think of any other applications for this method of discussion? Did you notice that the quality of discussion improved or worsened over the course of this experiment? This will be an ongoing activity, essentially taking the place of the mandatory blog entries. Students will reveal their identities at the end of the project.
  • Series of Historical Debates
    • Students will take a look at several of the major occurrences from their 5th grade history curriculum. Students will first be asked to think back on the information that they learned about the particular topic. The teacher will then tell students that this information will be used as a backdrop or "jumping off point" for further inquiry. Students will research the less popular perspectives from the particular historical event. For example-- if students were to discuss the Boston Tea Party, students would be encouraged to think about different witnesses that may have been present that day--revolutionaries, British loyalists, old men/women, young children, etc... This will essentially be a RAFT activity taken to the next level. Students will first research all of the "fringe knowledge" surrounding the given topic, and then continue on with speculation as they assume the role of this "historically silent" persona. Depending on the historical event in question, this activity may culminate in a mock trial or a role-playing Socratic seminar.
  • Newspaper/Magazine From the Future
    • Students will work in groups to create a magazine/newspaper from the future. This activity will come towards the end of the unit. Based on the information that they've gathered, students will be asked to speculate on the future of our society. Rather than just discussing it, however, kids will be applying their knowledge and making predictions in several different mediums. Headlines, articles, political cartoons, etc... will all be included in this mock periodical. Though the goal of this assignment is speculation, that's not to say that kids should just make outlandish predictions. Students will be including some type of rationale with this project, justifying their predictions.
  • Multimedia Time Capsule ("History That Can't Be Written")
    • Students will build multimedia time capsules that represent our "active history"--i.e all the history that can't be recorded in text books. Kids will decide on the major shifts/trends in our modern day society and design presentations to speculate on the future repercussions of these trends and patterns (Garage Band or iMovie)

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Students will begin this unit by first acknowledging history as a vibrant, applicable discipline that requires critical analysis rather than just memorization. They will learn the value of empathy and critical thinking with relation to historical occurrences. By taking on various perspectives throughout history and mentally removing themselves from today's pop culture, students will actually have the chance to analyze the reasoning and purpose for the world around them. After analyzing trends and progress in our culture throughout the years, the final portion will be devoted to making predictions based on the implications of our current actions and the impact that they may have on our future. A culminating multimedia time capsule will serve to wrap up all that they have learned and get them to make realistic predictions about the future.

Potential Resources:
- "After several generations of living in the computer culture, simulation will become fully naturalized. Authenticity in the traditional sense loses its value, a vestige of another time." By Sherry Turkle
http://www.edge.org/q2006/q06_print.html - Articles

- Chesterfield's Art of Letter Writing Simplified -- Compare text messaging with letter writing
http://digital.library.pitt.edu/cgi-bin/t/text/text-idx?c=nietz;cc=nietz;view=toc;idno=00z792242m --

- Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision-Makers By Richard Neustadt and Ernest May -- Provides a basic framework for using the past to solve current day problems. Also provides several case studies and demonstrates how to use them in practical situations.

-RAFT generator
(www.newtools.org)

-Science Fiction throughout the ages--radio shows, excerpts, timelines, etc...
http://sfcreators.com



----MISCELLANEOUS UNITS THAT CAN BE USED THROUGHOUT THE YEAR---


MYSTERIES OF THE WORLD/NJ

STAGE 1 - DESIRED RESULTS ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
  • Are history's mysteries really "unsolvable?"
  • How are effective investigations conducted?
  • How can we effectively support claims/inferences?
STUDENTS WILL KNOW:
  • Background information on various historical mysteries.
  • The steps taken to investigate an unknown.
STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO:
  • Make inferences based on information
  • Support their arguments with relevant facts and material
  • Create a character and an experience based on their understanding of the historical event
CONTENT STANDARDS: Social Studies
  • Use critical thinking skills to interpret evetns, recognize bias, pov, and content.
  • Assess the credibility of primary and secondary sources
  • Analyze data in order to see persons and events in context.
  • Formulate questions based on information needs.
  • Use effective strategies for locating information.
  • Distinguish fact from fiction by comparing sources about figures and events with characters and events.
  • Summarize information in writing, graphic and oral forms.
Science
  • Evaluate the strenghts and weeknesses of data, claims, and arguments.
  • Recognize the fact that the results of scientific investigations are seldom esactly the samd and that replication is often necessary.
  • Recognize that curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and honesty are attributes of scientists.
Math
  • Problem posing and porlbme solving involve examining situations that arise in mathematics and other disciplines and in comment experiences, describing these situations mathematically, formulating appropriate mathematical questions, and using a vareity of strategies to find solutions.
  • Communication of mathematical ideas involves student's sharing their mathematical understandings in oral and written form with their classmates, teachers, and parents.
  • Develop confidence in themselves as mathematical learners.
  • Students can translate readily between fractions and decimals, or between algebra and geometry to other content areas.
  • With the development of mathematical reasoning, students recognize that mathematics makes sense and can be understood. They learn how to evaluate situations, select problem solving strategies, draw locial conclusions, develop and describe solutions, and recognize how those solutions can be applied.
  • By using various representations, students will be better able to communicate their thinking and solve problems. Using multiple representations will encrich the problem solver with alternative perspectives on the problem.
  • Students should explore both new and familiar concepts with calculators and computers and should also become proficient in using tehcnology as it is used by adults.
Language Arts
  • Write for different purposes and a variety of audiences.
  • Gather, select, and organize information appropriate to a topic, task, and audience.
  • Organize a response that develops insight into literature by exploring personal reactions, connecting to personal experiences, and referring to the text through sustained use of examples.
  • Write reports based on research with a scope narrow enough to be thoroughly covered, supporting the main idea or topic with facts, examples, and explanations from authoritative sources, and including a works consulted page.
  • Use a variety of strategies to organize writing, including sequences, chronology, cuase/effect, problem/solution, and order of importance.
*
STAGE 2 - ASSESSMENT EVIDENCE PERFORMANCE TASKS:
  • Anticipatory Set - Solving a Mystery
    • Hang up a series of photos of various objects
    • Include a brief synopsis of a scene that the students walk in on
    • Students will write a newspaper article explaining what happened
    • Share article with the class and discuss the validity of each article - what makes on better than the other?
    • How are math/science/social studies/prior knowledge involved with creating the solutions?

  • Watch episode from Unsolved History
    • What methods do the investigators use to solve the unsolved historical mysteries?
    • What makes certain theories more believable than others?
    • Create an alternative solution using the same steps.

  • Students will be assigned/choose from one of the following unsolved mysteries
    • Jamestown in Roanoke Island
    • The Bog Bodies
    • Amelia Ehrhardt
    • Bermuda Triangle
    • Atlantis
    • Crop Circles
    • Area 51
    • Roswell
    • DB Cooper
    • Alexandria
    • JFK Assassination
    • Easter Island
    • The Mary Celeste
    • Alcatraz
    • Cave Art
    • Jersey Devil
    • Marfa Lights
    • Loch Ness Monster
    • Big Foot
    • Extinction of the Dinosaurs
  • Google Maps of all different mysteries
    • students will insert a placemark in Google Maps where their mystery is located as well as pictures or visual representations of their mystery
    • they will analyze the placement of the all place marks to see if there are any mathematical correlations that can be drawn
    • essentially they will create a postcard from their location
    • link to primary documents and artifacts

  • Solve the assigned mystery and present their solution with necessary evidence/explanation of inference - use previous exercises as a model for necessary information
    • PowerPoint
    • Using RAFT - write a journal entry from the perspective of someone involved in the mystery which incorporates the students' theory
    • Include specific statistics which support the claim
    • Include scientific theories which support the claim
STAGE 3 - LEARNING PLAN Students will research and learn about various unsolved mysteries of the world. They will explore way of interpreting facts as know, and they will explore data on the mysteries to help with understanding the situation and and the mystery involved with the topic. They will also explore the possibility of creating plausible explanations for these mysteries based on data and facts known to date. Students will also be explosed to determining credibility of sources. RESOURCES**http://investigation.discovery.com/tv-schedules/series.html?paid=141.15369.24576.4058.x** **http://investigation.discovery.com/tv-schedules/series.html?paid=141.15369.23689.3906.x** - Discovery Channel Series - Unsolved History **http://listverse.com/bizarre/another-10-unsolved-mysteries/** - List of unsolved historical mysteries and brief explanation of each **http://staffweb.brownsburg.k12.in.us/~tskibbe/unsolved_mysteries/resources.htm** - Unsolved Mysteries Webquest **http://childrensbooks.about.com/b/2006/05/19/the-mary-celeste-an-unsolved-mystery-from-history.htm** - One in a series of children's books written to help kids investigate unsolved mysteries. **http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/lostcolony/site/about.html** - lesson plan for Roanoke Island - the lost colony **http://www.mysteryquests.ca/** - website which provides lesson plans for mysteries in Canada - gives students information and outlines how they should solve the mysteries **http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/636721/unsolved_mysteries_research_powerpoint.html?page=2&cat=4** - PowerPoint project for Unsolved Mysteries - includes a list of possible unsolved mysteries


Forbidden Foods


ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
Why are more and more children being diagnosed with food allergies?
What can we do to make students with food allergies more comfortable school?
How can we bring awareness to this cause?
What steps can be taken to prevent food allergies?

RESOURCES
http://www.kidswithfoodallergies.org/?gclid=CJeN-tXYv5QCFQSwFQodwH2jUg
http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/kids/wr/article/0,28391,1724809,00.html
http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/kids/wr/article/0,28391,1724814,00.html
http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/kids/wr/article/0,28391,1724815,00.html
http://www.nydailynews.com/lifestyle/health/2008/05/21/2008-05-21_food_allergies_are_becoming_more_common.html
http://www.foodallergyproject.org/news002.html
http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/OnCall/story?id=2107158
http://www.foodallergyproject.org/news001.html
http://www.foodallergyproject.org/news004.html
Food Allergies for teens
ZipSkinny
Food allergies for kids



STUDENTS WILL KNOW:
food allergies are on the rise
we all need to be aware of food allegies
we all need to know how to make students with food allergies comfortable


STUDENTS WILL BE ABLE TO:
Read and comprehend Time For Kids articles on kids with food allergies
research food allergies using a customized search engine
create a recipe book using Google sites or MS Word for students with food allergies
create a google map plotting incidences of food allergies by region
identify foods that commonly produce allergic reactions
identify types of allergic reactions
identify steps to follow when there is a food allergy emergency
use voicethread or create a set of posters and oral presentation as sort of a public service announcement




CONTENT STANDARDS:
Science:
• Evaluate strengths/weaknesses of data, claims, and arguments
• Communicate experimental findings to others
Social Studies:
• Analyze how events are related over time
• Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events
• Formulate questions based on information needs
• Use effective strategies for locating information
• Summarize information in written, graphic and oral forms
Math:
• Pose and solve problems
• Describe these situations mathematically
• Formulate appropriate mathematical questions
• Use a variety of strategies to find solutions
• Communicate mathematical ideas in oral and written form with a variety of audience
• Connect school math to daily life
• Evaluate situations, select problem-solving strategies, draw logical conclusions, develop and describe solutions, and recognize how those solutions can be applied
• Use multiple representations
Language Arts:
• Write for different purposes and audiences
• Gather, select and organize information appropriate to a topic, task, and audience
• Write reports based on research with a scope narrow enough to be thoroughly covered, supporting main ideas with facts, examples, and explanations from authoritative sources, including a works consulted page
• create a persuasive and informative public service announcement campaign
• Use a variety of strategies to organize writing
• Use relevant graphics in writing

PERFORMANCE TASKS:
  • create a food allergy survey
  • answer comprehension questions related to Time For Kids Article
  • create a PSA using voicethread
  • create visual represenations such as graphs to illustrate the rise in food allergies
  • create a recipe that is food allergy friendly
  • create a "How to" in responding to an food allergy emergency
  • create a campaign bringing awareness to food allergy sufferers
  • explain why food allergies are on the rise
  • create presentation to other grade levels with information discovered within the allergy unit. Older grades will also be asked to participate in data gathering.

Mental Fitness


Essential Questions:

• What is mental fitness?
• Am I mentally fit?
• How can I improve my mental fitness?
• How do I learn?
• What are mnemonics and how can they help me?


Students Will Know:

• How the brain accumulates knowledge
• How they learn
• What mnemonics are and how/when to use them
• What it means to be mentally fit
• How to improve their own mental fitness


Students Will Be Able To:

• Solve logic problems, brain teasers, lateral thinking puzzles, analogies, and other brain games
• Use a variety of mnemonic devices to help retain information
• Use a variety of techniques to improve mental fitness
• Practice and analyze the impact of learning in different styles
• Differentiate effective from ineffective instruction
• Formulate learning activities for others based on their learning styles
• Create effective self-tests and self-practice exercises


Content Standards:

Science:
• Communicate experimental findings to others
• Recognize that the results of scientific investigations are seldom exact and that replication is often necessary
• Recognize that curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and honesty are attributes of scientists
Social Studies:
• Analyze how events are related over time
• Use critical thinking to interpret events, recognize bias, pov and content
• Analyze data in order to see persons and events in context
• Examine current issues, events, or themes and relate them to past events
• Formulate questions based on information needs
• Summarize information in written, graphic and oral forms
Math:
• Pose and solve problems, describe these situations mathematically, formulate appropriate mathematical questions, and use a variety of strategies to find solutions
• Communicate mathematical ideas in oral and written form to a variety of audiences
• Connect school math to daily life
• Evaluate situations, select problem-solving strategies, draw logical conclusions, develop and describe solutions, and recognize how those solutions can be applied
• Use multiple representations
Language Arts:
• Write for different purposes and audiences
• Gather, select and organize information appropriate to a topic, task, and audience
• Use a variety of strategies to organize writing
• Use relevant graphics in writing

Stage 2 – Assessment Evidence


Performance Tasks:

• Lesson plan
• Cartoon image of learning in preferred and nonpreferred styles
• Autobiography of a learner
• Analogies
• Oral demonstration of mnemonic success
• Flow chart
• Rant
• Resume of a part of the brain
• Personal experience narrative of mnemonic application

Stage 3 – Learning Plan

Students will first investigate the impact of memory on learning, how people learn, and what their own learning style is. They will create visual and written representations of how they learn. They will complete a variety of brain bafflers and compile data for how long it took them to complete the puzzles. Then, they will learn a variety of mnemonic devices and practice improving their memories. They will apply at least one of these devices personally or academically and write a narrative of how it worked. They will then demonstrate using a mnemonic device.
Next, students will create a lesson plan for a given topic that incorporates learning activities for a variety of learning styles. They will write an autobiography of themselves as a learner through time, including their predictions for their future learning.