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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Making UbD a "Kid Thing"

Can You Help Me? Sure You Can!

In four weeks, I begin teaching 7th Grade Social Studies in the state of Georgia. We are responsible for History, Geography, Civics, Government, and Economics in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. The standards are undergoing more revision, so as the school year begins, teachers will not be assured of which standards from the draft will remain until several weeks in to the school year. The challenge is to get students to care about the content we must cover.

I've been rereading parts of Understanding by Design and Preparing Instructional Objectives over the past few weeks. Not really trying to "master" the content (since I've been using it for a few years), but to see if I can glean some insight on how to bring it to the students I'll have in class in a few weeks.

I've also been immersed in The Back Of The Napkin. I'm trying to learn how to make difficult things simple. Roam's insights are valuable once you realize what goes on before the stick figures get drawn. My nighttime reading is A Whole New Mind.

I share this so you can get a context of what's going on in my own learning.

Here's what I've come up with as a format for presenting units to my students.
  1. WAZ Up?
  2. Who Cares?
  3. So What?
The acronym stands for What are some issues? Analyze the importance? Zone in on the main ideas! Here's my thinking. A 2-3 minute introduction on the issues we must work on during the unit. Students then analyze what they think is important from the issues presented. Then we can focus on the main things the state standards say are important (but the students were allowed to realize the issues of importance "on their own" by thinking through them).

Who Cares?
This isn't meant to be sarcastic or harsh, although to the 7th grade mind it will be -- that's the point. What I want to do with this is find resources from people who have written, photographed, videoed, interviewed, or whatever else about the issue at hand. i hope to find enough material from differing viewpoints. For instance, we have to (un)cover the conflicts between Israelis and Arabs. Showing differing opinions on the "promise land" and who was promised what, and when will demonstrate who cares about something that, frankly, Georgia's 7th graders don't care about.

So What?
My favorite question ever. This is the conclusion of the unit. The so what? question is where we bring it home. The issues which warring parties in the middle east face are not much different than the gang activity that takes place in our hallways, and on the streets where I teach. Tagging (graffiti) is all about "promise land" territory. What happens in the middle east, happens in my town (and yours) just on a different scale. Apartheid was a minority authority, which my kids will understand because our school is 65% Hispanic student in a school with less than 1% of the teachers/staff who are Hispanic. [And teachers wonder why I keep trying to convince so many Hispanic students to go into teaching.]

So, what do you think? What am I missing? Can this approach work? What are things I should consider? Anyone, anyone -- Bueller, Bueller?

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At 6:02 PM, Blogger Ethan said...

Perfect layout of teaching! It's great that you tell the students how the topics are important, not just say that they're important. If you can relate anything back into your own life, then it will be easier to understand. A sort of analogy to your own experiences.

At 5:55 PM, Blogger Celeste said...

Actually I think that is an approach that will work with 7th graders. Good luck to you.

Catoosa or Walker?


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