I may be nuts, but I just love to create unit plans. We recently had two student teachers at our school, and one of them said when given the chance to create a unit plan, “We were taught to find unit plans online. Why reinvent the wheel?” I love using Internet resources, but I don’t think I’ve ever used an Internet unit plan as is. Every class has different weaknesses and strengths, I gather a number of Internet resources and pick and choose what fits. Here’s my process:
First, using Understanding by Design I create the top of my unit plan–the Standards I will teach, the Essential Questions and Essential Ideas.
I google essential questions and ideas when I’m working on this as even if I don’t use them, they often spark good ideas.
Then I work on specific content and skills I need to teach. Some of those, I lift directly from the Internet, like the Big6 skills.
I also decide how to assess students’ achievement of the standards. Our goal as language arts and social studies teachers in this assignment is to give students their first experience in writing a research paper. We will assess the paper using the 6-Traits Scoring Guide from Education Northwest. I always use the 6-point rubric because the research shows that teachers often choose the middle number on a 5-point rubric. a 6-point rubric forces you to make a choice.
At this point I also write an explanation of the assignment ROME explanation for the students.
Now the fun begins–looking for Internet resources/ideas which I can use to teach the content and skills. For teaching content, I almost always go first to Prezi where I find many dynamic presentations which often have embedded YouTube videos.
Then I troll my Pinterest boards looking for treasures I’ve tucked away for when I need them, like this visual about research which I’ll print out and have the students put in their writing notebooks.I like to teach vocabulary with every read-aloud, so I let my fingers do the walking and look for units designed around specific books and look for vocabulary that is transferable from one book to another. I put the vocabulary on Quizlet. Here’s my vocabulary list for The Bronze Bow on Quizlet.
Since we are working of the skill of researching, I’ll show the students some of my favorite search engines and also teach them to use Diigo to store their research. They can annotate and highlight their stored web pages there. I also look for some scaffolding for research papers to help some of my students who struggle with differentiation. Having grown up in the days when ALL your research was done in libraries and from books that you hoped were not checked out, I rejoice in the plethora of tools at our fingertips!