Friday, February 20, 2015

Social Media in the Classroom: A unit example

In teaching it is often helpful to see how another teacher has put together a lesson our outlined a unit.  I know that by working with my team, the lessons and learning that takes place is greater than if I were trying to do everything on my own.  With that in mind, I would like to share with you a unit that incorporates social networking and the benefits that can be achieved by using this often controversial, but academically worthwhile technology.
Unit goals/objectives and resources
                My unit is designed for a high school world history class, and focuses on World War 1.  The basic overview of the unit is to allow the teacher to have immediate feedback of the student’s present level of understanding and for them to work together to make more informed decisions.  To achieve this, the students will be posting a daily blog, answering and responding to discussion questions and participating in a class debate, all of which will be done online.  Students will also be expected to track their learning through the use of I can statements that are related to the day’s academic goals.  This will be accomplished through my class website which is hosted by Haiku learning.  All of the activities I will be discussing are possible on third party platforms that are available to use for free, which means that if you want to use this idea, it is possible even without the Haiku platform.  This unit will target two Common Core standards WHST.9-10.6 and RH.9-10.2. WHST.9-10.6 states that students will, “Use technology, including the internet, to produce, publish, and update individual or shared writing products, while RH.9-10.2 asks students, “Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide and accurate summary of how key events or ideas develop over the course of the text.”  The unit will also be based around my districts history standards; these can easily be changed/adapted to fit your districts standards.
                I have included the Daily Learning sheet for this lesson.  On it you will see the daily lesson as well as the learning target for each student.  This also provides the student with a series of I can statements in which they are expected to track their learning throughout the unit.  I have also included each of the blog post topics the students are expected to answer and the warmup/discussion questions the students will work on each day.  Assessment for this unit will be based off their answers to their blog and discussion questions as well as their participation in the two debates.  Rubrics for blog posts and discussion questions are located at the bottom of those documents, while the rubric for the first debate is on the debate assignment guidelines.  The second debate is different and will be completed using an audio recording program called audacity.  These files will then be uploaded to the class website and the debate will take place digitally.  The guidelines and rubric for debate #2 are linked also.
Project Description/Overview
                This unit is designed to teach the students the causes and history of the First World War.  Throughout the unit the students will be using different types of social media to enhance and think critically about their learning.  The first day of the unit the students are creating a web page based on a character that they are assigned from one of the major countries that participated in the war.  This persona will be used throughout the lesson to complete the student’s blog entries.  Days two through four will provide the students with background information for their first debate.  This debate will have the students debating the true cause of the war based on the four main causes.  Days seven and eight again provide the students with background information on the impact of the war on the people of the main countries.  This leads the students into the second debate which covers who is really responsible for the start of the war.  Finally, the last two days of the unit are used for the students to complete their understanding of the war and then to formulate their answer to the overreaching learning target for the unit, understand how WW1 defined/changed the world.
Use of Social Media
                Throughout the lesson the students will be writing a daily blog that covers issues that were covered in class.  The day before the test I will randomly assign a student a fellow students blog to peer assess using the rubric I will also use to assess them with.  Three times throughout this unit the students will also be having an online discussion.  The goal of both of these activities is for the students to be able to gather a different perspective on the war and teach other.  On the days of the debate prep, days four and eight, the students will be using google docs to create their platform for the debate.  This will allow the students to all work on the same document throughout the period and then continue to work and edit their assignment at home.  As you will be able to see from the screen shots of the web page I created for this assignment, the students will be posting their debate opening statements to the website.  The students will then listen in class to those students that blamed their own country, based off of their character that was assigned the first day.  We will follow the debate format from the first assignment, but this one will be done entirely online, and will not include the conclusion.  Without the use of blogs, discussion boards and online digital resources this unit would be impossible to accomplish.  The ability for students to interact and teach each other is what makes this unit a dynamic and fluid learning experience for the students.

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