There are many technology resources at our fingertips, and teachers need to ensure that the ones they choose to use in the classroom support meaningful learning objectives and their students’ development of understanding through play. Thomas and Brown (2011) recognize that “A growing digital, networked infrastructure is amplifying our ability to access and use nearly unlimited resources and incredible instruments while connecting with one another at the same time” (p. 18). The classroom of the 21st century, then, should look very different to that of the 20th century.
I have created a lesson plan for a class of fifth grade students that balances meeting common core standards and allowing children the opportunity to create, problem-solve, and evaluate. To help me create an effective 21st century lesson plan, I used Renee Hobbs’ (2011) list of core competencies: access, analyze, create, reflect, and act.
An essential question of this realistic fiction writing unit, “How do writers engage their readers in a short story from start to finish?” is powerful and overarching. Every writer wants their story to be well-liked! As an introduction to the unit, this lesson plan begins with students watching a video that summarizes and gives fresh ideas for the different key elements of a short story before class (flipped classroom strategy): setting, plot, and characters. The Educanon video was created to automatically stop after each key element and challenges students to process the ideas presented, then brainstorm ideas for a story of their own. They will do this in a GoogleDoc template, to equip the students for easy sharing with future partners and teachers, and to reinforce the idea that nothing is set in stone, as many do when they write in notebooks. The template includes tables, bullets, text boxes, and colors – all of which students are free to work within or modify to their liking. By using a template, I am helping them deepen their capacity to use tools within word processing well.
When students come to class, they now share their ideas with a writing partner by exchanging documents. A follow-up video prompts students to analyze their partner’s work and problem-solve issues that may have arisen in their planning (lack of conflict or weak themes) by commenting and revising their GoogleDoc. The preparation before a real conversation allows both people the time to think things through and the ability to get their thoughts out in a focused, yet open way.
By giving my students the focus from the video to concentrate on small pieces at a time, I am setting them up for success. GoogleDocs and collaboration with classmates and me gives them freedom and the knowledge that there is no “right answer”, but there are techniques to make your short story more effective.
Your comments on my lesson plan and its rationale are very welcome.
Bergman, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. USA: International Society for Technology in Education.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Retrieved from: http://www.newcultureoflearning.com/newcultureoflearning.pdf