I am really excited about this project because I have never had students create websites before, and I cannot wait to see how they turn out. I have already started some of the pre-teaching. As a class we have learned about digital citizenship and our digital footprint. I feel as though students understand their role and responsibility to our online community of learners and they are excited about creating their own website. I have also started teaching students how to create their website using Google Sites and we have worked over the course of three classes so far in setting it up and adding our own personal touch. Students have created an “About Me” page, they have listed their interests and strengths, as well as set personal learning goals.
Course Overview: ELA Biographies
The target audience for this course are grade 5 and 6 students in a split grade classroom. They range in age from 10-12 years old. This is a French Immersion classroom and I am their English Language Arts teacher. I see them for 2.5 hours a week. All students in the course do have access to WIFI in their homes, however some do not always have access to a computer. For time periods when work will be expected to be completed at home or when synchronous at home meeting times are required students will have the opportunity to sign out a school Chromebook to use in their homes. The office does have a form in which parents will fill out and sign if there is a need to borrow a Chromebook. In this particular classroom there are no EAL learners and attendance is not an issue.
This class is full of enthusiastic learners that like to engage in their learning and ask lots of questions. This is my second year with this group, therefore a great working relationship has already been established.
This course is designed to run over a six week period, however may be adjusted depending on how well students engage with the topic.
This course is going to have a blended learning structure. All lessons will take place face to face however they will be recorded and uploaded to our LMS – either google classroom or google sites (depending on what is easier for students). At this point in time many students are away due to factors that are uncontrollable, therefore attaching the lessons so students can view asynchronously at home will be beneficial to them. Students can also access these videos at school when they need reminders or need a refresher on the information. All lessons will be recorded through Zoom as the share screen option will be very useful in showing students what they need to do.
Most of this project is done through self guided inquiry therefore students will have the option to complete tasks at home and at school. As I stated earlier I only see these students face-to-face for 2.5 hours a week, so in class time will be devoted to lessons and answering any questions that come up during the week.
Course Objectives and Learning Outcomes:
This course focuses on Biographies of people from all over the world. This unit will be around reading and writing outcomes from the grade 5 and 6 English Language Arts Saskatchewan Curriculum. Although there are many outcomes that this project covers, the focus will be on the following:
Analyze and respond to a variety of grade-level texts (including contemporary and traditional visual, oral, written, and multimedia texts) that address: identity (e.g., Exploring Heritage), community (e.g., Teamwork), social responsibility (e.g. What is Fair?)
Read and demonstrate comprehension of a range of contemporary and classical grade-appropriate fiction, script, poetry, and non-fiction (including magazines, reports, instructions, and procedures) from various cultures including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit and countries (including Canada).
Compose and create a range of visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore: identity (e.g., What Should I Do), community (e.g., This is Our Planet), social responsibility (e.g. Teamwork) and express personal thoughts shaped through inquiry.
View, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of texts that address identity (e.g., Growing Up), social responsibility (e.g., Going the Distance), and efficacy (e.g., Making Our Community More Peaceful).
Read independently and demonstrate comprehension of a variety of information texts with some specialized language including grade level instructional materials, non-fiction books, reports and articles from magazines and journals, reference materials, and written instructions.
Create various visual, multimedia, oral, and written texts that explore identity (e.g., Your Choices), social responsibility (e.g., Looking for Answers), and efficacy (e.g., Systems for Living).
Create and present a variety of representations that communicate ideas and information to inform or persuade and to entertain an audience, including illustrations, diagrams, posters, displays, and cartoons
- What is the difference between a biography and an autobiography?
- How can I create a professional Google Site?
- How to write a blog?
- Who is/was the person I have selected to read about?
- Read about their life – growing up
- What they did for the world – what is their legacy
- What makes them special
- What can I do to make a difference in this world? What qualities do I have that are similar or different from the person in my book?
- What is my own social responsibility on this planet, and what can I do to make my home a better place (home, school, neighbourhood, province, country, world)?
Students will examine their thinking by summarizing every two chapters in a blog post, reflecting on the information that they have learned, and looking inward at themselves by comparing and contrasting themselves with the person in their biography. At the end of the unit they will deliver a presentation (that they can record and present – or deliver in person) outlining who this person is (from their biography) and their thoughts and feelings about what they did for the world. Just like in EC&I834 students will be asked to comment on each other’s blog posts. I feel as though this is a genuine way to get to know each other and to broaden our audience to include more than just the teacher and our parents. There are many advantages to having students blog which can be found in the following article:
This course heavily relies on access to a computer and the internet since all of the work will be done online. Students will have access to computers at the school, and if they don’t have a device at home, options will be available for them to borrow a device from the school. WIFI connectivity is not an issue for the students in this class so it is not a consideration in the design of this course. If it does become an issue in the future options will be available to the student to complete all work at school.
Who Was/Is biography book – our school library does not have enough books to provide each students with a copy – or that would provide enough choice to students. More have been ordered, but we have also put in a request to other schools to borrow their copies. The most difficult process with this activity was finding appropriate books for the grade 5 and 6 reading level, however after a lot of searching and with the help of our amazing teacher librarian, we were able to find a good assortment of books at each reading level.
An accommodation will be provided to students who have to self isolate at home, or who are not able to be at school for whatever reason they may have. As stated earlier all lessons will be recorded on Zoom and added to our preferred platform. Blog posts can be written either at home or at school, and any Google Site help will be provided in person. Students may wish to re-watch lessons in order to clarify any misunderstandings, or to solidify their understanding.
There are students in the class who get really nervous in-front of groups when presenting. Therefore students will have the opportunity to present their final presentation in one of two ways: recording their presentation, or doing it live in-front of the class. This final presentation will not be placed on the internet and will only be seen by students and the teacher in the classroom.
Edsby will be used for any communication that needs to be done outside of the classroom as it is the preferred method of communication with Regina Public Schools.
Students will be assessed based on the quality of their blog posts, how well they contribute to their classmates’ blog posts, as well as on their final presentation.
For the final presentation students will have the opportunity to choose an online presentation medium such as Google Slides, Haiku Deck, Prezi, Kahoot, iMovie, Keynote, etc.
Students will be expected to make one significant blog post per week or for every two chapters of the biography they are reading. Each blog post will be assessed on the quality of writing, voice, the use of images and or tags/links within the blog post, and thoughtfulness of comments made on others blog posts.
Rationale for Design:
This course is designed to meet ELA learning outcomes for both grade 5 and grade 6. By using different learning modules, allowing for work to be done at different times and locations, and by providing a lot of choice in both the book of choice, and the ways in which the final presentation can be done, I am hoping to meet the needs of many different learning types. My hope is that students will find the work they are doing to be both fun and relevant to their learning and the way learning will take place in their futures. It is also my hope to help foster digitally literate and responsible students who know how to interact and present themselves both online and off.
Hi Chris, This sounds great! Having taught middle years for many years I can see that this project will be very engaging for the students. I really like the idea of recording the lessons to be viewed at a later time. I also really like your idea for students who are nervous to record their presentations.
This sounds incredibly engaging for students!
I love that you are already putting your unit into practice!
I can’t wait to follow along!
Chris – super cool idea! I really liked using blogs as a way for students to show their understanding/comprehension. I am hoping to get my students set up on Google Sites this year to be able to blog about prompts and quesitons pertaining to the work we are doing in class. I am looking forward to seeing how your course design plays out!
This sounds like something I would have been 100% invested in when I was in school. I’d be interested to see how your Google Sites turn out. I like your idea with students commenting on each others’ blog posts – great way to encourage participation with students who may be quieter in a face-to-face discussion.
Hi Chris, This sounds like a great class for your grade 5 and 6 students. I think that it is a great idea to give your students options on how they want to present: whether in person or video them. As someone who moved to Canada in 5th grade from the Philippines, I remember being self-conscious of my accent and pronunciations, and just being very nervous whenever I had to present. So, as my Grade 5 self, I appreciate having the option to record a presentation.