Unit Structure

I've organized my units of study with a similar structure, in an effort to create consistent logistics for my students. Each of my units contain anywhere from one to three smaller modules. Each module will contain ANCHORS: various online discussion posts with essential questions, essential readings, and essential terms; ACTIVITIES: which include all assignments; ASSESSMENTS: where the students will show mastery of our DIPPS by completing a DIPPSheet (the kids like the name), and a “So, what?” discussion post for students to explore connections to their lives (Is this like something in your life? What other time in history has something similar happened?, etc.), and any other assessments I see fit; and ACCESSORIES: which might be any miscellaneous things that could go with this module (e.g. videos, comics, pics, etc.).

In our learning management system (My district uses Schoology), it would be organized as I have shown in the graphics, below:

Using this concept, I can allow students to complete different tasks based on their level of understanding or personal preferences. While essential questions are constantly woven throughout the entire unit, specific state standards are addressed. The mastery of these standards can be achieved in any way the student would like, cleared with me. In each unit in a course, I distribute paper and electronic copies of a unit sheet that helps with the logistics of completing assignments. These unit sheets (an example is provided in the link, below) can be used to allow students to identify the assignments that are required, and then select individual ones they feel will help them learn the course material. You'll notice that I also include a "Choose Your Own Adventure" in each module, allowing for students to more easily follow their curiosity or passion, and leaving room for the fact that my activities may not engage every student.

Unit Sheet Example - 2016

What I've Learned

After using this structure for a few years, there are some things I will change for the 2020 school year:

  • I like the activities I have, but I don't have enough of them. The result is that when a student chooses a particular activity, or activities, I have not ensured that that/those particular activities will encompass all the standards that must be learned and mastered. I have to re-organize in order to ensure that.

  • After attending a workshop on standards-based/standards-referenced grading, I think a better way of doing this is to identify the priority standards that must be studied deeply, versus those that can suffice with lower level understanding. a dozen years ago, we called these "power standards", but I was still too inexperienced to know what that meant. Now, I have a much better understanding of them, but also am also a seasoned enough practitioner to implement them. This will likely force the reorganization of my unit sheets I referenced, above.

  • I must be more mindful of the barriers to learning and the differences in knowledge students bring to class as a result of different cultural capital, age disparity between my students and I that affect context, and socio-economic differences. The activities I provide must reflect this.

A reader checking back closer to August, 2020 will likely see a much different unit sheet, attending to these issues.

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