Planning a Unit

This can be daunting task. Don’t panic.

Sometimes you have to pick and choose what your students will learn. We don’t have time to do everything. As History teachers, we have a little lee way in what we can focus on as the skill sets are not askeep-calm-and-pretend-it-s-on-the-lesson-plan-44 prescribed as they would be in English or Math. Historical Inquiry can be built into any lesson on any topic.

My school board recently switched to a focus on “assessing by expectation” rather than by Achievement Chart categories. This change means it becomes a lot less complicated to plan and create tasks and tools which allow the student to show their mastery of the expectation.

The “Planning sheets” below allow teachers to list their tasks, the direct curricular links and then (for their own professional information) the achievement category. This can then provide a framework in which to develop lessons to fit the tasks and assessments. Piece of cake!

CGC1P Planning Sheet (2)

CHV2O Planning Sheet (2)

CHC2D Planning Sheet

Once I have the framework for my assessments, I plan the themes of my lessons. This is a typical month for my Canadian History (applied) course. You can see I am constantly making revisions (pencil, people) and the theme is enough for me to remember what we did when a student asks.

There isn’t much in the boxes as I have a pretty clear idea of what activities will go with which themes. I’ve also been at this game long enough that sometimes I just go in and “wing it [not recommended for new teachers].”

You can also see evidence of the problem I face every year: getting to Strand E before the final culminating tasks and the exam.  This year I think I’m on the track to teach about 1982-present. Maybe. CHC2P Lessons

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The Internet is Awesome

I love the internet.

It’s true. Sure, just like everything else touched by humanity, the internet has awesome places and very, very dark places. Here are my picks for the best places for personal or educational growth.

Life and Education Inspirations

Planet Money podcast

I can’t get enough of this fantastic podcast. When I first started listening, my knowledge of economics was shakey at best. After listening for 4 years, I can understand conversations about quantitative easing, discuss the global impact of cotton subsidies and can identify the “new” ways to hit the top of the pop music charts. The bite-size 20 minute segments twice a week make listening manageable.

This year I asked my grade 12 Challenge and Change students to use analyze an episode and apply a socio-/psycho-/anthro- logical lens. They ate it up like candy. Many have become obsessive listeners. (assignment here: Plant Money podcast analysis.)

This American Life podcast

This show from NPR is representative of all that is good in public radio. Clever reporting, heartbreaking and heartwarming storytelling and the delightful charm of Ira Glass makes this the best hour on radio ever week. Don’t let the name of this show turn you off, Canadians. These stories are stories of humanity, not just Americans.

bonus: sometimes they have David Sedaris read his stories. *squee!*

The Story Globe is an awesome resource for a geographer like myself. I use it for my Challenge and Change class.

Here are two of my favourite episodes.

TAL500_illustration_by_steve_dressler2_lg_0

#1: Nummi (Episode 403) – if someone had said, “Here’s a really great podcast about a car manufacturing plant, it’s awesome!” I would have laughed in their face. I believe I did (sorry, @gduncanclark). This episode is a testament to the outstanding journalism and storytelling I’ve come to know and love with This American Life. It is a fascinating (and awesome) episode.

#2: I now hesitate to eat calamari at restaurants. Episode 484: Doppelgangers

Sociological Images

I can’t say enough about my favourite website, Sociological Images. This site is curated by Lisa Wade, a professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles. Numerous other academics contribute to the ever-growing bank of social scientific reflections on the world around us.

#1: Course Guide to Sociology of Gender

#2: Pointlessly Gendered Products (with a contribution from yours truly!)

perceptions

#3: Rebranding the Prune (because nothing escapes the sociological lens)

#4: Heightism Most of us know about racism, ageism and sexism. @SocImages does a fantastic series of posts about Heightism – when people are judged as a result of their height.

Youtube for Learning

My favourite channels:

1) Crash Course: The Brothers Green have outdone themselves with this fantastic series of videos covering World History, world religions, American History, Science, Psychology and Literature.

2) PBS Idea Channel Check out “Bronies Redefining masculinity” and “There’s no Such thing as offline”

#3 Vihart – A beautiful union of math and art.

Great Places on Twitter

Personal Interests

spaceballs

I didn’t know I like astronomy. I have @Failedprotostar to remind me daily that space is cool.

Love Ottawa? Love Local History? Love Art? Love local Ottawa artist and amateur historian, Andrew King.

Education:

Russell Tarr @russelltarr – This British Ex-Pat in Toulouse, France exemplifies the marriage of History and Technology in the classroom. He loves “sharing creative ideas on Twitter & offending Mr. Gove [British British Conservative Party politician, the Secretary of State for Education].” He can also be found on Tweets as @activehistory and @classtools.

Megan Valois, @msvalois, is a local Ottawa teacher extraordinaire. She considers herself a “21st century teacher/learner.” Check out her Twitter feed or her website at meganvalois.com for great ideas for History and English as well as differentiated instruction, assessment for learning & #edtech!

The Good Doctors:

I’m pretty lucky to know some very intelligent people who have the degrees (and peer reviewed journals) to prove it! Beyond their talents in their respective fields, these Drs are also fascinating and humourous folk. Check out @thejennye (Canadian History, Women and Sport), @postWarHist (Canadian Cold War Military History) and @mittenstrings (Canadian Literature) for musings and links to amazing places and discussion about historical and contemporary issues.

Resources: Even Bad Ones can be Great!

This week I challenged my class of Bachelor of Education candidates to think outside of the box. I asked them to evaluate a variety of print and electronic resources and discuss alternative ways to use these resources in class.

Often, teachers are given limited resources but are still required to inspire students to enjoy history. Sometimes an dusty old box or a pile of worksheets can be given new life through a little creativity. Other resources can be used in lessons about “why don’t we use this sort of thing anymore?”

Here’s what my teacher-candidates came up with. I have provided as many links as possible so that you may use these ideas too!

An Open Letter to Dr. Brian Osborne, Queens University

I originally wrote this letter in October of 2008.

Today, Dr. Osborne wrote me, for the second time, to say thank you for this letter. Apparently it keeps popping up when he searches his emails for “Stephanie.”  The whole thing is still true, and it speaks to the importance of gratitude. To me, it needed it to be said, but I forget that even someone as accomplished and as wise as Dr. Osborne also loves to get warm fuzzies.

My message to you: thank someone who has helped your life. And thank you, again, Dr. Osborne.

——————

Salutations, Dr. Osborne!

I read your spring convocation address in the Geography newsletter and was instantly reminded of my own convocation in 2001. You were sitting among the other dignitaries. Although all the other professors looked bored to tears, you smiled as you removed a book from the folds of your academic hat and began to pass time in a much more entertaining way. I am sad to hear the same hat is not available to you for the same purposes this year!

I’d like to hope you are teaching your fourth years the cultural and geographic varieties of French Wine and sports matches. I certainly can’t open a bottle of wine without thinking of your classes (that’s where I learned to drink the stuff!). I became quite the soccer (eep! Football) fan living in Scotland, although the sport was always second string to the stories and songs of the fans, who would fall over themselves to tell me of the history of one rivalry or another.

It is with this knowledge and exploratory spirit I embark on my next experience in Australia in 2009. I have a teaching exchange in Sydney and will, once again, justify my drinking and hooliganism as acedemic research.

I try to inspire my own high school students with the same excitement you demonstrate. Thank you a million times over for igniting my passion for people, spaces and places.You remain one of the most influential people to have touched my life.

best to you and yours, Stephanie Pearson, BAH 2001Dr. Osborne and Author

How Children Learn Around the World

I love teaching anthropology to students. Here’s a great resource to get them thinking about cultures around the world in a context they understand: the classroom.

http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/08/20/classroom-portraits-julian-germain/

Are these students bored? Serious?

What strikes you about the classrooms they are sitting in?

What is the same about all/most of those classrooms? What elements jump out?