Thinking about designing and implementing an interdisciplinary unit? Why not start with a one day unit? It’s a positive first step at working collaboratively through the design process. A one day unit is also a fantastic opportunity to spotlight a critical skill or concept that cuts across all curriculum areas. The concentrated time of a one day unit allows for focused direct instruction and practice, making it more likely students will master the new learning.
Here are some thoughts on planning a one day interdisciplinary unit:
1. Scope must be very focused
- A skill (for example—citing evidence in an open ended response or deciding which websites to use in a research project or using Animoto for project work)
- A concept (for example: interdependence or culture or fairness or exploration of social issue like racism or discrimination, etc.)
2. Learning styles should be addressed
3. Unit should encompass all parts of the learning experience
- Decide on outcome(s)
- Access/build prior knowledge
- Introduce content
- Use instructional strategies that engage students and require higher thinking skills
- Provide multiple times for reflection, assessment for learning & feedback (these can be informal and short)
- Require a demonstration of learning
- Plan how to sustain learning after unit
Some questions to use to help plan:
- What outcomes do we want?
- How will we make it relevant to our students?
- How will we create BUZZ to hook students in the week before we begin?
- What will be our content? What instructional practices will work best? What type of formative assessment will we use to make sure students are understanding and mastering the material?
- What type of reflection pieces will we build in? What process should we use to give students time to revise their work for quality?
- How will we assess the students’ demonstration of learning?
- How will we check in with each other to ensure everyone’s on board throughout the planning and implementation of the unit?
- How will we sustain student learning after the unit is over?
Here’s a sample one day unit focusing on the reliability of websites:
Be a Black Belt in Internet Savvy
What outcomes do we want?
Students will learn to
- Check who owns a website & do a quick check for bias
- Recognize what .com, .org, .edu, etc. mean
- Become more skeptical of what they read on the web
- Learn some Boolean search tips
- Use other search sites besides Google to locate info
How will we make it relevant to our students?
- Connect to their own use of internet
- Perhaps a 3 K chart
What I know for Sure!!! What I think I Know!?! What I know Now!
How will we create BUZZ to hook students in the week before we begin?
- Gallery Wall— designate a wall in our rooms as a the Gallery of Upcoming Attractions. Post pictures of websites and have students vote on their reliability.
- Question Box (use this as a sponge activity at the end of class)–write a bunch of provocative questions about the topic: If something is printed on the web, it’s probably true because someone is checking out these web pages—true or false? Why do some URL’s end in .com and others .edu and others, .org? What does URL stand for? Pull one out the last 3 minutes of class and have students speculate. Invite students to add their own questions. We’ll be dramatic when we pull out a question, or we will ask a student who does enjoy a bit of drama to be the picker and reader.
- Graffiti Wall: put up chart paper and have students list skills a good Internet searcher needs. Review on the day of the unit. It will give us some information about what students know.
- 3 K Chart
How will we build/access prior knowledge?
- We’ll use the Literacy Information Quiz at November Learning site: http://novemberlearning.com/resources/information-literacy-resources/i-information-literacy-quiz/
- Start the day with this quiz in homeroom; perhaps create a bar graph representing scores before the unit and then make another one after the unit to see change in knowledge.
What will be our content? What instructional practices will work best?
How to read a website & finding out who publishes a website (http://novemberlearning.com/resources/information-literacy-resources/) Reflection—Why is this skill valuable?
How to check the history of website & check on external links (http://novemberlearning.com/resources/information-literacy-resources/) Reflection—How will this knowledge help us be better consumers of internet content?
Boolean searches (http://www.education-world.com/a_tsl/archives/01-1/lesson0012.shtml) Practice—students do some on their own and reflect on when they terms would be most helpful to them at school and in personal life.
Becoming a skeptic of web material using resources using at November Learning (http://novemberlearning.com/resources/information-literacy-resources/iii-websites-to-validate/)
We’ll plan lessons together, then divide the kids up and teach all of the lessons to the same group of students. If we can grab our technology teacher for the day, then groups would be smaller. Note to selves: Is this too much information—we may want to cut it down????
What type of formative assessment will we use to make sure students are understanding and mastering the material?
After each lesson, partners will complete an independent practice; we will use checklist to verify which students are successful. We will follow-up with those who aren’t during the day. If necessary, we will reteach with other examples.
What type of reflection pieces will we build in? What process should we use to give students time to revise their work for quality?
- Ticket to Lunch (10 minutes)
3 things I learned this morning about being a good consumer of web info.
2 questions I still have about searching the Internet (These questions will help us know what to address later)
1 thing I will always do now when I’m searching the web for new info
How will students demonstrate their learning?
Students pair up and choose a slip out of a hat that has a topic on it. Their task is to develop a list of potential sites that they might use for a research project. They will present their findings (with a visual) to a larger group where they will indicate the following: (1 hour & 15 minutes)
- Boolean strategies and search engine used and why
- Why they deem each site reliable (minimum of 2 reasons)
Wrap up—retake of quiz that started the day so students can check their acquisition of new learning (15 minutes)
How will we sustain student learning after the unit is over?
- We will map out a schedule for reviewing the key ideas on reliability of website for the rest of the year. Each content area will integrate their review into their regular instruction where they are using digital resources.
- Chart of Boolean search terms for each classroom—refer to them during instruction
- Chart of possible search engines and their advantages in each room—refer to them during instruction
- Perhaps the students could teach some of this info to parents? Teachers? Other students?