Unit Draft


So, obviously we haven’t finalized our papers that go along with our units, but I want to contextualize some things first before you read through that. As I’ve said before this is from a Native American / Alaska Native lit course I’ve sort of worked on a bit here and there. This unit is from within the course – it’s not the beginning and it’s not the end, either. By this point in the course I am assuming that students have the skills they need to do what I’m asking of them. That is, they don’t really need to spend a lot of time going over writing skills (etc.) because the analytical skills needed would have already been covered. Hopefully.

Anyway, so, the biggest challenge so far has been in organizing “units.’ I’m used to drawing up daily lessons that go along with units, but obviously, daily lessons are kind of not very useful in an online class. So, I’ve taken a page from Owen’s book and done this in weekly units where students just have a set number of things they have to do in a week. Seems like a better way to do things. Ideally it would be great if you could do this as just one big unit that students did over the course of, say, a few weeks, but we all know we can’t always (often, or, ever) trust students with something like that.
Originally I wanted to create units that covered every region in Alaska, but my talk with Lexie last week convinced me that this wasn’t really a great plan. Too much to cover without being a specialist. Instead, this is kind of choose-your-own and it leads students towards resources. Assessment wise, English is pretty easy – I’ve got detailed rubrics that are easy to adapt. I haven’t done that yet because I’m not sure if the well-known 6+1 traits rubrics meet all three aspects of Information Fluency. I’m fairly certain they do, but they certainly feel a lot more summative than formative. There’s always that implication that once an essay is graded it’s done. Once a speech is given, it’s done. I’m not sure how to incorporate continuous feedback here. I haven’t included any rubrics for that reason…if anybody has some suggestions on that front (assessment cycles + speech assessments), I’d be most appreciative.

Also, note: for the final version I’ll probably link to articles/readings instead. I chose books that I expect most high schools in Alaska will have access to, but scans would be better.

4 thoughts on “Unit Draft

  1. Hi Nicholas,

    The low hanging fruit when it comes to revision cycles and writing as a means of demonstrating understanding is the classic rough draft. Asking your students to submit portions of their ideas, or portions of their work, is another route.

    I’m going to delve further into your plan now.


  2. Having read through your plan:

    Your second objective, “At the end of this week, students will attempt to identify aspects of a sort of pre­-contact “Native identity” as best as they can from the literature they read,” leaves me wondering what success looks like and what failure looks like? How are you measuring the attempt?

    In your readings section on the Kawagley piece, you might just say , “Read pages 73-92” rather than the long description. This tells students what you want them to read for the exercise. They always have the prerogative to read more.

    On your Week 3 objective, what does evidence of deep thought look like?

    Scanning documents and sharing sounds like an appropriate idea. I’ve scanned similar documents for courses before. If books are for sale and reasonably available, linking to that information can work also.

    I agree that giving students a presentation option for their final work is a good idea. Students can easily create a video, upload to YouTube, share the link, and they’re done. Audience is another matter. You can decide whether or not an audience meets your intended outcomes. Sometimes, that’s not necessary. The presentation piece, as witnessed and discussed by others in the cohort becomes the audience.

    Lastly, I would encourage you to add in a layer of student interaction. This feels a bit like a correspondence course. There are so many interesting aspects of this process to discuss, it would be a shame not to take advantage of at least some of the many compelling questions around these topics.

    That’s my 2 cents worth… I look forward to hearing the thoughts of your peers.

    Oh, and please make sure to develop this content on your blog page as you would for your actual online course.

    Nice job, Nicholas!

  3. Hey Nicholas, this is coming along nicely.

    I like the ownership built into your course. Your students choose the AK Native cultural group they want to learn more about, choose the books/articles/poems they want to research, etc. Choice is powerful. I might add choice on how they want to display learning at the end. Could they create a multimedia presentation that fits into some parameters you create and address certain requirements?

    Personally, I like when the action verbs are underlined or bolded in the objectives section. It draws my immediate attention to what kids are expected to do at the end. That might be especially helpful for other teachers that decide to utilize your online unit.

    I would add “page” before 92 in week 2-readings. Or do what Owen suggested. I had to read this a couple times to interpret.

    You do a nice job of incorporating metacognition into your unit. Asking students to write based on their beliefs today, watch or read, then write how your opinion has changed and why. You use good design practices and critical thinking prompts for this.

    For the readings in week three. Could you put together an adequate list of r readings that are already posted online and let your students choose from the list? This puts a disproportionate amount of work on your plate when the research in itself is one of the value-adding experiences of the task… Alternately, even though this is for an online course, I think there is benefit in the experience of students’ locating books in a library and producing the copies needed. I hope this skill doesn’t become obsolete.

    For the activity in week 3, you might consider requiring the use of a graphic organizer. Maybe list a couple like Owen did and then have your students share them with you (and maybe others for feedback?) once completed. At a minimum, your students get experience with a tool that helps them organize their thinking. Some will benefit, some won’t, but this experience is about opening eyes to new ways of thinking and doing, right?

    Again, I wonder if you could require a multimedia presentation for the final product? That could incorporate the use of story, song, graphics, video, role playing, or simple narration. It may provide a polished product that kids are more likely to distribute, share, and engage in conversation about, thereby increasing awareness externally and solidifying new ideas internally.

    I really like how your lessons/activities are very interrelated and cause reflection on biases or previous ways of thinking. Looking good!

  4. Ok, my favorite thing about your plan is the before and after cultural context bit. That adds a lot of depth to the process. I think it might help with all of the instructions if you add an overview of the unit in very simple terms telling them what they are about to do.

    First you will look at a culture that you know nothing about, listen to its myths, and see if you can find the moral of the tale. Then you will study that culture and see if historical knowledge changes what your initial impression was.

    I think having that 30,000 foot view up front will help. I understood what your intent for lesson 1 better after reading lesson 2. Most of them won’t read beyond the lesson they are working on to dig out that meaning for themselves.

    Outlines are good for feedback. You can see the holes and flow issues before too much time is spent. They serve the same purpose as the graphic organizer without the learning curve. Inspiration software is cool because it actually converts your graphic to an outline and you can work back and forth. That works really well for me!

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