Making Curriculum Pop

Hello, teachers! Ryan Goble and I worked collaboratively to develop a new unit this year for 6th grade that was focused around 2 main topics: literary genres (the content of the unit) and Web 2.0 apps (the product they created). It was an ambitious project that spanned about 8 weeks (with about 45 min. of instruction per week). As a library teacher, I only see the kids once a week, so if you were a classroom teacher doing this unit, you could complete it much more quickly. I also believe this unit would work well with 7th or 8th grade.

This project came about b/c I wanted to create a unit that would force the kids to figure out a program or app entirely on their own. I was very disappointed with how much hand-holding they need with pretty much every tech project we do, so I wanted something where even I wasn't familiar with the apps they were using, so just asking me for help wasn't an option! (Of course I familiarized myself to some extent with each app, but I didn't tell them that!) They would have to work as a team, read whatever resources the app creators gave to explain how to use the app, and basically just use trial and error.

I’ve attached 3 documents that we used: the main handout explaining the entire assignment, a list of the web apps we used (with varying degrees of success), and the criteria we expected of them in the Word document part of the project.

Here are some EXCELLENT finished products from two of our groups. The final project was a group assignment; they’d been assigned a Web 2.0 app and a genre earlier in the unit. After researching the genre throughout the unit, they had to meet certain standards in their Web app, such as 3 facts about the genre and at least 1 example.

An Xtranormal movie:

A Zimmer Twins movie:

-I gave the kids a lot of leeway in their final presentation b/c many of them had difficulty saving in these apps. I don’t know if that’s b/c we’re a Mac district and some of these apps don’t play nicely w/ Macs or if they just didn’t save properly. If they had major problems, I let them present their facts/examples orally and tell us what had happened with their apps.

-Before beginning this unit, I’d spent a lot of time exploring possible apps and choosing what I believed to be the best ones for our purposes. I also created accounts for each one in advance (with names like fairmountstudents and passwords like fairmount2010).

-We tried mixed-ability groups. Some groups were better than others at including kids with special needs. One kid with special needs just didn’t work well w/ his group at all, so we had to come up w/ an alternative assignment for him. You’d want to be better prepared for this than I was! Overall, however, this assignment almost differentiates itself. Certain kids who are more able with the technology may take on roles of entering the data and figuring out how to overcome challenges with the apps, while those more skilled in writing content will take that on, and other kids will be the idea generators.

If you have any questions about this unit or any of its particulars, please do let me know. I look forward to doing this unit again and really working out some of the bugs next year!

-Kelly Farrow
LRC Director
Downers Grove, IL

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Replies to This Discussion

Thanks for this information. I am unable to open the list of aps - any suggestions?
I hope this works better--the list of apps is now a txt file.



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