Tag Archives: unit planning

Follow the Leader

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You don’t have to be a school administrator to lead school reform.  My former school principal, @MsKWeldon had a wonderfully positive approach.  She said she was speaking to anyone willing to listen.  (There would inevitably be naysayers who would find problems with anything and everything, and she wasn’t going to twist their arms.)  Her idea was that the enthusiasm of those who were “on-board” would serve as an impetus to those who were not.
Let’s watch this idea in action:

When you are trying to incite a positive change or adjust streams of thought, focus on those who are willing to join.
My last year of teaching, I worked very closely with my colleague @senoralopez designing rubrics to increase proficiency and thematic units based on authentic texts and authentic performance assessments.  The first followers joined because they overheard the enthusiasm in our conversations about planning, not because a new initiative had been forced upon them.  They were embraced!

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Who dictates what is taught?

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My students look forward to a Mardi Gras party all year, so they can eat in class.  I might as well take advantage of it! I created holiday unit in French II. The students learned all about the 14th of July (la fête national) and how Mardi Gras is celebrated throughout the world. In this way, I let the students dictate what is being taught. I will not just take a day out of the year to have a party, but I will create a unit based around an authentic cultural experience.

The summative assessment for the section on July 14th is a performance task using Voicethread.com.  The students create a scrapbook summarizing how they celebrated the holiday in France, being “invited” by another student who happens to be “studying abroad”.  An opportunity for interpersonal communication is generated as students ask the “host” what they will be doing, seeing, eating, etc.,  Some of my students during this section of the lesson asked me, “Can we review how to form questions.  I feel like not everyone is doing it right.  We need to go over it.”  Imagine my marvel…. “Sure I’ll teach you the interrogative!!!!!,” I say.  Retention of a grammar point desired to be taught by students because they “need” to know it will always be higher than that of a discrete grammar point which has no meaning.

We need to teach grammar as a function of the language, and language as a means to communication!  Let the students and the desire to communicate dictate what “needs” to be taught!