We spent this quarter working on our Coaching practice while reviewing the ISTE Coaching Standards. I really enjoyed this quarter because we got to practice what we were learning in real-life situations and it corresponded nicely with my new position as a Digital Learning Coach. This quarter, I paired with my last year’s 6th grade colleague. We have always wanted to improve on our ELA curriculum but never had the time while we were both in the classroom.
The unit that we wanted to improve upon was an ELA unit that used the book, Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis. In the first lesson, students are asked to look at a photograph and create background information about the Great Depression and how it may be affecting the main character. We have been working with this unit for the past 3 years and each year we have tried to jazz it up.
However, this year we were aided with an amazing document called the Learning Design Matrix (Foltos, p111). This document is super handy in helping educators focus in on how they want to innovate a lesson. My partner and I determined that we wanted our lesson to focus on an engaging task, because we wanted students to:
- Engage inactive learning
- Find the topic fascinating, fun, passion arousing, and creativity encouraging
- Are challenged (but not overwhelmed)
- Apply what they learn to new, real-life problems or situations- such as Bud’s character in the novel
Although, it is not required to check off every box on the matrix, we found that it checked most of our wish list, so that is why we decided to focus on engaging task. Throughout this process, we were wanting to use a learning management tool such as canvas to deliver the content. As we moved further into the project, I was introduced to Actively Learn and thought that it would be a much better delivery system for our students.
One of the best outcomes from working together was that we were able to curate a list of articles, podcasts, and videos that we could use to bring this information about The Great Depression to our students. Time was something that was hard to come by when we were both in the classroom. Also, because we started 2 1/2 months prior to this lesson needing to be taught, we didn’t have the pressure of a quick turn-around.
Some of the issues that arose during our time working together was that neither of us new how to create an Actively Learn. Next week, our district is going to provide a special professional development on this program. We are going to work over break as best as we can to put together an intro to The Great Depression for our students. Even though, we had a lot of time leading up to this project, we didn’t get to accomplish as much as we would have liked. So my partner and I are going to do a mini-roll out and gather feedback from the students to help us craft a more robust lesson for next year.
Working together with a past co-worker was an amazing experience. She is a 3rd year teacher and has enjoyed that I have stayed in contact and have been able to coach her on this project as well as other things that have come up over this school year. I really hope that we are able to create a project that gives students a real experience that they can identify why Bud and the other characters make the decisions they do in the book. We hope to share it with other 6th grade teachers so that they can bring the Great Depression to life for their students as well.
Foltos, L. (2013). Peer coaching: Unlocking the power of collaboration. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.