Sunday, September 15, 2013

Embedding Standards into Meaningful Learning Experiences

I am very excited about learning design. The goal is to embed standards into meaningful learning experiences. There is little time for this activity, hence an efficient process is necessary.  How does one start?

Our grade level has a number of meaningful interdisciplinary learning experiences that match the context and current social studies/science frameworks.  I will work to embed the standards into three of those units this year:
I will start this process with Farm Days and the Culture Project since those are fall initiatives. 

The first way, I'll embed standards is to collect and create a number of close reading lessons that match the intent of each project.  For example today I created a close reading learning experience that focuses on pre-reading strategies and the five senses since during our first Farm Days' visit we'll use our senses as scientists to discover and chart information about the habitats around us. I'll follow up with a next close reading passage and focus related to habitats. I'll continue to study, find, and create close reading passages and practice related to the themes of each project.  For example, for the culture project I'll facilitate a stretch close reading as we focus on Blanco's inaugural poem, "One Today."

To embed writing standards, students will begin by creating "Wonder Books" to use during the Farm Days exploration.  I'll also work to match craft and genre lessons to the themes of each project. Our focus for the Culture Project will be short-text informational paragraph writing. We'll guide students with research skills and practice, note taking, and digital efforts to produce these projects. Students will later use these skills with greater depth during the spring endangered species projects. 

As far as math goes, as much as possible I will try to use the numbers and data related to our study and work.  For example, our rounding exercises will help us to visualize numbers related to local and world geography--the s t r e t c h for that focus might be to create ratios of one country to another or one ocean to another in order to visualize area with greater precision. We'll do some data collection at Drumlin Farm too which can help us with regard to our work with line plots and pie graphs.  

During free reading and writing workshop time, students will have the time to focus on our interdisciplinary topics through available book collections and writing/publishing opportunities.

As I write, I realize I'm just at the start of this process of building invigorating project/problem-base design that incorporates the standards, field study, themes, and students' interests and passions with depth.  The collaboration with colleagues will help me to build this emphasis with greater effect.  I welcome your thoughts and ideas as well.