Saturday, March 01, 2014

Learning Design: The Fractions Unit

The fractions standards at fourth grade are relatively new. In fact, last year was our first year with many of these standards.

My UClass learning design weekend gave me a new lens and perspective with regard to unpacking the standards, hence I'll use that lens as I build the unit--a unit which will commence the week of March 10.

Unpack the Standards: Concepts and Skills
First, I'll copy and paste all the fraction standards into one document, and as the film linked above shows, I'll unpack each standard. As I unpack the standards, I'll identify concept, skill, task, vocabulary, materials/tools, and possible dates for teaching with a chart like this:

I'll also add language standards since I'm synthesizing this unit with my RETELL, English Language Learner work, as well. I will research any concepts or vocabulary that I am not proficient in to find the best teaching language, tasks, and tools.

Identify Tasks: Multimodal Variety
Once I've charted all the standards, I'll go to PARCC and look at their fourth grade fraction information and performance assessments for fractions. I'll weave that information and those performance assessments into the tasks. I'll also include existing, tried-and-true fraction materials and strategies in the grid. A search for "fractions" on my own blog will unearth many of those activities. Similarly, I'll look to links and information sent to me by my PLN throughout this unit design process. Next, I'll look over the list of potential tasks and revise so that the tasks include multimodal variety and plenty of practice so students can reach mastery.  I'll also note potential places for formative assessment, and look for a just right place to include a near-end-of-unit project that synthesizes student learning with content creation and presentation.

Vocabulary, Links, and Tools
When the framework is complete, I'll begin to create a vocabulary sheet and board for student reference, a learning objectives chart, an online learning list for student in-school and at-home practice, a classroom collection of related books, helpful charts, a manipulative corner, and project materials.

Unit Google Site and UClass CMS
Since I don't want to have to recreate all this work next year, I'll also make a Google website to host all the units' materials and links.  I'll compose the website for students, teachers, and family use, essentially a "reference book" for the unit. Similarly I'll upload all the lessons to UClass as I've been finding that tool to work well for teaching.

Essentially I typically start a lesson now by accessing the UClass site, clicking on the lesson and reviewing the objectives/summary with the students and then utilizing the related materials from the site. Students are able to go home and find that lesson with family help if they'd like, and reread, watch,  recreate, or enrich any of the learning we've done in school. In fact last night one of my students did that.

UClass is becoming a terrific content management system for my curriculum work as the platform forces me to create comprehensive lessons, while the streamlined access provides a wonderful path for easy use, reference, and share.

Design Start
Now that the creation path has been set, it's time to get started with unit design.  Of course once the design is set and the unit starts, there will be lots of revision, differentiation, and personalization along the way so that the initial plan responds to students' needs and interests as they reach for fourth grade fraction mastery.

Let me know if you have any ideas, links, or materials you'd suggest for this unit.  An initial request led to this tweet by Jonathan So:

Now, let the design process begin. . . .

Mind Shifts Great Deeper Learning Synthesis