Curriculum Brainstorming: Help Transform This ELA Lesson!
By Mike Fisher
I’d like to invite you to a curriculum brainstorming party I’m having.
I was recently working with Middle School ELA teachers around ways to engage their students in reading and writing beyond the traditional zones. When I have these instructional brainstorms, I’m looking to push teachers to plan for high levels of both learning and engagement, what I call the “Transform” zone.
This zone is represented in the Matrix below:
Image credit: ASCD, 2013
During the session with the ELA teachers, and subsequently in a discussion with two educators on Twitter, I broached the topic of using current popular music and a song’s associated music video as a way to engage close reading of text, comparative analysis, and the use of digital tools. The teachers and I discussed using the singer Lorde’s song “Royals” and we started mapping out a close reading lesson.
Join me in creating a short unit
Over the next few days, I thought more about situating this lesson into a short unit that would involve additional informational texts and comparative analyses, as well as an opportunity for students to demonstrate their learning through the use of new digital tools, offering them varying versions of both the writing and the visualization of their work.
The unit that I’m currently creating is available on Curriculum 21’s Public Rubicon Atlas Mapping System for you to view. Note that it is in a state of creation. It is not a finished product. This blog post is meant to be the impetus for continued upgrades and an act of virtual professional development. This particular blog is not just about the consumption of the information I’m sharing.
I would like to invite you, the reader, to be an active participant in this Curriculum Brainstorm. Please take a few moments to read through the unit plan, noting the standards that are addressed, the assessment of those standards, the instructional actions to prepare students for the assessment(s), etc. Feel free to write (in the comment space below) about instructional strategies that you liked and those you don’t care for. Feel free to tell me how you would do it. If you have ideas for differentiation or scaffolds for the instructional activities or assessments, leave notes for everyone to see.
Also be aware that while this unit is set to 8th grade standards, there are not huge gaps in sophistication of the Common Core standards from 6th through 8th grade. Based on the language of the standards, what would need to be nuanced in the unit plan to make it more appropriate for a different grade level? (This could even prompt a discussion of changing the suggested resources!)
Anything you feel that should be added or even deleted from this unit is valuable to share here. I’d like for you to share your contributions and comments in the comment section below. If I use any of your ideas in the unit, I will code that contribution in a different color and give you credit on the Rubicon Atlas map, preferably with your Twitter ID if you choose to include it. (Note the couple of examples where that has already happened.)
Let’s construct something awesome together. We have these tools and the expertise and we can collaboratively do great things. Come join me!
Mike Fisher will join presenters Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Bill Sheskey, Janet Hale and others for LEAD 21: Upgrading Curriculum and Embracing the New Literacies, a March 12-14, 2014, ASCD Pre-Conference Institute.
Mike is a contributor to the new Solution Tree series, Contemporary Perspectives on Literacy, which tackles global, media, and digital literacy. In addition to 2012’s Upgrade the Curriculum, written with Janet Hale, Mike is the author of the 2013 ASCD/Arias book Digital Learning Strategies: How Do I Assign And Assess 21st Century Work? Find Mike on Twitter @fisher1000 and visit his website The Digigogy Collaborative. His other MiddleWeb guest articles are here.