Modifying a Unit

Over the past few weeks I have been mulling over how I could incorporate more technology into one of my PYP units of inquiry.  I decided to modify one that is already in existence within the Grade 6 POI at my school that deals with media.  I felt that this was an appropriate topic that could allow for some interesting conversations and products. However, before I delve into the subject matter, perhaps I should explain the structure of my planner.

The Nuts and Bolts

The IB PYP planner is standard at all schools that offer the programme.  All planners contain have the same basic format and information, however, each school implements the actual method and formatting in a different way.  Therefore the type of information will always be in the same place, but the manner in which it is presented can be different.   For example, the summative assessment task (located in box 1) is broken down in a similar manner as a UbD planner, though I have chosen to use the wording at my school simply for the sake of being able to implement it.  Box 4 includes all the different activities that could be done throughout this unit with letters at the end of each statement.   The letters each relate to a transdiciplinary skill that is required and developed during the process of that activity.   Also at the end of box 1 I ran out of room and thus had to continue in box 9.  I chose to leave boxes 6, 7, and 8 blank as they pertain to reflection on the unit and I have not actually taught this particular unit before.  Finally, I do apologize for the font size but it had to be done to ensure that the planner met the IB guidelines.

The Meat

The central idea of the unit encourages students to explore the manipulative nature of the media.  As I pondered how I could tweak the unit to include more technology, I kept thinking of the show Dragon’s Den.  The show is essentially an opportunity for independent business people to impress four big investors and to convince them to invest in the product being presented.  I thought that this was a wonderful framework to hook the students and one that would have them demonstrating their understanding of the central idea.  Essentially each group of students creates a pitch for a group of investors (the rest of the class), with the goal of convincing them to invest in the product by using the tricks of the media.  Their presentation to the investors can include a varied array of different technology tools to help them.  For example Excel (for graphing product research information), video (to provide a hook for the investors or sample marketing campaign), and PowerPoint (to create their presentation), Word (to create leaflets of information), and iMovie (to create commercials).

After awhile, I began to think of other ways that technology could be used in the unit.  As it began to take shape, I became more confident with the unit and the tasks that it presents.  However, I was aware that I needed to include both a novel study within the unit and math.  It is easy for me to authentically integrate math inquiry in this unit, both with subject and the use of technology.  However, I have difficulty seeing how a traditional novel study can be revitalized using technology.

 Thinking About Implementation

Thinking

As I think about implementing this unit of work I can foresee several difficulties:

  1. There could be potential copyright issues if a piece of student work that criticizes or analyzes an ad is put within a public forum.
  2. How much technology is too much for one unit?  At what point have I crossed the line between teaching big ideas and instead am focusing on teaching students the latest new way of representing?
  3. The students all have various levels of technological competence.  I need to find a way to balance groups so that there is a balance of abilities amongst them.

 Final Comment

Overall I am excited about this unit and the summative assessment.  Judging by the enthusiasm that the students showed for their assembly, they love when they get the chance to use technology and hopefully this unit will encourage them to develop their skills.  I’m also looking forward to hearing suggestions on how I could improve my units both in terms of the technology and the content.

COETAIL Project1

Image Credits:

Pipe joint nut & bolt by hartlandmartin on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed

Thinking by Brendan Lea on Instagram

Video Credit:

Dragon’s Den – What a Bloom uploaded by kaynada found on YouTube

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2 Comments

Filed under COETAIL, Course 1

2 responses to “Modifying a Unit

  1. Love it! Love the idea for the unit, love the variety of ways that they will be able to demonstrate their understanding and love the way you’ve framed everything! Can’t wait to see the finished products!

    • I loved your idea of modifying the unit to be used to convey beliefs. This idea could work. However, the types of materials used would need to be different. For example you could show political advertisements or look at media that explores controversial issues, all the while discussing the strategies they use to promote their ideas. At the end then they could choose a belief or thought to promote.

      More food for thought.

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