Sunday, January 10, 2016

Student Designed Units

Brief digression: I haven’t blogged in months. Since July actually. As one who talks about the importance of blogging as a reflective tool, that smacks a bit of hypocrisy.

There are several reasons why. One, I’m in kind of a weird transition year, firmly planted in the now but looking forward as well. Two, I just haven’t felt like what I’m doing with my kids is that amazing, and it isn’t something I haven’t written about before. It just seems like it isn’t anything amazing.

Tuesday night, the moderators of #caedchat had a hangout to talk about year 4 of #caedchat. We talked about blogging briefly, and I mentioned my blogging hiatus. My buddy David said that he enjoyed when I blogged about what we did in the classroom. Thanks for the nudge, David.


History teachers live in a blessed time right now - THERE ARE NO CONTENT STANDARDS. We can literally teach whatever we want! (Untrue if you teach an AP class, but you most likely signed up for that deal with the devil…)

As I was planning my second semester, I realized that there was some content that was going to be new, and some I should cover a bit of - yeah, the Cold War probably merits mentioning in a two year world history class...

Anyways, I saw this hole at the end of the year - about a four to five week chunk of time that could be filled with literally anything that I could justify teaching in a history class. Why not get my students - who are now in their second year with me - to figure out what THEY wanted to do in our last unit of our two years together?

And thus was born this and this. Kids got about 75 minutes to work through this process. After that, they will look through the other unit proposals from their period and choose the two they are most interested in. I’ll combine these choices across classes and students will then get to vote on the peer-created unit they are most excited about and that’s what we’ll cover in April and May.

Want a student-centered classroom? Why not use ‘I’ve got no content standards’ to your advantage and let students choose what to study?

I’m excited to see how this goes!