The first thing that I took into consideration was that the reading of this story needed to be accessible to all. In the past, I would have read the story to my class but in reviewing the UDL guidelines, I decided that allowing the students to listen and watch the story would engage more of their senses and appeal to both the visual and auditory learner. The discussion of the story and main themes will require that all learners engage in a “Think-Pair-Share”. This type of discussion structure allows the “safety” of conversing with a classmate (somewhat informally) but for those who are not comfortable offering contributions in the whole group, this type of structure encourages risk taking and scaffolding. When we use this type of structure, we then ask partners to share something that they felt important about what their partner said to the group at large. Again, asking partners to share their co-worker’s thought takes the pressure off the individual but also validates the co-worker’s response as it is worthy of sharing. The creation of their understanding puts the learner as central and provides them many choices as far as what they will use to represent their thinking thus increasing engagement and motivation.
“As you recall, Bransford, Brown and Cocking (2000, p. 23-25) suggest that (a) schools and classrooms be learner centered, (b) that instruction focus on knowing what but mostly on understanding why and how to organize what is learned in meaningful ways, (c) that formative assessments be designed to emphasize students’ learning processes, and (d) that classroom norms be developed to encourage collaboration and the development of ‘intellectual comraderie and attitudes toward learning that build a sense of community’ (p. 25)”. This lesson focuses on going deeper into the story A Bad Case of Stripes by digging deeper into different perspectives and the theme of the story. In addition to this, students must create a visual representation of what their synthesized understanding of the story is in a meaningful way to share with the rest of our learning community. Collaboration is evident in the “Think, Pair, Share” discussions and in large group discussions. In addition to this, students will work collaboratively in pairs to apply their technology skills to create.
According to Hobbs, I considered the following things while planning this lesson:
1. Access: Students had access to both the traditional form of the text and media text as read through the Screen Actors Guild. They also were involved in a process of self-expression in choosing what and who to “Step Inside” from the story.
2. Choice: Students are given many choices with the type of digital tools they are to use to represent their understanding, and again with whom they choose to represent in the story.
3. Students multiple perspectives are valued: By using the Visible Thinking Routine of “Step Inside” students are encouraged to choose what they will represent from the story. This is a very open ended activity with no “right” or “wrong” answer. The “essential” question that would transfer over to the student’s life is represented in the theme of this story and that is the theme of “Fitting in” or “Being Yourself”. As they explore other perspectives, they also get to move beyond their own thinking, thus broadening their own ideas and perspectives.
4. At the end of the lesson, there will be an opportunity for students to share and blog about what they have learned. This allows for students to reflect on their process of learning and what they learned as a result of working with others. In essence, how their thinking changed from the beginning (from their individual thinking) to the end (when they combined ideas with partners and/or the entire group . . . how did thinking change?)
The second thing that I considered in this lesson is the time that students get to “play” with the different forms of technology and deciding upon that which they feel will best represent their learning. This is an important feature that cannot be ignored. Thomas and Brown go on to say, “Much of what makes play powerful as a tool for learning is our ability to engage in experimentation. All systems of play are, at base, learning systems. They are ways of engaging in complicated negotiations of meaning, interaction, and competition, not only for entertainment, but also for creating meaning.” (p. 97) It is through the engagement of play that an understanding occurs and with that an elaboration of the original concept or idea.
Finally, when I consider the overall value of this lesson, I am reminded of what Thomas Friedman of “The New York Times” writes about Tony Wagner’s comment:
“The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than academic knowledge. As one executive told me, ‘We can teach new hires the content, and we will have to because it continues to change, but we can’t teach them how to think — to ask the right questions — and to take initiative.’ ” This lesson is littered with all of what he speaks. Innovation, creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and play. It is a recipe for success!
Friedman, T. L. (2013, March 30). Need A Job? Invent It. The New York Times.
Hobbs, R. (2011). Digital and media literacy: Connecting culture and classroom. Thousand, Oaks, CA: Corwin/Sage.
Thomas, D., & Brown, J. S. (2011). A new culture of learning: Cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change. Lexington, Ky: CreateSpace?.