Course 4-Final Project

“Self-Advocacy: Know Yourself, Know What You Need, Know How To Get It.”                              -Nancy Suzanne James

Unit Planner-Advocacy Projects

My unit planner for an authentic purposeful learning experience incorporates the ISTE Standards for Students:

#1- Empowered Learner

#6- Creative Communicator 

I feel this unit is a great match for my Course 5 Project, as it is the main piece that ties all the lessons together in one final culminating activity.  The “All About Me- Advocacy Project” takes everything the students have learned about themselves throughout their time in Middle School and are preparing to introduce themselves as learners to their high school teachers. They share the details from their Individualized Learning Plans (ILPs) in a personal video, that introduces themselves: their strengths, and areas for growth, how they learn best, their goals, and accommodation. They also talk about any strategies they use to help keep them overcome any learning challenges they face and anything they would like their teachers to know about them.

Walnut, Nut, Shell, Nutshell, Open, Brain, Head, Coils
Image taken from Pixaby

The standards of “Empowered Learner” & “Creative Communicator” help enhance students’ understandings of themselves. They take time reflecting on their Middle School Journey and see how much they’ve grown since their transition to middle school after grade 5.  Putting all the pieces together, focusing on their strengths to grow their confidence and esteem in the Learning Resource Classroom (LRC) to hopefully generalize all the newly acquired study skills and executive functioning skills to their general education classes.

Outcomes

By the completion of this unit, students will have a deeper understanding of themselves as learners and be more comfortable talking about themselves and taking ownership of their learning processes.  I will know that they have taken on the responsibility of “sitting in the driver’s seat” for their education, as many students openly share at what level and how comfortable they are with assuming these tasks. It is also really great to see them fully articulate what they need, even if that includes members of their support team still aiding them with specific tasks that they themselves can describe in detail- what they (students) need from them (support team).

Adjustments

  • I don’t really have any concerns about my unit redesign, though I am sure upon actual implementation and final necessary adjustments- concerns will arise.
  • This revamped or “Coetailed” unit will require my students to utilize their skills of self-awareness, self-regulation, communication, collaboration and mainly have a growth mindset and a positive attitude as they dive into personal dialogue truly sharing vulnerable details about themselves as humans. It will also, hopefully, lead to more shifts in general education (content) teacher’s pedagogies because they will have a better idea of the students as learners and as individuals in their classrooms.

Unit Reflection

Week 2’s learning partnerships have really influenced me the most during this final project, with a focus not only on my collaborating teachers but within the student relationships as well. Especially with being a case manager and focusing on those partnerships between students, I advocate for, but don’t necessarily have in the classroom and focus on their relationships with all their different classroom teachers as well.

This unit has been different from other lessons I’ve chosen in the past, during COETAIL, to design/facilitate; as I chose to do a unit within my own pull-out class- LRC, instead of focusing on the lessons I teach during my co-taught math/humanities classes.  It is similar, in the sense that I still keep many of the 6 c’s at the forefront of my planning: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, citizenship, and character.

As I was revamping this unit, I incorporated what I learned about in week 1 on google add-on’s and how to enhance my google slides for increased student engagement.  As I was deciding which unit to alter, I wanted students to be comfortable thinking about ways to talk about themselves and share their learning process with their teachers and therefore redefining what the learning process means to them and how they see themselves fitting into it.  I wanted to make sure that the technology components added into the unit were done with a purpose- to enhance the learning and to make new learning possible.

Advocacy Quotes - BrainyQuote

C4Wk5: Putting Deep Learning into Practice

The daily life of Students and Teachers can be way more exciting… way more powerful

Push & Pull: the Role of Technology

shallow focus photography of man in white shirtImage taken from Unsplash

Deep Learning In Action

Deep Learning is engaging, relevant, authentic, & builds on the 6 C’s…

  1. Citizenship
  2. Character
  3. Creativity
  4. Collaboration
  5. Communication
  6. Critical Thinking

As a school, we focus a lot on building citizenship & character through our advisory program that meets 4 days a week for 25 minutes. In my own classroom, we focus a lot on communication and in the co-taught setting model what collaboration looks like as we push their critical thinking skills.

As an educator, my strengths lie in engaging the students and building relationships that develop and enhance character whereas on the opposite end I find it more challenging to really get at the growth of critical thinking skills, taking time and repetition.

I think we can access deep learning by continually reflecting on the engagement of our students and seeing if they truly found the lesson relevant and authentic. Helping them make these connections is one way to assess if deep learning took place.

It is similar to John Hattie’s work from Education Week  in that in the end the entire point is to get us, educators,” to reflect on our own practices using evidence, and then move forward by looking at the practices that we use every day and collecting evidence to give us a better understanding of how it works.”

I have experienced both intensive PBL training and been a part of the Humanities & Math department PBL units. PBL or Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.  We were able to plan some great units as a school when our administration built this into our professional development days and we came together as an entire school k-12 to work on our lesson designs.

When supporting our Science department I got to experience a great unit for Design Thinking. When students engage in “Look, Listen, & Learn” they are able to apply newly acquired knowledge to reach a solution, provide and analyze their ideas and move towards creating something or having an action/event.  They highlight what’s worked and what didn’t and how to fix what was failing. Each mistake they fixed during the revision process led them to success.  Then finishing with the launch and sending their work to the world! Where once again they look-listen-learn.

Specifically, for this unit, students researched an endangered animal or world issue and had to work together collaboratively to create a solution. Using prior skills to create a budget and realistically argue if their solution to whatever problem they chose was manageable. In the end, they put on an exhibition, and parents and fellow students were allotted “tokens” to “donate” to the cause that they felt would be the most successful if implemented in our world.

Finger Man, Not Hear, Not See, Don'T Talk, FingerImage taken from Pixaby.com

I hope to do more of this in the context of my own field of Special Education, through continued work in Advocacy and Student Empowerment. Helping students utilize their strengths and understand how to build on these to overcome their challenges and ensuring they can see where they can contribute to this world, making it a better place. As a SEN teacher, case manager, and advisor I strive to help build self-esteem and confidence so every student knows their value and worth allowing them to self-regulate and monitor their progress towards their short and long-term goals, objectives, and big dreams.

For course 5, I plan on cultivating student well being during these covid times that are proving to be extremely challenging, not just for students, but the teachers as well.  My methods to continue to have a dialogue about the learning process and have students use their newly created knowledge for real-life problem solving and help ALL students identify their purpose, talents, and passions.  I would love to read Hattie’s book, “Visible Learning for Teachers”  and enjoyed his 8 Mindframes for teachers video. I’d like to continue to look for even more ways to get kiddos in SEN to become deep learners and my fellow colleagues to teach so it STICKS!

The Success and failure of my students’ learning is about what I do or don’t do.      I am a change agent. -John Hattie