Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Planning Curriculum

Knowledge constructed by students should not always conform to what the state or district prescribed. The students should challenge these prescriptions. In my opinion, students learn best when they are pursuing answers to their own questions, not the questions the state or district creates. Constructivist planners are more interested in how to help students pursue their passions and interests. Teachers who use the constructivist approach utilize current events, technology, and various other sources to gather ideas, views, and facts for students. In my 6th grade science classroom, I teach a unit on weathering and erosion. Our district to align with state standards created this unit. Most students in my classroom are not interested in the topic.

After discussing acid rain, students were immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more. They had questions about how acid rain forms, the damage it can produce to buildings, its effects on humans and animals, and where acid rain occurs the most. The next class period, I decided not to go forward with the unit, but to spend a day investigating acid rain. Students worked in small groups using laptops and current articles to research the topic. At the end of the class period, the small groups gathered together and shared with each other what they learned. Students listened to each other, asked questions, and discussed the value of the information they discovered. From this experience, I discovered that daily plans could be just as effective as long-range plans. Every group of students is going to be different, and teachers cannot always base instruction on the lesson plans that were created over the summer or during the previous year.

When creating units, it is essential to connect the state standards to local situations, and the interests of both teachers and students. It is also important to connect the various subjects. In science, I often connect the content with mathematics, language arts, and social studies.