Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Inquiry Unit: Family

Inquiry Unit: Family

Students will learn what constitutes a family and how families are similar and different through a cross-curricular inquiry unit devoted to exploration of different family structures and roles. The purpose of this unit is to make students aware of various types of families and values and how to respect differences and accept others. The unit begins with a pre-assessment survey and discussion to determine students’ prior knowledge and conceptions of family structure. We will explore this topic through literature, past and present legislation, and historical social changes regarding family. Throughout the unit, students will gather information through whole and small group discussion, reflective writing, practicing respect, reading literature about families, and research and analysis of historical events. Topics will include divorce rates, age of marriage, women’s rights, gender roles, marriage laws, orphanages, foster care, and adoptive services. The reason for gathering this information is to expand students’ knowledge in preparation for the final project.
The final project will consist of a collective classroom book examining the complexity of family today as determined by historical events and social changes. The book will serve as a reflection and assessment of student knowledge of differences and how these differences came to be. While participation and sharing are important and beneficial for some students, we understand that family can be a sensitive topic and care will be taken to ensure a comfortable environment by maintaining a historical focus, not a personal focus. Assessment evidence is gathered through teacher observation and participation in whole and small group work.

4.A.5 Use reading skills to comprehend a wide range of fiction and nonfiction reading materials (pictures,
visual aids, strategies, and text)
A. Draw conclusions
B. Infer character feelings, traits, and motives
C. Interpret information in new context
D. Interpret non-literal language
4.A.5.4 USING GRAPHIC AND SEMANTIC ORGANIZERS in order to demonstrate:
A. Compare and contrast
B. Cause and effect
C. Main idea and details
A. Identify organizational patterns
B. Classify information/ fact & opinion
C. Recall/sequence events
D. Main idea and details
E. Narrative elements
A. Formulate questions / responses
B. Draw conclusions
C. Self-questioning
A. Formulate questions / responses
B. Draw conclusions
C. Self-questioning
A. Connect to self, others and related information
B. Predict
C. Previewing and setting purposes for reading
D. Use prior knowledge
E. Author’s point of view
4.B.1 Apply the steps of the writing process
4.B.2.1 Informative/expository
4.B.2.7 Response to literature
4.C.2.1 Listen to others with attention and focus:
1. Listening to directions
2. Listening for information
3. Listening in order to respond
4.D.5 Apply conventions of standard English to written work
4.A.1 similarities and differences among individuals, groups, societies, and cultures and how they respond to
human needs and concerns.
STANDARD B: Time, Continuity, and Change
4.B.2 and interpret events in relation to time periods and explain examples of cause and effect relationships.
STANDARD E: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
4.E.4 examples of how groups and institutions can both promote and prevent furthering the common good.
STANDARD F: Power, Authority, and Governance
4.F.3 examples of how government meets the needs and wants of citizens, provides security and maintains order.

STANDARD J: Civic Ideals And Practices
4.J.2 and identify examples of citizens’ rights and responsibilities.
4.J.4 and explain how civic action influences local, state, and national policy.

·      There is more than one type of family.
·      Every family is unique and has its own traditions and ways of functioning.
·      Family is more than just who you live with every day.
·      Family means something different to everyone and there is no set definition, as structure has changed throughout history.
·      It’s important to respect each others’ differences.
·      Family has changed over time due to legislation, historical events, and social changes.

Essential Questions
·      What does it mean to be part of a family?
·      What constitutes a family today and historically?
·      How do we show respect for others? Why is it important to do so?
·      How are families different and similar?
·      How have families changed over time? What caused these changes?

Skills Learned
·      Understanding how to read and interpret historical text.
o   How to pick out main ideas within a text
·      Understanding the characteristics of biography and how to write one.
·      Knowing how to write a news report/article
·      Recognizing reliable sources for research of historical events
·      Synthesizing how different historical events have lead to our current state of various family structure
o   Divorce rate
o   Marriage of family members
o   Adoption/orphanages
o   Women’s rights
o   Interracial marriage
o   Age of marriage
o   Legal marriage (i.e. same sex marriage)
·      Recognizing there are different types of family structure
o   One family structure isn’t better than the other
o   Different family structures can have similarities
·      Why we should respect families of all types
·      Understanding the importance of being aware of different family structures
o   Friends may have different family structure than you
o   Classmates may have families that look different than yours
·      There is not one definition of what it means to be a family
o   Family can always change (divorce, marriage of siblings, adoption, etc.)

Students will work in small groups focused on different aspects of family to create entries for a class book, which might include a news report or interview, collage, autobiographical account of a person from history, research report, or other piece of writing. Entries will follow a timeline of historical events and social changes and how these have influenced family structure and values today. Students should be able to apply historical event knowledge they have acquired from research and class discussion to family structures today. They should be able to use critical thinking skills to create connections as to how these events have impacted our family structures in today’s society. Students’ writing should draw clear connections between historical events and social changes and the way they influence families and their structure and meanings. Students will be assessed on their ability to effectively write in a specific genre and use the writing process.

Text Set
·      The recommended grade level for this unit is fourth grade.
·      Resources
o   Book Resource
§  The Early Family Home by Bobbie Kalman.
§  What kind of family do you have? by Gretchen Super
§  A Nineteenth-century schoolgirl : the diary of Caroline Cowles Richards, 1852-1855 by Caroline Cowles Richards.
o   Marriage Laws
o   Women’s Rights Movement
§  The Women Suffrage Movement by Kristin Thoennes Keller
o   Adoptive/Foster Laws
§  A Child Called ‘It’ by Dave Pelzer, excerpts
o   Video links
§  The Way We Live: Family Matters: Family. Intelecom, 2005. Full Video.
7 December 2010. <http://www.discoveryeducation.com/>.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Digital Opening

This is a social bookmarking site that allows users to bookmark websites with the capability of accessing them from any computer with an internet connection. It is similar to bookmarking on an individual computer; the difference is that when you bookmark on your computer, those sites can only be accessed from that particular computer. With Diigo, you can access your bookmarked sites from any computer, as they are stored on the Diigo website. Thus, if your personal computer breaks down, you do not lose all of your bookmarked webpages in the process. Diigo also has options for sharing such bookmarks with others, categorizing them based on multiple groupings, tagging bookmarks for easy access, and annotating or “sticky-noting” webpages.

To begin, you go to www.diigo.com and create a free account. (There are additional features if you pay for a premium account, but I find the basic account to be all that you really need.)

Once you have created an account, it is time to download the Diigolet toolbar to help you create bookmarks. From the homepage, if you look at the top, right-hand corner, there is a hyperlink that says “Tools.” By clicking on this link, you are taken to a page that has a blue hyperlinked “diigolet” button. Click on this button and you are taken to another page. On this page, there are some brief instructions. What you end up doing is dragging the “diigolet” button up to your own internet toolbar. What this button on your toolbar does, is it allows you to bookmark any site that you may be visiting, without having to travel to the Diigo site first. For example, if I am reading an article online and decide that I want to bookmark it, all I need to do is click the “diigolet” button on my toolbar and a Diigo menu pops up, allowing me to create a bookmark, highlight, create a sticky note, or write a comment. Then, next time you log in to your Diigo account, the action has been saved there.

As mentioned above, there are other features to Diggo, aside from just bookmarking webpages. You can also highlight information, with such text automatically annotating your bookmark. (There are even multiple colors to highlight in, allowing you to separate information and color-code it.) You can create a sticky note, adding any notes or comments that you may wish to go back to at a later time.

The best way to access your bookmarked sites is to go to the “My Library” tab at the top left-hand of the screen. In your library, using the menu on the left-hand side of the screen, you can sort through your information, looking at bookmarks, notes, images, your tags, and any lists. I recommend tagging your bookmarked webpages with key words, for this allows you to easily access the information that you are looking for by searching for key words. For example, I might tag all of my e-mail webpage bookmarks with the tag “e-mail,” so that if I am trying to quickly access my e-mail sites, all I need to do is search for the tag “e-mail.”

Another great feature is the “list” feature. You are able to create separate lists to again help you categorize and organize information. I created a “Block A List,” that contains all of the different websites that have been reviewed during digital openings thus far. That way, if I want to get to the Block A websites that I remember hearing about, all I need to do is find my Block A list and the information is all right there.

In the end, you are able to choose whether or not to make your bookmarks private or public, and can send them to others via e-mail. There is also a comment feature, which would be useful if you had a class of students that you wanted to respond to one another’s bookmarks.

I would definitely recommend playing around with the site after you create an account, for that is what I found to be most helpful in understanding all of the different options and tools. I also must add that it is a pretty easy site to navigate, as I am very technologically-challenged, and I figured it out pretty quickly. 

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Where I am Going

I am going to sticky fingers
    To thick, pudgy hands grasping thin pencils
Chubby, waxy crayons
    whose colors range from brick red to cerulean.
I am going to brightly colored bulletin boards,
holiday cutouts, one-hundred and eighty days
     long days, but not enough time.

I am going to nursery rhymes and sing-a-longs,
     picture books and friendly characters.
To bookshelves overflowing with titles
and pages brimming with illustrations.
Captivating centers, irresistible opportunities
      intriguing learning “games.”
I am going to carpet spots and “criss-cross applesauce.”

I am going to important partnerships
     give and take
     and endless possibilities.
To bold colored canvases.

I am going to true happiness,
     to a belief in a better tomorrow,
     and to the willingness to do what is need
     to achieve the future.