During the past couple of weeks, I have had some amazing opportunities to not only visit teachers classrooms, but to actually step back into the world of teaching to partner with my amazing colleagues design and deliver lessons for students.
First, I had the amazing opportunity to teach a US history course with Mrs. Reynolds at high school. The students were learning about the causes of the Spanish-American War and how yellow journalism impacted US perception of their role in international relations. When Mrs. Reynolds emailed me her agenda for the week, I admit I had to do my own research to brush up on the history standards. But when I did, I saw an amazing opportunity to design a universally designed lesson and assessment that would allow students to personalize their understanding of yellow journalism and its impact on imperialism, international relations, and the Spanish-American war.
When students came to class, we projected a presentation and greeted students with Starbursts to divide them into groups, based on the color of their wrapper. They sat in groups with like colors and had two minutes to ensure that every person in their group could answer a challenge question (see the presentation linked above for details!). This fostered collaboration and community and provided students with opportunities to participate in reciprocal teaching, motivate classmates, and review the content. They all nailed it! After that, we asked students to think about how they receive their news. We shared that a news story just broke, and they had to find out what it was. Sadly, there was not much in the news that day, because the news that topped the charts was the untimely passing of a novice rapper, Lil Peep. When all students said that they had a reliable news source on their phone to confirm his death, we asked them to put down their phones and then group them based on the source. Two students went to CNN and two visited the New York Times. The remainder of the students relied on Instagram. We asked students to discuss the potential for yellow journalism and editorializing in personal Instagram accounts. This led to a very animated discussion in which Mrs. Reynolds and I definitely played devil’s advocate to get them fired up.
Once they were appropriately engaged, we introduced the lesson in which students had full control and ownership to personalize the way that they would learn about one angle of yellow journalism as well as how they would express their understanding of yellow journalism’s impact in one of six assessment options. You can learn more about single-point rubrics here. Overall, the lesson was amazing and we had an absolute blast. I became so connected with the students and their enthusiasm that I returned to class the next day so I could continue to work with them and see them make magic. As we get permission from the kiddos, we will share their work and you will see the magic of universal design for learning here in Groton.
Access UDL Assessment here: USS Maine:Yellow Journalism Social Studies project
Next week, you can hear about the amazing adventure I had teaching with Mrs. Marino in third grade!