So, I’ve been thinking about our recent “This I Believe” unit. I tried to develop it into a collaborative projectand a few other classes signed up, but it didn’t get as much traction as I had hoped. There’s always next year.
Anyway, I forged ahead myself. I teach in a classroom that is usually self-contained. However, for 3 weeks at the end of January and beginning of February we do a little mini unit that involves all 3 sections rotating for science, social studies, and this year a writing unit. In the past I have done various math units, but I was ready for a change and felt that the “This I Believe” unit I tried out last year was worth expanding.
Once again, we listened to several podcasts from the “This I Believe” website, Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, and several songs. We discussed not only what ideas were being shared but the various strategies that were used to make the ideas powerful. After a plan, a draft, a peer review, and another draft students recorded themselves reading their statement and embedded the recording on a glog. Here are a few. There should be a play button somewhere on each glog.
Jacob believes in reading.
Cayman believes in soccer.
Chloe believes in skiing.
Ruby believes in acting.
Marshall believes in baseball.
Aly believes in pitching.
There are a couple of things I really like about this unit. First, I like that the students write something personal and creative that has some guidelines. So while it was creative, it was not formless. I also like that the students record themselves reading their statements. It is so great to listen to their voices. I mean I listen to them all day, but in any class there isn’t time to listen to a student talk, uninterrupted for minutes at a time. In addition because glogster plays so well with Edmodo, the glogs could go right into the Edmodo groups for others to see and hear. The students got to comment on each other’s work.
And, parents LOVE it. I played most of the recordings at spring parent conferences. There were a lot of big smiles. In addition I think some parents heard their children’s voices in a new way. They heard their children speaking about their beliefs in a way they probably don’t hear very often.
At the end of the day, I like to think that my classroom represents an academic community, even if it is only 5th grade. What I hope to be able to provide at a conference, and as a parent what I hope to get, is an idea of what a child is like as a member of that community. I think these pieces did that for me and for parents.