Understanding by Design
For our EDCT 6102 course, we were tasked with using the Understanding by Design framework (UbD) to plan a lesson or unit that incorporated digital citizenship into our classroom. UbD has you start with identifying desired results, determining acceptable evidence and then planning the learning and instruction. This backwards planning is not a new concept to me. In fact, I am inherently a backward planning, big picture person. However, something I don’t do on a regular basis and what was refreshing was the process of explicitly thinking through and writing out the unit or in my case lessons, and then reflecting on them.
Sometimes as a teacher I feel as if I get caught up with a never-ending to-do list, and fall back on an already planned out curriculum guide. The UbD framework gets pushed back and I find that halfway through a unit of reading, writing, science, or whatever it may be I am left dissatisfied. I often have intentions of integrating units and/or finding ways to make them engaging, meaningful and rigorous, however, fall short on the time or energy to sustain the work. There are of course many factors that go into this. A few that have challenged me in my current role is having a team which uses many different curriculums and time limitations which make collaboration challenging.
Nonetheless, this UbD project has reminded me of the importance of taking the time to backward plan and reflect on the process. UbD emphasizes deeper understanding; I often remind myself that “mile wide inch deep” teaching risks developing disconnected superficial knowledge. I’m thankful for this project’s thoughtfulness of this depth of knowledge.
Now onto the project. For the UbD lesson, I decided to focus on using Flipgrid to help build community in our classroom. Here was my thinking:
While planning and teaching one thing I am continually pressed with is time. In my classroom, we start each day with a 20-25 minute morning meeting. However, I have not found a good time to teach word study within our day. After much debate, I feel the only way I could fit word study into our schedule is to cut back on something, and really the only time I can cut from is our morning meeting.
The downfall to this is that morning meeting builds community, trust, empathy, and collaboration. It also supports social, emotional and academic learning. So I have wanted to find a creative way to still incorporate parts of our morning meeting into everyday schedule while also allowing time to teach word study.
Our morning meeting schedule goes as follows:
Morning Message/ Schedule (3 minutes)
Greeting (2 minutes)
Sharing (10 minutes)
Activity (10 minutes)
My plan for UBD project is to take the sharing and activity portion of our morning meeting out and incorporate them into other parts of our day. For the activity, we have a 10 minute period at the end of our days when this can be done. For the sharing portion, I am my goal is to use Flipgrid for students to share, comment and ask questions on each other’s posts.
Integrating Flipgrid would also allow us the opportunity to learn and practice digital citizenship. Using Flipgrid as a means for students to share out important and meaningful stories for other students to hear and respond to was a natural way to talk about digital citizenship. As a class, we were able to make connections to values that we had when we were sharing in a face to face circle and discuss how that would look online.
Here are the essential questions that arose from planning:
How can we as a classroom community support each other (socially, emotionally, and academically)?
What values do we find important when sharing and replying to others?
How are our online interactions similar to real life interactions?
How do our choices impact those around us?
What can you do to make our classroom a more positive, friendly, safe place?
What does it mean to be a digital citizen?
I began the process of introducing digital citizenship to my 3rd-graders by using our essential questions as a guide. We discussed and recorded our ideas to the questions. I posted our responses around the room to come back too. Next, we were ready for Flipgrid. My students were familiar with Flipgrid as a means to think metacognitively and as a place to voice their ideas. Thus, we took our ideas from the essential questions and translated them into posts about ourselves that we wanted to share with our classroom community.
Here are some things that I leaned from students sharing, commenting, and questioning about their Flipgrid posts and others:
Students who normally choose not to share were openly and confidently speaking and sharing about themselves
Students were engaging with other posts, leaving comments and questions
Students were getting creative with their posts
Students were able to go back and listen or re-listen to other posts