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UP Campaign, October 2016
Hidden Heroes: Together is Better
The theme for the October UP, Unit Planning Workshop was "Together is Better," also the title of a book by Simon Sinek, which provided inspiration throughout the workshop. The day centered around collaborative unit planning among and within grade levels and schools. Participants were given strategies and precious time to refine and improve the unit plans they are working on. This included delving deeper into how to choose quality texts and construct effective Essential Questions.
Thank you for the planning time! Thank you for the step-by-step instructions you provided for planning. - Teacher Feedback
I’m looking forward to teaching our unit in my classroom! - Teacher Feedback
Together is Better
The day began with participants finding a quote that connected to their experience in the last week as Hurricane Matthew made its way through the county. Quotes from the text Together is Better, by Simon Sinekwere, were posted around the room. Participants then gathered in trios and shared their quotes and your experiences with one another. Next they found a new quote that captured their “hopes of moving forward” with the unit planning process and shared with their trios.
Participants were asked to rate topics on a continuum stretching from one side of the room to the other. Some of the questions included "are you a morning or night person?" "Do your prefer indoors or outdoors?" "Are you happy with your unit plan or does it still needs work?"
This community building exercise provided participants an opportunity to find common ground with one another and served as an introduction of the day's offerings.
Collaboration across schools is GREAT! All our kids benefit! - Teacher Feedback
Tina Blythe has been a researcher with Harvard University's Project Zero since 1988. She has focused on professional development, teacher inquiry, and collaborative assessment of student work.
She is the author of The Teaching for Understanding Guide and Looking Together at Student Work.
Presenter Kurt Wootton discussed the Qualities of Meaningful Texts and emphasized the importance of rich, relevant texts to the unit planning process.
What makes a good essential question? Kurt explains the Criteria for Developing Essential Questions, highlighting the need for inquiry driven learning.
I enjoyed the essential questions portion and the discussion that followed. - Teacher Feedback
Building a Wall of Texts and Essential Questions
Working in grade level groups, participants shared their unit's big ideas and the meaningful texts they chose and explained why they chose them. Using feedback protocols (K-H-S: Kind, Helpful and Specific) the groups work together to help one another refine their text selections.
A similar process followed to help participants develop thoughtful essential questions for their unit plans.
At the end of these activities, participants wrote their essential questions and meaningful texts on paper strips and posted them on large boards at the front of the room, making their ideas shared and visible.
Valuable Planning Time
This workshop focused on providing support and guidance in the basics of unit planning while allowing participants to actively plan a unit for their classrooms. They collaborated in grade levels across schools and with their school teams.
Tina Blythe is pictured here working with the district wide Fifth Grade Digital team on their unit plans.
The time to collaborate and get feedback on our unit was huge. I loved the ladder of feedback activity and got some awesome ideas and suggestions for my unit. I feel as though my team and I have a vision/goal and are headed in the right direction.
- Teacher Feedback
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