Friday, 13 April 2018

Updating a dated Unit - "Lost" Part Two

In a recent post, I talked about my efforts to re-launch a highly engaging, cross-curricular unit built around the first season of the television program "Lost". As I mentioned, at least four Transition Years (Grade 7 & 8) teachers were intrigued. However, to seal the deal, I would need to organize and present a massive unit to them in a way that was manageable. In order to do this, I would need to search my storage area (where all of my "teacher supplies" are currently housed, anxiously awaiting my return to the classroom) for a big box labeled: "Lost" Stuff. Additionally, I would need to collate dozens of computer files that contained the lessons that would build this unit. Fortunately, it was March Break.

The Roadblock

Here was the problem. I hadn't looked at the unit since leaving Grade 8 in 2011, to teach the Junior division (Grade 4-6) at another school. Additionally, our board had moved from the early 2K Corel Suite (WordPerfect, Excel, Quattro Pro) to Microsoft Office (Word, Powerpoint, Excel) to the Google Suite (Docs, Slides, Sheets). Consequently, any document I had saved needed to be converted...but...our school computers no longer supported the format in which it had been  saved.

The Detour

My old Dell laptop (circa 2007) had been gathering dust for about 4 years (coinciding with the time I got my first Chromebook). It still had Corel programs installed on it; so, I could access the files and convert them to .PDF which could be uploaded to my Google Drive. Unfortunately, none of the "Presentation" files could be converted to Google Slides - so that was frustrating. Consequently, this was a time consuming (albeit pleasurable) grind. It did, however, give me a chance to reflect on the type of educator I was in 2010 and the type I am learning to be now.
  • How could I upgrade these activities to reflect the technology that is available to me and students in 2018? PadletFlipgridKahootEdmodo etc.
  • How could I adapt these lessons to take full advantage of the Google Suite? Not just Slides - but Blogger and Google Sites.
  • How could I connect these lessons to the  Rethink Secondary vision that we want, in order to prepare our Transition Year students to embrace Global Competencies - skills that will be invaluable in their future?
  • If I get more than one class from more than one school to participate, how do I get them to share their writing and thinking with each other? How do I create an authentic (not just the teacher) audience for these students? 

The Finish Line

My goals are to ...
  1. Update this unit for 21st Century utility - connecting it to meaningful (and engaging) technological approaches to learning.
  2. Connect it intentionally to the (revised) Ontario Curriculum (particularly in Math & Language).
  3. Get a group of teachers to embrace it - with my support (justifying my time in my current role).
  4. Roll it out successfully to over 80 grade 7 & 8 students.
Then... I might have the makings of a blog series (perhaps book and updated workshop*) that could be presented to other educators.

In my next post - I will discuss my use of this unit to secure my Master's Degree - and the stats I wish I had gathered.

 *NB: I have presented this at day long ETFO workshops in the past (2008-2010) - but not with this new 21st Century direction.

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