As we explore the intersection of learning and technology for CEP800 of the MAET course, one of our final tasks is to deliver a UbD Unit Plan to demonstrate our understanding and use of the learning theories we have studied.

Understanding by Design is a framework for curriculum development that advocates for backwards planning. It is ignited by the desired results, where essential questions, understandings, standards and benchmarks necessary for the learning targets introduce the process. Evidence of these outcomes is revealed through a performance task and teachers are seen as coaches of understanding.

We utilize the UbD framework at my school, so this assignment gave me another chance to perform an authentic task. Here’s the Unit Plan I created, followed by further elaboration on the intersection between content, pedagogy and technology, also known as TPACK.

We’ve got TPACK!

Content: Reading and writing, with a special focus on language control, are at the core of my classes. Students in eighth grade have been working hard on an inquiry-based research paper, which I have addressed in my podcast production earlier this year. My goal is to have them turn their eyes to a more creative self for this last quarter of the year, as we explore the reading and writing of short stories and address misconceptions about writing and design. The culminating project will be the creation of an e-book, which should provide for an understanding of a holistic view on visual elements.

Pedagogy: Since I have described a whole unit in my plan, there are numerous pedagogical strategies that I use and will use on a daily basis, but some of the most common ones fall under the umbrella of constructivism, sociolinguistics and connectivism. I also make sure, as an EAL teacher, to use as many differentiation strategies as I can to reach different needs.

Content & Pedagogy: The strategies that I have chosen help me engage the learners in the discussion and understanding of essential skills for readers and writers. Through the Reading and Writing Workshops, we make adjustments to meet the students at their current ability level while maintaining rigorous standards. Learners are exposed to the strategies and skills that can help them self-monitor and self-evaluate for comprehension. There are no physical or technical constraints in the choices I made for this unit.

Technology: Technologies in use are Google Apps for Education, which have been our school-wide tools of choice since the beginning of the year, and Book Creator. The first ones are essential for the writing process, as they allow for real-time collaboration and many other features, such as dictionaries, thesaurus, spell checker, comments, etc. They assist significantly with the feedback process, which I so confidently hold on to. The latter is going to assist with teaching content-specific items related to design and will allow for some practicing of Web 2.0 skills, such as publishing and follow-up. Both of these technologies are an important part of my lesson planning, though I could use other instructional strategies to achieve my objectives if necessary.

Technology & Pedagogy: Google Apps for Education allow for more interaction between people and also between people and resources or tools. They are what connectivism advocates: knowing where to find information is more important than knowing information; learning and knowledge rest in a diversity of opinions; personal skills and different approaches are needed so that connections between fields, ideas and concepts can be made. The Book Creator piece, on the other hand, allows for creative thinking and the application of existing knowledge to innovate and generate new ideas. These skills are fundamental in today’s fast-paced society.

Technology & Content: Google Apps for Education assist with the transferring of learning, especially when it comes to the necessary interaction between writers and teacher in search of feedback, and in terms of the many features that they provide for language control. For their e-books, students will utilize the features embedded in the Book Creator app, but the core of the project relies on their ability to see the design principles as applicable in order to create a visually rich and effective piece that blends text, images and sound.

Assessment: Assessment will take place by means of formative pieces such as reading journal entries, exit cards, and conferences, as well as summative pieces such as Socratic seminars, reading assessments and, finally, the published e-book. Technology is fundamental, as it will allow for our constant interaction and scaffolding techniques to make the content comprehensible.

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