Monday, November 18, 2013

PLN Takeaways

I found these articles about developing a PLN incredibly interesting. I liked that both articles discussed how social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook can be used beneficially - I think sometimes people disregard these sites as a means to procrastinate or waste time, and I appreciated that both authors wrote about how these sites can actually enhance teaching methods and educational philosophy. That being said, I think it's easier said than done in discerning the useful from the not-so-useful, and think that it will be a process in of itself simply trying to find good educational Twitter or Facebook accounts. Another slight concern I had was that I recently deleted my Facebook account, so I would be unable to use that social media site as a means to connect with other teachers or educational organizations to develop a PLN. I don't think this is too much of an issue, though - there are similar social media sites (such as LinkedIn or Google+) that I can use instead. 

I really like the idea of developing a strong PLN, because I think teaching, as a profession, is one that should involve continual collaboration and feedback. Teachers should be constantly working to better the quality of the education they are providing for students, and so PLN seems like an obvious way to fulfill this goal. Personally, the idea of PLN appealed to me because I really love talking and listening to other people, especially if we are discussing a similar or shared topic. I like the idea of collaboration, of sharing personal experiences (good and bad!) with other individuals involved in education, as a means to both improve our teaching, and develop new relationships of trust John Spencer (or Chad Segersten) write about. 

Overall, I would like to learn more about the how-to of developing a PLN. These articles served as a great introduction into the idea, and I'm excited to discuss this more in class. 

Technology Integration Lesson Plan

Below are the different components of my Technology Integration Lesson Plan:

PLN Reading Takeaways

I was struck by the author's emphasis on the authenticity of how you get your ideas on He emphasized that there are dozens (if not hundreds) of ways to access information to aid your professional development, but the important thing is that it feels useful, natural, and authentic to you. He mentioned sharing a pint with his friend at a local bar and discussing their ideas casually in conversation. This informal method can be just as informative and useful as going to a conference or attending a class, and it works with who he is and what he is trying to achieve. 

I really liked that both sites emphasized that you can customize your PLN to suit your interests and needs. I was a little intimidated about planning a PLN until I read these articles and realized that yes, a PLN will require me to reach out to other teachers and possibly social media more than I currently do, but the extent and the types of outreach are all up to me. It's all about choosing what I will actually use and how I prefer to access information. I would never have thought of facebook or twitter as opportunities for professional learning, but it's definitely something that I will consider. 

Technology Integration Lesson

I have attached the lesson plan, artifact, and reflection for my technology integration lesson concerning the feudal system.

Lesson and artifact link

Reflection link

Technology Lesson Plan

I have linked my concept map, lesson plan, video, and presentation. 

  1. How do you address one or more UDL principles in the lesson to meet the needs of diverse learners?
In this lesson plan I incorporate many principles of UDL. There are varied means of representing information, multiple means of action and expression, and also multiple means of engagement. Information is presented to students through multiple representations: there is a power point presentation (showing original images of the texts and giving students a sense of what they looked like in their original context), a video (combining audio and visuals, as well as providing a historical narrative), and images as well as documents (there is also a glossary following the documents). These various methods of representation allow students’ to use their individual strengths, while also providing them with challenges. For example, one student might do really well with reading and analyzing historical documents, but struggles with learning from and interpreting images or video. Multiple means of action and expression are available through the concept mapping tool that we will use as a class, discussion, and creative writing. The creative writing activity “Write your own Declaration of Independence” establishes authenticity and individuality to come through in the lesson. The group work throughout the lesson allows for collaboration and communication. Putting the students into pairs or small groups invites collaboration, but also enables students to take on individual roles – perhaps one student is confident in their writing skills so they take on the role of the ‘writer,’ another student in the group is good at public speaking and so takes on the role of the group’s presenter, and the third group member might have the best understanding of the various sources and provides leadership and facilitates discussion.
All of these various methods are included to create a dynamic and interesting lesson, and to provide students with individualized means to learn and express their knowledge.

2. How do you see the use of technology connecting with the content focus?

I think the technology I chose to use matches the content focus well. My learning goals in this lesson were for the students to understand the colonists’ motivations and arguments for separation from Britain, and to analyze the documents and make evidence-based hypotheses explaining these motivations. The introduction video highlights the difficulty the colonists faced when deciding to separate, and also the emotion and humanity of the Founding Fathers. It is a stirring, emotional, and engaging video and I think that it will help the students look at these documents in a new light, as well as understand the high stakes that were placed on the question of independence. The presentation does not contain a lot of content, it’s true, but I think that having the visual of what these documents looked like in their initial printings is important. The larger, colored version of the engraving might also be easier for the students to see and analyze, as the smaller version in their document packets is a bit blurred. Finally, the mindmup concept mapping website is a great way to visually map out all of the student hypotheses that they will generate after reading each document. Mapping out their ideas on the chalkboard would take up too much space, and it would be more difficult to show the interconnection between their ideas. The website makes maps that are streamlined and easy-to-read. They are also easy to manipulate, which is essential as I will be adding to it, editing, and deleting items as the class progresses. This technology will help students brainstorm, compare hypotheses, and see the connections between ideas in a way that non-digital technology could not.

3. How do you see the use of technology connecting with the pedagogical approach you’ve selected?

I think the technology connected well with its respective LAT. For ‘view presentation’ I have a presentation of slides that show the central question that the students will investigate and images of the texts that they are working with. For ‘view images’ I included both an introductory video and an image that they will use as a source. Then the students and I will work together to ‘develop a knowledge web’ using the concept mapping technology. As I said in the answer above, the concept mapping site manages to hold a great deal of information and present it in an orderly, clear display. It is easy for students to read what others included, come up with new ideas or build off of another’s response, because it is easily visible.

4. How do the content, pedagogy and technology all “fit” together in the lesson?

I thought of the content I wanted to teach first. This lesson plan is based on one I produced for my methods class, so the learning goals/objectives were already in place. My next step was figuring out how to best teach my students the learning goal and how to interact with the texts, while also being engaging and interesting. For example, I knew that I wanted the students to theorize and try to answer our historical question, and that led me to selecting the ‘developing a knowledge web’ LAT. I decided that producing a web of the complexity and size that I hoped the students would develop would require some sort of technology. So I really tried to consider the LAT and the technology and how they would help students accomplish my learning goals and objectives. I think I managed to incorporate technology in a way that makes sense and does not distract from the point of the lesson.

5. What is the relative advantage of the technology(ies) used in the lesson?

Certainly one of the advantages of using technology is that allowed me to give my students different visual representations of the material. The video serves to give background, create an emotional connection to the material, and includes dynamic audio and video. Using images of the engraving shows a larger, clearer image, making it easier to analyze. The images of the documents help students gain a perspective of the past and the effort that went into making these documents. Finally, the concept mapping website has several advantages in this lesson: it’s fast, efficient, easy to use, shows a great deal of information, shows the connections between ideas, and helps students visually understand how their ideas relate to our central historical question.

6. What was your overall experience like designing this lesson using the Learning Activity Types approach to technology integration planning? In other words, how, if at all, did this process help you to zero in on appropriate and effective technologies to approach the lesson?

As I mentioned previously, I already had the idea for the learning goals and objectives from a lesson plan I made earlier. That gave me a good place to start. After that I used the LAT chart and typology to organize my ideas on what I would like to have students do during the lesson. I knew I wanted to start off with an interesting video to hook them in, and that I wanted to incorporate discussion (in small groups and as a class), so that was easily determined. After that, however, there were so many choices that it made making a decision rather difficult. This is not a criticism, however. I am glad that there are so many choices to consider – it means that I can use this in the future to avoid boxing myself into a set of three go-to LATs.
I returned to my learning goals and had to decide how I wanted students to hypothesize and answer our historical question. I had decided on incorporating discussion, but I also thought that using something visual would help students theorize freely, pay attention and remember what other students had said, and then be able to return to those ideas after reading the next document. Once I looked at the LATs again, it seemed clear that developing a knowledge web would work well with this lesson.
Overall I think using this LAT approach to lesson planning was useful. It helped me understand different categories of activities and how/where I might want to fit those into class and how they would help me achieve my learning goals for the lesson. I also liked that the LAT provided various ways of learning and communicating learning, and then even more examples of ways to integrate technology into that LAT. It was systematic and is definitely something I will use in the future. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013


Developing a PLN

To me, developing a PLN seems like a bit of an obvious step. Of course teachers communicate with one another about best practices and the difficulties of their jobs. And in the modern age, of course they do so in ways that are not always directly face to face. So much of the learning I have already done has taken place in networks such as this, so why wouldn't the rest of it? For example, when I was working on the newspaper in college, the only ways we had to learn about how to actually make a newspaper were through one another and an extended PLN. We read blogs, watched videos, attended conferences, spoke to other journalists, interacted on social media, and did really anything we could to access the wide world of information out there about how to be successful journalists. One of the most interesting things about the teaching profession is how vibrant, long-distant communities exists already. There are so many teachers out there who are willing and excited to share what they know and ask questions of other people that not engaging in these networks would feel like I was not doing my job to its fullest. As Katie hinted at below though, there is the paradox in education in which we have so many possibilities to share information online with other teachers but are expected to keep this absolutely hidden from our students. I think that we have all grown up with social media (not that it has been there since we were children, but that it has matured as we have) and know a great deal about the dangers of using social media incorrectly. I think the important thing is making sure that you are appropriate in what you are sharing online and that you have very high privacy settings. Also, having a name that is difficult to search because it is a very common word is helpful.

Some key things I took away from these pieces:
- I already have the resources to engage in most of these PLN platforms mentioned. Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, etc. are all parts of my social media world and I could very easily add an educational aspect to my usage of them.
-It is important to keep in mind that a network is not just one thing and not always two-way. What I mean is, a network does not just refer to a twitter conversation, but could also refer to a conversation in real life. And engaging in a network does not always mean creating something to add to it, but can simply mean taking it in.
-A PLN will never happen if you don't start somewhere! As hard as it might be to start a PLN because of all the information that is out there, finding a way that works for you and implementing that is the first step to creating a useful PLN.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I think to have a successful PLN we have to commit to a certain vulberability. What I mean by this is that we have to make ourselves and our thoughts available to others both in our workplace and outside our workplace, and online. We have to be willing to engage in academic talk while also maintaining a certain level of professionalism and honesty. I think that developing a PLN can be extremely helpful for new teachers as it is essentially a support system; it is a way to help us build confidence, learn from more experienced educators, and be inspired by great teaching. However, I think that developing a PLN takes effort and carefulness. As new teachers, we are being most "watched" by other teachers, our administration, and our students' parents (or so it feels). Therefore, we need to be on our best behavior; in my opinion, we should fulfill our Principal's expectations of us as teachers, professionals, and respectable adults. I am slightly worried about engaging in online PLN such as twitter because I do not feel comfortable with my middle school students viewing my activity. For this reason, I stay away from blog-type social media sites. I know that there are ways to up privacy settings however, I know my students will likely know more about these types of things than I will. I want to know how to engage in private online blog groups--is this possible? Also, I am truly aloof when it comes to searching the web--I do not really know how to find a meaningful blog. How do I find teaching blogs and how I do sort the good from the bad?

Key Takeaways:

  • Step 2 is focused on creating a list of professional development needs that we feel are not being met. However, currently, we are not really "hired" new teachers. Therefore, I would likely want to make a list of needs that I would like to be met as a first year teacher--i.e. the kinds of supports I feel I will need or want. 
  • As far as meeting with other teachers to talk about school needs, issues, or concerns, I would like to include a variety of teachers in this social group--teachers outside of my discipline and even of diverse grades (elementary school teachers and high school teachers)
  • As a new teacher, I would like to integrate my learning goals for the school year into my PLN so that I can reflect periodically. This would allow me to self-monitor my progress and make changes as necessary to meet my goals. 

Technology-Integrated Lesson Plan

Kaitlyn Wisniewski
*(LAT bolded in RED); PLAN B highlighted in yellow

Context: Structured Academic Controversy Student (SAC) Learning Plan

Grade: Designed for 6th grade

Class: US History I

Length: One class period (approximately 55 minutes)

Topic: Causes of the American Revolution

Overview: In the SAC lesson, students will be provided with a general introduction and review of the political climate in the weeks and months leading up to the outbreak of the American Revolution. Students will then be divided into small groups of either four or six students depending on the class size. Students will be given two separate hand-outs; one hand out will provide information from British loyalists’ perspective and the second handout will provide information from the patriot perspective regarding Great Britain’s rule of the American colonies. After annotating the text and discussing the main ideas with their groups/partners, each group will have the opportunity to present their perspective briefly in three minutes. The opposing side will then have one minute to ask clarifying questions about the information they were just provided. The process will repeat itself as the second group has an opportunity to present their perspective. Following the controversial discussions, students will make an informed decision about which perspective they personally find more compelling; this response will take the form of an exit ticket.

Background Information: Our nation was born as a result of the American Revolution. If colonists accepted British legislation such as the Stamp Act and the Proclamation of 1763, the 13 American colonies may still be under British rule present-day. Colonists’ dissatisfaction with British rule was at the heart of the fight for American Independence. While this point is not largely contested present day, in the mid to late 1700’s, American Colonists and the British government could not come to an agreement in regards to taxation and government representation and rule within the colonies. The result of these grave disagreements between the colonies and the Mother Country was the birth of America’s representative democracy founded upon the US Constitution.

Rationale: The decision to break away from British colonial rule is a perfect for a SAC lesson because the colonies’ breakaway from Great Britain was unprecedented; it is an eminent event in the birth of America as an independent, democratic nation. Not only will students gain a greater understanding of the events that led to the Revolutionary War, but will be able to consider colonists’ diverse opinions about potentially breaking away from the mother country; students will be able to consider both the loyalists’ and the patriots’ mentality leading into the American Revolution. Students will learn that history is a culmination of multiple perspectives and interpretations; there are often two or more sides to consider in any historical event.

Instructional Model: The Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) lesson model is designed to help students objectively discuss multiple viewpoints of a historical event or issue from an informed perspective. Students will be assigned a topic and will have to build a case in favor or in opposition of a given event or issue. Students will work with their group members to synthesize main ideas from the passage provided; each student will then have a chance to present their critical point. Students will objectively listen to their peers’ perspectives in order to reflect upon both perspectives presented. Students’ goal is to understand the multiple perspectives presented as to make an informed opinion of the topic discussed. This particular model is important for students because it allows students to work together to synthesize and then constructively debate different facts, opinions, and perspectives of a given event or issue. Each of these skills will prove inherently useful in students’ future social studies classes as well in a practical sense as they become active democratic citizens.

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by identifying the issues of dissatisfaction that led to the American Revolution (USI.6a)

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by identifying how political ideas shaped the revolutionary movement and led to the Declaration of Independence (USI.6b)

Students will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship including the ability to sequence events in United States history form pre-Columbian times to 1865 (USI.1c)

Students will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship including the ability to interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives (USI.1d)

Students will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship including the ability to interpret patriotic slogans and excerpts from notable speeches and documents (USI.1h)

The learner will explain how information and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of references (NCSS Standards I [culture]b)

The learner will identify and describe selected historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, such as the growth and breakdown of colonial systems (NCSS Standards II [time, continuity, and change]c)

Assessment: Assessment for this particular lesson is formative. The teacher will observe the students as they work with their groups to organize and present their ideas. In addition, the teacher will collect students’ notes sheets in which they organized their main ideas and specific facts they planned to address in their short presentations; these will be graded based on completion and effort. Students will also be responsible for submitting an exit ticket in which they decide whether it was appropriate for the colonists to have broken away from the Mother Country, Great Britain. It may also be beneficial to include a short answer type response in the unit test that requires students to explain the variety of perspectives among the Colonists’ in respect to separating themselves as a new independent nation.

Content and Instructional Strategies:
Perennial Issue: Are colonists within their rights to break away from their mother country?
Case Issue: Were the Colonists justified in revolting against Great Britain in the hopes of creating a separate, independent nation?

Hook/Background of Controversy: To introduce the lesson to students, I will explain that they will be working in small groups to debate a central issue in the forming of our nation—the Colonists’ decision to break away from Great Britain. To introduce students to the content material more specifically, I will show them two short video clips that summarizes the causes of the American Revolution. The first clip is from the infamous School House Rock. While the clip is juvenile, it does a great job of simplifying the causes of the American Revolution. For the second clip, I would show tidbits of the video because the clip is altogether about 11 minutes in length. This video is John Greene’s Crash Course in World History. I think that the students will particularly like this clip because it is fast-paced and humorous. I particularly liked this clip because it highlights specific vocabulary and historical events that students will likely already have learned; this clip is great for reinforcing previously learned content material in preparing students for their academic debate. (10 minutes)

If the teacher is unable to access the video clips or the technology in some way, shape, or form fails, he/she may choose to work with their students to quickly brainstorm different events that they have previously learned about that may have contributed to different colonists’ perspectives regarding the American Revolution. Teachers could begin by highlighting a few main events such as The Boston Massacre, The Tea Party, and The French Indian War. The teacher could then write these subheadings on the dry-erase board and open up the class for brief discussion/brainstorming. As the class briefly discusses each event, the teacher could write a few important facts about each event on the board and then write next to each fact different Colonists’ opinions. This would provide students with a brief introduction and would help students “jog” their memories regarding previously learned content material. 

                Classroom Setup and Pre-Instruction:
·         Students will be arranged in groups of either 4 or 6 (depending on class size)
·         Desks will be facing one another so that students of opposing viewpoints will be sitting directly across from one another (eyeballs to eyeballs, knees to knees)
·         As students walk in the classroom, they will look on the projection screen to find their group and table number

If the projector is not working that day, the teacher could simply write the directions on the dry-erase board. Each board could be devoted to different components of the lesson. For example, one board could show students’ groups and their locations. The next board could display the “game plan.” And yet another board could be used for the brainstorming activity in the warm-up (if the video clips fail). I could also read aloud students’ groups and their locations if there is not enough board space or time in-between each class to get the board ready.

·         Prior to starting the lesson, I will ensure students are in the correct locations. After organizing students, I will then explain the SAC lesson model to students. I will explain to them that they will either be for or against revolting against the Mother Country based on the perspectives of Colonists and the British. I will explain that they will work with their groups members to prepare several arguments based on the information provided them. Each group with have several minutes to explain their perspective, ask clarifying questions, and respond. Students’ goal is to try to develop a better understanding of both perspectives in order to reach a consensus as to which perspective they find most compelling.

Round 1—Presenting Positions:  Once I have explained the overall layout of the lesson plan and students’ responsibilities, I will hand out the corresponding worksheets for each perspective. To make it easier for myself and my students, I will print the handouts on two separate colored papers (i.e. pink worksheet with the Loyalists’ perspective, green handout for the Patriots’ perspective); this will be particularly helpful for in grouping students. It will also help students to remember which perspective they will be addressing. As a reminder, I will write on the white board which color represents which “side” of the issue. (3 minutes)

Once the handouts are distributed, I will place students into pairs or groups and then pair them up with an opposing team. Students will then work independently for about 3 minutes to read through, take notes, and annotate their particular handout. Students will then have 2 minutes to work with their partner(s) to discuss the main ideas they would like to discuss. Students will use this time to build their case and divide up arguments between pairs/group members. (5 minutes)

After inter-partner discussion, students representing the Loyalists’ perspective will have three minutes to present their case. After three minutes, students representing the Patriots’ perspective will have two minutes to ask clarifying questions. (5 minutes)
The next five minutes will be devoted to students representing the British perspective to share their arguments in three minutes. Following these three minutes, students representing the Colonists’ perspective will have two minutes to ask clarifying questions. (5 minutes)

Round 2—Reverse Positions: After each group has an opportunity to present the two groups will each receive a new handout with the reverse perspectives. This will be the same handout that the opposing group used for the previous round. However, the handout will have multiple main ideas and students will be challenged to highlight ideas not previously brought up in discussion. The above activity will be repeated in identical fashion, students will just be arguing from the reverse perspective. (13 minutes)

Group Discussion/ Attempts to Reach Consensus: Now that students have had the opportunity to explore both the various Colonists’ perspectives, they will spend the next five minutes working as a larger group to discuss both perspectives addressed. Specifically, students will discuss stronger and weaker points of each perspective. Based on the information provided, the groups will try to reach a consensus as to which perspective they found most compelling. Each group should be prepared to share a few of their thoughts aloud with the class. (5 minutes for discussion within groups, 5 minutes for class discussion)

Following the brief class discussion, students will be given an exit ticket in which they must take a stand. On the exit ticket, students will be asked whether they think the Colonists’ should or should not have separated themselves from the Crown; students should use the information discussed to support their claim. Students must support their response with at two pieces of evidence discussed in their groups, in a minimum of 3 sentences. (10 minutes)

If for some reason the copy-machine is out of operation students could easily create their own note’s sheet or exit ticket. I could provide students with a template using the overhead projector—so that they could see how to layout their paper. If I am unable to make copies of each of the perspective handouts, then I may have to make different posters for each group. This may mean that groups have to combine and share posters with information, but it would still allow students to access the content material.

Introductory video clips: (start at 1:00-2:16, 3:22-4:10, 4:40-5:20, 5:58-6:50; altogether about 4 minutes)


Student Name:
Structured Academic Controversy: Loyalists v. Patriots
Case question: Were the Colonists justified in revolting against Great Britain in the hopes of creating a separate, independent nation?



EXIT TICKET: Based on the discussion you participated in today, assess which perspective (Loyalists OR Patriots) you found most persuasive. Below, Cite at least two pieces of evidence in your response of at least 3 sentences.

·         The Colonists were NOT represented in Parliament but were required to follow laws passed by the British parliament
o   Resented colonial governors’ power
o   Went against Britain’s traditional “virtual representation” in which all members of parliament are to represent ALL British citizens’ interests
·         Quartering Acts
o   Required colonists to provide British troops in the colonies with necessary accommodations (i.e. Food, a place to stay)—at Colonists’ personal expense
o   Colonists were NOT reimbursed by Great Britain
·         Boston Tea Party
o   Colonists’ through tea into Boston’s harbor after King George III implemented a tax on tea
o   Colonists were infuriated by the high tax on tea from the Mother Country; this was an act of revolt and dissatisfaction
o   Britain further restricted Colonists’ ability to trade with other countries through taxes and tariffs—forced colonists to trade with Great Britain despite high prices
o   As a result of the tea party, Great Britain closed the Boston harbor for trading
o   Taxes on tea and stamps (Stamp Act) were unfairly taking away Colonists’ property (i.e. money and goods)
o   As colonists began to boycott goods, many colonists’ businesses suffered—some colonists refused to buy British imported goods
·         French and Indian War Affects
o   Proclamation of 1763—restricted Colonists’ westward movement
o   Great Britain imposed new taxes on the colonies to finance the French and Indian War
o   Tax was also used to finance British troops within the colonies
o   Many Colonists fought in the French and Indian War and did not feel they should be held to the Quartering Acts; they already “served” the Mother Country
·         Boston Massacre—11 Colonists in Boston were shot, 5 died and 6 were injured, after taunting British soldiers
o   Colonists were gathering to protest parliamentary legislation
o   Unnecessary use of violence by British soldiers
o   Colonists’ feel that they had a right and duty to change a government that was violating their rights
o   British troops CAUSING violence within the colonies

·         Great Britain is a world power and if the colonies break away, they will not be as strong politically or economically—fear years of turmoil and upset
o   Colonies benefit from trading directly with Great Britain; main source of trade
·         British settlers founded the colonies and therefore, colonists should respect British laws
o   Britain is “Mother Country” and colonists should respect the King as British citizens
o   Colonists have a duty to follow British laws in the colonies
o   Many Loyalists were appointed by King George III as governors—they had personal ties to the King himself
·         Divine Right—many Loyalists were religious leaders who believed that the King’s power was directly linked to God’s will
o   Respecting the King = respecting God; disobeying the King = disobeying God
o   DUTY to the church of England and to God to respect and obey the King of England
·         Great Britain was forced to impose taxes through measures such as the Stamp Act to raise the necessary funds to pay for the French and Indian War
o   French and Indian War was necessary in protecting the colonies
·         Great Britain had to tax the colonies to finance the maintenance of British Troops in the colonies
o   Troops were NECESSARY to maintain order and British rule in the colonies
·         Do not want to break away from the Mother Country because many colonists had family members still residing in Britain
o   Feared they would not be allowed back into Britain if the colonies broke away
·         It would be too difficult for colonists to be represented in parliament because all parliamentary meetings are held in Great Britain
o   It would be too difficult for Colonists to travel back and forth between the colonies and Great Britain for parliament meetings
·         Believed Patriots were causing political unrest, violence, and unnecessary upheaval in the colonies
o   i.e. boycotting goods hurt Colonist-owned businesses that sold British goods
o   feared bloody war with Great Britain

Differentiation: This lesson is beneficial because it requires 100% student participation. Students will each be responsible for contributing to the discussion in offering one aspect of their group’s assigned perspective. Students will able to work independently in working through the text provided, but they will also work with their groups to present a compelling argument. In addition, they will work with their peers at large to create a more informed opinion regarding a particular historical event or issue.
One way to differentiate this lesson to better fit students’ needs is by altering how the information is presented in addition to the quantity of information presented. Students will lower reading abilities, including ESL and ELL students, may have an easier time deciphering the information provided if it is outlined or organized in bullet format. Students could then briefly fill out a graphic organizer to help prepare their thoughts before speaking. This may ease students’ fear of participating while simultaneously making students feel more prepared. For advanced students, I would likely provide them with additional information as well as a short primary document to use in their discussion. I would give advanced students more time to sift through their materials but I would also require them to annotate and take notes on the documents independently; this will help students prepare their individual focus for discussion. I would also give advanced students a more extensive wrap-up type of assignment that requires them to reflect upon the perspectives offered in an essay-oriented format.

Adaptations: The lesson is traditionally very text-heavy. One way to adapt the lesson for students will difficulty reading or decoding information would be to break the information down in a graphic organizer or into a bulleted outline. Within the bulleted information, important words or phrases could be highlighted for students. If this is still too difficult, students may have an easier time understanding multiple perspectives of an issue by interpreting artwork or political cartoons surrounding the historical event or issue. Students may have an easier time breaking down information if they can visually view it. For students who require all texts be read aloud to them, the teacher could designate the stronger reader in each student group or pair to read the text aloud. It will also be helpful for students to discuss different information they have read as they present their brief summaries to share. I would also recommend that students write down a few things that they know they might like to say; this will help them guide their thoughts and stay focused while presenting.

This lesson is dependent upon high student engagement, participation, and cooperation within students’ groups. A potential issue may arise if students are randomly placed with students that tend to encourage personal off-task behaviors or if students are placed with individuals that they do not work well with. To avoid this potential issue, it may be best to pre-arrange groups prior to teaching. It would also be beneficial to plan groups ahead of time as to put at least one, stronger student, in each pair/group so that each pair/group has a leader.
Another problem that may arise is in confusing students with the process and pacing of the lesson itself. Most, if not all of my sixth grade students, have never participated in an academic debate or discussion in a previous social studies class. At the start of the lesson, students may already have a bit of anxiety about participating in a debate with their peers. The organic skills necessary for debating and discussing content material are likely unbeknownst for many students; they do not have the knowledge or practice necessary to engage in a flawless debate. Therefore, students will likely need a great deal of modeling and scaffolding prior to and during the lesson. Students will need direct input and explicit instructions at each step of the lesson so that they are able to better focus their thoughts and energies into the correct task at-hand. It may also be helpful to write a brief outline on the board of the discussion itself as well as the approximate time given for each task. This visual reminder will help students pace themselves and will likely ease their stress about the amount of time they have to prepare and present.
The last main concern that I have in using this lesson is the amount of individual reading students will be required to complete in order to form informed arguments. Many of my current students are below grade level in reading and comprehension; they struggle with reading a text straight through, understanding the material presented, and applying that material. I think that it may be best to bullet information so that students are not overwhelmed by a narrative form of information. In addition, students may also benefit from using pictures and cartoons with brief captions in understanding multiple perspectives. This would allow students below grade level in reading to access the content in a differentiated format; however, they would still be able to understand the important concepts. In addition, working in groups will help students who have greater difficult with reading comprehension understand the material.

Activity Types Planning Guide

Targeted Virginia SOL (or relevant portion):

Grade Level: 6th
Content Area: US History I (through 1865)
Restate the standard in terms of a learning goal for the students: Students will understand the various perspectives of the colonists’ in the events leading up to the American Revolution. More specifically, students will determine the British Loyalists’ and Patriots’ perspectives regarding rule and life in the colonies under King George III’s rule.

SOL based objectives:
The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by identifying the issues of dissatisfaction that led to the American Revolution (USI.6a)

The student will demonstrate knowledge of the causes and results of the American Revolution by identifying how political ideas shaped the revolutionary movement and led to the Declaration of Independence (USI.6b)

To meet the standard above, students will engage in a structured academic controversy with their classmates. In this lesson plan, students will create evidence based arguments regarding the justification of the colonists’ revolt again the Mother Country, Great Britain. More specifically. . .
SOL and NCSS based objectives:
  1. Students will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship including the ability to sequence events in United States history form pre-Columbian times to 1865 (USI.1c)
  2. Students will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship including the ability to interpret ideas and events from different historical perspectives (USI.1d)
  3. Students will demonstrate skills for historical and geographical analysis and responsible citizenship including the ability to interpret patriotic slogans and excerpts from notable speeches and documents (USI.1h)
  4. The learner will explain how information and experiences may be interpreted by people from diverse cultural perspectives and frames of references (NCSS Standards I [culture]b)
  5. The learner will identify and describe selected historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, such as the growth and breakdown of colonial systems (NCSS Standards II [time, continuity, and change]c)

Block 1—Hook/Background Instruction
Possible Activity Type:
View Presentation—Provide students with brief overview of the lesson plan and their roles throughout the course of the class period

Non-digital—Straight-forward teacher instruction to explain SAC lesson plan and students’ responsibilities

Digital—create a brief presentation to aid instruction and direction (could leave this up during lesson)

Possible Activity Type:
View Images—
  1. School House Rock (3 minutes)
  1. John Greene’s Crash Course of Causes of the American Revolution (start at 1:00-2:16, 3:22-4:10, 4:40-5:20, 5:58-6:50; altogether about 4 minutes)
Digital—project YouTube clips on the projector
Possible Activity Type:
Take Notes—students will be provided a chart in which they may begin taking notes based on the information that they listen to in the video clips
Non-digital—make copies of each chart for students as they will use this chart for their debate as well

Block 2—Preparing for debate
Possible Activity Type:
Read text & consider evidence—Students will receive a handout with perspectives of either Loyalists or Patriots. They will read the text and consider which evidence they believe most compelling for their debate. Students will have to choose three pieces of evidence in which they would like to address in their presentation.
Non-digital—Students will use handouts provided to take notes in their charts.

Possible Activity Type:
Complete charts/tables—As students read through the text, they should make notes about different arguments they find most compelling. Students will add to their charts once they discuss the text with their group members.
Non-Digital—Students will use paper copies of the chart; this will allow them to write quick ideas and as well as use notes from their debates to come to a consensus.

Possible Activity Type:
Discuss—Students will work with their group members/partner to identify main pieces of evidence they would like to argue in their presentation. Students will also use this time to divvy up who will cover which argument.
Non-Digital—Student will orally discuss main points that they would like to address in their 3 minute presentation.

Block 3—Debate
Possible Activity Type:
Debate—Each group with have 3 minutes to present their arguments. Each student will be responsible for sharing different compelling pieces of evidence. Each group will have an opportunity to present their arguments. After going through this “round,” students will switch perspectives and pull new pieces of evidence from the text to argue.
Non-Digital—Students will orally present their arguments (each group with have 3 minutes to present their arguments).

Possible Activity Type:
Answer Questions—Students listening to the presentation will have 1 minute to ask the group clarifying questions. Clarifying questions are NOT rebuttals; they are questions that clarify evidence presented. 
Non-Digital—Students will orally ask questions about the content presented. Students may choose to write these questions down as they arise during the opposing group’s presentation.

Block 4—Cool Down
Possible Activity Type:
Discussion—After the debate, the two groups of students will come together to discuss the different arguments presented. Students will discuss which arguments they found most compelling personally. They will also discuss flaws in some of the evidence or perspectives represented.
Non-Digital—Students will orally discuss the material presented and will refer back to the text as well as their notes to support their arguments.

Possible Activity Type:
Compare/contrast multiple perspectives—Students will discuss and compare and contrast the perspectives represented in their debates. Students will then orally share their thoughts aloud with the class before completing an exit ticket.
Digital—Students will orally share their opinions of each perspective and I may choose to add these into a power point slide or chart that is projected onto the screen.

Non-Digital—This part of the lesson will require students’ oral participation. Students may also find it helpful to write down classmates’ responses that they found interesting or compelling (this may help them with their exit ticket).

Possible Activity Type:
Construct an Essay—Students will write a brief response (3 sentences, citing 2 pieces of evidence discussed in the text & their debates) in which they choose either the Loyalist or Patriot perspectives. Students will be responsible for discussing which perspective they personally found compelling; they must cite two specific pieces of evidence that they found most convincing.
Digital—I could have students do this particular activity for homework in which they could write a blog post to a class wiki. OR I could have students write a newspaper article using from either the Loyalist or Patriot perspective. This would be a little more UDL and I think the students would particularly enjoy it!!
Non-Digital—Students could write their response at the bottom of their classwork. This would then allow me to take a look at their class notes as well as their reflection.


Technology Students Product:

Reflection of My Technology Integration Structured Academic Controversy (SAC) Lesson Plan

1.       How do you address one or more UDL principles in the lesson to meet the needs of diverse learners?
This lesson addresses UDL principle 1, checkpoints 1.1, 1.2, and 3.1 as it allows student multiple ways to access the content while also reviving students’ background knowledge of the political climate prior to the American Revolution. These particular checkpoints help meet the needs of diverse learners by providing students multiple ways to access the content—both information in bullet form, discussion with their peers, and two different video clips. Each of these activity types will allow students to access the important content material they will need to actively participate in their groups’ discussion. This lesson also meets UDL principal 2, checkpoints 5.1 and 5.3 in that it allows students to express themselves orally and through their writing. This will be particularly helpful for students who have difficulty writing because they will be able to use their content knowledge to lead discussion. In addition, teachers could provide a range of flexibility in terms of the wrap-up type activity; some students could write an online newspaper ( while other students could use another website to create their own cartoon. This would allow students to play to their individual advantages and interests—which is our primary goal as teachers!

2.       How do you see the use of technology connecting with the content focus?
Social studies classes provide many opportunities to incorporate technology into the classroom largely because the content requires teaching students research skills. This particular lesson opens students to research by listening to, reading, and taking notes using audio and text-based sources. While students are not researching on their own per-say, they are getting practice annotating and taking notes based on the texts provided. Developing annotation and note-taking skills will help students when researching in the future as well as in annotating future texts.
In addition, social studies classes allow students opportunities to create their own version of primary and secondary sources such as journals, newspapers, and cartoons. Each of these types of creative writing projects can form as alternative forms of assessment and can encourage students’ further engagement with the content material. For this particular lesson, it would be great to have students further apply the material by writing a newspaper article via to have them further apply the content material. This would allow students to apply the facts learned in a more personal manner; it would also likely be more fun for the students.
While this lesson is not technology-based, it would be easy to incorporate technology throughout the lesson plan if necessary. For this particular lesson, the focus is on teaching students discussion skills. However, if the goal was to incorporate technology, teachers could have students research individually before debating.

3.       How do you see the use of technology connecting with the pedagogical approach you’ve selected?
I see technology fitting into the beginning and end of the SAC-style lesson. I think that it is important to “hook” students into the lesson with video clips; this will help them refresh their background knowledge and also give them new information to use in their debates. It will also draw the students into the content and hopefully peak their interest. It would also be advantageous to have students apply the knowledge gained from the discussion in-class to a homework assignment in which they write a newspaper article or blog online. This would be advantageous in reinforcing the content material as well as in further engaging the students. Students will likely enjoy this assignment as opposed to writing the basic 5 sentence minimum paragraph; it will also them to get creative and incorporate photos, images, and facts of their choice. If teachers want to incorporate more technology into this lesson, students could be responsible for working with their groups in researching to prepare their arguments for discussion. This may be better for students who have more experience researching.

4.       How do the content, pedagogy and technology all “fit” together in the lesson?
Content, pedagogy, and technology fit together nicely in this lesson in that they complement each other. The pedagogy of the SAC-style lesson is designed to deepen students’ knowledge of multiple and competing historical perspectives. This compliments the content nicely in that students will be responsible for understanding the Colonists’ varying perspectives leading up to the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. As far as technology is concerned, this lesson weaves technology in so that it benefits students’ learning. This lesson is not technology-centered because the goal is to teach students how to participate in SAC-style lessons. More technology could be integrated if teachers wanted to extend the lesson into two days or more where students have a class period or two to research and prepare their own arguments for their debates.  

5.       What is the relative advantage of the technology(ies) used in the lesson?
The relative advantage of using technology in this lesson is that it “hooks” students into the lesson plan. Each of the video clips is fun and catchy. The first video clip is from School House Rock; it is a little song about the Colonists and King George III. The second video clip is a “crash course” in the events leading up to the American Revolution. Students will likely also enjoy this video clip because it is fast-paced, comical, and a nice combination of cartoons and lecture. Each of these video clips will capture students’ attention from the start of the lesson. Each of the clips will also help students with lower reading levels access the target concepts; these students will be able to take notes and understand the varied Colonial perspectives by listening to the content material. Students will have the opportunity to take notes based on the information presented in the video clips and the texts; this differentiated instruction will allow all students access to the material and ultimately, the opportunity to participate in their groups’ debate.

6.       What was your overall experience like designing this lesson using the Learning Activity Types approach to technology integration planning? In other words, how, if at all, did this process help you to zero in on appropriate and effective technologies to approach the lesson?
This particular approach to lesson planning made me realize how much teachers try to accomplish within a given lesson plan. For my particular lesson, I have students completing 11 different learning activities—and I think that is a lot, maybe even too much! However, I think that this approach has also made me realize that while we may try to accomplish a lot in a lesson, that we have the ability to accomplish a lot if students stay on-task and procedures are explicitly organized and provided.  I think that this lesson would be difficult to teach in the sense that many of students will not have experience debating; however, this lesson is great because it allows students to engage in a plethora of different learning activities within 55 minutes. While the lesson is primarily discussion-based, it also incorporates other types of LATs such as reading, listening to and watching video clips, taking notes, and reflecting upon content.

This activity was helpful in planning out activities throughout the lesson and integrating technology as a way to enhance students’ learning.  It was nice to break down each part of the lesson by activity and then decide whether digital or non-digital technology should be used. This sort of breakdown and step-by-step organization was extremely helpful in thinking through the lesson; it helped me get a better understanding of my expectations for my students at each step of the lesson. In addition, it helped me narrow in on deciding whether technology would be helpful in each “block” of the lesson. For this particular lesson, technology was not needed in each “block” or was only need in a segment of a “block” to lead the way through the rest of the “block.” Overall, I found this type of planning very helpful for me as a new teacher.