The focus of our unit is “Bullying”, a novel study with grade 7 and 8 students across 3 different schools. There are a variety of novels which we hope will engage all students at their own reading levels. Throughout this Online/Blended learning experience, we are going to use technology which enables us to connect with the other schools as well as within our own building contexts. Each student has a specific teacher they will working with in regards to their assigned novel. Their connected teacher could be a teacher from a different school, but the classroom teacher is also there to support each student in their classroom environment. Students will report weekly via weekly blog on their section of the novel. They will also complete a creative component pertaining to that section of reading. In addition, there will be a weekly online discussion forum(chat) on each section of the novel. Students will be reporting to the teacher in charge of the novel, to which they have been assigned. This allows for diversity of needs as well as connectivity of students outside of the classroom.
The unit will begin by having all 3 classrooms meet together on zoom to review the expectations, course outline, weekly assignments, and connect each student to their “lead” teacher in charge of their particular novel. This will be our only synchronous meeting until we have finished our novels. The platform which we are sharing/collaborating on is: https://onlineunit.home.blog/
This way, all teachers have collaborated together to share the weekly assignments and it is made readily available for all students to access from school or at home. The link can also be shared with families for quick access to check in on what their children are doing at school. There would be no login required and no need to recall a password to access the website.
We have chosen 13 Reasons Why, The Outsiders, and Wonder as our main focus. We have listed additional resources that could fit well within this unit.
- 13 Reasons Why – Jay Asher
- The Outsider – S.E. Hilton
- Egghead – Caroline Pignat
- Wonder – R.J. Palacio
- The Only Game – Mike Lupica
- BLubber – Judy Bloom
For our unit, we have split up our novels into five different weekly sections. The expectation would be that students complete the required readings for the assigned period, whether that be reading on their own, with a partner, or listening to an audiobook. The audiobooks help learners who have lower reading comprehension, keep up with the pace of the weekly reading assignments. As stated earlier, students will be assigned a novel, a teacher, and also a learning partner from a different school. Students are able to connect through Zoom to talk to their learning partner about their weekly tasks that go along with the reading. This promotes collaboration and creativity.
- WordPress Blog – https://onlineunit.home.blog/
- This is where all of the student assignments will be posted.
- KidBlog – https://kidblog.org/home/
- Each week, students will be required to complete several questions based on reading strategies and they will publish their answers to their blogs.
- Kidblog provides K-12 teachers with tools to safely publish student writing. Teachers can monitor all activity within a community of authors. Posts can even be public, but nothing goes live until a teacher approves it. Kidblog empowers students to write with a meaningful purpose for a real audience. Connect with other classes down the hallway, across your district, or around the world. Students practice digital citizenship within a secure environment.
- Each week, students will be required to complete several questions based on reading strategies and they will publish their answers to their blogs.
- Postermywall – https://www.postermywall.com/index.php/edu
- In some weeks, students have a choice on how they want to represent their creative component. They can use postermywall to design a poster related to their novel and assignment. For example, creating a poster that demonstrates why kindness matters.
Overview of our features for schools
- Create projects to organize designs created by students.
- Students are not required to create an account.
- Students see only student appropriate content.
- Students’ projects are never made public.
- No ads.
- Completely free to teachers. We believe in supporting our schools. You can help keep it free by sharing a link to PosterMyWall.com with your parents. Their purchases help to fund the PosterMyWall.com Classroom Accounts Program.
- YoTeach – https://palms.polyu.edu.hk:8448/
- A set time for each week has been designated. The teacher in charge of each novel will invite students to the group chat to respond to questions in real time. Students will discuss a series of per-compiled questions and dialogue with other member of their group about their assigned novel. This gives the students a weekly opportunity to connect on a weekly bases.
- Yo Teach! lets you create online backchannel spaces to facilitate discussions. To get started on Yo Teach! simply go to the site and name your room. You can get started by just doing those two steps, but I would recommend taking a another minute to scroll down the Yo Teach! site to activate the admin function, the password function, and to select “avoid search.” The “avoid search” option will hide your room from search results so that people cannot find it without being given its direct URL. The password function lets you set a password that must be entered before students can participate in the chat. The admin features of Yo Teach! let you mute or remove students from a discussion, delete your room, and view statistic about the usage of your room. The admin function that reveals statistics will show the names of participants and how active they have been in your Yo Teach! Room.
- Adobe Spark
- Each week students are required to complete a creative component. An example would be having students use Adobe Spark to create a post with the key quote (or quotes) from your novel. The background must represent you think the setting of your story looks like.
- Graphics: Pick a photo, add text, and apply design filters to instantly stand out from the crowd.
- Webpages: Turn words and images into beautiful, magazine-style web stories that will impress readers on any device.
- Video Stories: easily add photos, video clips, icons, or you own voice. Select from professional-quality soundtracks and cinematic motion.
Course Content/Learning Objectives:
- CR 7.2 → Select and use appropriate strategies to construct meaning before (e.g., formulating questions), during (e.g., recognizing organizational structure), and after (e.g., making judgements supported by evidence) viewing, listening, and reading.
- CR 8.2 → Select and use appropriate strategies to construct meaning before (e.g., previewing and anticipating message), during (e.g., making inferences based on text and prior knowledge), and after (e.g., paraphrasing and summarizing) viewing, listening, and reading.
- CR 7.6 → Read and demonstrate comprehension and interpretation (including thoughtful and critical response to content and craft) of grade-appropriate texts including traditional and contemporary prose fiction, poetry, and plays from First Nations, Métis, and other cultures.
- CR 8.6 → Read and demonstrate comprehension and interpretation of grade-appropriate texts including traditional and contemporary prose fiction, poetry, and plays from First Nations, Métis, and other cultures to evaluate the purpose, message, point of view, craft, values, and biases, stereotypes, or prejudices.
- CC 7.1 → Create various visual, oral, written, and multimedia (including digital) texts that explore identity (e.g., Exploring Thoughts, Feelings, and Ideas), social responsibility (e.g., Taking Action), and efficacy (e.g., Building a Better World).
- CC 8.2 → Create and present a group inquiry project related to a topic, theme, or issue studied in English language arts.
- CC 7.4 → Use pragmatic (e.g., use language that demonstrates respect for others), textual (e.g., use common organizational patterns within texts), syntactical (e.g., ensure agreement of subjects, verbs, and pronouns), semantic/lexical/morphological (e.g., avoid overused and misused words), graphophonic (e.g., enunciate clearly), and other cues (e.g., use appropriate gestures and facial expressions) to construct and to communicate meaning.
- CC 8.4 → Use pragmatic (e.g., use appropriate language register), textual (e.g., use artistic devices such as figurative language), syntactical (e.g., combine sentences to form compound and complex sentences for variety, interest, and effect), semantic/lexical/ morphological (e.g., use words to capture a particular aspect of meaning), graphophonic (e.g., correctly pronounce words with proper emphasis), and other cues (e.g, arrange and balance words and visuals as well as fonts) to construct and to communicate meaning.
Each week, throughout our unit, the students will receive immediate feedback based off of a rubric to offer, suggestions, and compliments by the assigned teacher.This will allow students to improve their next post prior to it being submitted. Each week will serve as a formative assessment, with the final assessment at the end being summative. In addition, the students will complete peer assessments each week with their “blogging partner”. The students are required to use the format: “3C and a Q” – which means they must compliment the student, comment on the students work/contributions, make a connection (via text to text, text to self or text to world) to that student’s post, and pose a question as well. This will keep the dialogue going and provide students with a set structure.
Considerations for Common Concerns
Overall, our main consideration for common concerns is as follows. For those students who require adaptations for their reading, there is access to Google Read and Write which assists in completing assignments. There is a word prediction tool, spellcheck, voice to text, and many more tools. We will also have access to audiobooks for those students who require them. All books are at different reading levels to accommodate the diverse needs in the classrooms. Fortunately, all schools working on this project have easy access to technology at school. In some cases, students who have homework and limited/no access to technology at home, may have trouble if they cannot keep up with the academic demands and there would be a need for a teacher intervention to support those students.
Our rationale is to make connections with other schools, teachers and students alike. We will be spending our time creating a product that will be utilized in our own classrooms! We chose a relevant educational topic that is part of the curriculum for every grade and we hope that all students will be able to create many “takeaways” from the readings provided. We have chosen this forum as it is easily accessible to all of our students and our school all have availability to the apps or websites. Each of the sites provides their to be multiple leaders or teachers which is necessary for a project like this to work.
The questions listed below will be distributed to the students prior to the weekly chats. Students will be provided with the opportunity to reflect on the direction of the questions and the answers they would like to give. This is an adaptation that allows students not to be put on the spot and to feel comfortable with their contribution to the chat.
13 Reasons why:
Week 1 Questions
- What are your initial thoughts about Clay? Support your answer with 2 direct quotations from the novel.
- What are your initial thoughts about Hannah? Is she sympathetic character? Do you like her? Why or why not?
- What was your reaction to listening to Hannah’s voice over the tape?
- What was Clay’s reaction when his mother wanted to listen to the tape?
- Do you think Hannah’s tapes will stay between the twelve people on the list, or will they be shown to the authorities and/or released to the public? Should they be? Why or why not?
- At the beginning of the first tape, Hannah says, “…there are thirteen sides to every story.” What does she mean by this?
Week 2 Questions
- And in the middle of the room, one desk to the left will be the desk of Hannah Baker. Empty. – Clay (Prologue, p.4) What is your reaction to this quote?
- How do you feel about Justin Foley? Are there any reasons you feel you should not trust him?
- Who is the last name in the list of people to receive the tapes?
- What is the purpose of Hannah’s tapes?
- Another student sabotages Hannah during a class project. Clay’s nightmares about Hannah spill over into the daytime. How does this make Clay feel?
- What does Tony do to support Hannah and Clay throughout this process? Do you feel he is a good friend who is making sacrifices for better or worse?
Week 3 Questions
- What did Mr. Porter do wrong? What could he have done better? What will he do with the tapes when he gets them?
- How does Hannah and Clay’s dual narrative enhance the story? What additional details are revealed through this method of storytelling that might have otherwise remained secret if the book had been written from only one of their perspectives?
- How do you feel the teachers are handling the situation?
- What are specific experiences that have led to Hannah’s 13 reasons why?
- Hannah’s classmates even said that “whoever wrote the note just wants attention” (9.222). What do you think of this quotation?
- How do you think Clay internalizes all of what Hannah is staying on the tapes?
Outsiders – Week 1
- Describe each of the characters relationship with one another.
- Who are the socs? Who are the greasers?
- How do Ponyboy’s relationships with Darry and Sodapop differ? Explain.
- Why is the ‘gang’ important to Johnny?
- How does Ponyboy react to what Sodapop tells him about Darry?
- Do you think Darry loves Ponyboy? Why does he treat Ponyboy the way he does?
Outsiders Week 2
- Why does Pony have a problem with Johnny’s idea to disguise themselves? What does it take away from him? Why do they have to disguise themselves?
- Why does Johnny think Dally is a hero? Do you think Dally is a hero based on what he did?
- Why are the socs and the greasers going to fight in the vacant lot? What is at stake?
- Who is the spy for the greasers? Does this surprise you? Why or why not?
- “Maybe people are younger when they are asleep”. What do you think about this comment? What does it mean?
- When Pony asks what kind of a world it is, what comment is he making about how society judges people?
Outsiders Week 3
- Even though Pony does not want to be a greaser and does not like many of the things that greasers do, the rumble allows him to be proud to be a greaser. Explain this contradiction.
- What is the difference between Tim Sheppard’s gang and Ponyboy’s? Explain how Pony feels this difference might give his group the upper hand?
- What are the rules of the rumble? (pp. 140-142).
- Explain why Pony might rather anyone’s hate than their pity?
- What do you think is going on with Ponyboy when he says, “Johnny didn’t have anything to do with Bob’s getting killed”?
Wonder Week 1
- Why do people look quickly away when they first see August?
- In this section August discusses the issue of him going to school.
- Why has he never gone to school? Do you think he should?
- August goes on the tour of the school and meets three students. In your opinion which one would turn out to be a bully?
- How would you describe the other students’ reaction to August in homeroom?
- What does September’s precept, “When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind,” mean?
Wonder Week 2
- Do you think Via is jealous of all the attention August gets?
- Did Via have a good first day of high school?
- Who is Miranda and why did she call?
- August decided to change his costume. How do you think mom reacted to this?
- Would you describe Summer as a good person? Why or why not?
- Do you think Summer thinks Jack is a good friend?
Wonder week 3
- How does August feel about going on the 5th Grade Nature Retreat?
- Jack and August find themselves in trouble. What is the trouble and who helps them?
- August lies to the teachers about not being able to remember the 7th graders’ faces. Why do you think he did this?
- What animal does August use to represent himself? Do you think it is a good choice?
- There is a ceremony at school, what happens at the ceremony that shows a change from the beginning to the end of the school year?
- Mr. Tushman says “Always try to be a little kinder than necessary.” What does that mean to you? In your opinion what character shows this the best?
Thanks for reading.
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