The first title I had for this post was, When My LDC Task Meets My Curriculum, Meets My Anchor Standards, Meets My Danielson TPEP Rubric, Meets My Life, Great Things Happen. This does actually accurately explain this post but seemed too wordy for a title so I changed it.
I begin my Contemporary World Studies course with a unit on media literacy. I do this mostly because it’s imperative for my students to understand the various texts and sources I use in my class. In order for my students to access the current events, politics, civics and economics at play in the modern world, we use mainstream media for our information in lieu of a text book
The unit focuses on how students can deconstruct media messages to get to the heart of the information and to see past bias. It also attends to the ideas that media literacy is important to democracy and civic understanding. As my students work through our political unit they need to see how media influences American politics. As we continue on in our studies of civics and how we understand ourselves fitting into society as a whole, students need to be able to think about, deconstruct, and even rally against, what media tells them about how they should fit in and participate.
For this unit I use a Literacy Design Collaborative task as my assessments and to
frame the unit. In past years I have had my students complete tasks such as writing essays or articles, or giving presentations. This year I decided to switch it up a bit, and this was the task that they executed:
After researching informational texts and classroom activities on the five key concepts and questions of media literacy , write a blog post in which you describe how media literacy supports democracy and civic understanding and how and why to use the five key concepts and questions. Provide examples for each. Support your discussion with evidence from your research and our class activities.
Additionally a parent or guardian must post a comment and students must reply to this comment. When this is done your assessment will be scored.
I did this for many reasons. One was this Common Core anchor standard:
- Students use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.
This anchor standard required a shift for me. I had my students doing plenty of writing, but what I didn’t have them doing was interacting and collaborating with others. By using google docs to have my students create, comment, and edit each other’s work I opened up the revision process and I was able to track their collaboration and editing skills. They grew as writers and in their ability to use these tools during this assignment.
This brings me to reason number two for the change in the prompt:
Critical Attributes of Distinguished Teaching on the Danielson Rubric
Domain 4 Component C
- Students develop materials to inform their families about the instructional program.
- Students contribute to projects designed to engage families in the learning process.
This is an excerpt from the Danielson Rubric (the TPEP framework used in my district) on Domain 4c. This domain is communicating with families which I selected for my goal this year. Communicating with families seems to always be the hardest thing for me. Not that I don’t want to, or don’t love and support the families of my students, it’s just that my students are all seniors. So many of them are already skilled as self-advocates and it just doesn’t seem very necessary. My students typically do a great job of communicating about their progress with me and rarely need parental intervention. I always shy away from what seems like unauthentic communication as well. Mostly I don’t want to bother them, and I get the feeling once in a while after thirteen years some of them don’t want to be bothered.
I was trying hard to think of some things that would unite us, and clearly their children are the thing we are both most interested in. Also according to the rubric including the students in the communication was a trait of not just a strong teacher but a distinguished one.
I also wanted the kids to experience something that has come to mean a lot in my life, and that is expressing myself through blogging. I think it’s actually more likely my students will write blog posts, or more narrative forms of expression for the extension of their lives rather than formal essays. I wanted to give them an authentic experience and allow them to express themselves to a wider audience than me. I was able to publish the students blogs and build community in my classroom. I had parents commenting not only on their own child’s posts but on others in the class. My students were really flattered and thought it was so fun. They were coming back in to class and saying to each other, “Hey, your mom left a great comment, and I fixed some stuff she suggested.”
This assignment has been a lesson for me on my true ability to create community. I use my blog posts to create a sense of community between myself and my colleagues. I never really thought before how I could use this same method to create community in my classroom. In this way I took something that would have just been a one way communication from the students to me about their learning, and we created a community within our classroom and with the families outside of our classroom. Students had connections with each other and their families they would not have otherwise had.
The conversation was enriched by the many other voices we were able to include through the comments and the posts. For example this comment from a parent to a student in the class:
“I would have to agree with your statements here. You have done a very good job at giving examples and breaking it all down. My favorite part is when you talk about how 2 people can watch the same message but get something totally different out of it. VERY TRUE! Another part I really enjoyed was the part about the news media and how they get us to watch. It’s all very clever the way the “suck us in”. You have described this very well. Thank you for speaking on this subject. It was great to read about this coming from a young adult.”
Parents also helped to edit and to give students feedback on not only their knowledge but their writing skills like in this comment:
“Interesting read.It sounds as though you did a lot of research to learn about media literacy and it’s relationship with modern government and it’s impact on society.Be sure to check spelling and grammar before submitting for your final grade. Could use some tailoring in the last paragraph.”
Overall I am just really proud of how the LDC framework, the CCSS, my TPEP goals, and my life experience of blogging all came together and changed my opinion about the nature of my classroom and how far my classroom could reach in the community. I am hoping to keep trying new exciting ways to challenge my assumptions through all of these tools and processes. If you have any, or are inspired to try any new technologies, or ways to communicate with parents I would love for you to leave a comment or tag me in a tweet @lindseylee253. I am looking for any new ideas to keep this community atmosphere going.