Third session! This one was a little closer to my wheelhouse. It was by an elementary teacher integrating language arts and social studies using LDC modules, which is exactly what I focused on last year.
Brandi Farrow, a teacher from Farmington, Mo discussed her instructional team’s experiences. They started with their curriculum map and looked at where the ELA map and SS map to see where they could fit in LDC modules. Then they had to select appropriate texts. This was difficult because most texts were written above their students reading levels; they ended up using parts, but not all of their social studies texts. The went on line to find historical fiction and poetry that was appropriate for their kids
One resource they used was Rewordify, an on-line tool that allows users to translate difficult text into more accessible language
Brandi stressed that working with her team was crucial. This allowed them to share the workload while at the same time getting everyone on the same page, doing the same parts of the unit. She also pointed out that her district was vertically aligned in terms of their note-taking methods and writing process. She teaches fifth grade, and has notice the difference in her students’ skills since this has been put into place.
Like all good teachers, Brandi considers her units to be “works in process;” she fully intends to rework and tweak her modules each time she implements them – along with her colleagues. This fact is compounded by the full move to a 1:1 tech model in her school next year. Technology is great; but it always means changing what we do!
She described some of the struggles and successes of her team’s work. The biggest one, of course, was time. Writing LDC modules is time-intensive. Fortunately their administrators furnished sub time to ease this pressure.
Another struggle was control of instruction. Like all of us, their team had a hard time letting go and watching their kids struggle through this work. They were able, as a team, to eventually figure out the proper way to scaffold their kids initially and release them appropriately as their skills grew.
Brandi showed us some amazing data. I’m not familiar with their district’s specific assessments, but the data she threw up on the screen was extremely impressive given that the only changes they made as a district was using LDC modules and shifting to the CCSS.
She explained that a byproduct of using LDC modules was the increased time spent on social studies. LDC requires a content-specific topic; since their team focused on social studies they ended up increasing the time spent on social studies by integrating it into language arts. This totally resonated with me, as I did the same thing in my room last year and noticed the same results.
Brandi led us through one of her team’s modules. There was a strong focus on on-line research; they intentionally taught them how to use a search engine. She taught them exactly what plagiarism is and how to avoid doing it. She also had her students work with small groups through many of the first days of the module, even for many of the reading tasks.
Her module is essentially entirely online and digital. They have a template that the kids access on their computers with directions that outline and the students through the tasks. The unit she presented took longer than a typical LDC unit, but it represented a major part of her class’s social studies content.
This was another useful session. I love the idea of moving LDC to an online format. Brandi touched on a lot of the concerns and struggles I’ve had implementing LDC in my own classroom.