Day 1 of the unit study, you’re feeling pretty good. Until you start teaching. And you realize your students love this topic so much, and they are so interested in it, that they have a lot of preexisting knowledge. And they all want to share it. Before you know it, you’ve plowed through portions of the first 3 “classes” and several tangents, that you hadn’t prepped, have arose.
First off, yay for engaged and participatory students. That's a huge win.
Now, it’s time for you to regroup.
- Try a quick what you know and what you want to know. Have students give one or two things they know, and what they want to know.
- Note your students’ areas of interest and match them against your lesson or unit/study objectives, to ensure those are going to be met
- Revisit your plan to incorporate your students’ interests; in my case, it looked like matching students with similar interests and giving them the option to work in teams or solo on a research project. Together we outlined the areas the project would cover, offering students a chance to use their research skills, technical writing skills, all while harnessing their specific interests. I provided a graphic organizer to help them get started.
- Share the objectives of the unit, so that they are aware of the big idea.
One of the biggest challenges of teaching, (I think), is gauging the knowledge base of the students. There is always some degree of variation, and it’s rarely visible, until you start teaching.
Being able to reorganize your lesson plan, to meet your students where they are, increases your student’s engagement and positively impacts their academic outcomes.