In order to try out our ideas in the classroom, we have developed curriculum units we call modules that use the DFP guiding principles, and have had great success. In every module, three specific practices that many ELA teachers find useful are:
- context x content reflections
- Networked Peer Review
- and grading of artifacts via reflections.
You can read more about what these practices are and how we used them in the following pages.
Each module features a primary focus on a Common Core Standards and at least one secondary focus on another Common Core Standard, ensuring that the curriculum is not only engaging, but aligned to state guidelines. Additionally, we have included activities that involve both traditional and 21st Century tools and resources. This helps engage students in technology they may find attractive, teach students to use the technology that surrounds them in useful and effective ways, and draws a link between the traditional and the new. Most modules begin with 21st Century tools and end in more traditional assessments in order to more clearly demonstrate to students the relevance of these traditional assessments and the ways in which they can use technology to enhance learning.
At present, the following modules are being implemented:
Literacy In Our Lives: Expanding the Definition of “Literacy”
In this module, students create a short video clip in which they introduce themselves (individually, or as a class) to a collaborating group of students in the network by sharing their literacy identities and practices. The videos provide a way for students to get to know one another through their literacy lives, and to analyze the literacy identities and practices of themselves and the group as a whole. By broadening the students’ definitions of literacy and texts, they will be more inclined to discover the multiple identities they have as readers and writers, understand that “texts” can include a wide range of print and media, gather that there are different ways we approach the reading of texts, realize that the resources they bring as readers and writers contributes to the collective knowledge of the class, and recognize that the strategies they use to read and write texts outside of school may also be useful in school.
The Consequences of Ignorance: Analyzing Character Action in Contexts
To become highly literate, students first need meaningful opportunities to test out seemingly abstract concepts like character analysis and begin using them. That initial use provides a context in which they discuss and learn what it means to use the concept appropriately in different circumstances. This module consists of several activities – some of which were obtained as open educational resources (OERs) – that foster this initial use and gradually leads to students’ independent use of character analysis as a tool for exploring and understanding literature. The activities – including whole class discussion, Literary Characters on Trial, a Multi-Textual Digital Poster, a formal essay, and informal and formal reflections embedded within each activity – all focus on characters’ actions and motivations within The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, and how those actions and motivations reveal themes of ignorance and wisdom.
Empathy and Elaboration: Using 21st Century Tools to Enhance Creative Writing
This module focuses on appropriation and remixing – drawing tools and ideas from a text and “remixing” the stories in a new way. In this case, students explore and take on the personality traits of a character in Homer’s The Odyssey and, after developing sufficient understanding of and empathy for that character, extend their story in the medium of a fanfiction piece. In addition to students practicing skills related to character analysis, plot development, and creative writing, they also learn to use social networking sites productively and safely, as well as to publish their story to a closed site on the web.
Define Fanfiction: The encyclopedic ambitions of transmedia texts often results in what might be seen as gaps or excesses in the unfolding of the story: that is, they introduce potential plots which can not be fully told or extra details which hint at more than can be revealed. Readers, thus, have a strong incentive to continue to elaborate on these story elements, working them over through their speculations, until they take on a life of their own. Fan fiction can be seen as an unauthorized expansion of these media franchises into new directions which reflect the reader’s desire to “fill in the gaps” they have discovered in the commercially produced material (Henry Jenkins).