Lesson Planning & Backward Design
The lesson that I delivered is part of my unit plan and therefore a bigger picture of how I plan to teach in the actual classroom. Elements of backward design were used in order to complete the lesson plan template and think about the actual delivery of instruction. Wiggins and McTighe order the steps of backwards design by first identifying desired results, then determining acceptable evidence, and finally planning learning exercises and instruction (p. 9). I used this order to make my unit plan and tried to make sure I had the objectives and SOLs clearly laid out before creating each lesson. The facets of understanding include applying what the students already know about the Great Depression to the world context, having perspective into why the world was set up for war in that time and place, and possessing self-knowledge by contextualizing Fascism and recognizing why it occurs in a specific time in a specific place.
I tried to make the lesson relevant and meaningful to students by both connecting the knowledge they already have about the Great Depression to the rest of the world and also showing actual footage of Hitler so that they can experience what it might have been like in that time. I tried to ask plenty of questions and have the students involved so that they would gain interest. The guiding question for the day was “How did the rise of Fascism influence world events and lead to World War 2? The power point slides clearly displayed the guiding question as well as objectives. The students will be assessed by collecting the framing routine, as pictured:
and exit slips. The exit slips are meant to really evaluate whether the students understood the impact or “So what?” of the lesson.
Reactions after completing the lesson
After completing the lesson with the class, I thought it was beneficial overall, but would have done a few things differently. One thing that went well was the student questioning and interaction. I think with 7th graders, it is really important to make sure to keep their attention while lecturing and make them feel involved. I also thought that the lesson had a steady flow and met the objectives that I had planned very well. We were able to get everything accomplished in the time allowed and the students participated with the framing routine well. I also followed the lesson plan fairly well. I skipped the working with partners and answering questions about the video of Hitler because in my real classroom the period is longer than 40 min, but besides that I was on track with time. One of the things that I plan to improve when I use this lesson in my classroom is the note-taking worksheet. I left fairly vague blanks and there was confusion as to where the students were supposed to write the information. For 7th graders, they will definitely need more structure, and may even need slot notes, which I re-designed after the fact. I also might consider pulling the students in and motivating them with a pop culture reference or some sort of experiment to show how Hitler gained power.
Reactions after watching the video
Watching the video helped me a lot in pointing out personal strengths and weaknesses that I was either aware or unaware of. I felt that in the video there were certain points where I seemed to be unsure of what I was saying or read right off of the slides, which was mentioned in the tuning protocol. When presenting this lesson in the classroom, I need to make sure to have all of my information practiced and ready. I also noticed a little student apprehension on tape when they were trying to take the notes and I will re-do the notes to make them easier for student use.
Here’s an example of a student’s work on the notes:
As you can tell, the student had trouble filling in the last blank area because the titles for the sections were not clear enough and did not match up with the slides.
The one other criticism that I have was that it seemed like I went a little too fast through the important info in the slideshow and then used a longer time to question and complete activities. Next time, I would try and spend more time on the material and making that more creative.
Below is a clip of the lecture portion:
One of the positive things that I noticed in the video was the student involvement and student interaction between each other. They seemed fully engaged with the material and comfortable to answer questions and speak with their peers.
Below is a clip of my questioning:
I also felt that I had good movement around the room, which is something that is very important with middle schoolers. I thought that my role as facilitator of the classroom worked very well because I wanted the students to take on responsibility for providing answers and analyzing historical information. I also really liked the questions that were prepared and liked that I had them on the slide shows for students to visualize. The questions were thought-provoking and intriguing.
Comments and Ideas from Tuning Protocol
I received a lot of helpful feedback during the tuning protocol and actually plan to tailor my lesson based on the feedback when I am teaching the lesson in my school. My colleagues seemed to like the video a lot and thought that it was powerful to have the victory speech and ask the students questions about the video afterwards for meaning. People also seemed to like the transitioning from each activity to the next, including the way that I had students create a list of words that we discussed during the lesson and using that list for the fascism frame. Another strength was my use of pictures throughout the power point, which helped to intrigue student interest, especially for the Just Do It.
The one weakness that people seemed to express was the confusion with the notes, which I explained above. I actually decided to make short slot notes instead, since there is so much information in a few slides. My cohort also suggested alternative ways to show the power of Hitler’s charisma, including clips from “A King’s Speech” or showing that Hitler was the Time Magazine Man of the Year. I think this would definitely give the students a better perspective into Hitler’s influence and catch their interest. Another idea was to have a visual discovery for the picture of children stacking money during German hyperinflation. I think that’s a really good idea and even though that was mostly discussed in the prior lesson, it might be a good source for review.
Overall, the tuning protocol really helped and I appreciate the suggestions so that I may change future instruction.
The main goal that I have as I continue into my role as a full student teacher is to work on making sure that all of the materials I have are well-planned and tailored to a 7th grade level appropriate to my students. A lot of the time when I am creating material, I assume that students will follow along and take notes responsibly, but in the real world classroom, it is more difficult to motivate younger students. I also am working towards implementing group work in the classroom, which is also a challenge with a younger crowd. I can already tell that my students would respond well to integrated, differentiated activities based on their interests and motivation. One of the areas that I have definitely improved upon from the fall midterm is managing time better in the classroom. That was one of the areas that I really had trouble with in the beginning because I wasn’t familiar with how fast I lectured and how long it took students at different levels to complete activities. As I practiced lessons in our methods class and began my own teaching, this skill has definitely improved. I also am more aware of student’s reactions to certain materials and look for areas where the students may need further direction. Overall, I feel that these exercises and watching myself on videotape helps a lot in my teaching.
I composed a video of my reflections and thoughts on this assignment as I move into student teaching:
VIDEO ANALYSIS AND REFLECTION
1) It seems that throughout the video there is very adequate classroom involvement. Every question that I ask of the class, they deliver answers for. I also feel that there is a mixture of students answering questions, and the same students aren’t participating for everything throughout the class period.
2) The students seem pretty engaged in the lesson. I can tell that they are engaged because every time I instruct them to write something down or take notes, they immediately start. They also answered questions quickly and have fairly happy facial expressions. They don’t look too bored, which is reassuring.
3) The questions that I asked are mainly used for analysis purposes. During lecture, I am mainly asking students to recall information they already know, such as the definition of nationalism. After the video and throughout the fascist frame routine, I ask them to analyze certain traits that Hitler/the Nazis have. I don’t really ask too many high level questions until the end of the framing routine, and when they had trouble I tried to scaffold them. I think next time I could compare different types of leadership and ask more compare/contrast questions.
4) I never actually asked if students had questions, which I maybe should have done. However, I did try to make it an open environment and leave enough wait time if students had questions for me. I also made sure to walk around while they were completing group work and asked how they were doing.
5) I think the main role I played throughout the lesson was that of facilitator. I tried to keep direct instruction to a minimum and mainly use their insight to answer questions and create the frame. I was leader in that I was mainly keeping the class on task and flowing, and I was a co-learner in a way during the framing routine. The students were offering up suggestions for the definition and so-what for the frame that I didn’t necessarily have planned.
6) The main task that I asked students to do was to analyze what they were looking at throughout the lesson. First, they were analyzing a picture of Hitler propaganda. Then, they were asked to answer questions about the Hitler video. Finally, they were to look at the list of words on the board that we came up with and analyze what the words have to do with fascism. I think that for 7th graders, this would really capitalize on their prior knowledge from WWI and the Great Depression.
7) I feel that I took advantage of questioning, gaining students reactions, and having them “help” to create the framing routine. Instead of just lecturing, the students were more engaged in the lesson.
8) I could have taken greater advantage of the information regarding Hitler and done more with the youth camp in particular. Considering the age level of my students (7th grade), it would have been meaningful to do some sort of exercise or example of youth camps in Germany to show the students how it was to live in that time period.
9) I feel like students did a really nice job with taking risks. When they were answering questions, they sometimes seemed unsure but answered anyways. They also were challenged to share their inferences for the definition and meaning of fascism. The students seemed very open to talk to each other and help with answers as well as ask me questions when needed.
10) I tried to scaffold students to take risks and answer questions that they weren’t sure of. I think the main part of the lesson that this was apparent in was the framing routine. I tried to have students really think about the implications of fascism instead of just listing the characteristics. Once again, I think I could have definitely gone into greater depth with the programs that Hitler put into place, such as the youth camps.
11) I think that the learning goals were definitely achieved. The main point of the lesson was to answer how fascism affected world events and lead to WWII. This is just an intro lesson to fascism and I actually added in another lesson after this one to continue with fascism before starting Allies and Axis powers. Therefore, I think the main idea for this lesson was to come up with a concrete definition for fascism and start thinking about what this means for the world, which was achieved. Students had a pretty good grasp on the different tactics used from their answers to the video and poster. They also had good answers for their exit slips, which show understanding.
12) I think the lesson was mainly designed to start small and build, and the anticipation was that I would have student help with definitions, recall of review material, and building on to the lesson. I feel that for 7th graders, there may be either misconceptions about the ideas of dictator or fascism that I would have to address or they may not be able to come up with the answers. I would need to address these issues and explain the correct definitions. There would also need to be an alteration to the note-taking sheet to make expectations more clear.