Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back-to-School Mini Units

We spend our summers dreaming up fabulous and sometimes elaborate units to wow our students in the fall. Then, when we go back to school, curriculum maps, required standards and other time-consuming mandates get thrown at us and suddenly the life is sucked out of our once brilliant ideas. Sound familiar?

Since we are rule followers we stick to the maps and standards and teach what we are supposed to teach when we are supposed to teach it. However, we also like to throw in our own creative ideas when time allows. This year, we are trying Mini Units. We chose eight books with strong main characters to use for eight weeks.
Elements we will focus on are: character traits, setting, problem, solution and reflection. We also developed extension ideas for higher achieving students. If you’d like our journal prompts you can snag them here.

Our exploration of these story elements will begin with Fancy Nancy. Throughout the first week we plan to project samples to model each element on our SMARTBoards.

We will begin independent journal entries on week two. Each assignment modeled in week one will be completed in the students’ writing journals (you can see our specific plans here). They will only need to glue in small headings to identify which element we’re focusing on that day. If time allows (ha, ha) we will incorporate other books about the same character into the week. If not, we will at least make the books available for classroom checkout.

If you include Mini Units in your plans this year, let us know how things went for you!

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