Reflection on Teaching and LearningWhat did you learn about your students’ abilities to analyze content using skills relatedto the specific subject area being taught in the unit?I learned that my students have a very limited basis from which to draw. They areeconomically, socially, and geographically challenged. Many, if not most, have nevertraveled outside of the city limits. They have very little knowledge of what landforms otherthan the Ohio River look like. This limitation seems to make it difficult for them toadequately analyze and discuss with any depth, the landforms, people, and habits found inother parts of the country.How did your unit design, instructional strategies, and assessments support students’abilities to develop and/or use skills related to the specific content/subject area duringthe unit?During the design of this unit, I thought about their limited knowledge and attempted tofind additional information that would help students to see the impact that these landformssuch as mountains, lakes, and deserts have on humanity. I brought in pictures of averageAmericans cycling across the United States, poems written by people who traveled across thecountry and songs by people who had the perspective of living through hard times and stillseeing the beauty of this nation.The projects that I assigned were designed to first introduce students to the regions theywould be studying, then to take them to an in-depth study of a particular landform, andfinally provide a framework that would give insight to the future lessons in social studies
about the people that would inhabit the regions and depend on the landforms in those regionsfor food, shelter, and clothing.The assessment on classroom discussion was informal and mainly done through directobservation. The formal assessments came in the form of rubrics that were used to grade themaps and the diorama. Finally, students were given a test over the unit before they moved onto the next unit which continued the learning by incorporating the material with early NativeAmericans.How can you improve the unit design, instructional strategies, and assessments of thisunit for a similar group of students in the future? Be specific and support your ideaswith relevant evidence from the portfolio.In order to improve this unit design, I would engage students in more fact finding aboutthe areas of the country outside of their own city. I would bring in more pictures, storiesfrom people who have traveled, and perhaps even have someone talk to the students aboutlandforms they have visited such as the Rocky Mountains, Mojave Desert, or the Piedmonts.As far as assessments, I would probably rearrange the order in which the students did theprojects. I would have them complete the regions map first, as I did in the lesson unit. ThenI would have them do the landforms map right afterward. Finally, I would have them createthe diorama. When they created the diorama, they did not have sufficient information on allof the landforms. I also would have had them read outside literature rather than just theirtextbook. Each student would be assigned a book about a particular landform. After readingthe assigned book, the student would then write a short report summarizing the book and
listing major features of his or her landform. This would have helped the students to thinkmore deeply and analyze how they would create their project.The final test was good and most students did well on it. It was obvious after finishingthe unit that students had learned the material.