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It's My Life Program - Sample Curriculum


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Just as kids are expected to learn to read, solve math problems, learn a foreign language, we have some knowledge of science, government, and social studies, why wouldn’t they be given ideas on how to cope with and negotiate life?

That’s what Its My Life is all about! Here is a sample of the daily program that can be taught for a quarter, semester, or year, and it addresses the issues that students will be confronted with and generally don’t really know what to do until they have experienced it.

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It's My Life Program - Sample Curriculum

  1. 1. Chip Fraser and Brian Jaramillo Citizens of the World IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues It’s My Life (IML) is a daily life skills program that can be offered as a stand- alone course or as a supplemental program. The purpose of IML is to prepare students for the non-academic “rigor” of adult life and post-secondary education, the essence of which is the ability to understand the complexities of life, think about various options, and follow through on a well-reasoned plan of action. The structure of IML follows a basic problem solving model which includes units on each personal potential, asking questions, understanding problems, identifying solutions, creating a plan, and evaluating the process. SAM PLE
  2. 2. IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues OVERVIEW: Predicated on a series of units which examine, discuss, review, engage, and summarily change behavior, direction, and ultimately individual life; It’s My Life is a “living” program & process designed to effect students who take the course.  Purpose: • To provide every student with the tools, skills, and confidence to connect with the adult world of business, society, and academics during and after their high school education. • To help students reach their goals by introducing them to a problem solving process that can serve as a decision-making model and a guide for lifelong learning. Objectives: 1) Increase student confidence through discovering each one’s potential, values, attitudes, and unique attributes. 2) Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively during collaborative and individual projects, research, and presentations. 3) Develop student critical thinking skills through structured collaboration and application of the problem solving process. Curriculum: The curriculum is divided into seven units with multiple daily lesson plans within each unit. Each unit has an accompanying rubric, progress assessments and a unit assessment. Unit I: The Confident Life: Knowing Your Own Potential Citizens of the World 2 “The trouble with life isn't that there is no answer, it's that there are so many answers.” --Ruth Fulton Benedict SAM PLE
  3. 3. Unit II: The Inquisitive Life: Asking the Right Questions Unit III: The Conscious Life: Understanding the Problem Unit IV: The Dialogical Life: Exploring Potential Solutions Unit V: The Practical Life: Creating a Plan Unit VI: The Reflective Life: Evaluating the Process Unit VII: The Engaged Life: Completing the Final Project IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues THE PROBLEM SOLVING PROCESS The process of identifying part of a situation that you want to change and planning out steps to cause change is called problem solving. Below is the process of problem solving used in IML to approach a new situation and think through a solution to be implemented. Step 1: Understand the situation. Read and ask questions about the situation. Identify the issues in the situation that you want to explore further. Focus your questions on the issues that you have chosen to study. Research any answers that are available from common resources (encyclopedia, internet, people). Step 2: Identify the “problem.” Decide what issue presents a situation that you think should be changed. Make assumptions and write down the issues that you will ignore at first. List the key features of the problem that will be resolved. Some of the possible features to include are: • Who or what is affected? • Why is this issue a problem? • Where does the issue take place? • When does the issue occur? Step 3: Model potential solutions to the problem. Citizens of the World 3 “You don’t drown by falling in the water; you drown by staying there.” --Edwin Louis Cole SAM PLE
  4. 4. List potential solutions that might resolve the issue. For each potential solution discuss whether it would solve each of the features of the problem identified in step 2. Step 4: Create a plan Choose one of the solutions that resolves all or most of the key features of the problem. Create a list of steps to carry out the solution that you have chosen. Step 5: Evaluate and revise the solution When possible, follow the plan and evaluate its effectiveness. Was each feature of the problem resolved? What additional problems does the solution include? IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues UNIT 1 OVERVIEW The Confident Life: Knowing Your Potential The problem solving process begins with knowing oneself, one’s strengths, one’s beliefs, one’s attitudes. In the first unit students begin to reflect on what makes them unique, so that they begin to build confidence based on their personal assets. This confidence is the necessary predecessor to the problem solving process that follows. Unit Objectives: • To develop positive attitudes towards self as a unique and worthy person. • To identify values, attitudes, and beliefs. • To identify personal strengths and assets. • To articulate feelings of competence and confidence as learners. Sample Lessons: 1) Timelines and Pathways: Students read the lyrics to the song “It’s My Life” by The Animals, discuss the question “What do you want your life to look like?” and make a timeline for individual goals. 2) It’s My Life—Who Cares? : Introduction to Problem Solving, Presentation of a problem, Discussion of the problem, and solutions to the problem. 3) Confidence Building: Students think of things they have accomplished, study historical figures that faced significant challenges, assignment on memories. Citizens of the World 4 SAM PLE
  5. 5. 4) Self-discovery and Team Building: Students work independently on a self-discovery inventory, share answers in a group, and present similarities and differences to the class. 5) A Personal Motto: Students read 40 sample mottos posted in the room, groups present one motto to class, assignment on choosing an individual motto and writing a justification for their choice. Unit Assessments: • Essay on positive attitude and confidence • Unit test on personal values and strengths • Vision board (optional) Citizens of the World 5 “We carry within us the wonders we look without us.” --Eric Butterworth SAM PLE
  6. 6. IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues UNIT 2 OVERVIEW The Inquisitive Life: Asking the Right Questions Within a good question arrives a good answer. That is because it is not the answer to a question, but what one learns in the process of trying to find the answer. This process starts by learning how to ask important questions. This skill requires curiosity, the ability to communicate, and the ability to think critically about what one sees and hears. Unit Objectives: • To learn and apply critical thinking skills. • To use effective communication skills. • To know that communication involves speaking, listening and nonverbal behavior. • To obtain new information by asking questions to clarify and further knowledge. Sample Lessons: 1) The Questioning Nature: Students ready “Questions to Ponder…” and answer five questions in their journal, lecture/discussion on the nature of good questions, student groups consider if “Questions to Ponder…” are good questions, assignment to write five good questions for the next class. 2) Lessons on Life: Student groups read “Lessons on Life” together, groups ask questions of the different characters in the story, individual assignment on the moral of the story. 3) Cornell Notes: Introduction to the Cornell Notes format with emphasis on questions, video clip with guide for note-taking, discussion on Cornell Notes. 4) Dynamic Questioning: Student guided activity where students interact with one another only answering questions that were posed to them and posing new questions, discussion, assignment. 5) Teacher Hot Seat: Students write questions they want to know Citizens of the World 6 “It is better to know some of the questions than all of the answers.” --James Thurber SAM PLE
  7. 7. about the teacher, teacher sits in front of class and fields questions (or politely declines to answer), student volunteers do the same. Unit Assessments: • Oral persuasive presentation • Notes/Questions of oral presentations IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues UNIT 3 OVERVIEW The Conscious Life: Understanding the Problem It is impossible to solve a problem without fully understanding the nature of the problem. The problem must be deconstructed into its various parts. Some assumptions will be made and must be stated as well. Here the students will apply what they learned about questioning to unraveling the problem and be ready to seek out different solutions. Unit Objectives: • To learn and apply critical thinking skills. • To relate the problem in a clear and concise format. • To identify the context of a problem. • To distinguish the essential issues underlying a problem. Sample Lessons: 1) Problems & Conflicts: Teacher presents a vague dramatic issue and asks the students to come up with specific solutions, discussion about how to define a problem, assignment is to read “Learn how to handle Problems and Conflicts” and summarize the process. 2) Problems & Movies: Students watch a 10-minute video clip of a movie and take notes, discuss what happened in the video clip, student groups write out the problem together, assignment is to watch the first 15 minutes of a TV show or movie and define the problem. Citizens of the World 7 “Every problem has within it the seeds of its own solution.” --Norman Vincent Paele SAM PLE
  8. 8. 3) Why is Being a Teenager Weird? : Student groups draw a typical teenager and present their drawings to the class, assignment to write on the prompt “Why is Being a Teenager Feel so Weird?” 4) Fears: Quick-write on student fears, discussion of one fear and analysis of the causes, assignment to analyze two other major fears as a problem. 5) Who Moved My Cheese? –Dealing with Change: Students read “Who Moved My Cheese?,” Student group discussions, assignment on analyzing the problem of change. Unit Assessments: • Unit test of scenarios with short-answer responses IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues UNIT 4 OVERVIEW The Dialogical Life: Exploring Potential Solutions Once the problem has been identified and explored for its complexity, the task becomes finding different possible solutions. Although finding solutions to a well-defined problem can be easy at times, the process can require a high level of knowledge, focus, and creativity. Sometimes the problem has to be re-analyzed or it may be necessary to consult with experts. For these reasons and many others, exploring potential solutions is best learned working together as a team, which is the other focus of this unit. Unit Objectives: • To learn and apply critical thinking skills. • To identify alternative solutions to a problem. • To identify long- and short-term goals. • To demonstrate the ability to work independently, as well as cooperatively with other students. Sample Lessons: Citizens of the World 8 “Looking back, I realize that nurturing curiosity and the instinct to seek solutions are perhaps the most important contributions education can make. --Paul Berg SAM PLE
  9. 9. 1) Teamwork: Eight student volunteers (two teams) walk a race around the blacktop with their ankles tied to form a square; the rest of the class observes. Class discussion on the nature of teamwork. In groups, students create a poster on the value of working in a team. 2) New Approach on Teen Offenders: Students read the article “Mo. Tries new approach on teen offenders” and highlight different solutions that have been or are being attempted to work with teen delinquency, student groups discuss options, choose their method, and present to class. 3) How Do You Feel Today? : Students write in journal which emotion describes how they feel today and explain. Student groups choose an emotion for a bad day and an emotion for a good day and brainstorm solutions for changing a good day into a bad day. Unit Assessments: • Team project with presentation IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues UNIT 5 OVERVIEW The Practical Life: Creating a Plan Once the potential solutions have been thought through, it is time to choose a solution and create a plan. This process can be a group process or an individual process depending on the students and the complexity of the problem. The advantage of the group is that the plan can be divided into parts and each student can be responsible for a certain section. The importance of the plan is that it covers each section of the problem that needs to be addressed. To begin, the best problems will be issues that are important to the students, perhaps those connected to their school life or directly related to their community. Unit Objectives: • To learn and apply critical thinking skills. • To develop an action plan to set and achieve realistic goals. • To use a decision-making and problem-solving model. • To state the solution to a problem in an action plan. Citizens of the World 9 “It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.” --Eleanor Roosevelt SAM PLE
  10. 10. Sample Lessons: 1) College Graduation: Students choose a college they may like to graduate from in the future, research requirements to graduate from the college, and write a list of steps they must take to graduate. 2) Arriving to School in the Morning: Students make a list of what they have to do to arrive to school in the morning, share lists in groups and critique, present plan to the class. 3) Lesson Planning: Students journal on what they think helps them learn, teacher presents a lesson plan from IML, students identify the different elements of the lesson plan in groups, students choose something they would want to teach, assignment to create a basic five-part lesson plan. 4) “How to” presentation: Students choose a task they do well, write a detailed list of steps on how to perform that task, critique each others’ plans in small groups, present their task to the class with props. Unit Assessments: • “How to” presentation • Unit test on developing an action plan IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues UNIT 6 OVERVIEW The Reflective Life: Evaluating the Process Once plans have been created, they will be presented to the class and students learn how to evaluate their own and others’ plans. Evaluation requires listening skills, note-taking skills, and critical thinking skills. Forming good questions once again becomes important because a good critique starts with a question. Unit Objectives: • To learn and apply critical thinking skills. • To compare solutions to a problem. • To critique the steps of an action plan. • To justify each step of an action plan. Sample Lessons: Citizens of the World 10 “I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestioning ability of man to evaluate his life by a conscious endeavor.” --Henry David Thoreau SAM PLE
  11. 11. 1) Key Questions: Discussion on the key questions of evaluation, students groups write key questions in each category and present to class, class list of evaluation questions. 2) Self-Evaluation: Student performs a self-evaluation of their high school years using the class evaluation questions, assignment to ask a family member to evaluate the student’s high school years. 3) Class Evaluation: Student performs an evaluation of the IML class using the class evaluation questions, student groups discuss evaluations, assignment to evaluate their high school’s effectiveness. 4) 5 Ways to Stay Happy: Students journal the five most important things they need to do to be happy, read “5 Ways to Stay Happy,” evaluate the reading based on their journal and the class evaluation questions. Unit Assessments: • Written evaluation of an action plan • Evaluations of fellow student plans IT’S MY LIFE Creative Problem Solving for Everyday Issues UNIT 7 OVERVIEW The Engaged Life: Completing the Final Project After students have completed each of the individual steps required to engage in effective problem solving, the final task will be to conduct a project which will have a duration that spans multiple weeks. The student (or students if group projects) find a problem that they define themselves and go through the entire process of problem solving. The teacher can help by helping student’s explore current local issues through media outlets. Unit Objectives: • To identify the context of the problem. • To relate the problem in a clear and concise format. • To state the solution to a problem in an action plan. • To justify each step of an action plan. Citizens of the World 11 “It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.” --Napoleon Hill SAM PLE
  12. 12. • To critique the steps of an action plan. Sample Lessons: 1) Local News: Students review interesting newspaper articles and identify local problems in articles, class discussion and list of problems, assignment to talk to family members about additional local problems. 2) School Issues: Guest speaker administrator from the school or district presents some of the current issues at the school or district, students take notes, ask questions, brainstorm additional problems that could be explored, assignment to speak to two additional adults in the school about school problems. 3) Community Issues: Guest speaker leader from the community presents current issues in the city, students take notes, ask questions, brainstorm additional problems that could be explored, assignment to talk to two more people from the community. 4) Project Approval: Students (or student groups) define their chosen problem, the context, and the main points that need to be resolved, students (or student groups) present their project for critique from the class and teacher approval. Unit Assessments: • Individual Student Projects • Digital presentations Citizens of the World 12 SAM PLE