"I wish we could base each thematic unit on a book or a piece of literature." ~ Kathy Stotler, Bernards Township Schools.
I wholeheartedly agree with the above quote. It came out of an informal conversation I had with Kathy back in September. And I kept it in the back of my mind ever since.
Many people has asked me what I am creating as my final product. Many think it's a thesis, a research paper, or a presentation.
Before I tell you what I decided to create as my final product, let me back track a little bit. The Institute of International Education allows teachers that are on this grant to create projects that are of various formats, as long as they can be applied in their field.
~~Teachers can create a website with teacher guide, a curriculum unit, a game, a set of specific lessons, a book, a professional development workshop series, or anything else that is rigorous, appropriate, and, most importantly, applicable in the classroom.~~
I have gone back and forth between a website with a teacher guide, a new thematic unit, or a teacher professional development worksop.
And I finally decided.
My inquiry project will be a set of ready-to-use lessons that employ children's literature to drive world language instruction and encourage children to read authentic texts. Specifically, this project could be used to supplement or extend our existing curricula units. I looked at our middle school curricula, and asked myself "Do I want to reinvent/change the whole thing? How about if I create specific, ready-to-use lessons based on children's literature that ~FIT~ into a particular unit. For example, I created a week worth of lessons for 'Historia de un oso' and that book complements our 7th grade 'Family' unit perfectly. Schools in New Jersey or other states could also use this supplemental guide since units below are quite common in middle school curricula.
As I mentioned during my Board of Education presentation, this grant is not for me. This grant is for my students and colleagues, both in and out of my district. That is why I am creating the most practical, applicable product that teachers can work with on a regular basis. I want my colleagues at WAMS and in other schools to open this set of lessons and say "Ok, so for the next two months I am teaching about heroes or other people that made an impact on people's lives, and I can use this set of lessons to supplement my instruction in this unit." All lessons will have activities, handouts, and teacher instructions included so a teacher simply will have to read the instructions and set up the lesson the way she sees fit for her students. Well, teachers in other schools will need to order the book [if the lesson is based on a book]. If a lesson is based on a poem, fable, anecdote, short story, etc. then I will simply include that in the lesson itself.
I realize I may not find literature that fits every single unit but, as you know, I will at least try.