Unit Plans in Review, 3-5

I’ve been reflecting on my units taught so far this year. Here’s K-2 if you want to read about more lesson plan angst. As I start the reflection process I say, “what was I thinking!”

Third Grade: Library ResourcesI need to work on this one some for next year, but there are some good parts. I got into Dewey with students by using The Library Gingerbread Man and a Sliderocket presentation I made to go with it. The SlideRocket is REALLY simple. Don’t expect anything fabulous.  I also spent a lesson with students showing them how to use the OPAC. Finally, our third lesson is about all of the other resources available to students online. They have time to explore our website subscriptions and resources. 

Third Grade: Ready References
The first lesson in this round introduced students to print vs. online resources. In second grade my students have already had a lot of practice with dictionaries and maps. We did a very fast smackdown of dictionary, atlas, encyclopedia and almanacs in print and online. I made a symbaloo to house these for quick access on our website. The second two lessons were more exciting (I’ll have to go back and blog about them–I meant to!). I put together ‘research stations’ for students to float around to during library class. They had two weeks to complete 11 stations.  Nine were content related and the last two were book checkout each week. They had a great time and got to practice accessing resources and I love a more open class structure where I can talk one-on-one with students. I will definitely do this one again with some refinement.

Fourth Grade: Online Searching
I wanted to start the year off getting fourth graders into online searching. I am careful about not monopolizing the computer lab for my lessons because it does block off a good chunk of time when I use it for an entire grade level. Frankly, I think it’s almost too late. They probably need these lessons in 2nd grade before are (hopefully) allowed to search Google at home. This unit was successful and I would teach it again. 

Fourth Grade: Word Reference Sources
Ah. It’s a dud. I did a lesson on the dictionary and glossary and one with the thesaurus. When I taught the thesaurus lesson last year with nursery rhymes it was better. This year it just did not work. They need work. And frankly, these lessons don’t fit as well into the library realm as I would like. Instead, I may offer them as a classroom lesson when teachers reach these objectives in language arts. 

Fourth Grade: Memoir
I looooove my memoir unit. I explored memoir with students for the first time last year. It’s one I was ready to repeat this year with a few minor tweaks. Overall, a big success. Can’t get over my love of this unit.

Fifth Grade: Research Paper
Ocean Animal Research project including a basic “how to use this book to answer questions” mini-lesson. Students also learned how to cite sources. My feel-good accomplishments were creating a SlideRocket to walk students through finding the locations for the copyright info needed in a text and templates for citing sources
Fifth Grade: Notetaking and Fairy Tales
Ah, this one is a dud. I booktalked a few older fairy tales that have been twisted by using other animals. Petite Rouge, Three Little Dassies, Armadilly Chili. Last year these students participated in an extensive Notetaking unit. I wanted to revisit 2-column notes with them. We used the Nature’s Children series to review the notetaking structure as we made notes on the animal’s habitat, diet, and relationships. Students used their notes to do a comic strip draft of their new version of a classic fairy tale. This is one of those units that I *think* sounds exciting and combines several interesting elements, but needed more time. I did try to squish it into two lessons instead of three, so maybe it will work with a bit more time.

The Verdict…
It took me a few weeks to get this post written. Everytime I sat down to add a unit I kept thinking “What did I teach third grade? Was it really so bad that I don’t remember?” After (finally) remembering and jotting down these notes, it doesn’t feel so worthless. I think I just struggle with feeling like I make an impact on my fixed schedule. I see students for three weeks out of every quarter.

One good lesson at a time. I think the good ones outweigh the duds. The duds just seem worse because the number of lessons I teach in these units is so few.

What are your favorite lessons or units for upper elementary? 

March 9, 2013
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