Stage 1 Summary:
After completing the Stage 1 section of UNDERSTANDING BY DESIGN, I feel much more confident that I'll be able to present the material to my students in a way that is both engaging and relevant. The trickiest part, I think, was distilling out the “Big Ideas” of the material and devising the essential questions that would tie in to those ideas. The process is very logical, on the whole; it just takes some practice to get used to designing a curriculum this way.
The biggest concerns I have now are practical ones: how to introduce this material to my particular crop of students. As Page noted in response to my last blog post, these students are likely to speak a language other than English at home and may be behind grade level in their English reading skills. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to present this complex and challenging material in a way that will ensure these students are able to keep up. I'll have to review the articles on dealing with English Language Learners and ask some of my fellow science teachers for ideas. Right now I'm reminding myself of what George Leonard said in MASTERY – to embrace the process of gradual improvement. I know I'm not going to do this perfectly right out of the gate, and trying to go from Zero to Master instantaneously would kill me. I'm going to do the best I can, leaning on the wisdom and experience of those around me, and revise and refine my methods as I go on. I have no doubt that my second semester of teaching this class will go more smoothly than the first, and next year I'll do better yet – assuming I haven't hit one of Leonard's plateaus by then. :)
Very well, then. Onward to Stage 2.