This unit haunts me every year. It probably deserves its own blog post. For one thing, it's just so big! Articles of Confederation, federalism, Northwest Ordinance, executive power, the Philadelphia Convention, checks and balances, James Madison, DBQ skills, current-event connections, the Supreme Court, the postwar situation that inspired/caused many compromises, those compromises ... not to mention the Bill of Rights! Today I decided two things:
- Games will be the backbone of this unit [again, more later]
- I will NOT embed discussion skills as a formally assessed component of this unit. I've tried that in some form for the past 3 years because it seemed clever and important. However, I now believe that if the unit content is complicated and challenging, then we should de-emphasize skill development. We can and probably should focus on discussion skills later, like the 19th-century thematic mini-units.
Once I had made those decisions, I turned my attention to planning next week. I know that when I have those days prepared, then I will feel less nervous about the new month, and about school in general. I should be a better person, but I know myself.
I didn't yet make a lot of progress for next week, except to further simplify the Unit Objective summative assessment. At first, I planned to request a 3-paragraph response to "What are 3 main reasons why the US won the war?", which earlier Need2Know videos and tasks had directly addressed. That was going to happen before the vacation, but got squeezed in favor of the "We Live, They Died, You Tell Their Story" mini-research and storytelling project. (Dammit! That's another future blog post!) (Yes, the Hamilton reference is completely deliberate. Thanks for noticing!)
Now the assessment will be similar but simplified, because I will give them the 3 reasons to explain: the British were weaker than they seemed; the Americans were stronger than they started; and they got outside help from France, Spain, and Holland (England's enemies). One paragraph each. Friday, during class. Boom.
This would be simpler if it weren't for the Wednesday problem: we have a full day of parent conferences on January 3rd. That means I have students on Tuesday, then Thursday before the Friday summative assessment. Ugh. Must solve that complication tomorrow....