Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Writing a curriculum unit, like writing a book, is hard work, but fun work! Word games, like crosswords, always fascinated me, as well as reading about origins of interesting words, phrases and idioms. This background gives me ideas for the vocabulary section of each chapter. Exploring idioms and opening up the world of cowboy slang to non-ranching kids is a challenge I really enjoy.

Having learned about the Common Core Standards and DOK levels, I'm coming at the chapter questions from a different angle than when I started the CU for The Orange Slipknot (before I revised it for the Standards). Instead of majoring in recall/retelling questions, I have almost none of those; the questions tend more in the direction of what you would discuss with a writer's group--just on a fourth grade level! Teachers want their students to learn how to think about literature. I am trying to help them understand how an author crafts a book--to talk about theme, plot development, character development, foreshadowing, etc.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

School has been out for a week so I'm on my summer schedule. I've made my list and checked it, actually I check it almost daily, working on the various projects on my summer list: yard, house, writing, grandkids, horses, etc. My main writing project for the summer is to complete the curriculum unit for Starting the Colt. I had several chapters done, or almost done, so the hardest part--getting started--is behind me.

For the last couple of years, I've been studying the Common Core Standards and rewriting the CU for The Orange Slipknot to align with them, since this is what teachers are now looking for. I have a much better idea of what is needed this time around, including less DOK 1 questions and more DOK 2 and 3 questions.

DOK = Depth of Knowledge. Level 1 is basic recall, or reciting facts. CC downplays an emphasis on this level and encourages deeper thinking. Level 2 requires more engagement with the material: infer, interpret, summarize, compare, etc. Level 3 involves a deeper level of thinking and reasoning; there may be more than one correct answer to these questions. Level 4 becomes an extended final assessment activity, designed around the "essential question" that introduces the entire unit. You can see how a background of working in the school system is an advantage when trying to craft a CU that will meet teachers' needs.