Image credit: Alex McMillan (me)
I’ve been working on a spur of the moment unit lately– we are doing an experiential learning field trip with our 8th graders, but only 50% of them want to go! So we have half of a grade that we need to do something meaningful with. Since the other half of their cohort is going to be exploring the UN’s Sustainable Development goals, we (the teachers covering the remaining half), thought we would approach the same themes with the others with a short & fun unit. We thought we would look at visual communication and help the students create social media posts that convey their perspectives about global issues.
We have been working together on the unit plan (shown below in the iframe). It’s still very much so a work in process– so I appreciate any feedback that the interwebs might have!
The Google Doc can be found here.
My process for selecting these goals was kind of through exploration. I started by looking at several art standards and liked what I was seeing. I felt that they were a bit large and impossible for the three days for this particular unit, so I decided to whittle them into a slightly different shape that would also overlap with Individuals and Societies as well as Language Arts. That is, we are talking about cultural interpretations of objects/symbols as well as metaphors. It’s just one big amalgamation of subjects without being one specific subject’s standards.
I think that this unit plan is different from other unit plans that I have made in the past in that I have a bit of freedom; without feeling like I have to necessarily get through a massive amount of standards, it makes me feel more relaxed and approach this unit with positivity. This optimism makes me feel like the students will also enjoy themselves (do I sound like one of Gladwell’s “salesmen“? That is, others actions and moods mimic mine.)
Something that I have been kind of having a mild obsession with lately has been the idea of making connections. I would really like to bring in the idea of connectivism and digital citizenship really by having students create social media posts that are not really made for online use, but rather printed on paper. Students are hyper-connected and use social media already, but this is an opportunity to use the context of social media to practice sharing the right way (i.e. high quality content, not over-sharing personal information, commenting responsibly, creating original content and respecting copyright, etc.) By doing so, students will hopefully be able to connect with peers to solve global issues.
The above image will be used as an exemplar made with Google Slides. It is a mock-up Instagram post that will be used to help the students practice sharing meaningful content and comments online, photography skills, and visually communicate.
Furthermore, I hope that through the reflection process at the end of the unit, we will be able to share and comment in a kind, respectful, thoughtful, and useful which is something that they have never really been taught. As a result they have been participating in comments and succumbing to the negative culture of the internet and displaying negative alter-egos. Don’t believe me? Look at YouTube comments. Look at Reddit comments. Look at Instagram comments. Yuck.
Realistically, this is a short unit and I do not expect them to change the world, but in a way, they will have a chance to practice changing the world and having a voice about topics that matter. And if we are lucky, perhaps school will become a little bit more fun and meaningful along the way as they find their voices and try to make a difference.Full disclosure, I am also working on this unit for a COETAIL class. This unit plan is my final project.