I decided to select four artifacts that offered a wide range of questioning for this unit, where the students would enjoy time traveling between the past and the future.Students love their gadgets and pop cultural artifacts. Bringing them into the classroom as a way of teaching thinking skills should instantly grab their attention. Students will become time travel archeologists reporting on:
Cell phone: I wanted to pick an object related to technology. Hundreds of years ago, people would not have believed you if you had told them that you used a hand gadget that took pictures, talked with friends, played music, responded to voice commands or told you where to eat in a strange city. Texting and twittering would have been unheard of. It would have been seen like some magician's illusionary trick. What a long way communication devices have come.
I picked this ordinary everyday object because it is as ubiquitous as ants as at a Fourth of July picnic. I doubt the students give this item much thought as they bring them to their soccer games or toss them in the trash at the mall. Do they know that portable water is not a new concept?
Fast Food Restaurants:
I picked a business associated with our culture that has very identifiable artifacts, similar to the buried motel in David Macaulay's book. Who doesn't recognize the red cardboard box with golden arches overflowing with pencil straight perfect golden French fries? Fast food restaurants are a phenomenon that people a hundred years ago could not have imagined--driving in your car to a window and getting food handed to you in a bag to be eaten in the car. However when you dig deeper, a form of fast food has been around for centuries.
I selected our school building for a number of reasons. I wanted the students to see how a building can be seen as an artifact and also because Edgewood School is celebrating its 100 year anniversary this year.
Of course there are numerous artifacts that teachers may choose. The concepts and strategies presented in this unit are applicable to any artifact. Other possible artifacts may include fashion items, shoes, clothes, jewelry, house furnishings, and appliances.
Students will be divided into four groups and assigned to one of these artifacts. Group work allows for differential instruction and choice. Working as a team promotes collaboration- a lifelong skill. Ultimately, I want the students to create a history of each item. I want them to have some idea of where the concept or idea behind the artifact came to be. This would require utilizing the questioning techniques of Bloom's taxonomy. The student will be accessing the top tier of critical thinking by
the artifacts' past,
its present use and c
or constructing a future for the artifact.
Cooperative work groups encourage students to be both question–askers and question answerers. The teacher can act as a facilitator and have students respond to one another rather than to the teacher who they might think is looking for a specific answer.
In this context, the teacher can use 'visible thinking' techniques and take the time to assist students in clarifying ideas through exploratory talk. The students themselves can generate different questions to be used in their discussions It is best practice to allow students to question each other about their learning; this has the potential to generate higher level thinking. As facilitator, the teacher can encourage a range of responses to one question with responses such as "Could you tell us a little more about that idea?" Does anyone have a different opinion?" Also wait time is important as students think over their ideas. By responding with "Can anyone add to that?" or "That's an interesting view."
I plan to utilize a strategy called the Q matrix. (See Appendix B) This design allows for the development of questions that target different thinking levels. This will provide a framework that will allow for open-ended interpretation and promote inquiry among the students. This strategy is based on Bloom's Taxonomy moving from using basic question combinations to complex combinations. : What is…? (analysis) What did…? (recall, comprehension) What will…? (synthesis, evaluation) What might…? (analysis, synthesis, prediction) Students will generate questions and the different ways they can explore their artifact, thinking of ways they can "test" their questions to gather evidence. Using online and library resources, students will research their questions. The matrix will serve as a way to organize their ideas for this project as well as open-ended hypothesizing. This model encourages curiosity and seeking answers to their own questions.
After students have gathered the information to form a context around each artifact, they will be given a selection of tasks that they will choose from to complete. The tasks are designed on multiple intelligence theory, where students can access their particular learning style. Each member of the group will be responsible for participating in the unit project by being a time traveler to one period of time and presenting their adventures and discoveries in the form of one of the choices from the project ideas list.
1. Past - how it was developed and why
2. Present- how the artifact is used now
3. Future - what they think the artifact will be like in the future.