This unit implements and plans an original language arts curriculum unit based on The Core Standards and English Language Proficiency Standards under Reading Informational Texts (RI) 5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 5.5, 5.7 ,5. 8,5.9 on digital research for my fifth grade class. My students need guidance on how to choose a non-fiction topic and how to research their topic on the internet using a source of credible information. In addition, the main curriculum standard for fifth grade is to research a nonfiction topic using 3 references. Ideally, hard copy books and magazines would be a first source. Unfortunately, some topics do not have enough information or a large variety of books to choose from in the school library and/or the classroom library. Furthermore, many students do not have the opportunity to go to the public library with their parents to research additional information and check out books. With their digital lives through their cell phones, all students have access to the internet. Unfortunately, students do not have explicit teaching on how to locate educational journals and/or credible sources of information. Once students have located sources whether good or bad, students do not know how to reference the source in their papers. The “Digital Lives” seminar will be essential to my development of my curriculum unit.
As a classroom teacher in New Haven, we are expected to provide material for our students to complete the assigned performance task. The “NHPS ELA Curriculum, Grades 3-5 Reading Unit and Task Outline” for Unit 3 requires students to read high interest informational and literary nonfiction closely. This seems like a “straightforward” and explicit unit focus. The part that is not direct is how the students are to research and have access to the nonfictional material. One suggestion when asked about this problem was to go to book banks such as New haven Reads or Read to Grow. This was valuable to a certain extent. I went to both places and created a classroom library full of non-fiction books. Unfortunately, my library is limited to what was available for me to choose from at the book banks. My limitations become my students’ limitations. I attempted to combine my classroom library by having my students go to the library on mornings that the librarian is at school. (Side note: My students do not have library as a class and our school librarian is only at our school 2 days a week and alternates a 3rd day between my school and another school.). The end result is that this too has its limits. My next step is to incorporatethe online resources.
I explained to my students that they can use the internet to do a search. This was a separate lesson that I was not expecting. Some students picked up and others did not pick up on what to do. This brings me to what I want to accomplish by taking the seminar “Digital Lives”. My students need more remedial training to help them complete unit 3. My students need help on selecting grade level appropriate topics and then citing the topics correctly. I have been researching some websites to help with the use of APA style, which is another lesson that will have to be taught and will be incorporated into my curriculum unit. My goal is to make my fifth grade students proficient in the use of the digital resources to the point that they can research and write a nonfiction piece of writing proficiently.