PL in a 3rd Grade SS Immigration Unit: Students Creating an Immigrant’s Journey (Ep. 08)

This episode walks listeners through the entire process, from design to implementation to after unit reflection, of the development of this immigration unit with educator Mel Rice. Her vision of personalizing the learning experience by affording her students a variety of choices to allow them to explore the unit content of immigration according to their own interests and creative aptitudes/sensibility transformed the content from a story about the past to an immersive, first-person experience. I had the privilege of observing Mel’s class during this unit and found it powerful to hear 3rd graders articulate what they had learned. The content that they created revealed both an intimate knowledge of our nation’s history and also conveyed a strong sense of empathy for the plight (steeped in research) of the fictional immigrant each student had created.

As you listen…

  • Try to identify the initial needs Mel presents as the justification for selecting this particular unit. Consider how her criteria might influence where you might look to personalize the learning experience in your classroom.
  • Note how Mel’s differentiation and choice options permeate several facets of the unit. How might you infuse choice into other facets of your own practices beyond where you already have implemented differentiation.
  • Reflect with Mel and learn from those reflections. Use her first iteration as a springboard to address or even jump past some of those tough early, growing-pain lessons of trying out a new practice. And at the same time, hear the enthusiasm in Mel’s voice as she anticipates extending these practices in the future.