Lesson #1: Create Your Own Native American Board Game

Subject Area: US History

Link: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers/free-lesson-plans/create-your-own-native-american-board-game.cfm#obj

Grade Level: 4-5

Standards:

  • 3-4; K-4 history: Understands the people, events, problems, and ideas that were significant in creating the history of their state
    • Understands the interactions that occurred between the Native Americans or Hawaiians and the first European, African, and Asian-Pacific explorers and settlers in the state or region.
  • 3-4; K-4 history: Understands the history of a local community and how communities in North America varied long ago.
    • Knows geographical settings, economic activities, food, clothing, homes, crafts, and rituals of Native American societies long ago (e.g., Iroquois, Sioux, Hopi, Nez Perce, Inuit, Cherokee).
  • 5-6; US history: Understands economic social, and cultural developments in the contemporary United States
    • Understands contemporary issues concerning gender and ethnicity (e.g., the range of women’s organizations, the changing goals of the women’s movement, and the issues currently dividing women; issues involving justice and common welfare; how interest groups attempted to achieve their goals of equality and justice; how African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans have shaped American life and retained their cultural heritage).
  • 3-4; Geography: Understands the nature and complexity of Earth’s cultural mosaics.
    • Understands how different people living in the same region maintain different ways of life (e.g., the cultural differences between Native Americans and Europeans living along the eastern seaboard in the 17th century; differences among Sikhs, Hindus, and Muslims living in India today).

Objectives:

  1. Students will discuss how games reflect a culture’s beliefs, priorities, and aspects of everyday life
  2. Students will learn about a few games and toys of Native American children
  3. Students will analyze basic elements of a selected Native American tribe in order to apply them to the creation of an original board game that can be played by today’s children.

Summary:

This lesson plan takes a unique approach to studying Native American culture, focusing on the reflection of childhood games on a people’s culture, “beliefs, priorities, and aspects of everyday life.” While this lesson could use a touch of authenticity, it does a good job allowing for student discussion, a key component to analytical collaboration. The lesson also connects history with the present, allowing students to begin to see what it might have been like to be a Native American child. This lesson includes adaptations for younger grades and extensions, allowing students to think deeper.

Areas of Improvement:

  • The objectives could be written to be measurable and observable and the lesson should be clearly tied to the objectives. This lesson seems to view the objectives as mere learning outcomes rather than an active component to the lesson.
  • Inclusion and/or link of essential questions and standards.
  • Concluding Activities: First, it would help if the lesson actually included concluding activities. They should be relevant and tied to the objective; provide a clear opportunity to conduct a final check for understanding; and students should be active participants.

Critique/Evaluation:

Lesson #1
Score
Reasoning
Curriculum and Standards 2 Standards are listed at the end, but there is no real connection within in the lesson.
Objectives 3 Objectives are not measurable and observable.
Introductory Activities 2 In our age of technology, Monopoly may be a foreign concept to younger students.
Learning Activities 2 There seems to be little scaffolding within the activities. The teacher primarily conducts input.
Student Centered 3 Author provides opportunities for extension, but the lesson would be better suited if the extension activities were a part of the actual lesson rather than an extension.
Concluding Activities 1 Lesson ends with students playing their fellow peers’ board games. No final opportunity to check for understanding is provided.
Assessment 2 No evidence that each student has achieved the lesson objectives
Lesson Materials and Resources 3 Materials are identified and links are provided to student worksheets.
Total 18/32 56%

Lesson #2: Picture Your State

Subject Area: US History (particularly the State in which the students live)

Link: http://www.census.gov/schools/facts/picture.pdf

Grade Level: 3rd-4th

Standards:

  • Math – Numbers and Operations, Data Analysis and Probability
  • Social Studies – People, Places, and Environments
  • Geography – The World in Spatial Terms, Places and Regions, Human Systems

Objectives:

  1. The students will collect, organize, analyze, graph, and map data about the state where they live.
  2. The students will compare their data with other states
  3. The students will increase their ability to represent and work with numbers through millions.

Summary:

The United States Census Bureau wrote this lesson in an effort to inform students about the data that goes into how the government makes decisions that impact their lives everyday. The lesson utilizes discussion and teacher input as its primary means of instruction. This lesson provides students with essential knowledge about the location and geography of their state. The lesson extension allows for surface level analysis through comparing and contrasting pieces of data.

Areas of Improvement:

  • This lesson requires specific standards.
  • This lesson could use a heavy dose of measurability, especially in its objectives.
  • This lesson would be much more effective with introductory activities and closing activities. There is nothing to draw the students in, peak their interest, or even inspire them to do anything more than have a pulse.
  • This lesson is in no way authentic or relevant. This lesson could be greatly improved by allowing for discovery learning instead of passive learning.

Critique/Evaluation:

Lesson #2
Score
Reasoning
Curriculum and Standards 1 Content areas are listed, but no specific standards are tied to this lesson.
Objectives 2 Objectives are not measurable or observable. They are barely stated in terms of student behavior. The one higher order thinking skill provided is not clear or measurable.
Introductory Activities 1 No introductory activity included
Learning Activities 2 Instruction primarily conducted by teacher input. Students are passive learners, instructed to fill out a worksheet like a trained monkey.
Student Centered 2 Learning modes are not taken into account. Students are not expected to take responsibility for learning.
Concluding Activities 1 No closure incorporated. Students are expected to draw conclusions by themselves.
Assessment 1 Assessment only provides evidence that students can regurgitate random inauthentic state facts
Lesson Materials and Resources 3 Materials are identified, worksheets are provided at the end of the lesson. Links for other materials are provided in the lesson (instead of at the end of the lesson or somehow incorporated into the lesson)
Total 13/32 40%

Lesson #3: Houses and Homes Around the World

Subject Area: Social Studies (ESL)

Link: http://www.education.com/lesson-plan/houses-and-homes/

Grade Level: Kindergarten

Standards: N/A

Objectives:

  1. Students will have knowledge of different kinds of houses around the world.

Summary:

This lesson helps kindergarten students know what kinds of houses students live in around the world in different cultures. It incorporates Ann Morris’ picture book Houses and Homes as a way for students to build background knowledge, allowing them to observe differences and similarities between various homes throughout a variety of cultures before jumping into the independent activity.

Areas of Improvement:

  • This lesson really wants to be great for ELL students, but it falls short. It provides very few alternate modalities for expressing oneself, relying heavily on language the ability to formulate sentences.
  • Differentiation could be thought through more; in its current form, it acts as a band-aid rather than a preventative.
  • The objectives need to be measurable. In their current state, they are little more than a shot in the dark.

Critique/Evaluation:

Lesson #3 Score Reasoning
Curriculum and Standards 1 The connections to the non-existent standards and essential questions must be inferred.
Objectives 1 What does “have knowledge of” mean? Objective is not measurable.
Introductory Activities 3 The opening activities set the stage for the lesson, but do not allow for students to see a connection.
Learning Activities 2 Learning activities provide for some student discovery, but they do not go as far as allowing students to become active participants.
Student Centered 2 Teacher asks occasional questions, but the instructional/learning time is largely focused on the teacher’s input. Options for differentiation are available but only target the amount of help a student does or does not receive while completing the worksheet.
Concluding Activities 3 Student presentations at the end of the lesson time allows for checking for understanding.
Assessment 3 Each student completes an individual worksheet about his or her house. This assessment is very typical; work could be done to make it more authentic and kinesthetic.
Lesson Materials and Resources 4 All materials and handouts are listed and included in the lesson.
Total 19/32 59%

Lesson #4: We’re Just Like Crayons

Subject Area: Social Studies: The World Around Us

Link: http://lessonplanspage.com/ssmusicomartinlutherkingdaywearejustlikecrayonsdiversitylesson12-htm/

Grade Level: 1st-2nd

Standards: (New York City)

  • My family and other families: Families have beliefs, customs, and traditions
  • My community and local region: Different events, people, problems, and ideas make up my community’s history

Objectives:

  1. Students should be able to determine what diversity is and will be able to interpret a poem/song based on diversity with 90% accuracy.

Essential Question: What is diversity?

Summary:

This lesson targets student diversity at a young age, connecting the concept to something most kindergarteners are familiar with: crayons. While it could use an infusion of authenticity, the lesson does a good job of targeting each level of blooms taxonomy through discussion questions and independent activities. Learning is largely student centered, allowing for guided discovery about diversity. The lesson wraps up by singing a song that students had “interpreted” as one of their earlier activities.

Areas of Improvement:

  • The Objective could be written to be more specific in its measurability (How will students be tested for 90% accuracy?)
  • The lesson could allow for more kinesthetic movement, especially since it’s directed at kindergarteners. Maybe work in some dances from other cultures and tie it to the song/poem?
  • The Assessment could be written to be more authentic. The lesson uses crayons as the way to communicate the message of diversity, but they should only be an example rather than carrying the weight of bearing the entire message.

Critique/Evaluation:

Lesson #4 Score Reasoning
Curriculum and Standards 4 The bulk of the lesson is surrounding diversity and the questions that come with diversity (essential questions).
Objectives 3 Objective is measurable, but could be more specific. The objective targets a higher level thinking skill.
Introductory Activities 4 Activity is relative to the objective and relevant to the lives of the 1st and 2nd graders. Each student is participating in a way that allows him or her to connect new and old experiences.
Learning Activities 3 Activities are scaffolded to allow for maximum learning potential, however instruction is verbal and not written.
Student Centered 3 While this lesson allows for student choice and opinion, it is largely based on the verbal and aural styles of learning without much thought to the kinesthetic aspect.
Concluding Activities 3 Closing activity involves singing a song; this doesn’t allow for much checking for understanding.
Assessment 3 Assessment isn’t performance driven or authentic.
Lesson Materials and Resources 4 All materials and resources are provided, including a link to the song.
Total 27/32 84%

Lesson #5: Ancient Civilizations and the Modern World

Subject Area: Social Studies

Link: http://www.uen.org/Lessonplan/preview?LPid=23787

Grade Level: 6th Grade

Standards: N/A

Objectives:

  1. Explain why physical geography affected the development of early civilizations.

Essential Question: What importance do physical features in a region have to sustain the development of a civilization?

Summary: This lesson targets the importance of geographical and physical features in a region in relation to civilization, utilizing student’s discussion and research skills to answer the essential question. Input is tied directly to the essential questions, allowing students to easily make connections. The author of this lesson does a good job incorporating different teaching and learning styles so as to accommodate diverse learners. The lesson concludes with students creating a poster about what they have learned and evaluating the posters of other groups with sticky notes.

Areas of Improvement:

  • The objective could be more clearly stated to show measurability, to clarify skills to be observed, and to target a higher level thinking skill.
  • The assessment portion of the lesson should be made much more authentic.
  • Allow for more time for different methods of research. It should not be assumed all research involves sitting in front of a computer or textbook filling out a graphic organizer.

Critique/Evaluation:

Lesson #5 Score Reasoning
Curriculum and Standards 4 The discussion and research is closely tied to the Essential Question.
Objectives 2 Objective is not stated in terms of student behavior. It is not measurable and it would be difficult to observe it.
Introductory Activities 3 Activity is tied to the objective, but does nothing to draw students in to naturally want to learn about the essential question.
Learning Activities 3 Students are responsible for their own discovery; input is through discussion and research.
Student Centered 4 Lesson is inquiry based, but still guided so students can still accomplish the objective. Accommodation is given for students’ learning modes.
Concluding Activities 4 Students present posters and complete active peer evaluations.
Assessment 3 Assessment demonstrates some level of student achievement through note taking and the group-poster. Assessment is not, however, authentic.
Lesson Materials and Resources 4 Extensive list of materials is given with the corresponding links where appropriate.
Total 27/32 84%

 

 Lesson Comparison

Overall Critique Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 Lesson 5
Curriculum and Standards 2 1 1 4 4
Objectives 3 2 1 3 2
Introductory Activities 2 1 3 4 3
Learning Activities 2 2 2 3 3
Student Centered 3 2 2 3 4
Concluding Activities 1 1 3 3 4
Assessment 2 1 3 3 3
Lesson Materials and Resources 3 3 4 4 4
Total 18/32 13/32 19/32 27/32 27/32

Overall Observations

  • Most online lesson plans have terrible objectives, and what they list as their standards aren’t actual standards (although they are the main topics for standards).
  • Most online lessons begin with a discussion of some sort, most likely in an effort to learn about students’ background knowledge. There are other, sometimes more efficient, ways to do this.
    • There is no kinesthetic involvement!
    • There is no authentic involvement!
  • I had to work really hard to come up with some positive things about some of the lessons.
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