#onlyinMN: Research, persuasion, creation

This week we will start our next unit with my 6th graders. The goal of the unit is to teach basic research skills and citation skills as well as some Minnesota history and geography along with nonfiction reading and writing skills. The great school I’m at has created this unit to be centered around a creation of a brochure for a landmark, activity, or place in Minnesota.

I am lucky enough to teach enriched 6th grade, and lucky enough that I feel comfortable enough using blended learning practices. I’m also lucky enough that my colleagues made a great base of the unit. I went in and modified it today for the enriched 6th-grade class. I also tried to add in more of the 4 C’s.

  • Instead of just publishing to the class, students are going to take part in the Explore Minnesota organization’s campaign of #onlyinMN. This bridges social media platforms (I will post) and gives a more authentic audience and purpose.
    • Their goal will now be, instead of only to inform, to persuade and inform. They must persuade someone through information to explore their event, landmark, or place of choice.
    • Their posts will be posted through our class Twitter account.
  • Instead of only making a brochure, students will create a 3-pronged marketing campaign including:
    • An internet pop-up ad using Google slides (here’s the explanation video)
    • A commercial using Animoto (explanation video)
    • A social media post that I will post to the #onlyinMn hashtag with our class Twitter account (explanation video)

Students will obviously research and plan their marketing campaign before creating the products. This will include exploring and researching one place, landmark, or event. They will also have to learn how to cite their sources. I also am focusing on teaching them how they must use images that are only free to use or modify.

If you’d like to see a copy of the whole unit, here’s the link

I made this whole unit as one long assignment so that I could teach it in a blended manner. I’ll spend a few minutes introducing the whole assignment and asking questions, but the document is designed that the next 2 weeks (or so) of class will be completely up to the students’ own pace. If you notice in the document, it has several features which allow this:

  • Table of contents for easy navigation (students can find their way!)
  • All materials (docs, etc) needed for the project are linked in this main directional doc
  • Every new task has a directional video linked right where the task is introduced.
    • I don’t have to explain everything to the whole class at all! When students get to that section, they can watch the video. If a student forgets the directions, they can watch the video! No more teaching to the middle!!!!
  • All directions for the entire project are in one place, so it won’t be confusing for students to find what they need to do
  • I’ve put approximate times for each step on the document
    • I will give verbal cues as to a desired timeline, but students can use their class time as needed

I’ve said before on my blog that blended learning keeps me sane (and saves my voice). It also really allows me to be the best teacher I can be since I can now work with students as they need it, differentiating for their specific learning needs.

I’m really excited for this unit and the real purpose and audience that it creates. I know from previous units that this really engages and excites my students. I’ll update at the end of the unit with great and awesome student work.

Also, be sure to follow our class account @Hogensheroes



Author: karinhogen

I teach middle school language arts and run an Edtech company, DocentEDU, on the side. Every day is an adventure in my classroom with technology!

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