At first glance these webisodes seem insignificant and not so important.
The webisodes might seem insignificant but the work they stimulate when they are systematically used to promote understanding, self-awareness, and communication skills are important!
The 12 webisodes are the vehicle for the important work of learning to discuss 1-1 with a partner, in a small group, and at the class level.
This work on understanding bullying helps the student uncover their belief systems. If I were to break down the importance of the different elements of this unit I would say:
10% importance on the content in the webisodes
70% importance on students uncovering held beliefs about bullying and building student and classroom discussion capacity that allows self understanding and growth in communication to happen.
20% on the development of routines, promoting student success with task completion, organization, meeting the requirements discussing and writing answers in complete sentences citing evidence.
This is the second year I have used this curriculum. This year I used the webisodes as a way to directly structure opportunities to engage in discussions at multiple levels and hold students accountable for their levels of engagement through norms.
Teacher Intro: "Students today's episode is about a character named Milton who is bullied by kids in his school and about a teacher, Senorita Ortega that gives him some advice. Before we start I have a couple questions for you. Think about yourself or someone you know. How were they bullied? Who did they tell about the bullying?
Does bullying take place in the books/novels you have read/are reading? "Turn and compare" ideas with your partners.
Repeat what you hear students say. "I heard a couple groups talk about Rob in The Tiger Rising. He was definitely bullied, as was Sistine."
The 2nd lesson begins just like the first, with the "readers" telling all students to get out their RRN (reading response notebook) and turn to the section on "Take a Stand-Stop Bullying Now".
Reader One uses the microphone and says, "Write the title of the episode, number, and date as a heading." Listen as I read question one."
(At this time I project the list of questions onto the screen. As students turn the question into the answer stem I type what they are saying..)
Reader 1 reads the question.
Reader 2 can either turn the question into an answer stem or call on a student to turn the question into an answer stem.
Students' job at their desks is to quickly begin copying or using their own words to write the answer stem.
Preparing their notebook ahead of time by having the answer stems already numbered and written is important for several reasons.
1. focuses distracted students
2. teaches successful students to help partners
3. Allows mind space to be on the disussion.
4. Builds stamina and understanding of the process of multi-levels of interactions with others
It is very important for all kids to document their thinking while watching the video, so when during the discussion they are listening and not trying to figure out how to write their answer.
The readers continue by reading the next question and suggesting how to use the words in the question to start their answer. Students continue until all questions have been read by the readers and students have prepared their notebook page with their answer stems.
Play the 2nd episode of Milton's Dreams are Dashed.
Afterward, teacher rereads question one and tell students to "turn and compare" answers with their table partner.
Skills to teach and coach: SL 5.1/5.2
* Following agreed upon rules and carrying out assigned roles
*Building on each other's ideas
*Listening and contributing to whole class discussion
* Building on key ideas and summarize information learned in discussion
*Summarize information learned through diverse media
I am as specific as telling them who shares first. At table groups students are either a 1, 2, 3, or 4. 1-2 are partners and 3-4 are partners. Their numbers are on the corner of their desks. So it is easy to check who should be sharing first. Say, " Number 2 and 4 students will you raise your hands. You will share your ideas first. Number 1 and 3 students you will be demonstrating good listening skills by nodding, agreeing, and adding on to what your partner says.
Monitor table groups and coach resistant "turn and comparers" by saying, "Show your partner you are listening to each other, Add on to their ideas. Use the "I agree" signal. Do you have some thing you want to add on to that?"
Then they need to turn their attention to the whole group discussion to listen to what their classmates have to say about the topic.
After a minute or so, I call on a student who either volunteers by raising their hand, or I pick a stick out of the cup labeled with student name, or I ask a student when I was coaching if they would share what their partner said. I am strategic, aware and careful to build equity and equal access to the information, the opportunity, and the expectation that everyone in the classroom has the ability and willingness to share.
I have students say their answer into the microphone. When students are sitting at their desks, and not at the rug it is hard for all students to hear each other because some students talk softly. I rephrase and ask for students to add on and/or to explain their thinking based on evidence or knowledge of social situations.
After partner discussion, whole group discussion, student independently finish their answer stem by completing the sentence including an explanation to the "because" part of the answer.
Continue in this way until all questions are answered. Replay the video as necessary to find details and evidence to support their answers.
Circulate and check students answers to hold them accountable. Especially the students you know struggle with getting work accomplished. Set up a system for students who can not yet write this quickly and can not copy form the screen (another student writes for them?).