The classroom in Public School 45, located in the West Brighton area of Staten Island has a wide ethnic diversity throughout the nearby community. The students at P.S. 45 are ethnically diverse, statistics show there are: 5% Asian, 17% Black, 27% White, and 46% Hispanic students throughout the school. Although there’s a high diversity of students here, there’s only 7% who are English Language Learners. There are 22% of students who require special needs educational instruction. Student attendance can be improved however it is not far from average in NYC.
The statistics show a 93% attendance rate (City: 94%) along with 21% of students who are chronically absent (City: 21%). The specific classroom I am working with consists of 29 diverse students, half the class is struggling and the other half are advanced learners.
In the 6th grade, the students should be between the ages of 11 to 12. Children at the ages of 11 and 12 years old are in the cognitive stage of Formal Operational Period as Developmental Theorist and Psychologist, Jean Piaget stated in his work.
In this stage, students’ thinking as well as, their cognitive development, become much more advanced and sophisticated. Since our students will be at their beginner years in this cognitive stage, we’ve decided to teach them how to utilize technology in order to research information, and, create presentation slideshows to learn how to present information to a group of people. Teaching students how to research and utilize the internet will enhance their technology skills for future purposes. Since this stage is the last stage mentioned in Piaget’s theory, students should prepare to start taking their knowledge and applying it throughout their lives.
Thus, allowing them to start using strategic planning, abstract thinking, and make viable connections in our unit plan.
One of the early founders of Constructivism theory is theorist John Dewey. This theory is one of the most effective theories that help students construct their own knowledge. On Monday, we will introduce our unit topic. Here, we will ask students what they believe a hero is and choose a personal hero in their lives (for e.g., their parents, grandparents, guardians, favorite celebrity etc.). Students will write a personal narrative about their personal hero. According to the ELA Standards, students should be able to ‘write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using an effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences’ (ELA NYS K-8 Standards). This is how this lesson will connect to our first lesson in our unit, which starts the following day on Tuesday. On the first day of our lesson, students will take their personal narratives and compose a PowerPoint presentation Theorist Piaget has also mentioned that children can interpret new events within the context of their existing knowledge through assimilation, yet, they can also modify their existing knowledge as a result of a brand new event through accommodation (McDevitt, 2015). Having students assimilate their prior knowledge of heroes in their everyday lives will enhance them to accommodate new information in our lessons to come.
For our first lesson, we will be showing our students how to utilize the Microsoft PowerPoint application. This application enables students to present information in a more visual and hands-on approach. They will start learning how to use Powerpoint to transfer their create their own slideshow. This is where our students will assimilate their prior knowledge and accommodate new information, using Piaget’s theory. For lesson two, our students will be collaborating into groups to build their own knowledge through research. This shows how the Constructivism theory will be put into play in our lesson. Our students will be building knowledge based solely on conducting their own research as well as, assimilating their prior knowledge of the software and their knowledge of everyday heroes. Our students have already learned how to use the internet for research purposes so, this is something they’ll also be assimilating into their new assignment. This is another thing Theorist Dewey boasts upon; students won’t always be able to acquire new information without having some background knowledge on it. So, it’s the teacher’s duty to influence that background knowledge through many different forms of instruction. This is exactly why we’ll be teaching many different approaches; allowing us to incorporate various forms of differentiation to align with our students learning needs and interests. We will also be providing the students with boxing gloves that were signed by Muhammad Ali himself. The use of boxing gloves will definitely engage the students further in our lesson and persuade them to look for artifacts and other forms of artwork made by or signed by their historical hero. Since we have many struggling students, using as many visuals and hands-on approaches as possible will help them prosper in this unit. As well as, utilizing the scaffold method to demonstrate beforehand exactly what they will be doing on their own or with their groups.
To aid our students at the beginning of our unit, they will be provided with a checklist on how to utilize Microsoft PowerPoint. This will allow them to reference back to see how to include images, make a new slide, delete a slide, change the font, add colorful word art, etc. Our students will also be advised to keep these checklists for whenever we work on Microsoft PowerPoint. Therefore, they will also be using it as a huge guide for their real PowerPoint project on Day two.
On day two, students will review what qualities make up a hero then, they will research their historical hero, and make a PowerPoint slideshow presentation along with a concrete poem about their hero. According to the NYS ELA Standards for grade 6, students should be able to “gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources; assess the credibility of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and providing basic bibliographic information for sources” (ELA NYS K-8 Standards). This is why our students will be advised to find more than one source so, they can find videos on their heroes as well as, written articles or books. There will be a biography section in our classroom library that consists of many books on most of the heroes provided. All of our students will be provided with post-its to collect their facts as they conduct their research. They will then be able to transfer their information from their post-its to either their graphic organizer or PowerPoint directly. Some students learn better when using print sources as they can use more than one sensory skill, as they’re able to touch and see what they’re trying to comprehend. Some students enjoy using more senses through hearing, touching, and seeing; this is where the laptops and utilizing the internet comes into play. If we had a student with ADHD, using headphones to help them concentrate on the laptops could also be a great tool to develop better comprehension skills. “One size doesn’t fit all”, when it comes to students’ cognitive comprehension, according to Tompkins (Tompkins, 2014). Students are visual, kinesthetic, and/or auditory learners so, a video could definitely enhance their comprehension of the content for all three. Incorporating technology helps justify the comprehension skills of all the many diverse learners we have in our classroom.
Our students will be advised to conduct research from a primary source (for e.g., print books, articles, websites, etc.), as well as a secondary source (e.g., pictures, videos, artifacts, etc.).We’ll also be incorporating some digital art tools into our lessons. We’ve utilized QR code generators already, as our students just finished a unit project where they had to find QR codes all around their homes and neighborhoods (stores, buildings, food containers, etc.). Now, they’ll be able to utilize it for our Wall of Heroes summative assessment! Since we want to keep their heroes identity a secret until we present them all, they’ll be utilizing a QR code to be displayed next to their hero representations photos. This creates utter suspense and eagerness for the class when it’s share session! Our students will also be composing a short concrete poem to include in their PowerPoint presentations. According to the Visual Arts K-8 Standards, students should be able to “combine concepts collaboratively to generate innovative ideas for creating art”. We will be meeting the needs of this standard by advising the students to absorb as much information on their hero and combine it into an artistic concrete poem. When they’re finished creating their poems, the teacher will go around to take pictures of them and upload them to the class website. This is where the students can save their poems and add it to their slides. Using these tools along with the internet will get our students intrinsically engaged and motivated. This will enhance them to be more eager and responsible for their own work since they will be building their own knowledge in this unit.
“Constructivism theory impacts the teachers as well from change their way on teaching style from transmitters of knowledge to guiders in the learning process” (Aldoobie, 2015).
This statement emphasizes how we’ll be transitioning from a more teacher-based approach to a student-centered approach. Since our students will be researching themselves, we’ll be acting more as a facilitator and guide. Theorist Dewey has also mentioned that students work and absorb knowledge best through a hands-on approach which takes on a more progressive educational aspect to learning:
A child-centered approach to education places the emphasis of learning on the needs and interests of the child. Dewey believed in an interdisciplinary curriculum or a curriculum that focuses on connecting multiple subjects, where students are allowed to freely move in and out of classrooms as they pursue their interests and construct their own paths for acquiring and applying knowledge. (McDevitt, 2015)
Our students can feel free to move anywhere around our classroom or hallway as long as they’re working collaboratively together (and of course supervised). Sometimes working in a different area of the room or even in the hallway can help our students think clearer and deeper; flexible seating is definitely an advantage to student learning. It allows them to feel free along with feeling extremely comfortable. For our last lesson, our students will be where they utilize all their research to compose their very own artistic representation of their chosen hero. We will have a bulletin board set up in the hallway labeled ‘Heroes Wall of Fame’. This is where the students will print out their drawings, color them, add specific details, and paste their drawings onto cardboard. They’ll be creating their artistic representations using the Comic Life drawing app on their classroom iPads tablets. They’ll already be familiar with this tool so, incorporating this into our unit will be a smooth transition and extremely fun for them. They will also create a QR code and print that out as well. This QR code will consist of their PowerPoint presentation; they’ll be displaying it right next to their heroes on our wall of fame. This will enable anyone who wants to know more about that specific hero to view that students research. The students’ concrete poems will also be displayed next to their heroes. This will increase the curiosity in those who are viewing the bulletin board. They’ll get the students presentation instantly just by using a smartphone or tablet and scanning the QR code! To finish our lesson on Thursday, we will reconvene so the students can share their experiences with Microsoft PowerPoint and researching all on their own. For the last day of the week which is Friday, we will start to present our projects to the whole class and if we can, invite other classes and faculty to come and see our exhibit as well!
A hero can be defined as someone who is admired for courage, outstanding achievements or noble qualities (Dictionary.com). Muhammad Ali is one of those legends that is most reputable for his courage. During the Civil Rights era, Muhammad Ali, an African-American athlete, took a great risk in speaking out about those oppressed and the injustice in humanity. It took pure bravery to express his beliefs, especially when he was imprisoned for them and stripped of his titles. Muhammad Ali was one of the greatest and most iconic boxers of all time, but he was so much more than just a boxer. His life meant more to him than just boxing, “The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life” was a famed quote of his, focusing on his growth throughout life (Carylsue, 2016). Ali was a prominent philanthropist and was outspoken about his anti-war stance.
Muhammad Ali was born with the name, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., in January of 1942. He was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, in a time when the south was segregated, and he personally experiences discrimination in his early life. Ali was raised a Baptist, who later converted to Islam in 1964, joining the Nation of Islam, which was a black Muslim group established in the 1930s founded on the basis of peace. The Nation of Islam advocates self-reliance and empowerment of the African American community. Along with that, it shares important principles with the Islamic religion, including the Five Pillars of Islam (Mintz, 2015). It is an independent religion with its own political objectives, theology, and understanding of history, therefore at first people were against it because of its controversy to our norms of that time. For a while, he went by the name Cassius X and then changed his name to Muhammad Ali. Malcolm X was a close mentor of his. Ali, Malcolm X, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were all closely related and acquainted during this Civil Rights era as Civil Rights activists, as they all fought for their similar beliefs in various ways.
Muhammad Ali is widely-known for his anti-war beliefs. Most specifically for his opposition to the Vietnam War in the 1960s. Ali was drafted but refused to serve because it went against his true beliefs and religion. Ali was not approving of the vision of war, killing innocent people, although it is quite ironic because his career is surrounded in forms of violence. Ali states, ‘My intention is to box, to win a clean fight. But in war, the intention is to kill, kill, kill, kill and continue killing innocent people,’ whereas Ali’s personal and religious beliefs contrasted with the scheme of war (Goldman, 2016). Ali was found guilty of draft evasion and was arrested, imprisoned for several years and additionally, was stripped of his boxing titles. Although his conviction was later overturned, Ali lost the prime of his career. However, still to this day, Muhammad Ali is known as the ‘Greatest,’ but the ‘Greatest’ what? Could he just be the greatest boxer, or was there more to him?
Muhammad Ali was a well-known philanthropist and founded his own organization for Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative neurological condition. Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1984, which was most likely linked to the trauma his body faced during his boxing career. He also supported the Make-a-Wish Foundation and the Special Olympics. In 1990 he helped negotiate the release of 15 American hostages in Iraq. He continued to unite mankind as he became a United Nations Messenger of Peace for his work overseas, and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 (PBS).
Muhammed Ali was more than just the greatest athlete of the 20th century; He was a historical hero, as he cared for the oppressed and was brave when standing up for himself and when expressing his beliefs. He spoke out against segregation and began the anti-war movement at a time where wars were high in this country, following WWII, the Korean War and in the mix of the Vietnam war. It is truly impressive of one to have accomplished all of this while proceeding peacefully. Muhammad Ali’s most famous quote, ‘Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee,’ relates to his compassion and words. He was similar to the graceful butterfly as he tried to spread peace and help those who were treated unjustly, and he stung like a bee as he used his platform to speak out against discrimination and the cruel world. In Muhammad Ali’s autobiography (2013) he explains that he does not aspire to be remembered as just the greatest boxer of all time, but he wishes that we remember him as someone who treated everyone with compassion and stood up for his beliefs no matter of the risk he took.
“I would like to be remembered as a man who won the heavyweight title three times, who was humorous, and who treated everyone right. As a man who never looked down on those who looked up to him, and who helped as many people as he could. As a man who stood up for his beliefs no matter what. As a man who tried to unite all humankind through faith and love. And if all that’s too much, then I guess I’d settle for being remembered only as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people. And I wouldn’t even mind if folks forgot how pretty I was” (Fratti, 2018).
Muhammad Ali wanted us to continue with his fight to unite all of humankind through “faith and love” (Ali, 2013). Ali said he will settle with just being remembered as a great boxer who became a leader and a champion of his people, which is what makes him a true hero, as he sought to help others. His boxing statistics and achievements don’t weigh nearly as much as his quest to bring peace and unity to humanity. Those learning about Muhammad Ali will remember him as an activist of the Civil Rights era. Ali’s bravery, courage, and compassion will forever live through his legacy. He tried to make a better place for his brothers and sisters, as he continued until his death to promote the welfare of others.
Students hearing of “Muhammad Ali” will simply recognize that he was a boxer before their time. Teaching students that Muhammad Ali was much more than a boxer, and was a hero will really put a spin on their learning. Our demonstration through the informative kid-friendly BrainPop video and PowerPoint slideshow of Muhammad Ali will aid students to comprehend how he was a hero. Then students will work on their own historical hero and develop and strengthen their comprehension skills as they search through the internet for research on their hero. Students will use the information gathered to the hero to them summarize the actions of their hero and present it to their classmates. As students are viewing all of the aspects of their fellow classmates’ presentations they will be able to learn about various heroes similar to theirs and so on. Students will apply what they learned as they take notes of the hero and what that hero did. Writing it down will allow students to connect the main idea of the presentations. Such as, students will understand that Muhammad Ali was known as the greatest athlete of the 20th century, and that is just a supporting detail to the main idea which is why he is a hero. Students will connect the main idea that he is a hero because he fought for justice. Being a hero takes bravery, courage, and love, therefore the students will already know what aspects they are looking for when they are researching why their hero is, in fact, a hero. They will be able to research what that person did to help another person. This is a better way for students to learn about multiple historical figures who made an impact in our world because the activity is interactive and they are learning by themselves and their peers. This unit plan really puts a spin on the students learning for a more meaningful form of content planned with multiple forms of activities utilizing technology. Students in the 6th grade are advancing as young adults, therefore technology should be something they are comfortable with using as a classroom tool.
The Social Studies Framework for the 6th grade consists of a unit on ‘Civic Participation,’ where students are to study at first the rights of others and demonstrate respect for those rights. Most of the heroes are those who fought for someone’s rights, whereas there was a lack of respect for those rights by a group of people. Studying Muhammad Ali in the 6th grade connects to Unit 5: The Mediterranean World and Interactions Across the Eastern Hemisphere. In this unit, they discuss the Islamic World (6.6c). Students will be able to connect Muhammad Ali’s conversion to Islam in their English Language Arts class to what they are learning in their Social Studies class, as they are studying the Islamic World. Although some of the heroes will not directly connect with the current topic of Social Studies for 6th graders, they will be able to connect their prior knowledge as they learned about the hero or the work of their hero before.