Apply a curriculum approach in the form of a Centers approach for a differentiation lesson. *  Identify the topic or subject. *  Identify grade level of the students. *  Identify learning...

Apply a curriculum approach in the form of a Centers approach for a differentiation lesson.

*  Identify the topic or subject.

*  Identify grade level of the students.

*  Identify learning goal.

*  Identify what you know about your students' learning style and why this curriculum approach will be best for your students.

*  Identify why you choose this particular curriculum approach for this lesson.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the notion of centers would work very well for a unit on the 1920s in United States History.  During any unit of historical study, centers work very well because they allow the student to interact with different aspects of the time period in order to gain a wider and more enriching experience as to what life was like back then.  The centers approach helps to generate greater insight into a historical topic because each center can represent a particular branch of the time period.  This approach works for 8th grade students and the learning goal is to develop a critical thinking perspective and effectively communicate about different aspects of life in the 1920s.

I would create ten stations, using the classroom, and if possible, the hallway and area outside of the classroom.  Each station would represent a different aspect of life in the 1920s.  After visiting all ten stations, students would be able to possess a more broad understanding of what it was like to live in the Jazz Age. Any teacher can decide what should be present in the stations.  Yet, for my tastes, and what I want out of my students, I would feature the following ten stations:

Station One:  Excerpts from the biography of Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.  (Copies of biographies will be present for students.)

Station Two:  Music of the 1920s.    (An iPod will be set up with headphones and a 1920s playlist to which students can listen.)

Station Three: The rise of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s.  (Handout detailing the rise of the group during the time.)

Station Four:  Fashion of the 1920s. (Pictures of the clothing that men and women wore in the 1920s.)

Station Five:  Gangsterism in the 1920s.  (Excerpt about Al Capone as well as one about the Valentine's Day Massacre.)

Station Six:  The Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s.  (Samples of works by Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and James Wheldon Johnson.)

Station Seven: Textbook questions about the 1920s.  (Identification of specific questions from a standard history textbook that need to be answered.)

Station Eight: Dances of the 1920s.  (Handout and dance instructions for different dances such as the Charleston, the Balboa, and the College Shag.)

Station Nine:  Catch up station.  Any station that has not been completed thus far can be completed here.

Station Ten:  Marx Brothers Film Clip (Laptop with Marx Brothers film clip being played on loop.)

These ten stations will need to have different items present and for each station there has to be some exit type of assessment.  Some of this can be based on exit slips, personal reflection, or pointed questions that lie in wait at each station.  

Students can form groups of three and can move as a group.  Each station should take about eight minutes and there should be a two minute transition time. The teacher is facilitator and timekeeper, reminding students often of how much time they have and where they rotate to next. This will make the task last about three or four days.  However, the time gained in students being self- directed and engaging with the content on their terms and in their own understanding makes it much better than direct lecturing or instruction that might alienate the students.

The centers approach for the 1920s works well with varied learning styles and approaches to content acquisition.  For example, there are centers that encourage critical thinking and reflective analysis, as seen in the Harlem Renaissance and Rise of the Klan stations.  There are stations that are expressive and energetic, as seen in the Dance and Marx Brothers station. There are stations based on music, and there are stations that are much more traditional in focus, such as the textbook station.  We can also see this in the presence of intelligences, such as kinesthetic, musical, intrapersonal, interpersonal and existential.  In designing stations that appeal to a broad base of learning styles and intelligences, this curriculum approach will reach more students.  It enables them to play an active role in their learning and pulls their voice into the content.  For example, when the teacher is able to observe students learning with one another how to dance the Charleston or reading aloud the poetry of Langston Hughes, asking critical questions about it, or sharing the Marx Brothers unique brand of humor, it becomes clear that students learning with one another can be the best type of content retention. This activity illuminates the vitality and vibrant nature of the time period because it necessitates the voice of the student as integral to it.

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