Big Era 4: Expanding Networks of Exchange and Encounter


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Self Reflection When I first designed this unit I wasn t even sure where to start I knew that I needed to create a week s worth of lessons for some civilization in Big Era 4 Expanding Networks of Exchange and Encounter but the options seemed endless Though I eventually settled on the Mediterranean due to the importance of its influence within the modern world my original unit was not just about Ancient Greece but Greco Roman history as a whole This ambitious approach however was short lived as I quickly realized that the combination of the two ancient empires was going to be too much information in too little time for my students As a result I finally settled on Ancient Greece and thus designed this unit In the early stages of designing the unit I settled on structuring my lesson plans in a way that was fairly similar to how my supervising teacher does Mr Sirois goal each day is to have students actively engaged for at least half of the class period or more He and I both agree that students retain much more information from class activities rather than hour long lectures Therefore though I do have some lecturing included in my lesson plans with brief power points each day ends with an activity a group presentation project or assignment for students to complete in class These activities all act as a form of assessment they allow me as a teacher to assess how much the students truly learned during the class period which then allows me to fill in any necessary gaps the following day However most of these activities are graded based off of participation since they many of them require group work As for content it seemed fairly natural for me to break the unit up into five days The study of most ancient empires Greece included can be broken up in a similar way spending a day discussing its major eras a day about its rise and fall and then three days exploring trade religion and culture By studying these five topics within the unit students are able to gain an understanding of the important aspects of Ancient Greece its history and its culture as well as the way in which Ancient Greek culture can be seen in the modern world This last part is perhaps the most critical concept of the unit Not only is it the main idea behind the final essay but this same idea will help students understand why it is important to study ancient history giving them an opportunity to uncover an aspect of Ancient Greek culture that is a part of their own life Though I did not actually teach these lessons during my time at East Grand Rapids High School I was able to use resources from Mr Sirois class in creating it some of which we even used as we taught the lessons within his own curriculum Not only that but Mr Sirois own teaching tips were extremely helpful as I determined how to structure the classroom for my lessons I ve been very impressed with how he has almost eliminated lecturing from his classroom and I tried to do the same by including a variety of activities each day in class In selecting the activities themselves I tried to choose five different projects and activities that would appeal to different learners each day My goal was to have students feel comfortable during some and push them outside of their comfort zone in others In the same way the selected activities allow students that like working in pairs and groups ample opportunities to do so while the Google forms worksheet on Alexander the Great and the final essay allow students who loath group feel at ease and in total control of their grade I also wanted to make resources for the activities available both online and in print though websites are great for student organization sometimes students like myself prefer paper copies of worksheets or articles so that they can highlight them and take notes in the margins Finally I wanted to begin each class with a bell ringer question like Mr Sirois does to help students settle down get focused and prepare for the day s lesson Though the process of creating the unit as a whole was enjoyable perhaps the one thing that I struggled with the most was the integration of faith within the unit Since I have attended a private Christian school since kindergarten being in a public school was completely foreign to me As a result I didn t know where if at all to include Christian ideas or themes and something as simple as beginning class with prayer is such a familiar thing for me that my inability to do even that was very difficult to adjust to However as my integration of faith and learning statement suggests I soon recognized other ways to live out my faith within the classroom All that being said I grew tremendously as a student and as a future educator from creating and designing this unit It gave me a profound appreciation for teachers and the amount of work and preparation that goes into each day of teaching and it helped prepare me for my future occupation As a result throughout all the seemingly endless hours of work it solidified the most important thing in my mind I finally have seen what it is like to be a teacher first hand and I m happy to say that despite all of the stress and preparation and testing of my patience its all worth it

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