Curriculum Making 101 (Part 3 of 3)

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NOTE: This is Part Three in a series of posts coming out of a curriculum boot camp held at Youth Radio this fall to introduce a small group of young people to the process of creating learning experiences for peers. It’s part of our larger effort within Youth Radio’s new Innovation Lab for young people, working in partnership with veteran educators, to develop materials that will enable teachers and learners everywhere to adapt our approach to youth media and tech creation. For more in this series, search “Innovation Lab Curriculum.”

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Now that our team had experimented with piecing together a curriculum in a logical order, our next job was to dive into what a single lesson looks like, and then decide which lessons we wanted to create for our first year of the Innovation Lab’s storytelling curriculum project.

Lesson Planning 101

We started out by analyzing a lesson plan template. About half of the young people on our team had experience drafting lesson plans already because they were peer teachers in our Core training program. They shared why teachers would create an assessment for a lesson right after writing the objective, and what it means to check for understanding throughout a lesson. We looked at an example that attempted to teach Point-of-View through aerial photography.

Next, our challenge was to mine the expertise of our team in order to generate ideas for our own original curriculum. And we had a lot of expertise to work with: two young app developers, two young journalists and two young media educators.

TIP #1: Consider a multidisciplinary team as you plan your lessons

We brainstormed two posters worth of journalism lessons and app development lessons that we thought would be valuable for students with no experience in either subject. Then we ordered them from the most beginner lesson to the most advanced. One interesting result was which lesson appeared at the top of both lists: Thinking of a Story Idea or Concept. It made sense to our group that whether you’re reporting a story or developing a piece of technology, a solid concept or idea was the first step.

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Tip #2: Think before you act. Take the time to develop your concept!

This last part of our activity had a twist: we had the young people with very little journalism experience order the journalism lessons, and the young people with no app experience order the app lessons. As beginners, they had to decide which lessons they would want to learn first.

This pushed all of us to think about why we teach things in the order that we do. For example, the journalism students thought computer programming would be one of the first things you would need to know in order to create an app. But the app developers said no — you need to have your idea and complete your market research before you can decide which programming platform you’ll want to use.

For the Youth Radio supervisors, these three days were a great experiment — not to mention a lot of fun! Our next step is to find out what the students thought about the experience, and we plan to do this soon through a quick survey.

Till next time!


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