It’s a snow day today, so this will be a quick post before I get back to playing Feed the Woozle with my toddler.

We just headed back to school from winter break, and I am so excited to jump in with my AP kids. For one of my grad school classes last semester, I developed a highly differentiated unit geared toward gifted and talented students. With some (many) modifications, I’m taking it on a trial run this quarter in my own classroom. It’s all about the relationship between order and chaos, with a focus on argumentation skills. We jumped in this week with the first lesson. Check it out:

  1. When students came in the room on the first day, I handed out blank pieces of printer paper, told them to take out a writing/drawing utensil, and gave the intentionally vague instruction to “visually represent what you hear.” I then played the first eight minutes of “Bitches Brew” by Miles Davis. 
  2. After the drawing time, I stopped the music and told students they needed to get up and move around the room to make a connection between their artwork and a partner’s. We then brainstormed adjectives to describe the music and their artwork.
  3. Inevitably, students used the word chaotic–ding, ding, ding! This led us into a discussion of the thematic topic for this quarter: order and chaos. We employed some technical music terms to discuss whether the music represented order or chaos, which led into another collaborative brainstorm of the characteristics of each.
  4. I challenged my students to take the characteristics lists of order and chaos and turn them into a single-sentence definition of each. We shared out and created class definitions of each term that will function as our working definitions for the quarter. (We’ll return to them periodically to adjust the wording as needed.)
  5. On day two, the differentiation strategies kicked in. I tried out the multiple entry points strategy for the first time. Students had a choice of activities (complete with an assignment sheet/grading criteria for each) in which they could explore the concepts of chaos and order. Their options:
Entry Point Task
Narrational Use stories provided by the teacher or find others in which the conflict between order and chaos is a key concept. Create a visual (drawing, poster, comic, etc.) how order and chaos are contrasted. Write or orally tell a tale or adventure of your own in which order and chaos create conflict.
Logical-quantitative Using resources provided by the teacher and other materials you may find, develop a model of chaos and a model of order. Provide a written or oral explanation of the key features you included in your model and why.
Foundational Think about the following 2 questions:

•Are people destined for a fate, or are our lives collections of random experiences?

•How are individuals and societies connected?

Choose 1 of the options below to answer these questions. Be sure you explain your thoughts and reasoning, and describe how these questions are important in your own life.

•Design a 3 minute public service announcement that addresses these questions and conveys your point of view.

•Write an editorial for the local newspaper that addresses these questions and conveys your point of view.

Aesthetic Consider the following questions:

What are the aesthetic advantages and disadvantages of chaos?

What are the aesthetic advantages and disadvantages of order?

Find 3 contrasting examples from art, media, cinema, etc that supports your answers to these questions. Create an original piece of artwork or music that addressed the aesthetic aspects of chaos and order. Display this product for the class along with an exhibit card that includes a description of the message that your art/music conveys and why that message is important in your life.

Experiential Spend some time playing with moon sand. Consider how it might represent chaos and/or order. How does moon sand reveal the paradox of chaos and order? Reflect in writing or orally on your experience observing the moon sand and how it connects to chaos and order.

My favorite moment occurred when one of my GT kids went from looking positively giddy at the options I had presented to looking crestfallen. When I asked her what was wrong, she replied, “I don’t know how I could possibly choose just one!” Talk about engagement!

I’ll be pulling the quarter’s materials together as a unit for my TPT store, but in the meantime, I’ll keep you posted about some of the cool things we’re trying along the way.

If you’re interested in more information about the multiple entry points strategy, you might check out this book (it was my textbook for one of my classes): 

I’m excited to share this new unit with you! Keep checking back for more!

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