Unit Organizer: WWI WWIunitorganizer_revised
This is a unit organizer routine I employed for my first ever unit, which was on World War I. This unit organizer I used mainly for purposes of outlining what content would be covered in the unit, and how the unit would be structured. I did not expand it outward to an extended unit framework because I wanted to save time so I could get into the meat of the unit itself. I used this unit organizer to show students what general themes I would be covering, as well as what questions were tying the unit together.
This particular unit organizer came part way into a lesson that wrapped up the second industrial revolution, and began World War I. I used this unit organizer to set up the unit, and provide students with a general sense of where we were going. I’m not sure how many of them felt this was a useful exercise, but I think it has some potential as a way of conveying broader objectives. After using this unit organizer, I then transitioned into using the a frame routine on the causes of the war. In a certain sense, this unit organizer set up that frame by providing a bigger context in which to understand the frame itself.
WWI Causes Frame: WWIframe
This is a frame routine I used to begin my first lesson on World War I. I thought this was a good and helpful way of breaking down the MAIN [Militarism, Alliances, Imperialism, Nationalism] causes of World War I. I’m not entirely sure where I got the idea – it’s probably been done before – but I thought this was a workable means of elaborating on this particular mnemonic acronym. I think the frame is useful for this particular topic because understanding why World War I started requires teachers and students to conduct a certain amount of synthesis; you have to do a bit of processing and analyzing to get some sense of how these four causes align with each other to help bring about World War I. This frame by no means communicates the whole story – other instructional methods can help with discussion of the importance of the assassination of the Archduke – but it does break down in more concrete terms some of these broad thematic concepts.
I used this frame in a couple of different ways. The first couple of times I tried it, I used it as a note-taking device to facilitate direct instruction. This more or less worked, but I don’t think it facilitated a meaningful level of student engagement. The second day I gave this lesson, I used this more as a group work activity. I told students where they could find the relevant information on each cause in their textbook, and had them work in groups to fill out the sheets. Each group was assigned only one cause. The groups reported back at the end so that everyone could get the right information.
Treaty of Versailles Frame: VersaillesFrame
This is the second frame I employed in the World War I unit. Like the World War I causes frame, I think this frame routine helps students think about course concepts that have multiple causes behind them, or to think about issues that have multiple variables or moving parts. This particular frame I used to teach the key points of the Versailles Treaty, with a focus on national self-determination, the League of Nations, the German war guilt clause, and the military restrictions on Germany. The Versailles Treaty is an important event in world history, and it’s important for several different reasons. The frame routine is a useful way of breaking it down because it can isolate certain key points that are all relevant to a particular key issue or event.
For this frame routine, I emphasized group work more strongly than I did for the World War I causes frame. I used the same technique in all of my classes that I did in only two of them the first time I used this device. I divided students into four groups, and assigned each group one of the columns from the frame. Each group was responsible for filling out their section, and they all reported back at the end. We went over each section as a class together to make sure everyone was up to speed on all points of the frame, but I think using the frame in this particular way allows teachers to exploit the benefits of these kinds of graphic organizers without having too much teacher direction.
Totalitarianism Concept Mastery: totalitarianismCM
This is a concept mastery routine on totalitarianism that I used as a part of a mini-unit on the interwar years. This was my first and to date only use of the concept mastery routine. I think this routine serves some of the same purposes as the frame routine, but is particularly helpful for comparisons within the same concept or theme. In this case, I chose to use it to illustrate the core commonalities among the ruling regimes of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, and Stalinist Russia. The concept mastery routine’s emphasis on determining which characteristics certain examples do and do not have in common make it an interesting tool for developing concept comprehension.
Unfortunately, I did not get to use this concept mastery routine as a group exercise the way I had intended. I had originally wanted students to be able to work on this in groups, but this exercise presents a classic case of my not having a good estimation of how much time it will take me to run certain activities in the classroom. This concept mastery was originally intended to round out a lesson on the Great Depression and the rise of totalitarianism, but that lesson went further overtime than I had anticipated. I ended up having to collapse the latter part of the interwar mini-unit into the World War II unit, and employed this as a note-taking device for direct instruction. This concept mastery was not as effective as it could or should have been, but I think at some level it did still serve its fundamental purpose of illustrating commonalities within concepts.
WW2 Unit Organizer: WWIIunitorganizer
This is the unit organizer I employed at the start of the World War II unit. I think deploying the unit organizer at this point in the course was a good idea because World War II was the first major unit they were going to be taught since World War I – the Russian Revolution and the Interwar years were both mini-units – so I think this unit organizer helped get things back on track and give students a better sense of where they were within the course. Again, this unit organizer is a bit rudimentary, as it lacks an expanded organizer, but it did what I needed it to do. I provided a general framework by which to understand where the unit was going.
Like the previous unit organizer, this routine came more towards the middle of a lesson. In this case, it followed up a closure activity on the interwar period, so this unit organizer helped convey a broad understanding of how things were going to change after the interwar years. Although I always use some questioning techniques with these routines, this was still fundamentally a teacher-drive exercise. I followed this routine up with an event sequencing activity. Like some of these routines, that activity helped provide larger context. Unit organizers, like frames and concept masteries, can be used in conjunction with other instructional strategies that can convey wider contexts, and I think this is an example of how that can work in practice.
US Entry into WW2 Frame: US ww2 frame
This frame routine I used near the beginning of a lesson on the Asia-Pacific theater of World War II. Like the previous two frame routines, I think this one is effective for its purpose because it can break down in more digestible forms the multiple causes underlying critical historical events. This one was a little bit different because temporal sequence was more important to this frame that to the other two. It was designed more to convey multiple causes in the context of a chronology rather than to break down a more complex course concept or term.
This frame also got used as a direct instructional tool for note-taking purposes. I used this as a second activity during a lesson that I began with the attack on Pearl Harbor. The frame was supposed to expand outward from that one event and place it in the context of broader political developments in the Pacific during the interwar years. I used a Venn diagram activity comparing and contrasting Pearl Harbor with 9/11 as a hook, and then transitioned to this activity to provide a better sense of how and why Pearl Harbor happened based on other things that were going on in Asia at the time. I think my use of frame routines will improve over time as I get more practice employing instructional strategies other than direct instruction.
Holocaust Frame: holocaust frame
This frame routine was one of my last exercises, and was part of a half-lesson on the Holocaust. In terms of its structure and function, it has a little bit in common with the other three above, as it provides both a sense of chronology and a sense of thematic continuity. The “Causes” column conveys a broad sense of what key themes are important to understanding, while the “Events” and “Consequences” columns both provide a chronology to help students understand what led up to the Holocaust, and what its long-term ramifications were. I think this frame’s main utility is that it helps students think about a particular topic both in terms of key events as well as broader themes.
Partially because of time constraints, and also in part because these kids have already learned quite a lot about the Holocaust from middle school, I used this as a direct instruction tool. It was the final main activity in a half-lesson on the Holocaust. I preceded it with a map activity showing the decline in the Jewish population in Europe, and an activity designed to illustrate how widespread anti-Semitism was throughout the world before the Holocaust. This frame was put together largely to provide students with a broader framework by which to understand how the key elements of the Holocaust fit together in a historical sense.