Flipping through a Learnist board recently, I came across the statement, “Kill the unit.” This comes from an article by Terry Heick titled How To YouTube Your Classroom which was written back in 2012 for TeachThought. Terry speaks to the brevity of content that YouTube offers. We look at today’s consumption of media as an indication of decreased attention span. While that may be another topic for another post, Terry points out that the duration of a unit does not increase learning; instead, it promotes themed learning that is put together in a better context and brings meaning to the learner’s paradigm. Terry tells us to “Use project and mini-projects.” Okay.
It seems the days of building elaborate units that last 6 weeks are on their way out, if not already gone. What’s wrong with the theme of a unit? Or the planning that goes into it? Don’t we want our teachers to plan well and strategically prepare? All that is good. What may be missing in that scenario is student choice. With the teacher dictating the plot, how are the students going to develop? Smaller projects that tie into one another to create context and add value to the learning can be more effective. Above all, the time spent together learning is about the students making choices, learning from the consequences of those choices, and applying knowledge and experience to make better choices as they create and innovate moving forward.