Master's Projects (Language and Literacy)
What is the story of this place? Exploring a community through digital storytellingPlace-based curriculum is essential to educating children about their communities, local environment, and landscape. The purpose of this place-based curriculum project was to provide learners experiences with local people, places, and things that reside outside the classroom, while addressing South Dakota history and social studies curriculum standards. This project used the online digital Story Maps platform along with written lesson plans to create a third-grade social studies curriculum that highlighted the local geography, history, and culture of the city of Aberdeen, SD, and surrounding area through a place-based educational lens. The elementary school students (and teachers) will have access to this material through a shared online access website (www.storymaps.arcgis.com). Through this project, I hope to facilitate students’ place attachment to a specific geographic location (Aberdeen) and support them in developing a sense of belonging and community.
Place-based curriculum in the eighth grade English language arts classroomIn this project, I am investigating the role of place-based education (PBE) in the eighth grade English Language Arts (ELA) classroom and creating a place-based curriculum to use in this class. While PBE has many different definitions and connotations, I define it here as a type of education that takes advantage of the local opportunities to learn in a community and place as a basis for an educational experience. PBE engages student learning by making connections to their community through their work, identifying how their classwork is connected to life, and providing students with an authentic audience for their products beyond the school setting. ELA is an overlooked content within PBE because it is often aligned with courses in science, social studies, or outdoors content. In reality, because ELA is a class of skills and knowledge and not content memorization, it meshes perfectly with PBE. Therefore, the focus of this project is an informational writing curriculum based on PBE methodologies embedded in ELA Alaska Standards at the eighth grade level.
Teaching literacy skills with graphic novels to elementary students: curriculum unit for grades 1-6Today, many elementary educators praise teaching graphic novels to all kinds of learners, because they inspire students to build healthy reading habits. Yet, there is a lack of resources for elementary teachers to utilize this genre to teach the literacy skills students need. Those same literacy skills are applied when reading the visual elements of graphic novels. How can elementary teachers use graphic novels in their classroom curriculum to increase student achievement on comprehension skills and strategies? To answer this question I created a multi-grade level curriculum for four to ten students, four days a week, for eight weeks. The graphic novel I used is comprised of seven different graphic stories and authors, and shows different ways graphic novels use layout, visuals, and words. The structure of the curriculum is that each story focuses on one visual element of graphic novels and relates that to a specific literacy comprehension skills and strategy. The resulting curriculum showed the ability for students to significantly increase their motivation and achievement when applying comprehension skills and strategies in a new genre of literature. In conclusion, this paper and curriculum project provides elementary educators with the knowledge and tools needed to implement graphic novels into the classroom curriculum.