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Students Unpack a Learning Target and Discuss Academic Vocabulary

Sixth-grade students in Jon Exall's class at the Odyssey School in Denver, CO, actively engage in “unpacking” learning targets—including embedded academic vocabulary—in preparation for developing research question for an immigration case study. Learning targets articulate a clear vision of the intended learning as a first step toward achieving success.

This video accompanies the book Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools through Student-Engaged Assessment.


- We’re really just at the tip if this iceberg for this expedition. We really just have a little bit of knowledge based on our own family’s immigration stories. And as we get into our expedition, We’ll get into two really chunky, long-term case studies. Please take a look at today’s workshop target. Give me a thumb if you have a specific notice or a wonder based on just today’s workshop target. Let’s make sure we understand what this is all about. See a lot of thumbs, a lot of things people are noticing a lot things people are wondering. Maddy, start us off, what do you see here?

- We’re gonna use some documents and like texts to notice some notices and wonders about case studies.

- Yeah, we’ll look at some different texts to create some notices and wonders. What else are you thinking about, Ben, what do you think we’re going after here, what questions do you have about today’s target?

- My question is what’s a immigration case study?

- Add that right here. Awesome, great question, Ben. We’ll come back to that in just a bit. Thanks. Andrew, something you were noticing or wondering?

- [Andrew] If you were gonna, adding on to Maddy’s, starts talking, she was trying to find understanding and research.

- Good, so specifically we’re trying to develop a bit of understanding today. It’s just an introductory understanding. But probably what’s even more important is our developing some research questions. Questions that will help shape the rest of our investigation, the rest of this expedition, in a way. Chase, what else are you seeing or wondering?

- We’re gonna use primary sources to figure this stuff.

- Give me a pinky, hold that pinky way down low if you’re like I have no idea about primary research documents. Maybe up here if you’re like hmm I have some sense of what those may be. Then hold that pinky up high if you’re like, primary resource documents, man, it’s like I’ve been working with them since I was born. You know many things about what those are.

- [Student] Not many, but.

- So I see a real mix within the crew. I’m gonna ask you to take about 10 seconds then as a table group, now, share your understanding. What do we mean by primary resource documents?

- Secondary resource would be like someone wrote something,

- Real thing, it’s not like--

- Recognize the instruction, love it. Where are we right now with understanding of primary resource documents? You might even discuss it, how it’s different from secondary, if you’re able to speak to that. Kilauea, start us off. We thought that like the primary document stuff was like the real stuff, I guess? Like real information, sorta like--

- Can you say a little bit more about what you mean by real?

- Like, things that can be found in copies and stuff.

- So, we can sort of say primary are real. Great, Sienna, something else to add?

- OK so primary came from that specific person and like secondary came from somebody else that was actually there to experience it or something. Just like they know about it. So that’s what usually secondary means.

- If I went for a run this morning, and I’m jogging and I’m jogging, and I see--

- [Student] A snake!

- I see someone on my run and they’re just singing these beautiful songs. Right? And I write a newspaper article about it. Would you call that a primary or secondary? Show me fingers. Primary or a secondary. I was right there, I saw it, I wrote a newspaper article about it. I see some mixed emotions. OK, great. Let me ask you this question. If I was right there. I saw this person singing these beautiful songs when I was on my run, and then I told Devon about it. And then Devon wrote a letter to someone about it. Is Devon’s letter primary or secondary compared to what I was able to say about it? Oh I’m seeing almost unanimous now that Devon is that secondary source. Sien is getting us right on track and I think Kilauea is as well. I’m gonna ask you just to make a quick note in your expedition journals about this because we’ll come back to this information later. Maybe make a little T chart. Primary, secondary. Both Kilauea and Sienna are right. Primary are in a way, almost more real. And we’ll say more about that in a second. Today we’re gonna look at some primary source documents. And in fact, many of them are around you right now in the room. Give me a thumb if you can describe what kinds of primary documents we’re going to look at today. Holly, what kind of primary source documents are we gonna look at?

- [Holly] Finger prints.

- We’re gonna look at photographs. Most of them pictures. I should say we’re looking at pictures, most are photographs, but not all of them photographs. And as we look at these pictures, and photographs, we’re gonna try to, just like the target says, develop some introductory understanding and some introductory research questions. I’d like to give you one quick example, we’ll try one together and I’m gonna set you loose on a bit of gallery walk to check out these images.

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