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A Great Unit Plan Goes Out the Window

Epiphany in Baltimore is "attempting to teach The Odyssey to the most reluctant readers" he's "ever taught."

I'm sure you can relate. He's had to abandon his "great" original unit plan, which included creative activities and projects oriented around the text and its central themes:

Instead, I'm finding that just helping them decipher a line like, "Poseidon set the world atremble" takes a few minutes. And after enough students are telling me, "I don't get it...," I'm finding I'm throwing my unit plan and reading plan to the side and doing things like reciprocal reading and "read a sentence/summarize a sentence" activities in class.

This raises an interesting question. We've been hearing a lot lately about the importance, in the 21st century, of project-based learning and independent student work. But how much do such activities presuppose a mastery of basic content knowledge and academic skills? How do you strike a balance?

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