Sunday, February 16, 2014

Teaching Content Literacy Through MBC Bundles

Today's blogger is Phil Zellers, a 7th Grade Social Studies Teacher and eLearning Coach at Perry Central Jr./Sr. High School.

When I think of “bundling,” the first person that comes to mind is Frank from American Pickers. I’m an eLearning coach but also a Social Studies teacher so, admittedly, I am a history nerd and don’t miss many shows on the History Channel. Frank likes to “bundle” things together to get a better deal on the “rusty gold” he wants to buy. Bundles on My Big Campus (MBC) are also a “good deal.” There are many benefits to creating bundles on MBC. This post serves to show how bundles can be a great way to organize content literacy lessons.

Frank, aka, the "bundler."
Content literacy and "ditching the textbook" have become a new passion of mine. With Common Core assessments coming, it’s going to become more and more important. I also just think it is an essential skill for students to have.  It's important in today's world for students to be literate in multiple contents.  Reading and understanding what's being read is vastly different from content area to content area.  For example, reading in math is completely different than reading in social studies.  In a math text, you're probably looking for a problem to solve and have to stop while reading to write down the different parts of the problem, more than likely having to read it multiple times. While in a social studies text, you're probably examining cause and effect relationships and bias of the author. That being said, I have been working on building text sets around topics for my 7th grade Social Studies class. I have experimented with different ways of delivering these texts to students and the most successful and effective way I have found is to create bundles in MBC.

By creating a bundle you can insert text, which can serve as your directions or a place to post websites. You can also upload files such as articles (Word, pdf, etc.), pictures, or videos. A couple of other great features to include in a bundle are assignments created in MBC (such as quizzes, tests, homework assignments) and bundle locks. A bundle lock allows you to lock any content below where you insert the lock. The lock can be set to unlock at a certain time. It can also be set to unlock when a student gets a score you determine as proficient on a quiz or assignment in the bundle. You can also just have it simply unlock when the user clicks the unlock button. Bundle locks are a great way to separate and divide your content.
This is what the top of the bundle looks like when students open it.
Now, onto how content literacy and bundles go together. I try to organize my content literacy lessons into three phases based on MAX (Motivation, Acquisition, eXtension) teaching strategies. Our school has been doing a book study of MAX teaching strategies and they seem to be very effective. Basically, it is before, during and after reading. For the Motivation phase, I set the purpose for reading by giving the standard covered and an essential question. I then insert video clips, pictures, or something of that sort to grab their attention and build some background knowledge.

Both of these screenshots are examples of what I use for the Motivation phase to set the purpose for the reading.  In the top screenshot, you can see that there is a pre-quiz embedded in the bundle.  I created it in the "Schoolwork" tab and then was able to insert it into my bundle.  In the bottom one, there are a couple of pictures we used to generate a class discussion before reading. 
Next, for the Acquisition phase, I introduce the text(s) that will be read. A lot of times I will upload multiple texts about the same topic to the bundle and allow the students to choose which text they want to read so they have that student voice piece of it. For example, with Ancient Egypt, there was a text about the Great Pyramid, the mummification process, King Tut’s death, and famous pharaohs. I allowed them to choose the text that interested them the most. Then, I upload a blank graphic organizer such as a two columns notes chart or the 5 Ws of History note taking chart.

This is an example of the Acquisition phase of the lesson (the articles and the note taking graphic organizer).  Students just click on the documents to open them and then can save them to their computer.
Finally, is the eXtension phase. This sometimes consists of fishbowl discussions of the text, discussions on MBC or TodaysMeet, answering a constructed response question, or showing their learning through a web tool of their choosing. There is also a comments tab at the top of the bundle which could be a good place to host a discussion within the bundle itself.  In the bundle, I usually post specific directions for what I want them to do in this phase. Most of the time, at the end of the bundle, I insert a quiz I have created on MBC for them to complete as well.

This is an example of the eXtension phase in a lesson.  You will also see a bundle lock at the bottom of this screenshot. It is a simple user bundle lock in which students just have to click a button to unlock the content below it. 
You may want to begin by searching the MBC Library to view bundles that have been created by other teachers.  You can search by topic, subject matter, and grade level.  If you find a bundle you like you can branch it to yourself and then it is fully editable for you to make any changes you want to it.  So, you don't have to start from scratch.  No matter the content you teach or how your class is structured, bundles are a great way to organize and deliver your content in one centralized place. I teach using Project Based Learning and this has been a great tool to aid in that process. It is also great for when you’re not there and have a substitute. All your directions are laid out in the bundle so the substitute just has to direct them to it and they can get started.  Just like Frank enjoys the benefits of "bundling," I think you will too, although for different reasons!  

Are you a MBC user? Do you have ideas on how you can use MBC bundles in your classroom to teach content literacy?


  1. Great job Phil! I hope many will be inspired to search for content bundles, branch or create their own. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Thank you, Candice! I have begun to realize what a powerful tool bundles can be. It's a one stop shop for almost everything, delivery of content, resources, discussions, and assessments.