K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

From the education reference

problem-based learning
Model of instruction in which the teacher poses an authentic problem for student resolution. PBL may be one among many strategies in a classroom or an entire curricular and instructional approach. In the course of problem-solving, students work cooperatively in groups to learn content and skills related to real world problems. The teacher acts as a facilitator to learning.
problem-based assessment
Based on a problem-solving or problem-posing educational model, problem-based assessment involves the presentation of a problem the student must solve.
project-based learning
Teaching approach that engages students in sustained, collaborative real-world investigations. Projects are organized around a driving question, and students participate in a variety of tasks that seek to meaningfully address this question.
digital game-based learning
Instructional method that incorporates educational content or learning principles into video games with the goal of engaging learners. Applications of digital game-based learning draw upon the constructivist theory of education.
problem solving
A method of learning in which students work to understand a problem, create and carry out a plan of action, and review, discuss and evaluate processes for problem resolution.
problem centered mathematics
Student-centered mathematics instruction that uses problem solving as a means to discovery of mathematical procedures and emphasizes real-world applications to mathematical concepts.
perspective-based assignments
Lessons in which students approach a topic from the perspective of a real-world professional. This approach offers students a constant reminder of the relevance of curriculum objectives.
site-based management
Organizational structure that decentralizes authority and increases the autonomy of individual schools. Responsibility and accountability are at the school level, and the decision-making process includes teachers, administrators, parents, and community members.
site-based management
Organizational structure that decentralizes authority and increases the autonomy of individual schools. Responsibility and accountability are at the school level, and the decision-making process includes teachers, administrators, parents, and community members.
service learning
Intentional combination of community service objectives and learning opportunities that benefits both the recipient and provider of the service. Student service learning projects should be structured to link learning tasks to self-reflection so that they enrich learning, strengthen communities, and teach civic responsibility.
learning contract
An agreement between a teacher and a student regarding how that student will achieve specified learning goals or objectives.
discovery learning
Learning that takes place, not through instruction, but through examination, analysis, or experimentation.
blended learning
A student-centered approach to creating a learning experience whereby the learner interacts with other students, with the instructor, and with content through thoughtful integration of online and face-to-face environments.
learning disability
A discrepancy between expected achievement and observed achievement, also known as "unexpected underachievement."
collaborative learning
An umbrella term for the variety of approaches and models in education that involve the shared intellectual efforts by students working in small groups to accomplish a goal or complete a task.
cooperative learning
Instructional method in which students work together in small, heterogeneous groups to complete a problem, project, or other instructional goal, while teachers act as guides or facilitators. This method works to reinforce a student’s own learning as well as the learning of his or her fellow group members.
Dimensions of Learning model
Model of learning developed by Marzano et al (1988) that links content area knowledge, metacognition, and critical and creative thinking with a taxonomy of thinking skills and thinking processes.

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Math for multiple intelligences
How a middle-school math teacher realized she was boring and jump-started her career — and her students — by using thematic planning, emphasizing problem solving, and teaching to multiple intelligences.
Format: series (multiple pages)
Discovery learning
This reference article explains the theory of discovery learning and discusses its history and its use in the classroom.
Format: article
By Heather Coffey.
The clinical interview
In Problem centered math, page 1.1
Before you can help your students develop their own mathematical understanding, it's important to understand how they already think about math. Do they have a strong number sense, or do they rely on memorized procedures,...
By David Walbert.
Australia: Careers, collisions, and compromises
In CareerStart lessons: Grade seven, page 4.8
In this lesson for grade seven, students learn about Australia and discuss the compromises that are sometimes necessary between economic development and environmental preservation. Students work through problem-based learning questions using Australia as the background.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7 Social Studies)
By Joann Via.Adapted by Meredith Ebert.
Contemporary Science Center
Students experience cutting-edge science through real-world research at this laboratory on the Museum of Life and Science campus.
Format: article/field trip opportunity
Reaching every learner: Differentiating instruction in theory and practice
This series of articles, which balance theory, research, and practice, address a variety of topics within differentiation through text, graphics, and video.
Format: series (multiple pages)
Proto-ZOO-ology: A problem-based protist inquiry unit
The conceptual lens used throughout this unit is the student development of a zoo exhibit for protists. Protists are used easily to examine classification systems, population diversity, life-sustaining processes, stimulus/response in the environment, and many other big concepts that are repeated when studying larger, more complex organisms.
Format: lesson plan (multiple pages)
Assessing the learning process
In Math for multiple intelligences, page 3
Assessment, like instruction, needs to be geared toward various learning styles, and teachers can create rubrics for ongoing assessment that keep a formal daily record of what students are learning.
Format: article
By Gretchen Buher and David Walbert.
The “who cares” approach: Long-term benefits
Using classroom footage and teacher interviews, this video addresses the long-term benefits to students of using assignments based on real-world perspectives. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high school share observations and success stories. This video...
Format: video/video
Differentiation with real-world perspectives
Using classroom footage and teacher interviews, this video explores the practice of creating assignments based on real-world perspectives. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high school discuss how a variety of populations can benefit from this approach,...
Format: video/video
“Who cares” in action: Formative and summative assessment
Using teacher interviews and classroom footage, this video illustrates how using perspectives-based assignments can improve classroom instruction and assessment. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high school discuss how this approach contributes to effective...
Format: video/video
Implementing perspectives-based assignments
This video uses classroom footage and teacher interviews to offer ideas on implementing assignments based on real-world perspectives. Teachers from elementary, middle, and high school share advice and suggest how to overcome common challenges. This video is...
Format: video/video
Who cares?: Using real-world perspectives to engage academically gifted learners
In Reaching every learner: Differentiating instruction in theory and practice, page 5
This article shares strategies for engaging gifted learners by creating assignments in which students adopt real-world perspectives on curriculum objectives. The result, the author suggests, is rich, rigorous, challenging learning for those who are ready to go beyond proficiency. Includes step-by-step instructions and sample assignments.
Format: article/best practice
By Linda Pigott Robinson.
Science Methods: 6-8 Model Lessons
In Preservice teacher education resources, page 3.4
North Carolina Essential Standards Click here for more details on these standards. Forces and Motion Critical Understandings: properties of waves and the wavelike...
Format: article/teacher's guide
Transatlantic Teacher Scholars – American Battle Monuments Commission
LEARN NC was recently awarded a contract by the American Battle Monuments Commission to build an interactive teaching companion to the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery in Verdun, France. This team will explore ways to unlock the narrative stories and trends...
A protist protest
In Proto-ZOO-ology: A problem-based protist inquiry unit, page 1
This lesson is part of the unit "Proto-ZOO-ology: A problem-based protist inquiry unit." In this lesson, students learn about the six characteristics of living things.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7–8 Science)
By Cate Colangelo.
It's a zoo out there!
In Proto-ZOO-ology: A problem-based protist inquiry unit, page 3
This lesson is part of the unit "Proto-ZOO-ology: A problem-based protist inquiry unit." In this lesson, students learn about the diversity of protists.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7–8 Science)
By Cate Colangelo.
Kenan Fellows instructional plans
An alphabetical listing of unit plans and lesson plans provided by the Kenan Fellows Program.
Format: lesson plan
Coastal weather issues: Planning for a hurricane
The unit is designed for seventh grade students who have been studying Earth and its atmosphere. In this sequence, students are faced with the realistic issue of personal and social decision-making when planning for hurricane strikes, which includes classification, tracking, and monitoring hurricanes, as well as planning for evacuations. The inquiry-based approach involves a WebQuest in which the learner will assume the role of an emergency management team member who must create a preparation plan for the community.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7 Computer/Technology Skills, Information Skills, and Science)
By Karen Greene.
It's alive... or is it?
In Proto-ZOO-ology: A problem-based protist inquiry unit, page 2
This lesson is part of the unit "Proto-ZOO-ology: A problem-based protist inquiry unit." In this lesson, students continue to learn about the six characteristics of living things.
Format: lesson plan (grade 7–8 Science)
By Cate Colangelo.