Problem of Practice-Testing Stage

Testing Report

For my Problem of Practice I am addressing the various aspects involved in creating a classroom that is more student-centered versus the more traditional teacher-centered classroom. After working through the other stages of the Stanford Design Thinking Model, Empathize, Define, Ideate, and Prototyping, the final culmination of this work was the Testing stage. When creating my Test lesson, I had to examine every aspect of my plan. In addition to implementing a specifically crafted lesson, I also addressed some other smaller aspects of my classroom such as classroom set-up and daily routines. This test segment was completed in two out of my three 11th grade chemistry classes, allowing for a control group, which will be used as means for comparison of this implementation. The students are currently learning about the Electromagnetic Spectrum, a content standard that is a part of both Biology (taken in their Freshmen year) and Geophysical Science (take in their Sophomore year). Within the Chemistry content students are asked to examine various types of light emission on an atomic level. The specific aspects of my designed lesson were implemented as a part of the second half of this lesson, whereas some of the small classroom routines and setup features have been in place from the beginning of the lesson. As a way to assess the success of this test, I will compare student results from a summative assessment from the two chemistry classes that had the new formatted lesson plan and classroom setup to the chemistry class that did not.

Testing Protocol:

Classroom Set-up/Routine Changes:

Students are seated in pairs of rows versus single rows. This will allow for more collaboration between students and help to facilitate peer discussions and work.

Specific lesson objectives were posted on the board continually throughout the lesson, and were used as a “to-do” list for students to keep themselves on pace and to keep track of progress made throughout the various activities.

Students were shown the basic format of their final assessment to serve as a goal to work towards within their groups.

Lesson Overview:

Students were asked to collect their thoughts on a few prior knowledge questions that addressed content standards on the Electromagnetic Spectrum from previous classes they took. Students then discussed these questions with their seat partners. The students then came back as a class and we discuss these questions as a whole, having students volunteer to discuss what they and their seat partner came up with.

Some simple background information about examining light emissions on the atomic level was provided to the students and they were again asked to read over it. They then completed a thinking activity from, the Making Thinking Visible book by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison, called See-Think-Wonder. This activity allows students to explore new information, organize their thinking, and begin to extend what they know to encompass the new content.

Students then completed a lab activity in which they experienced light emission through exploring the Flame Test experimental procedure. Students were asked to use prior knowledge and observations to begin understanding how visible light, light emissions can help to identify unknown metal ion solutions. This lab activity culminated with students beginning the process of developing a written response and detailed explanation of how within this lab protocol light was emitted and why for various metals ions was the light emission different colors.

The development of this detailed written response is the foundation of the content standard for this topic.

Using prior knowledge, the lab activity and now their original thoughts and ideas in regards to these major assessment questions students began to further develop their understanding and written response to this essay response. For this portion of the lesson I became a guide while the students, as a part of various group exercises, took on the main roles within their learning.

In order to fully address all of this content standard question, students had to address 3 major components: how light is emitted through the flame test procedure, why different metals ions emit different colored light emissions and how this protocol could be used to identify unknown metal ion solutions. In order to do this, students took part in a two-part activity. First, students developed their ideas and knowledge on the various components of this objective, and then students worked on articulating their knowledge of this topic through a written response.

Part 1: Developing Ideas – Students were provided a worksheet that had both prior knowledge questions as well as the three major questions that contribute to them mastering the overall content standard. Students first answered these questions on their own. The students were then divided into 3 groups and each group was assigned one of the main questions to discuss and become experts on. After spending time (around 30 minutes) discussing their individual question with their larger group, students were then regrouped into groups so that one student from each original group was paired up, that is, new groups contained a student that had become an expert on each of the major content questions. This jigsaw activity allows students to learn from each other and to hear various perspectives on key topics. Students were told that these peer conversations were going to be their main tool in preparing them to write their essay response to the main objective question, which helped to add aspects of peer accountability to their groups.

Part 2: Articulating Knowledge (writing their essay responses) – After working with their small groups, students then returned to their seats to complete a practice lab analysis/essay. After observing a few flame test trials students had a few minutes to brainstorm their ideas through a thinking routines called Generate-Sort-Connect-Elaborate. They then had 5 minutes to discuss their thinking with their seat partners. They then had 30 minutes to write their lab summary/essay, being sure to include the three major objective questions. This essay was then edited by themselves, their lab partner and edited by me to provide the student various feedback on their understanding.

After completing this 6-day lesson student finally demonstrated their knowledge of the Electromagnetic Spectrum and Light Emissions through a final essay test that drew upon their prior knowledge, lab experiences and new knowledge.

Reflection of lesson

Using both observation made throughout this lesson as well as data based on the summative assessment given to students at the culmination of this lesson, I feel taking the time to create a more student-centered classroom and lesson completely paid off. Throughout the various activities and components of this lesson students were actively and notably more engaged, asking more questions and participating more. On multiple instances I observed students helping students. Whereas in the past students would bombard me with questions and complaints of not understanding things, I instead saw them talking to each other and answering each other’s questions. Multiple days of this lesson included me just wandering around the classroom addressing clarification issues or having small-individualized discussions with groups of students. This completely shocked me. Students were much more independent and even confidant learners throughout this process. There are many useful and informative aspects of this test lesson that will influence my teaching in the future. Mainly by providing students with various formats and peers to help aid in their understanding I actually provide them more then when I take on the role as their main source of information and help. This in turn allows all students to become more independent, much more then I have ever seen them. Additionally, this increases student involvement and accountability as well as allowing me to interact and make connections with many more students. As a teacher, I am much more effective when I can walk around, monitor, and engage in conversation with small groups of students than addressing and leading the entire class in activities. In comparison to past years and my control group class, students did better on developing and articulating their new knowledge after taking a more involved part of the lesson. I attribute this to the increased level of accountability and increased opportunities for peer collaboration and discussion.

Testing my Prototype

For my Problem of Practice I am addressing the various aspects involved in creating a classroom that is more student-centered versus the more traditional teacher-centered classroom. After working through the other stages of the Stanford Design Thinking Model, Empathize, Define, Ideate, and Prototyping, the final culmination of this work was the Testing stage. When creating my Test lesson, I had to examine every aspect of my plan. In addition to implementing a specifically crafted lesson, I also addressed some other smaller aspects of my classroom such as classroom set-up and daily routines. This test segment was completed in two out of my three 11th grade chemistry classes, allowing for a control group, which will be used as means for comparison of this implementation. The students are currently learning about the Electromagnetic Spectrum, a content standard that is a part of both Biology (taken in their Freshmen year) and Geophysical Science (take in their Sophomore year). Within the Chemistry content students are asked to examine various types of light emission on an atomic level. The specific aspects of my designed lesson were implemented as a part of the second half of this lesson, whereas some of the small classroom routines and setup features have been in place from the beginning of the lesson. As a way to assess the success of this test, I will compare student results from a summative assessment from the two chemistry classes that had the new formatted lesson plan and classroom setup to the chemistry class that did not.

Take a look at this short video that highlights my test lesson plan.

Problem of Practice -Prototyping the Solution

The idea of creating a prototype for my problem of practice was at first a bit overwhelming. I’ve had numerous ideas related to my problem of practice but finally organizing them toward a solution to my problem proved more difficult than I expected. My ideas needed to start to take shape, and this, to me, is a big step. As I said before during our work on the ideate process, I love thinking and taking time to let ideas marinate in my mind and develop, yet in some ways this can make the prototype process more challenging. I have been thinking and expanding on my ideas in my mind for so long that now creating a prototype beckons the question of, where do I start?

prototype

Drawing upon all the work we have done surrounding our problem of practice and the Stanford Design Thinking Model, my ideas began to take shape. During the activities we did about empathizing with the user, I identified a few aspects of my current set-up that perhaps were not conducive to students collaborating and working through the learning process more independently or with their peers. One of those aspects is comfort and willingness to speak out in large groups. By changing the seating in my classroom so students are sitting with pairs, students naturally can become more comfortable sharing their ideas and work with this other classmates. When completing the define mode of the design process, I identified that students for various reasons were not making their thinking visible. Rarely were the students taking their own ideas and processing them or applying them to new knowledge. Within my Unit Routine Prototype, students will get to experience more of the ideate process for themselves. Each unit will start with a brainstorming session with their peers. Students will ask themselves and their peers questions such as; What do I already know in regard to this topic? What do I think this topic will be about? What questions or curiosities do I have about this topic? This brainstorming session will be done both in writing and verbally. Using a voice recording application on their phones, one member of each brainstorm group will record this session. Throughout the unit, students will listen to this recording to see where they are in terms of answering their questions and exploring their curiosities. Again, at the end of the unit students will listen to these sessions and reflect again on each other’s questions that were asked of them. This will help to solidify to the students that these beginning ideas and thoughts presented during the brainstorming process were an important part of the learning process. Additionally students will complete a lab-based activity to provide them with experiences to draw upon and further question when forming connections and building an understanding of new material. An important part of these laboratory activities will be to draw models. Drawing models and working with models will become an essential part of the laboratory process so that students can start to see what they are thinking and what their ideas look like. These models will then aid in the discussion and creation of the group’s ideas when fundamental information about the topic being investigated is provided to them. Student groups will then have another opportunity to brainstorm and start to form connections to the new material with some guidance provided by the teacher.

This new seating chart prototype and unit design prototype will hopefully begin to create a more student-centered learning environment.

Prototyping

When creating a prototype your ideas slowly evolve into a tangible creation. This process is an important part of the design process and can lead to interesting insight into the way you think and the way yocanu design.

For my prototype I decided to build something that represents my ideas on teaching. This very expansive subject can encompass quite a bit. By taking the time to organize my ideas and to try to physically build my ideas helped to bring some clarity and definition to my thoughts.

I took an empty coffee can and covered it with multiple different materials. The first layer was made of various pieces of wrapping paper. I chose different textiles, cut into different shapes and of different sizes. I chose the wrapping paper because although each piece is different, like the various teaching theories, it all serves the same purpose, analogous to the multitude of teaching strategies. I also used duct tape to hold the wrapping paper on, to represent how strong and long lasting of an effect teachers can have on their students. Finally I covered the entire can with plastic wrap to represent that teaching has to be flexible and take the shape of whatever its being applied to.

Thinking About Thinking

Brainstorming:

This past week I held a brainstorming session with eight of my colleagues. To besession 1gin the session I explained the purpose of the session and asked my fellow teachers to be open and share any and all thoughts they had about the topic at hand; What does a student-centered classroom look like? To help each teacher formulate their ideas I gave each of them a short questionnaire to fill out with their thoughts. From there we had a discussion about what each of our classrooms looks like and what we think contributes to this. What types of activities create a student-centered dynamic? Each teacher had an opportunity to share their ideas and comment on each other’s thoughts. For this brainstorming session I was more of a facilitator rather then an active participant. This helped to generate a lot of good ideas and thoughts surrounding my problem of practice as well as to generate possible solutions and implementation plans. Having colleagues of mine be involved in the brainstorming session really helped create a comfortable and open environment to generate ideas. We are all very familiar with each other, the parameters and even the constraints of our school district and administration, this all helped to facilitate a productive brainstorming session.

Incubation Journal:

For the week of March 9th through March 13th I kept an incubation journal about any and all discussions or thoughts I had with regard to my problem of practice. By keeping a notebook on my desk at work, I continually took note any time I was talking to a colleague about issues surrounding my problem of practice or had thoughts regarding my problem of practice. Over the week I noticed that often times when
note 2 having a casual discussion with a colleague something would come up, even sometimes when I was driving or doing more routine tasks like driving home form work each day. If I was away from my desk I would make a voice recording on my phone and add it to my notebook the following day. It was shocking to me how often my mind or a conversation wandered to a topic related to my problem of practice. It was clearly in the forefront of my brain all week.

Reflection:

This process helped me to identify many important features of my problem or practice and to develop many good ideas. The ideate process in and of itself actually ended up being a part of the solutions I generated and thought about for my problem of practice. I was experiencing something that I then identified could be helpful for my own students to experience. In trying to think creatively about my problem of practice and while working through the variety of exercises from this module I realized that this is what I need my students to do. During the ideate process I discovered that the solution I may need to implement with my students was indeed the ideate process itself. This entire process was incredibly interesting to me. Perhaps it is the scientist in me, but I love to expand my brain, I love to flood my thoughts with problem solving and critical thinking. At times it almost feels refreshing, like a workout for my brain! Taking time, and utilizing the various techniques and processes that were a part of the resources from this module to allow my brain to think and marinate with thoughts and ideas forced me to examine new and different perspectives and ideas as well as recognize patterns within my own thinking. Most importantly, these past few weeks have opened my eyes to the most important thing that I can focus on when it comes to finding a solution to my problem of practice, which is focus on making one’s thinking more visible, truly to think about one’s thinking!