Topic: Scaffolding and benchmarking and developing successful formative assessments
Activity 1 10 to 11 am: Deconstructing an Existing Project Main questions: What do students actually learn, or have to learn, during a project? How can I support their learning? How do I help them show it?
What is "scaffolding?" From PBL-Online: "Organizing the tasks in a project requires the skills of a project manager. your goal is to work backwards from the end result you hope to see with your students. What will they know and do at the end of the project? Once you have the end in mind, your job is to make sure students learn and practice the skills and concepts taught in the project. This usually requires scaffolding activities. What do your students need to know before they undertake the project? What will you teach during the project to give them information necessary to succeed? What will they learn on their own during the course of the project?"
We are going to look at student work and deconstruct it with a thinking routine that will help you break down student skills and potential stages. The following artifacts identify the project and provide examples of student work and form the evidence you will use for the thinking protocol described afterwards.
A. Project Description:
"Students are working in teams to design and construct a small table- or desk-top aquaponics system for the home, and then market their product. In other words, we are blending academics and entrepreneurialism and challenging students to make Hawai'i's growth more environmentally sustainable. "They are competing to present the best designs - scientifically, educationally and aesthetically - but also the best PR and marketing strategies. On Monday, April 22nd, 2013, they will present their designs and pitches to a team of experts - similar to the ABC show Shark Tank. "We wanted the students to take on specific roles within their work teams so that each individual could be accountable for their efforts, but also so that each student could contribute their strength to the group's efforts. They decided the five key roles would be:
C. Videos of finished builds and the Shark Tank pitches. The second video - the Shark Tank pitch video - is very long, so just watch a short snippet - perhaps the very beginning and then from minute 28:33 to 30 minutes to see the exhibit and working systems.
Our Thinking Routine: The "See, Think, Wonder" exercise. (This is a great opening activity for kids to get them to practice observation, deduction and then plan next steps for an investigation.)
Step 1: You will sit in teams and be given a large sheet of paper. Within your teams you will each individually examine the artifacts above for 10 - 15 minutes, and then in discussion with your team, you will write down what you see in response to the prompt immediately below. Don't worry how banal your notes seem - just keep track of what you are seeing. Normally, the prompt for students is "what do you see here?" However, our See prompt is, "What did the students create or do - what is the work the students did? Write down every piece of work you saw."
Step 2: With your team, collect your notes and then for 10-15 minutes as a group, try to figure out what these details mean, with respect to the work the students had to do during this project. Normally, the prompt is, "what do you think it (what the students saw) means. How do you explain what you are seeing?" However, our Think prompt for this activity is: "Based on what you saw in the work, what do students actually have to learn or do for the completion of this project? What did each piece of work require from the students?" Step 3: Normally, the prompt for "Wonder" is - what questions or topics for further investigations arise for you after steps 1 & 2? However, our Wonder prompt will be: "What sorts of tasks do you feel would be useful benchmark stages or small assessments to ensure the students arrive at the end product successfully? What might be small ways or tasks or products to teach these skills or that content." Spend 10 - 15 minutes generating a list.
Recall, benchmarks are deadlines (usually with a product component completion requirement) that will accomplish a number of tasks, including:
ensuring the students stay on task
giving you a chance to assess student comprehension and progress based on a "deliverable"
giving the students a chance to reflect on where they are in the project and what they still need to do
Once you have finished the tasks above, feel free to view the actual list of benchmarks we created with respect to our curriculum needs, click here. What suggestions would you make to add to or change the list?
The link to the various resources for the project is here, and the link to my own blog recording the various steps we took is here.
Step 4: Whole Group Debrief - What are our major take-aways and opportunities for developing our own work?
Activity 2, if time: Revisiting your project idea...
Begin developing a lesson plan for a classroom unit in the fall.
Start with a topic, your essential question or starting inquiry, and a prospective product.
For example - For a lesson on the affect of technology on human society throughout history, my question is - how has the automobile shaped the way we live now? My end product is to make a pitch to city planners for designing a new community that doesn't rely on having cars. This would include a map/blueprint, a video, research-based infographics, and a speech.
Once you have identified these three elements, begin thinking about the skills and content students will need to be successful, and how you can build that into your lesson plans.
Work backwards from your product - what do kids need to learn to accomplish that, and how do those needs offer you opportunities to build in skills and content from your curriculum?
Here is a structure to help guide your thinking. I am also providing you links to some existing charts and examples of scaffolds and benchmarks: Examples of scaffolding and different assessmenttasks.
Thursday Afternoon: 1 - 2:15 pm
Topic: Refining brainstorming ideas from yesterday, developing benchmarks and scaffolds for your project idea
Continue developing your project ideas. Consider using the following bullets which describe the basic elements of lesson design and development.
Timeline/Milestones (what duration, what checkpoints or intermediate products)
Strategies for meeting needs of diverse learners, including EL and special needs
Presentation (how will students present/exhibit their work)
There are a variety of templates and forms project designers use to layout a project. The better road map you have, the more likely you can plan effectively (keep the adage in mind "if you don't know where you are going, any road will do!).
Consider using one of these forms to plan out your project ideas:
Click here for a project planning guide (pdf format)
Create an account and create a draft of an online project at BIE'sproject planner
We are going to run versions of the Final Word Protocol for the last 30 minutes of class to give you all a chance to discuss your project planning at this stage and solicit ideas from your peers. You will have two minutes to present your project idea, and consider framing your description with a specific question for the group - what would you like them to focus on for their feedback (ie - what might be an excellent exhibit and authentic audience for this project? What might be useful scaffolds that I'm missing? How can I develop effective group work? How can I make this interdisciplinary? How can I involve the community? etc.)
Again, the format will be: Steps: 1. Introduction and selection. Facilitator explains all steps briefly. Participants (as individuals) identify passages in the text that have meaning for them or address the prompt.
2. Arrangement. Tight circles of 3 to 5 members are formed. The order of presentation for participants is established and a timekeeper is identified.
3. Presentation. First participant shares the selected passage and explains why it is meaningful. (2–3 minutes)
4. Reflecting back. Each listener in turn has 1 minute to reflect back on what they understand the presenter to have said about the passage and its personal significance.
5. Final word. First round ends with 1 minute for presenter to reflect on what has been said by others.
6. Round repeats. Each participant has a turn to start a new round as described in previous steps.
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