A Tale of Two Projects: Week 1 Algebra 2 Sports Science Project

The first week of the 4th-six-weeks grading period was a short one at Cedars International Next Generation High School due to a school holiday on Monday, 1/16, and Benchmark testing on 1/17.  The 3 remaining days were still quite dense.  In this time, we launched two projects in my two main preps, Algebra 2 and Integrated Physics and Engineering (IPE).  This article describes the the first week of the Sports Science Project, an Algebra 2 project on Quadratic Functions.  The next article in this series will describe what happened in the first week of the Emerging Technologies (or NSF) project in IPE. To read about the prep that went into preparing for the launches of these two projects, you can read this blog article.  To read about later phases in this project, visit this page: A Tale of 2+ Projects.


 Repeated Disclaimer: If you don’t want to know about all the details in the PBL sausage, stop reading.  


Day 1, Algebra 2 Sports Science Project: LAUNCH!

On Wednesday, 1/18, we started the Algebra 2 class with a few activities to wrap up the NERFallistics project.  In that project students learned about polynomials and applied that knowledge while analyzing the trajectories of NERF gun pellets.  These wrap up activities were designed to give students time to reflect and revise their work.  To set the right tone and maintain the suspense for the new project a little longer, I used this for my opening agenda slide:

The band-aid is over the project icon for the project we were wrapping up, the NERFallistics  project.  The icon symbolized the work we were going to do to fix the boo-boos in our last project.  

In the NERF Report Reflection warmup, the students read over their report feedback, checked their report grades, and made plans with their NERF teammate to make revisions on the report.  In my classes, students always have 2 weeks to re-submit deliverables: after 1 week, they can earn up to a 90% on their resubmitted work; after 2 weeks, they can earn up to a 70% on resubmitted work, and after that, I no longer accept the work.  After they completed that reflection, I gave students time to complete a culminating activity from the last project that many teams did not have time to finish during our last class meeting.  In the Target Practice activity, students had to solve a regression equation the modeled the trajectories of their NERF guns to in order to hit a table and a small chair in the common room of our school.  One team succeeded in hitting the table and the chair shown below from distances of 10+ meters away.  They were exuberant to find that sometimes, Math really works!

After these wrap-up activities, we started off the six-weeks with our traditional once-a-six-weeks Class Officer Elections.  Every six weeks, my students in each period elect 3 class officers: a facilitator, a time manager, and a grade manager.  I learned how to integrate and train student leaders in my classes from my friend and mentor from Manor New Tech HS, Ms. Holly Davis.  The facilitator starts the the class each day by going over the class agenda with the class.  He or she does this while I take care of start of class logistics like taking attendance, refilling my coffee, etc.  The time manager keeps track of the time for the class and makes time announcements to alert students and teachers of the time left in class activities and in the class period.  The grade manager gathers student work on my grading days (each Friday) and follows up with students who need to submit work late because they missed some due dates.  The elections are both playful and quite serious.  Candidates give speeches to convince the class that they will be the most effective student at their desired roles.  

I let the students take their time with this process because I rely heavily on my class officers to do my job effectively.  I’m so used to effective time managers that I don’t know what time some of my classes end.  I’m just used to my timekeeper telling me when to wrap things up and move on to the next period.  My facilitator acts as my acting sub when I’m absent.  When I’m out, the facilitator leads the class through activities while the adult-sub-on-record takes attendance, hangs out, and watches.  Sometimes I get so far ahead in my prep that I forget what we’re about to do in class until my facilitator goes over it with the class.   My grade managers are amazing!  I may not have the best turn in rates on the original due dates, but my 1-week-late turn-in rate is awesome thanks to all the in-person / emailed reminders students receive from my grade managers when they forget to turn in work.


After class officer elections, we announced new teams and set up our notebooks for the next project.  

After setting up their table of contents for the new project, the students read over the design brief with their team and came up with at least 10 Knows and 10 Need-to-Knows for the project.  They divided these into Content (Algebra 2 related) items and Project (logistics, deadlines, etc) items.  The design brief communicated the project’s objectives, purpose, rough timeline and deliverables.  In the Sports Science project, students will gather and analyze 100-m dash data to create a sports science video that investigates the question: What separates everyday and world class athletes?  In addition to analyzing the Design Brief, we watched a sample ESPN Sport Science video featuring Lebron James.  This video provided a sample of their final product and showed them how motion data can be used to make a compelling argument.


Later that day, I prepared for Days 2 and 3 of the project by preparing a workshop and practice set on position-time graphs and by purchasing a 300-ft long tape measure.  My co-teacher, Mr. Fishman, had me download the Home Depot app so I could shop for my tape measure efficiently.  When you’re in the store, you can search for products and the app will give you the aisle and section of the store for the product along with a labeled map of the store.  It was so sweet.  I bought calculator batteries and a crazy long tape measure in record time using the app.


I sometimes joke with my friends that my Algebra 2 class is my Physics-2 class.  About half of the students in Algebra 2 are also taking my Integrated Physics and Engineering class.  Sometimes our projects in Algebra 2 are situated in Physics contexts because the math fits and I can’t resist because of my physics background.  This is why I found myself preparing an activity on Position-Time graphs for my Algebra 2 (not Physics) students.  I prepared the lesson because it was in my students’ need-to-knows and because I knew that students needed to be equipped with this knowledge to make sense of the data they were going to gather on their 100-m runs.  (On a side note, my students sometimes get confused by all the math they are learning in physics and all the physics they are learning in math; sometimes they write their notes in the wrong notebook and end up writing a weird location in their table of contents for an activity they placed in the wrong notebook.)


I also spent some time search for videos of world class athletes in 100-m races that we could analyze for our comparison cases.  It was really challenging to find the perfect video because many distances within the 100-m are not marked.  I settled for looking for videos with sideview camera angles and found one video that compiled sideview from several races.


[Spoiler alert] Later in Week 2 of the project I came up with a way to approximately analyze world class run data.  Usain Bolt’s stride length is well documented.  I was able to analyze his world record 100 meter run by using Coach my Video to find the times associated with each of his strides (exact time that one foot hit the ground) and used his average stride length to determine positions for those times.  Later in the project, I provided students with a data table of his world record run so they could analyze it and  compare his motion stats to their own run data.


Day 2, Algebra 2 Sports Science Project: Team Contracts / Explore Position-Time Graphs:

We started off Day 2 by completing a warm-up that was a pre-assessment on what students already knew or could deduce about position-time graphs:


I scanned their notebooks and the results were hit-or-miss.  A couple students did it perfectly, many more guessed several wrong, and a couple didn’t know where to start.  After the time manager let us know that the warm-up time was over, I told students I was going to break protocol and not go over the warm-up at this time.  I did this because we were about to go over position-time graphs and I reused the warm-up problems to make up half of the follow-up practice set to this activity.

After the warm-up, the student facilitator went over the agenda and then led a class discussion to come up with a compiled list of student Knows and Need-to-Knows.  Here are the students’ Content Knows and Need-to-Knows:


And here are their Project Knows and Need-to-Knows:

I had to play devil’s advocate a bit to get students to elaborate on their Content Knows.  They’re pretty good at specifically articulating  their Content Need-to-Knows and Project Knows and Need-to-Knows.  Over the course of the project, we will revisit and update their Knows and Need-to-Knows as students learn new things and develop more questions.

After the Knows and Need-to-Knows discussion the students set up their team contracts and shared project Google folders.  The students completed this Team Contract template and then placed their finished contract in a sheet protector and inside the Team Contract binder.  Over the course of the project they will revisit their contract and use the back side of it to document their Work Log goals and agreements.  While they prepared their contracts, I linked their Google folder to the Project Rubric Chart:


I’ve streamlined student turn-in processes such that their nearly all their work lives in 2 places: (1) in their notebook and (2) in shared project Google folders.  If their work is located in a project Google folder, I link the folder and its key contents to a rubric chart.  I use the rubric chart to give students yellow and green stamps on project work that relate to rubric items (see left column).  Having the links very close to the rubric makes it easy for me to assess project products against the rubric.  Later in the project, students refer to the rubric chart on work days to see which items they have earned full (green stamp) and partial (yellow stamp) credit.  

After they set-up their team contracts and team Google folder, we started an activity on Position-Time graphs.  I set up the workshop to be interactive. Throughout the workshop, I displayed a prompt on the board and had their teams discuss the prompt while I played Jeopardy music. While the music played, I overheard their discussions and looked at their proposed motion graphs.  After the music stopped, I called on the students with interesting insights and went over the correct answers.  We did this 10 times.  By the end of these cycles we had completed and thoroughly discussed a graphic organizer that showed the shapes for all the types of motion they would need in the project: stopped motion, constant velocity (positive and negative direction), increasing speed (positive and negative direction) and decreasing speed (positive and negative direction).

Also, while developing these workshop slides. I came up with a new trick to convey the alignment between state standards and workshop objectives.  I color-code the verbs (red) and noun / noun phrases (blue) in both the standards and the objectives to highlight the connections between the two.  I now do that in all my workshop objectives slides and in all my daily agenda slides.

After the workshop, students redid the warm-up problems and did a few more practice problems on motion graphs.  Nearly every students was able to do the warm-up perfectly on the first try after the workshop.

Later on Day 2, I did some big picture planning of the content scaffolding in the Sports Science project.  I looked at the standards again and ranked them from easiest to hardest and grouped them by similarity and developed an outline for a lesson sequence that would cover all the standards.  In broad strokes I decided we would start by learning several techniques to formulate quadratic equations (from easy to hard), then learn how to solve quadratic equations, and then learn how to solve systems of linear and quadratic equations.  


Day 3, Algebra 2 Sports Science Project: RUN, STUDENTS RUN!!!

Prior to class on Day 3, I prepped for an exciting Data Collection day by using spreadsheets to create a Track Marking conversion chart (meters to feet and inches):

I also created this visual to convey all the hats students would need to wear in order to ensure a safe, efficient time in the parking lot:


Also at the end of Day 3, I knew I needed to get student work for my grading day, so I created this visual:

This visual shows my Algebra 2 grade manager in the middle of his election speech.  He gave me permission to use that pic in visuals reminding students of deadlines.   [Spoiler Alert] My grade manager enjoyed this image so much, he had me put it up again in the IPE class where he also got elected into this role.


Data Collection day was a blast!  The whole class helped to prepare the track on the parking lot behind the school.  I put a student in charge of the tape measure and in charge of organizing the team effort to create the track.  The students were really smart.  They designed the track in a way that made data collection of a tricky data set really simple.  They used long lines to mark each 2-meter increment and they marked each line with the total distance from the starting line to that line:

It took them about a half hour to create the track.  Then I demonstrated how to properly videotape a run, by taping Mr. Ray while he ran.  This involves some back pedaling and some frantic, laughing and chasing while trying to aim the iPad camera in a way that the runner’s feet passing each increment line is captured throughout the 100-meter run.  It was really fun to watch students to gather data.  By some trick of Murphy’s law, nearly every team had a big height mismatch between their (very tall) runner and their (very short) camera-person.  However, the track design that my students came up with, made it possible to get excellent data even when the camera shorts were really dynamic due to the chasing that was occurring.  

Mental Note for Future Versions of this Project:  Everyone needs to wear running clothes and shoes because the photographers ended up running just as hard as the runner to get good footage.


Here’s a sample data set that came from a video that was really bumpy:

Even though they were unable to see some of the track markings (usually when the photographer transitioned from backpedaling to forward chasing), they still gathered enough data to see clear quadratic and linear regions.  Just the thing needed to learn how to solve systems of linear and quadratic equations!  Every team was able to get a good data set that made sense.  Data Collection day was a surprising success.  I was worried that the data would be too hard to get or too dirty to analyze, but everything worked out great.


At the end of Day 3, I did my routine Friday grading of notebooks. After I graded all the notebooks, I used conditional formatting on my Google spreadsheets grade book to create this visual.  I cropped out the student names for this post.  Red boxes represent missing work and green boxes represent turned-in work.  I emailed this visual (the version with the student names) to the grade manager along with a couple links to Google forms associated with a couple of these tasks.  My grade manager sent follow-up emails to students missing work and during the following week, he collected late notebooks from students on Tuesday when I decided to follow-up on some late work.  By Wednesday the chart was nearly all green except for one student who was out sick for several days.  Student Leadership Rocks!


Pre-Week 2 Prep:


Over the weekend, I prepped lessons that showed how to use Desmos to find linear and quadratic regression equations.  I also prepared a warmup that had students compare motion equations to linear and quadratic equations in order to relate motion quantities to the parameters in the standard forms of linear and quadratic equations.  I also finalized a Shell Science Lab Challenge grant in the hopes of getting more support to design more and higher quality STEM experiences like the ones we had in Week 1 of the Sports Science project.

A Tale of Two Projects: Week 0

In this blog mini-series, I will reveal how the Project-Based Learning (PBL) sausage is made.  I will describe week-by-week how two projects evolved in my two main preps (Algebra 2 and Integrated Physics / Engineering). The series begins one week before project launch to show how projects are designed and how project launches are prepared. The series ends one week after project presentations to show how reflections help students and teachers improve.  If you prefer to not know how much work goes into PBL, stop reading now.  If you’d like to learn about the nitty gritty details that go into running projects, read on.  To read about later phases in these two projects, visit this page: A Tale of 2+ Projects.


Week 0: Overview

When you work at school that champions PBL, preparation for upcoming projects NEVER occurs in a vacuum.  In the week leading up to the project launches featured in this series, it was the final week of the 3rd six weeks and two projects were wrapping up in Algebra 2 and IPE.  While preparing for the upcoming project launches, I was also doing a number of “other” things including: grading tests, calling parents, tutoring students, grading presentations, grading reports, grading notebooks, meeting with parents, etc.  


Here is my summary of the numbers of items on my task lists in the 8 days leading up the project launches:

The gray region was a 3-day weekend.  Less than half of the tasks I completed in the 8 days leading to the new projects were related to new project prep.  So how did I get ready in time?


Several years of PBL experience have taught me how to design projects while managing many other things.  I have learned what are the essential things needed to launch a project and what things are nice, but not so important.  I have learned to respect the number of things needed to launch successful projects enough to begin chipping away at the list at least one week ahead of launch (earlier if possible).


The agenda below summarizes the goals, main task phases (agenda items), and deliverables we produced during Week 0, the critical final week prior to project launch.


#1 Analyze Standards: Days 1-2


Before I even begin brainstorming a single idea related to a project, I do several things to make sure I have a really good understanding of the standards my students need to master in the project.  The first thing I do is analyze the nouns and verbs in all the standards tied to the project.


Here is my noun and verb breakdown for my Quadratics Unit in Algebra 2:

Here is my noun and verb breakdown for my Modern Physics Unit in IPE:

I analyzed the nouns (verbs) in the standards to determine the concepts (skills) my students will learn in the upcoming projects if I succeed in developing an aligned context that provides students with many opportunities to explore the standards.

To create an even more clear picture of what students will learn, I use software (DMAC Solutions) to generate test banks for all the standards in the upcoming projects.  Then, I scan through the questions to check that my interpretations of the standards are fully aligned to what students will see in formal assessments.

Analysis of the standards was especially critical in my IPE class because I have not taught modern physics since I was a grad student.  The upcoming modern physics project will mark the first time I will teach modern physics topics to high school age students.  The last time I taught modern physics, I was a teacher’s assistant for an Honors Physics seminar course at UT Austin.  It’s unlikely that the college physics I taught then was at the same rigor level as the physics I need to teach my highs school freshmen and juniors.  

To make sure I really understood the contexts and rigor levels of the modern physics standards, I did a noun-verb-topic analysis of the test bank questions in a spreadsheet that looked like this:

This analysis showed me that students needed to be exposed to a wide array of technologies and needed to use principles in nuclear and quantum physics to explain how those technologies work.  I added many notes in the content scaffolding section of my project planning form about the types of technologies that needed to be featured in upcoming lessons.


The analysis also helped me to the understand the role of binding energy and mass defect in the standard relating mass-energy equivalence (E = mc^2) to nuclear phenomena such as fission and fusion.  Binding energy and mass defect were not directly mentioned in the standard.  Through research, I learned that the sizes of the binding energies and the mass defects in fusion and fission interactions could be calculated using E = mc^2.  Had I not done the test bank analysis I might not have learned this connection in time to teach it to my students.  This analysis was so helpful that I converted my analysis spreadsheet into a template file and saved it to my Templates folder so I could use this tool for all my future projects.  

A similar analysis of the quadratic functions test bank really hit home the variety of techniques students needed to apply to find and solve quadratic equations.  I also noticed that a majority of the word problems dealt with some form of accelerated motion so I made a mental note that a project problem involving accelerated motion would nicely align to the quadratic functions standards.


#2 Brainstorm Project Products & Roles: Days 2-3


After (!!)  I have developed a deep understanding of my target standards, I let my brain loose on brainstorming real world problems that go with those standards.  In my early years as a PBL facilitator, I made the mistake a couple times of brainstorming projects prior to analyzing the standards and ended up with projects only partially aligned to the standards.  Partially aligned or unaligned projects are a tremendous waste of class time.  Students can get really engaged by project contexts; creating fully aligned and engaging project contexts can get students excited about learning the right stuff and applying it to things they care about.

I have an engineering co-teacher in IPE so we chose our project contexts and products together after we had both analyzed our standards.  Mr. Fishman’s target standards dealt with ethics in the workplace, science / tech / engineering careers, impacts of emerging technology on society, and biotech.  We brainstormed over the course of a couple days during our conference period, breakfast, lunch, and at random moments in class when students were working independently.  In addition to our standards, our thinking was influenced by a book we were both reading called Physics for Future Presidents and the upcoming Presidential inauguration.  

We finally landed on NSF grants.  We wanted our students to pose as teams of engineers and scientists applying for NSF grants.  The National Science Foundation grants are assessed in two major criteria that tie well with all our standards: (1) intellectual merit and (2) broader impact.  Intellectual merit is the extent to which projects have the potential to advance and transform scientific and engineering knowledge.  Broader impact describes how projects can benefit society.   Due to our time constraints, we decided our final product would be the first page of an NSF grant, the Project Summary.  This one-page document describes the project’s major logistics (target problem, methods, and anticipated results), its intellectual merit and its broader impact.

For my Algebra 2 class, my analysis of the standards-based test banks had already suggested some problem involving acceleration.  I couldn’t do projectiles because we had just analyzed NERF gun data in our polynomial equations unit.  At first I thought we could use accelerated motion to design movie stunts.  But I wasn’t thrilled with that context because the means for gathering data were either dangerous or overly complicated.  My second idea was to analyze running data.  After more thought, I realized that running data would be a nice fit for the quadratics standards and also the standards on systems of linear and quadratic equations because these equation types  correspond to the position-time graphs of constant velocity and constant acceleration motion.  Once that clicked, my brain was off to the races …

I brainstormed people who would actually analyze running data.  People who do this include: track coaches, sports fans, and sports analysts.  One of my favorite science things on TV are the ESPN Sports Science clips.  So, I decided to pose students as analysts working for ESPN charged with making a Sports Science clip that investigated the question: What separates everyday and world class athletes?  To address this question, students will gather position-time data on everyday runners (themselves) and world class track athletes.  They will use various methods to find, solve, and interpret the systems of quadratic and linear equations that model the motion of the different runners.  They will feature their conclusions and their data collection / analysis methods  in their own ESPN Sports Science clip.  They will post that clip to our school’s YouTube channel and tweet the link to ESPN Sports Science Twitter page.


#3 Preliminary Project Mapping: Days 4 on …


One section of my project planning form is a project calendar that is a living document.  I tweak it throughout the project based on the unique twists and turns that occur during the course of project.  Prior to launch, I think it’s important to mainly know what are major phases in the project, what are the project deliverables associated with those phases, and what types of scaffolding are needed to support students creating those deliverables.  


In the past I have made 2 opposite errors.  Error 1 is to not map the project at all prior to launch and hope for the best.   Error 2 is to plan out every day in the entire project prior to launch.  Error 1 led to projects with muddy schedules that took more than they should mainly because I didn’t know enough to lead students along  a coherent path to success.  Error 2 can make teachers less receptive to flexibly responding to their students need-to-knows.  So the happy medium I now strive for looks like this for the NSF project in IPE:

and like this in the ESPN Sports Science Project in Algebra 2:

These preliminary project maps are shared with the students as parts of their project design briefs.  These maps provide a bird’s-eye view of the major phases, activities and deliverables in the project.  When it’s possible to put down due dates, I include those.  I included due dates in the Algebra 2 project because this project has a tighter time frame than the IPE project.  The Algebra 2 project will last 3 weeks while the IPE project will last 5 weeks.  


Over the course of the project, I develop more detailed project calendars and share these with students in time for them to have at least one week on minor project deliverables and at least two weeks on major project deliverables.  Prior to launch, it’s OK to not have these all these details nailed down because students are used to requesting these deadlines when they analyze launch materials and develop their lists of knows and need-to-knows.  


#3 Prepare Launch Materials: Days 4-8


Design Briefs: The first thing I create to prepare for launch is a design brief that outlines the project objectives, purpose, constraints, procedures, and deliverables.  This is the main document my students use to generate their knows and need-to-knows.  To help them prepare detailed and rich lists, I make sure that the design brief includes all the academic vocabulary in my standards and lots of details related to project logistics.

The objectives section of the design brief summarizes what students will learn in the project.  The purpose provides an overview of the project context and why it’s important.  The project constraints are used in IPE to select the final solution that students will develop from a number of brainstormed solutions.  These constraints are input into a decision matrix that is used to evaluate possible solutions and determine the best one.  In Algebra 2, the constraints provide a summary of the criteria that will be used to evaluate their products.  These criteria are further unpacked in the rubric.  To see examples of design briefs, see these links: NSF Design Brief and ESPN Sports Science Design Brief.


Entry Videos: To support the design brief, I either make or select a supporting video that gives students more info related to their project and/or provides a model for their final product.  For the ESPN Sports Science Project, I selected an ESPN Sports Science clip that featured LeBron James.  I chose this clip because it mentioned a lot of motion data and used it to explain why James’s block of a fast break lay-up was so impressive.  

In IPE, Mr. Fishman and I wanted to choose a video that showed students a wide variety of projects or problems that were NSF worthy so we found a video featuring all the NEA Grand Challenges for Engineering.  This video provided students with an overview of several problems they could possibly investigate in this project.


Rubrics: I’m going to write something that may scandalize my colleagues: I don’t believe it’s always necessary to present students with a rubric on launch day.  Sometimes I withhold rubrics on purpose.  This occurs in projects that are so heavily dependent on content skills that they can’t begin one item in the rubric without some content scaffolding first.  In that case, I withhold the rubric until they have passed assessments that show they are ready to begin tackling things in the rubric.

Sometimes I withhold rubrics, because I just don’t have time to finalize one prior to launch.  I don’t feel too bad because the design brief is so densely written that students can already start generating project knows, need-to-knows and next steps based on this document alone.  In the case of the NSF and Sports Science projects, the rubrics were not ready in time to release them on launch day and we launched anyway.


Overview Slide Deck: Now it’s time to discuss the secret sauce.  To avoid wasting time on selecting slide formats and to give all project slides a single cohesive (branding) look, I create a slide template file that has all the main slides I need to build daily project visuals.  

Here’s my template slide deck for the NSF Project:

Here’s its counterpart in the ESPN Project:

I make copies of the Template files and create project overview files.  These are living documents that include ALL the daily agendas and supporting visuals for the entire project.  The reason I don’t just build the overview files from the template is because I make copies of the Template file to generate other slide decks needed for content and product scaffolding activities.  To see the project overview files, go to these links: NSF Overview and ESPN Overview.


Team Rosters:  There are so many ways to make teams.  For these projects, we did it randomly but die rolls.  When students completed their final collaboration evaluations in the past projects, one question in the evals asked them to roll a die and record the number.  The students completed evals for each member of their team.  I gathered their eval responses using Google forms.  I used pivot tables to find their average die rolls.  Then I sequenced the students in ascending order using their average die rolls.  Then I grouped students into teams by the order the appeared in this list.  The only exceptions occurred when the die rolls placed students in teams that included partners from their last project.  In that case, I switched them with another student to ensure new team members for all.


Team Contracts:  For this project, I selected a shorter version of my team contract template that features one side of questions related to setting common goals and norms and one side for setting up a daily work log.  I chose this template because I wanted students to use the work log to make their work division agreements visible to all team members and teachers.  I included a detailed firing process instead of letting students make up their own process this time so we could practice reasonable warning practices.  In this contract, students are required to document warnings in emails that describe the behavior associated with the warning; these emails are sent to the teacher(s) and all the team members.  I had to specify this requirement because in our last project some students assigned warnings via email that just said warning and did not specify the reason for the warnings.  It created a lot of confusion and frustration.


Project Briefcases: I have two project briefcases per project: the public briefcase students see in Echo and a private planning version that is housed in Google drive.  Both briefcases have the sub-folders: (1) Launch, (2) Product Resources and Scaffolding, (3) Content Resources and Scaffolding, (4) Tests and Reviews.  The Google drive version also has a sub-folder called (0) Teacher Resources.  Prior to the launch, we populate the Launch folder of the Echo briefcase with  the design brief, the entry video, knows and needs-to-knows lists, and the group contracts.


Warmup file: For every project, I create a warm-up file that is home to all the warm-ups in the project.  It has a hyperlinked table of contents that includes for each warm-up: its date, its title, and a hyperlink  to the actual warmup.  Here are the links to the NSF and ESPN warm-up files.  There is a warm-up everyday except on test days and practice test days.  We use warm-ups to scaffold project logistics, content knowledge and skills, and product knowledge and skills.


Teacher resource lists:  In my project planning forms is a teacher resource section where I store a list of hyperlinks to sources I need for product resources / scaffolding and content resources / scaffolding.  I use this list a lot over the duration of the project.  This list grows as I encounter more helpful resources while developing materials for the project.


Materials lists: I started thinking about the equipment I needed to order to ensure that students are successful in the project.  In the ESPN project I researched really long tape measures because I knew that I wanted students to collaborate as a class to create a 100-m track with line markings every 2 meters in order to gather video analysis data on their 100-m runs.  For both the ESPN and NSF projects, I researched and downloaded a TI-83 emulator so I could demonstrate on the Apple TV via my laptop how to perform  tricky calculations using  special features in the TI-83.  I was able to acquire both resources in time to use them at the right places in the projects.  

My test bank analysis of the physics standards also led me to contact UTeach to see if we can borrow emission spectra equipment (spectroscopes, discharge tubes, spectral charts).   These are expensive pieces of equipment that are not yet in our science inventory.  They are too costly to purchase on short notice so we will need to borrow the equipment from the UTeach inventory (if they will let us, crossing fingers and toes) .

While earning my teacher certification through the UTeach program, I TA’d a Research Methods course that provided me with many opportunities to sample the many items in their extensive math / science lab inventory.  If their inventory is still similar to what I saw in 2004-2007, they have all the emission spectra equipment we need to teach that topic effectively.
Thus concludes Week 0 of a Tale of Two Projects.  Stay tuned for the Week 1 entry where we will look at Project Launches and Early Project Scaffolding activities.

178: Mapping Your Community



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Community Mapping
  • Students working in teams ask and answer questions about their community.  See below.
Community Mapping Questions:
  • What are the cultures in the community?  How many different cultures exist? Describe them.
  • What opportunities exist for learning and teaching?
  • What are the local enterprises that promote economic growth?
  • What are the local community organizations?
  • What citizen actions are taking place around critical issues?
  • What are the problem areas in the community such as noise, pollution, substandard housing, graffiti, erosion or trash?
  • What local political issues impact the community?
  • What local talents exist in the community?
  • What are the local stories?
  • Who are the most important people in the community?
  • Who makes decisions?
  • Who is the most respected, wisest, wealthiest, or most loved?
  • How do these people connect to teaching and learning opportunities?
Interviewing Community Members Questions:
  • What is important to them?
  • What are their greatest needs?
  • What environmental issues are important to them?
  • Who are the important people involved in those environmental issues?
  • What are the important relationships and partnerships?
  • How would a person who wants to help with the issue get involved?
  • What is missing in what we are doing?
Community Mapping Reflection Questions
  • What patterns or unexpected relations between features or systems did you observe?
  • What opportunities are there for teaching and learning?
  • What opportunities and resources are there to learn more about the problem / issue?
  • What opportunities and resources are there to find solutions to the problem?
  • Who else do we need to include to make our work most beneficial to the community?
  • How will you apply your new awareness of the problem upon returning to your program?


Involving students in mapping the community can expose varied and unexpected learning opportunities that can frame future projects.  These ideas can be engaging to students because of their close relationships to their everyday lives outside of school. Student community mapping can be amplified by sets of well-designed questions aimed at getting students to dig deep and notice interesting patterns in their community.  See above for examples.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide when in the year you would like to involve students in community mapping.  A good time might be at the start of the year.  This could provide enough lead time to use discoveries from community mapping to frame future projects.
  • Revise questions above to generate specific questions that will uncover learning opportunities in the community that relate to your content and to upcoming topics.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Assign community mapping questions to students working in teams.
  • Require students to interview 1 to 2 community members to gather more information. (primary research)
  • Also require students to conduct secondary research to gain insight into some community mapping questions
  • Have students present their findings and future project ideas and their importance and potential impact
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Invite local community members to the classroom to describe how they work and their impact on the community
  • Use student discoveries to build new partnerships and to frame new projects that connect to community issues



84: I-Search Papers





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I-Search Paper 
  • Similar to research paper except
    • Student chooses topic
    • Written in 1st person
  • Uses:
    • Build personal curiosity and tools to pursue it
    • Students can learn how to
      • narrow and deep dive into a topic
      • use research skills (identify valid sources, annotate sources, identify biases)
  • Play by play
    • Topic Search:
      • Brainstorming
        • start creating brainstorm lists individually
        • then share in pairs and teams and revises lists
      • Narrow brainstorm list to 4 topics
      • Conduct preliminary research and have student interview team mates about potential topics:
        • Why do you care?
        • Who do you already know?
        • How do you plan to learn more?
      • Narrow topics to 2 choices – Top Pick and Plan B in case Top Pick hits a dead end
      • Variations:
        • Could brainstorm content item lists
        • Try to build bridges between top personal & content item choices
    • Identifying the Audience:
      • Other students and teacher
      • Could try to guide students to recruit audience from a group that ties to to their topic – if you do this prepare recruiting email and recruiting phone call templates
    • Prewriting Part I
      • Use a lot of pre-writing activities (WTLs) to process research such as:
        • Use double entry journal strategey- columns: what I think I know, questions I have (brainstorm list based on prior knowledge and for planning research next steps)
    • Gathering Information
      • Student create anothe double entry journal – columns = questions organized under major questions, possible sources
      • Books:  secure help from media specialist
      • Interviews: helps students design questionnaires, model interview process
      • Internet:
        • teach search query commands for search engines, how to use databases, and how to identify valid sources
        • provide internet source sheets that guide students in assessing and annotating websites
    • Prewriting Part II
      • Underline key information in references and write note as to why it’s underlined
      • Start with 4 questions on 4 Sheets of papers – color-code highlight sources to match up information that addresses top 4 questions
      • Jot down notes summarize info related to each question
    • Drafting
      • Main parts of paper:
        • Introduction
        • Description of search (optional, omit if it leads to repetitive description)
        • What was found
        • How to use information and related questions
    • Revisions
      • Facilitate revision meetings with writing teams who discuss
        • Introduction
          • How does writing grab attention?
          • How does intro hint a prior knowledge and interest?
          • How does writer help unfamiliar audience?
          • How does writer make topic appealing?
        • Question answers
          • Best evidence?
          • Missing evidence?
          • Off topic evidence?
        • Conclusion
          • Connections to intro ideas?
          • Follow-up questions and next steps?
          • Lingering lessons
    • Editing
      • X out common errors such as 2nd person
      • Replace 2nd person with real nouns
    •  Sharing the Writing
      • Convert paper to shorter feature articles for school newspaper
      • Read aloud papers at presentations
    • Troubleshooting
      • Plagiarism
        • Use WTL assignments to process research
        • Teach students parenthetical citaions


Letting students choose their own I-search paper topics can help them be more invested in their processes and products.  Guiding the research and prewriting processes with Writing-to Learn tasks can helps students process information, create drafts, and avoid plagiarism.  See WTL 1 and  2 articles.


Preparation Steps
  • Find time of year when I-seatch paper would be appropriate
    • Time of year dedicated to process standards
    • After students have already practiced several writing stages
  • Prepare resources related to the stages describe above
  • Prepare a project calendar that includes:
    • research time
    • prewriting time
    • in class writing time
    • critique and feedback lessons
    • conference times
    • milestone deadlines assigned to writing artifacts in writing stages
    • rehearsal and presentation time
    • student self reflection times
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project plan prepped above
  • Use formative feedback to fine time in progress project plan
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Recruit real panelists (or guide student to recruit real audiences) to read their work
  • Have student polish and summarize work for school blog or school magazine
  • Feature work in Learning Fairs



83: Learning Fairs





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Learning Fairs:
  • Students present work to community in poster session like environment (think science fair)
  • Uses:
    • Students study topics in depth
    • Students present to wide audience
    • Student learn field research techniques
    • Opportunity to integrate subjects – ELA, Science, Math, etc
  • Play by play:
    • Topic Search
      • Identity primary sources
        • Students brainstorm people they can interview
        • Students brainstorm scientific questions they can investigate
      • Communicate expectations – product formats & criteria
    • Identify the audience
      • Recruit varied panel consisting of teachers of different courses, students, family members, other community members
    • Gathering information
      • Provide thinking sheets to guide research
        • Help students design interviews
        • Help students design investigations
      • Provide in-class research time so that parents don’t help too much
      • Expose students to models and discuss common features and identify strategies
      • Allow time for multiple investigations or interviews – can learn from first iteration and apply lessons to later iterations
    • Drafting, revising, & editing:
    • Sharing the writing:
      • Create speeches and visual aides based on papers
      • Allow rehearsal time prior to Learning Fair
    • Possible Grading Criteria:
      • Engaging beginning
      • Clear controlling theme
      • Thorough, clear supporting evidence
      • Good organization of anecdotes and arguments
      • Free of grammar and spelling errors
      • Creative, school appropriate
    • Troubleshooting
      • Students make early errors that affect end products
        • Give feedback throughout the duration of project – don’t wait till the end
    • Grading tips:
      • Recruit external panel – alumni, teachers from other courses, community members, experts
      • Design easy-to-use assessment tools for panels – rubrics or checklists or criteria with room to assign Likert scale scores


Learning fairs provide opportunities for the school and local communities to gather and celebrate student work.  Grade level teams can coordinate to create complementary learning fair products.  Real broad audiences can inspire students to product their best work.  To prevent student learning fairs from become parent fairs, provide a lot of in class feedback and work time.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide if you want to coordinate with grade-level teachers (or cross grade-level teams) and meet regularly to plan logistics (common themes, fair dates, variety of complimentary products, etc)
  • Recruit panelists
  • Set a learning fair date, secure space and publicize fair date, location, and theme to the community
  • Decide on target content and target genres and prepare scaffolding and assessment – see above for ideas
  • Design a project calendar that includes:
    • ample time for writing phases above
    • ample time for in class work time and feedback from various sources and revision time
    • rehearsal time
    • milestone deadlines for different stages of products
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project plan – see activities planned in preparation phase.
  • Use formative feedback to fine tune scaffolding and assessment as needed.
  • Use formative feedback to teach students how to revise work during in class work time
  • Facilitate lessons during all writing stages
  • Facilitate time for rehearsals and final round of feedback
  • Organize panel and panel resources (evaluation materials, assignments to teams, etc)
  • Facilitate Learning Fair and Enjoy (takes lots of pictures)
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Could tie Learning Fair to real contests – if so, be sure to scaffold and assess content criteria
  • Make Learning Fairs a regular event (2x per year per grade level?) at school in order to build community moral and relationships



82: Social Action Papers


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Social Action Papers
  • Any writing assignment that connects learning targets with real issues in the community
  • Uses:
    • Develop research and persuasive writing skills
    • Develop citizenship values and skills
    • Student learn how to use textbooks as reference tools
  • Play by play
  • Caveats:
    • Students may choose a topic / project whose scope is too big or too small
      • can resolve with feedback on proposals
    • Students can procrastinate
      • can resolve with milestone deadlines, in-class supported work time


Social action papers can tie content to real issues.  The real relevance can make project more engaging to students.  Incorporating a real audience into the project can also raise the stakes and interest level of the project.


Preparation Steps
  • Find real audiences
    • Recruit a local partner as a resource or client for the project – they could be clients and/or sources of expertise
    • Identify connections to potential topics that can make students’ friends and families viable audiences
  • Research and gather resources that relate to genre of social action paper
  • Design resources / activities to help students select topics:
  • Research and prepare resources for scaffolding writing.  Related articles
  • Design a project calendar that includes:
    • Time to brainstorm, select, vet, and refine topic / product choices
    • Research time
    • Time to scaffold writing and related content
    • Milestone deadlines for writing stages
    • (if possible) Time to interact with real audience
    • Multiple reflection times
    • Critique & feedback lessons
    • Time to present to real audience
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement resources prepped above.
  • Be flexible with students who are working with real clients / experts because their time lines may not match school time lines
  • Provide a lot of formative feedback and in class work time throughout the project
  • Schedule time to meet with and present to real clients
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Build sustaining relationships with local organizations so that multiple cohorts of students can work for real local organizations
  • Use tools like Nepris or Ignite by DiscoverSTEAM to connect students with real clients / experts.
  • Scaffold students through a design process to create products that client really needs.  See Design Process articles.



81: Multigenre Projects





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Multigenre Project

  • Instead of one long research paper, students compose several shorter pieces focused on a single topic
  • Recommended related reading:
  • Uses:
  • Play by play
    • Getting started
      • Use preliminary research to help students pick a topic that genuinely interests them
      • Inspire and inform students by showing them models
      • Scaffold research processes
        • how to select valid sources
        • how to gather notes on researched information
    • Working the room
      • Have students choose from a LARGE menu of writing genres,  Putz has them pick 7.
      • Possible genres
        • Check out the book , too many to list here.  Plus the book has some pretty compelling examples of student work.
        • Would be neat if someone would take a large genre list and classify it by the 6 facets of understanding .  Then you could require students to pick 1 genre form each facet.  If such a chart exists or if you create one, please share.
      • Facilitate mini-lessons and distribute thinking sheets and show models that go with each genre
      • Allow students to select appropriate tools (apps, paper, fonts, etc) to represent their chosen genres
      • Require students to connect all 7 pieces into a coherent whole – logically sequence them and create transitions between them.
      • Students select a package to hold writing pieces that goes with topic.  (Note: These remind me of items from a McSweeney’s subscription)
    • Leverage the work
      • Individual students form teams and create a piece of reader’s theater than incorporates excerpts from all their pieces.
      • Self – assessments on the work –
        • How did you choose your genres?
        • What did you learn?
        • How did you connect your pieces into a cohesive whole?
        • Are you happy with your topic choice? why?
    • Challenges
      • Complicated project calendar
      • Need to prep resources for many writing genres
        • Could have students gather 3 examples from a new genre and find common features and use those for criteria to create writing piece
        • Could limit menu of genres to ones you already have prepped resources for


Multi-genre products actively engage students to explore multiple types of understanding by having them write in multiple genres.  Each genre has different thinking and writing demands.  This type of project could be good for advanced PBL teachers and advanced students who need a different type of project to break up the monotony of commonly assigned products.  This can be used to explore and appreciate BIG IDEAS that have lots of layers.


Preparation Steps
  • Conduct more research than is in this article – see related reading above and the source book
  • Gather resources (mini-lessons, models, thinking sheets) for all the genres in the menu students will be allowed to pick from
  • Design resources to help students choose their topics:
    • Design an essential question that aligns to targeted standards and that students can unpack to choose a topic that interests them
    • If course standards permit, design a preliminary research / topic selection activity that will allow students to choose topic that interests them
  • Design project calendar that has:
    • Adequate research time (near start of project)
    • Milestone deadlines for genre types (middle of project)
    • Milestone deadlines for coherent whole (end of project)
    • Milestone deadlines for team product – reading theater piece (end of project)
Early Implementation Steps
  • Facilitate project using resources designed above
  • Provide A LOT of in class work time and in class feedback – see these articles for ideas – Critique / Feedback lessons and Writing Workshops
  • Facilitate self reflections and self assessments that help students become aware of how their writing and understanding are developing throughout the project and to help students set and achieve academic goals
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Use  6 facets of understanding to create a genre menu that enables students to select one genre per facet of understanding.



78: Shorter Writing Projects (1 of 3)





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People Research:
  • Uses / purposes:
    • Easier than research abstract topics
    • Stepping stone for building research and writing skills that build up to attract topics
  • Questionnaires & Surveys
    • Play-by-play:
      • Investigate sample surveys and extract examples and key features.  For modeling lessons, go here.
      • Learn about different survey questions and different scoring systems.
      • Design and implement own surveys.
      • Workshop how to cluster and summarize data using various graphs
      • Students write about conclusions that are backed by evidence in the summary graphs
  • Interviews
    • Play-by-play:
      • Help students select and contact people they can interview
      • Help students design interview questions
      • Students interview subjects using questionnaire and use writing and recording devices to record interview
      • Flesh out interview information with information researched from valid internet sources
      • Develop writing pieces using researched information aimed at a specific audience
      • Use teacher conferences and peer response sessions for
        • revisions – substantial changes in writing structure
        • revising – after revisions, polish word choice, spelling, and grammar
        • proofreading – correct tiny errors that spell check and grammar check miss
        • For critique lesson formats, go here.
        • Use checklists to help with giving descriptive feedback.
  • writing genre that marries factual research with imagination (facts + fiction)
  • students research facts and write stories involving these
  • Uses:
    • students can personalize learning – connect to their lives, prior knowledge, experiences
    • serve as additional alternative summative assessment in addition to traditional test
    • short guided research project
  • Example:
    • write a journal entry for character using researched historical details
  • Play-by-play:
    • Topic search: Depends on goals
      • Develop research skills – start with assigned set of resources
      • Independent research:
        • start with set of teacher generated list topics
        • guide students to find interesting topics:
          • scan textbook and pay attention to bold text and picture captions
          • assign 3 general website, study these, and list intriguing topics
    • Identifying the Audiences:
      • 3 audiences: teacher, writer, and someone else
      • identify other audience that connects to writing topic and writing genre
    • Gathering Information:
      • 2-3 valid sources
      • use a checklist for identifying valid internet sources
      • give students starter list of 5-10 sources
      • teach students how to search databases and how to frame data queries into Google and similar tools
      • collaborate with media specialist / librarian if your school has one or more
    • Prewriting:
      • record key research information
      • react to researched information in character
      • develop character details – age, social status, occupation, education, gender, background, goals, hopes, dreams
    • Drafting:
      • Work the room – scan writing as it evolves
      • After 30 min of drafting, students read aloud to a partner – listen for revision opportunities
      • Double-spaced drafts create room for written comments
    • Revisions:
      • Revise for 2 reasons;
        • increase evidence of sufficient research
          • underline key facts in piece
          • model use of parenthetical citations
          • students add citations to their papers
          • identify areas that have little factual content and research more info to fill these gaps
        • enhance characterization with examples, details
          • read papers aloud in writing groups and discuss:
            • words that created action and imagery
            • favorite parts
            • parts missing details and information
            • when did you care most about character
      • Split revisions into 2 phases (see 2 above) with space in between each to let work rest
    • Editting:
      • Chart common student errors and use chart to identify top 3 errors in individual’s work
      • Teach students how to find and correct common errors
      • Check in with ELA class to see if you can emphasize key grammar elements being featured in that course
      • Have writing partners only provide editing feedback on 1st page of writing and have individual students find similar errors in remaining pages
      • Create individual responsibilities sheets that list writing goals and individual’s top 3 errors – use these lists to improve writing
      • Have writing partner read the paper aloud – more likely to read mistakes as written so they are easier to hear
      • Check for spelling errors by reading slowly with finger tracing each word
      • Ask students to get 2 other adults (besides teacher) to proofread paper
    • Sharing the writing:
      • Read papers aloud at presentations
      • Seek out audiences beyond the classroom
      • Hold unto to writing samples and polish and
      • submit best sample within a semester to a class magazine
    • Other Tips
      • Facilitate each stage and explain its purpose so that students learn to appreciate writing as a process
      • Provide feedback at each phase so students can gradually improve over time
    • Possible grading criteria:
      • Realization of character through details
      • Replicates genre fully
      • Use of research and notes is evident
      • Uses citations and reference page correctly
      • Original, creative, but school appropriate


3-sowhatThe two writing projects described above are research projects that build up to  more difficult genres that involve research of abstract topics.  The people research project helps students write about topics that are very personal and tangible and teaches them how to design and research questions.  The faction paper teaches students how to blend fact and fiction.  It helps them to connect factual research with their own lives and experiences.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide what writing assignments develop skills that are good pre-cursors to more formal genres that are key to the course.
  • Early in the year scaffold and assess writing projects that feature genres that develop skills related to more complex genres.
  • Research and develop strategies and tools that relate to these writing genres.  Think about how the skills taught in these projects can be leveraged later in the year.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project that features writing product from a preparing genre.  See above for examples and here and here.
  • Have students reflect on how they are developing skills that you know will be used later in the year.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Re-use some of the strategies in preparation projects in order to reinforce skills that will be used in later writing projects.
  • Maintain a class blog or class magazine that features high quality student work.

67: HCD Implementation Phase



Key Terms:
  • Rapid prototype:
    • tests pieces of solution
    • low fidelity
    • not market ready
  • Live prototype:
    • tests how well solution resonates with the market
    • moderate fidelity
    • tests multiple parts of solution
    • appears to be market ready
  • Pilot:
    • version of solution that is holistically feasible and viable in the market place
    • high fidelity
    • tests whole idea and whole systems
    • actually market ready
  • Bootstrapping
    • no outside partners for funding
    • for very lucrative ideas
    • PROS: lots of control, can change quickly, not reliant on partner preferences
    • CONS: costly, high risk, large staff, slow growth, compete with companies who could be collaborating partners
  • Franchising
    • selling or licensing product to funding partners
    • good when other entrepreneurs like your idea
    • PROS: moderate control, less costly, connections to supply chain
    • CONS:  difficult to maintain quality control, relies on will and preferences of outside partners
  • Integration
    • combine forces with external organizations
    • good when solution complements an existing service or product or when partnering organization has the resources to scale up solution faster
    • PROS: high impact, cheap, connected to supply chains, quick scale up
    • CONS: difficult to maintain quality control, loss of control, reliant on will and preferences of partners
  1. Understand your target:
    • what does solution mean to clients and those involved in its implementation?
    • what’s the capacity of the implementation group?
    • plot solutions in an Innovation 2×2 chart to identify incremental, evolutionary, and revolutionary ideas
    • innov22
    • clarify user group (new or existing) for each solution
    • identify and test solutions that fit gaps in the Innovation 2×2 chart
  2. Create an action plan:
    • plan how design will make it to the market – identify key processes and partners
    • make a roadmap – calendar that shows key milestones and interactions with key stakeholders
    • staff project – assemble a team with specific skills or access to funding needed to implement products
    • build partnerships – identify key partners and build relationships with these
    • develop funding short-term and long-term funding strategies – short-term strategy is for product launch until sufficient penetration to market that it can get access to sustainable sources of revenue
    • create a pitch
      • explain how product works, why it counts, who benefits
      • modify pitch for different listeners
  3. Launch your Solution:
    • test idea in the real market place
    • run a life prototype, stress test for market conditions
    • define what to test.  testable items include:
      • pricing – how will it vary? how does it compare to competitor products?
      • payment options – upfront? installments? subscriptions?
      • incentives – how to pay employees? commissions?
      • customer retention – which customers are most important? how to retain these?
      • customer experience – are customers interested in product? does interest linger?
    • go to pilot
      • test ideas AND systems
      • done after testing and refining a few live prototypes
      • idea has proven to be feasible, desirable, viable, and scalable
  4. Keep getting Feedback & Iterating:
    • keep getting feedback:
      • measure and evaluate work
      • dedicate a team to gathering feedback
    • include key stakeholders:
      • convene many stakeholders to get lots of feedback
      • document feedback
    • keep iterating
      • improve solutions using feedback
      • tweak things such as:
        • communications strategy
        • distribution plans
  5. Scale Towards Impact
    • define success
      • determine what success looks like over different time periods
    • sustainable revisions
      • assess new strategies
        • total costs?
        • reliability of funding?
        • what relationships needs to be built?
        • how much to sell to stay viable?
        • how to retain customers?
        • launch new products over time?
      • scaling options – add locations? add products?
    • measure & evaluate:
      • identify measured of success and how to measure them
Practicing the Implementation phase teaches students and teachers how to implement REAL solutions that impact people outside school.  This phase can be used to scaffold the most authentic projects in which students design solutions that will be actually used by (and perhaps sold to) people outside school.


Preparation Steps
  • HCD Implementation Steps applied to Solving Student Learning Design Challenge
    • Recruit an implementation team (small) who has the skills needed to help you test and implement your live solutions
    • Decide which of the implementation steps above are practical to trial in a school setting
    • Decide which solutions you will take through live trials
  • Scaffolding HCD Implementation Steps for Students
    • Experience HCD process prior to facilitating it to learn how to better scaffold it
    • Let students in design teams select a worthy design challenge (or assign one)
    • Guide them through a student friendly, time affective version of the Inspiration phase
    • Guide them through a student friendly, time affective version of the Ideation: synthesis phase
    • Guide them through a student friendly, time effective version of the Ideation:prototyping phase
    • Develop visuals and assign readings that teach students how to go through key steps in a student friendly, time effective version of the Implementation phase.
    • Build relationships with community partners who can assist students with testing and implementing their solutions in authentic settings
Early Implementation Steps
  • HCD Implementation Steps applied to solve student learning design challenge
    • Plot solutions in Innovation 2×2 chart.  See above
    • Use Innovation 2×2 analysis to get inspiration for new solutions to iteration if needed
    • Create an action plan.  See above.
    • Launch solution.  see above.
    • Gather feedback and continue to iterate.  See above.
    • Determine impact scale of solution and take steps to bring it to that scale.  See above.
  • Scaffolding HCD Implementation Steps for Students
    • Facilitate student design teams through a student friendly, time-effective version of the steps listed above
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • HCD Implementation Steps applied to solving a student learning design challenge
    • Reflect on the entire HCD process
    • Decide which steps in the process would be appropriate for scaffolding projects of varying levels of authenticity.   Start to implement these phases and related scaffolds into student projects.
  • Scaffolding HCD Implementation Steps for Students
    • Let students reflect on how Implementation Steps can be used to implement and test solutions in other courses and in their own lives
    • Have students reflect on how the HCD process changed their view of themselves as learners and as potential entrepreneurs
    • Build relationships with actual companies who would like to implement real student solutions so that all HCD Phases can be implemented to a high degree of fidelity.  For 2 tools to building relationships with partner, see this article.



66: HCD Ideation: Prototyping Phase


Class 4 Readings in “Design Kit_The Course for Human-Centered Design.” Dropbox. Web. 14 Mar. 2016.



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Key Terms:
  • Ideas:
    • answers to the How Might We … ? questions
    • have potential for success, innovative
  • Concepts:
    • polished, concrete ideas
  • Prototypes:
    • tangible ideas
    • rough, just accurate enough to get useful feedback
  • Experience Maps:
    • Visual storyboard that describes beginning, middle and end of user experience of prototype
  1. Generate Ideas:
    • Choose appropriate space – large enough to move in & post many ideas
    • Gather tools for displaying ideas
    • Recruit large diverse team
    • Keep pacing high energy – no more than 1 hr total, 15-20 min per question
    • Select facilitator
    • Introduce RULES:
      • Defer judgement
      • Encourage wild ideas
      • Build on other ideas
      • Stay on topic
      • One conversation at a time
      • Be visual.  Sketch ideas.
      • Go for quantity
    • Equip everyone to participate
    • Attend to each question, one at a time
  2. Select Promising Ideas:
    • Cluster similar ideas
    • Everyone votes for Top 2.  Vote directly on top of ideas
    • Tally and discuss results.
    • Decide which ideas to develop.
  3. Determine what to Prototype:
    • Break down beginning, middle and end of user experience
    • Create Experience Maps
    • Identify key questions
    • Create order of operations
      • Prioritize questions and prototypes used to investigate these
  4. Make Prototypes:
    • Create rough 3D models of concepts
    • Use digital tools to build a mock-up
    • Role play user experience
    • Create diagram that maps out key processes and services
    • Create stories – newspaper articles, job descriptions that relate key features of concepts
    • Create fake advertisements that highlight key features, tweak to different audiences
  5. Test & Get Feedback:
    • Consider setting – informal or close to actual setting?
    • Define what to test
    • Define feedback activities – ensure that these are best suited to things being tested
    • Invite honesty & openness – communicate that idea is rough and can change in response to feedback
    • Stay neutral – do not be defensive
    • Adapt on the fly – change as you go if possible
    • Provide multiple prototypes if possible
    • Find space and time to discuss initial impressions of feedback
    • Captures ideas & iterations – photo-journal key processes & prototypes
    • Share impressions – compare notes with team and document findings
  6. Integrate feedback & Iterate:
    • Share findings on Post-Its
    • Cluster similar findings
    • Categorize findings by: concerns? pros? suggestions?
    • Evaluation relationship of findings to original intent of product
    • Prioritize feedback – which is most important? what to respond to?
    • Evolve prototypes – makes changes that eliminate barriers and respond to key suggestions
  7. Repeat Steps above Iteratively


This phase enables teachers and students to convert ideas into tangible solutions and then test pieces of these solutions in quick tests that allow designers to quickly learn and iterate from their mistakes.  Going through this process can teach learners how to use iterations to learn and revise and how to learn from their mistakes.


Preparation Steps
  • HCD Ideation: Prototyping Steps applied to Solving Student Learning Design Challenge
    • Recruit a design team and select a problem that relates to student learning and complete the Inspiration phase
    • Recruit a design team that will help you identify document key insights that you gathered during the Ideation: Synthesis phase
    • Recruit a diverse larger brainstorming team.
  • Scaffolding HCD Ideation: Prototyping Steps for Students
    • Experience HCD process prior to facilitating it to learn how to better scaffold it
    • Let students in design teams select a worthy design challenge (or assign one)
    • Guide them through a student friendly, time affective version of the Inspiration phase
    • Guide them through a student friendly, time affective version of the Ideation: synthesis phase
    • Develop visuals and assign readings that teach students how to go through key steps in a student friendly, time effective version of the Ideation: Prototyping phase.
    • Secure A LOT of Post-Its, secure materials for making 3D prototypes, or teach them how to use Post-It and CAD software.
Early Implementation Steps
  • HCD Ideation: Prototyping Steps applied to solve student learning design challenge
    • Meet with brainstorming team in a space with lots of Post Its and wall space.
    • Generate ideas while following the brainstorming rules.  See above.
    • Select the most promising ideas. See above.
    • Investigate the user experience and decide what to prototype.  See above.
    • Create prototypes of various forms.  See above.
    • Test prototypes and get feedback.  See above.
    • Integrate feedback into revised prototypes and iterate See above.
    • Develop, test, and refine prototypes several times.  See above.
  • Scaffolding HCD Ideation: Prototyping Steps for Students
    • Facilitate student design teams through a student friendly, time-effective version of the steps listed above
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • HCD Ideation: Prototyping Steps applied to solving a student learning design challenge
    • After enough has been learned from prototyping, move on the Implementation phase.
  • Scaffolding HCD Ideation: Prototypin Steps for Students
    • Let students reflect on how Inspiration: Prototyping Steps can be used to develop better insights to problems in other courses and in their own lives
    • Facilitate students through the Implementation phase