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.



79: Shorter Writing Projects (2 of 3)



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RAFT Papers
  • What is RAFT?
    • Role of writer
    • Audience of writer
    • Format of writing piece
    • Topic
  • Uses:
    • See content from different perspectives.
    • Creative representation of researched facts
  • Play by Play:
    • Topic search:
      • Give a menu of topics to choose from
      • Start with broad topic that has many possible subtopics that students can choose
    • Identifying Audience, Role, & Format
      • Possible roles: professions, historical figures, real related roles, etc
      • Possible audiences: related orgs/interest groups, historical figures/orgs, friend/foe of role, etc
        • Try to select audiences far removed from classroom that emotionally or logically relate to role
      • Possible formats: speech, letter, conversation, essay, argument, editorial, pamphlet, etc
      • Trinilicious twist:
        • Each team gets to pick topic (same for all team members)
        • Use WheelDecide to select Role and Audience for each individual on team
        • Select Format that goes with plausible interactions between writer role and audience
      • after RAF selections, brainstorm implications in groups of 3 or 4
    • Gathering information:
      • Gather information from valid internet sources
      • Take factual notes from research
      • Make notes that describe how role and audience and format affect factual information
    • Pre-writing:
      • Give out tip sheets, checklists, or thinking sheets that scaffold different writing formats
      • Use mini-lessons, models, and thinking sheets (or similar) to scaffold writing formats
    • Drafting:
    • Revision:
      • Work in writing teams to identify:
        • What lines fit role (and not)?
        • What details reflect time period, audience, actor, setting, etc.?
        • Is intended effect on audience obvious?  How to enhance this?
      • Silent rereads after team discussions
      • Underline hard facts in writing piece
      • Conduct more research to fill in parts with missing factual details
      • Use new research and team feedback to revise draft
      • Print new copy
    • Revising:
      • Pick a couple of watch-fors to focus feedback
      • Try to select watch-fors that are common elements to writing formats – example: use of quotes in letters
    • Sharing the writing:
      • Read aloud in presentations
      • Publish high quality works in school blog or magazine
    • Possible grading criteria:
      • Role is clear – fits audience and format
      • Follows format conventions
      • Extensive use of research notes
      • Original, interesting, school appropriate
  • Students convey information with interesting graphics and concise writing that conveys essential and interesting facts
  • Uses:
    • Review material
    • Connect writing and learning with visuals
    • Summarize researched information
  • Play by play:
    • Topic search:
      • For review: assign topics
      • For research:
        • Provide menu of topics to choose from, or
        • General topic that inspire sub-topics – facilitate brainstorming activity to generate possibilities
    • Identifying the Audience:
      • Select audience that will inspire students to write in clear and interesting ways – example: middle school students for high school students prepping a review brochure
    •  Drafting: 
      • Hand write or type drafts
      • Use brochure templates in word processing software or create brochures by hand (collage-style)
    • Revision & Editting:
      • Work with a feedback partner:
      • Revision Look-Fors:
        • Is all essential information present?
        • Writing style?  Dry? Plagiarized? Enthusiastic?
        • Does writing style fit audience?
      • Partner slowly reads aloud brochure text –  Listen for errors in wording, spelling, and grammar that can be fixed to polish the brochure.
      • Read piece backwards slowly to check for correct spellings and wording
      • Assemble final brochure after revising and editing are done
    • Sharing the Writing
      • Students share brochures and note how same information is represented among brochures
      • Use brochures to study for assessments
      • Could share with real intended audiences
    • Other tips:
      • Require original graphics to avoid plagiarism
Knowing a wide variety of possible writing projects can prevent writing products from feeling stale and repetitive.


The RAFT paper shows students how different perspectives and intentions modify how information is written. This paper could be good for courses or good for projects that aim to teach students how perspectives affect understandings.  Completing different RAFT papers within teams that address the same topic with different RAF selections could teach students how to collaborate to represent the same information in different ways.


Brochures can engage visual learners and artistic students to engage in writing assignments.  They teach students how to present essential information using concise writing and interesting graphics.


Preparation Steps
  • Decide what writing assignments best align to current and future learning targets.
  • Research and develop scaffolding and assessment activities and resources that go with selected writing assignment.  See above and Writing articles for ideas.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Implement project that features selected writing activity.
  • Have students reflect on how the steps in the writing process are affecting their content understandings and their writing skills.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Re-use some of the positively tested strategies in previous projects to reinforce skills in current and future projects.
  • Maintain a class blog or class magazine that features high quality student work.



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.

74 : Pre-Writing Activities





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These are examples of activities one can run to prepare students to create public writing pieces.  To see the difference between public writing pieces and write-to-learn pieces, go here. To see an overview of all the steps that go into creating a piece of public writing go here or here.


Anticipation Guide
  • thinking activity that helps build a sense of purpose for upcoming research and writing
  • provide a couple questions (controversial or open ended)
  • have students just down answers with justifications
  • in small groups, students compare and discuss their answers
  • report small group observations to whole class
  • then begin research on related lessons
Four Corners
  • uses controversy and multiple perspectives to generate interest in a topic
  • pose a question with four possible choices – 4 points of view, Likert scale, etc.
  • students move to corners of the room that represent 4 possibilities
  • talk with students in same corner about why they picked that corner
  • spokespeople summarize discussion
  • let students from different corners meet to share their perpsectives
Gathering Information & Ideas
  • Advance preparation
    • prepare resources students can use to research topics in advance
  • Jigsaw reading
    • students read different articles and meet in small groups to discuss their articles
    • can exchange articles to gain more information on chosen topics
  • Using the internet
    • use evaluation form to help students select valid internet and helpful internet sources
  • Organizing:
    • some students find outlines helpful, some not
    • can provide thinking sheets and templates that outline key features of major sections of specialized reports
  • Looking at samples:
    • Discuss pros and cons of past writing samples
    • Snip apart writing sample into parts and have students order snippets in logical order and explain order
    • Use prompts to help students notice key features in writing samples and how they work


Pre-writing activities help students build engagement and knowledge needed to create writing pieces.  These activities fall into the build the field phase of scaffolding academic writing.   The anticipation guides and 4 corner activity can be used to make students aware of their assumptions and perspectives and to build interest in controversial topics.  The gathering and organizing information strategies can be used by teachers and students to gather and organize information from valid sources.


Preparation Steps
  • Research and gather valid resources that can help students research project topics
  • Decide which strategy will be used to generate sense of purpose and interest.
  • Develop controversial prompts or questions for 4 corners activity and/or anticipation guide.
  • Research and prepare lessons and tools aimed at guiding students in the research process. See above for some ideas.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Facilitate activities to generate interest.  See 4 corners and anticipation guide above.
  • Facilitate activities that teach students how to gather and organize information.  See above and here for ideas.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Follow by other phases in writing process
  • Build pre-writing routines that incorporate activities that students enjoy and that stimulate deeper student thinking.
  • Have students reflect on how pre-writing activities impact how they achieve content and writing goals


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



53: Coaching Lenses




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Coaching Lenses
Inquiry Lens:
  • Values questions, multiple sources of data
  • Problem solving
  • Admits to not knowing everything
  • Aware of assumptions and limitations
  • Concerned with the quality of the question
Change Management Lens:
  • How will change be made?
  • What conditions are needed to create change?
  • Is change possible?
  • Analysis of change conditions
  • Strengths and gaps of current climate
  • Identify and leverage change opportunities
  • What incentives, resources, and skills are needed to promote change?
Systems Thinking Lens:
  • Schools (and classrooms) are interconnected complex systems
  • Systems have logical outcomes
  • Conflict is natural
  • Complexity and diversity are healthy
  • What are the stuck points and energy sources in the system?
Learner Lens:
  • More experienced learners have more starting and sticking points
  • Considers prior knowledge and experiences of learners
  • Sets realistic important objectives that involve direct concrete applications
  • Provides individualized feedback
Systematic Oppression Lens:
  • Prejudice is a notion based on limited information
  • Racism is a product of beliefs and systems that are situated in history, economy, politics and society
  • Who has power (and not)?
  • How does power affect the truth?
  • How does power affect safety?
  • Who’s missing from the leadership?
Emotional Intelligence Lens:
  • Self awareness and self management
  • Social awareness and relationship management
  • Can ask for help and receive feedback
  • Adaptable and flexible
  • Can manage stress
  • Can identify beliefs
  • Welcomes change
  • Reacts well to setbacks
  • Can empathize
  • Can identify social networks and power relationships
  • Can create safe environments
  • Can appear to various learners
  • Good at conflict management
  • Can collaborate well
Recommended read:


This list of lenses was initially intended for instructional coaches, but also applies well to PBL facilitators.  To successfully manage a PBL environment, PBL educators need to play many roles besides teacher.  They need to model and teach 21st century skills.  They need to be effective leaders and good project managers.  They need to learn how to groom student leaders.  The lenses make the many roles of PBL educators more explicit.  Knowing these lenses and the different approaches that go with each can help PBL educators apply the right skills and tools to the right problems.


Preparation Steps
  • Reflect to identify which lenses one applies often and why
  • Reflect to identify lenses that one applies well (and not) and the impacts of those strengths and gaps
  • If gaps might have negative consequences on teaching, research strategies to mitigate those gaps
  • Identify how one uses strengths in lenses to solve problems.  Brainstorm and research ways to extend those strengths
  • Identify a worthwhile problem that one can solve or learn more about by applying 1 (or more) of the lenses
  • Use different perspectives to develop hypotheses and potential solutions to focus problem
Early Implementation Steps
  • Trial solutions or gather data related to hypotheses in the classroom
  • Reflect on how solutions work (or not) or how gathered information supports (or does not support) conjectures based on looking at the problem from different lenses
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Recruit thought partners who are strong in lenses that are your gaps
  • Ask how thought partners see your focus problem and what insights they have – develop conjectures and possible solutions related to these
  • Teach lenses to students when the perspectives build into these lenses can help them think in ways that develop their understandings and their products



52: What the Hack?

Note: This link will only work if you’re logged into Echo.  Sorry, non-New Tech readers.  If you want to contact the presenters, you can try tweeting them at  @leeafleming and @mpacheco11.




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Challenges and Pitfalls of Change Efforts:
  • solutionitis – inflamed, too many solutions
  • jumping to solution implementation before unpacking it, the quick fix
  • overplanning, underdiagnosis
  • can lead to change fatigue and risk aversion
  • confirmation bias – looking only for the YES in the feedback loop and not the NO’s
  • know systems deeply
  • try several things – persistence
  • innovate
  • set up low stake tests to try out new ideas
Hacket Tips:
  1. Chunk it down
  2. Think outside the box
  3. Use small tests
  4. Shift your mindset – learn, not plan
Recommended Reads:

3-sowhatTeachers are constantly problem solving.  They are also role players in broader solutions that affect the whole school.  A hacker’s approach to problem solving could help stakeholders solve problems in innovative and tested ways.

Preparation Steps
  • Find a problem connected to student learning that is worth solving
  • Research and brainstorm solutions related to the problem
  • Research and brainstorm ways to gather data that test various solutions
Early Implementation Steps
  • Trial solutions and gather data on their effectiveness from students and other methods
Advanced Implementation Steps

19: Reflective Research Process





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Reflective Research Process:
  • Formulate a specific question: What do I want or need to know?
  • Collect and document data: How will I find out?
  • Discuss and analyze data: What did I find? What does it mean?
  • Take action: What will I do as a result of my findings?
  • Reflect and evaluate: What did I learn?

Teachers gather a lot of data due to grading expectations.  Since a lot of time is spent gathering and analyzing this data, this time can be used efficiently if grading is also used to answer questions that can be use to improve student learning.  Also, using a reflective research process can be used to test and revise new projects and new lesson plan designs.

Preparation Steps
  • Identify a question worth asking and that can be answered by gathering data
  • Decide what data can be gathered to simultaneously serve as formative assessment and as research data sources
  • Recruit data partner(s) who can help you make sense of your data interpretations
Early Implementation Steps
  • Gather and interpret data.
  • Share interpretations with data partner and see if they can see the plausibility in your interpretations and notice other connections
  • Make lesson plan or project revisions in response to lessons learned
  • Generalize lessons learned so they can be applied to future projects and lesson plans
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Include students as data sounding boards
  • Ask and investigate questions that develop more empathy for students and deeper understanding for how they learn
  • Integrate reflective research process with human centered design process
  • Use reflective research process to evaluate classroom systems and routines and improve them