Saturday, April 20, 2013

Raft's Wicked Problem Part C

Implementation of Raft's Wicked Problem

It has been very exciting and motivating to watch the implementation and development of my Wicked Problem.  I am realizing, however, that there is a lot of work involved in creating the perfect setting.   Let’s recap my Wicked Problem.  My wicked problem within the Saline Middle School is not being able to provide sufficient individualized instruction due to the 69-minute time constraint per class period.  Teachers can "flip" their classroom instruction, which allows students to view podcast lessons at home or within their classroom.  Allowing the students to receive individualized instruction with the teacher who is focused on clarifying the level of understanding during class-time.  Our schedule is limited; therefore I need to address this issue with instructional strategies and technological tools in order to successfully meet the differentiated learning styles of our students.

However, to fully implement my problem it will take more time educating the staff on the many thoughts that go into this process.  Being a building principal I want to focus on my leadership as an educational leader.  This means helping, guiding, supporting and educating our staff on innovative learning techniques.  My passion is being able to support all students and their different learning styles in a limited amount of classroom time.  My first journey with differentiation began as a high school teacher when it was clear that there wasn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to teaching.  In most cases, my style of teaching didn’t fit most of the students I had. I had to work really hard as a teacher to create different methods of delivery to meet my student needs.  While the idea of teaching with student differences in mind is an old theory, there really were no classes offered, professional developments days on the topic and certainly not the advanced technology resources we have today.   Now, keep in mind I left the classroom in 1999 and a lot has happened with technology over the past 13 years.  

I started implementing my problem with the help of a few teachers whom were willing to work with me and use some of the “flip” methods that we have been discussing as a staff.   To many, the vision of a “flipped” classroom is one where all instruction is done at home so that in class time can be spent completing on the assigned work.   My thought process here at SMS is that “flipped” simply means that students have access to instructional tools that can aid them in learning even when the teacher is not around. “Flipped” learning can take place at school in the classroom as well.  Utilizing the 69-minute class period for more individualized learning.  Providing the teachers an opportunity to work with students more closely and providing the students a chance to work at their own pace. 

I implemented a couple of different methods in two specific classrooms.  Mrs. Roehm, a 7th grade Science teacher who helped support my Wicked Problem project.   In her classroom we explored her using video tutorials via Camtasia that could be used in class and outside of class. To her delight she found that she was able to better support her students during class because they could view a video to find answers to minor questions, allowing Mrs. Roehm to circulate and address students who may have more needs at that time.

Below is a video of Mrs. Roehm explaining this process and how it has benefited her classroom.  Listen to her voice as she explains what she is doing, it is obvious that she is excited about what is happening.  Now, she will also be the first person to speak about the amount of time that this undertaking has taken in creating these tutorials using Camtasia. 

One of the other technology tools that we implemented was in Mr. Reeves’s 8th grade math class.  After attending The Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) Conference, I discovered another valuable tool that could benefit all students if they need support in and outside the classroom.  The use of QR Codes embedded into the students assignments.  How this works is that Mr. Reeves would either video himself teaching a specific lesson or demonstrates the lesson via his notes and linked it to a QR Code using “My Kaywa QR-Code”.  He attaches the QR Code to the assignment and if the student gets stuck on a problem he can use his mobile device to get a review of how to do the problem.   This is an area I find can help all our students in a time that they do not have a source to go to for help.  Below is a video of a 8th grade math student sharing her experience with using QR codes and having the video tutorials available on line. 

One of the roadblocks that caused a little bump in the process was that technology has moved faster than all families and students can support.  So we needed to work through some issues with students who did not have access to the Internet.  We provided students more opportunity to stay at school and use school devices by extending our Media Center hours.   We allowed the students to sign-out devices from the Media Center so that they could use them at home if needed.  What did surprise me was that after taking a poll of the students we discovered that more that 93% of our students really didn’t have an issue getting access to devices or the Internet. 

One of the greatest highlights was listening to the enthusiasm from these two teachers and how positive they were about these tools of instruction.  At one point, Mrs. Roehm was so excited telling me how she can have 10 of the 17 groups in her classroom have their hands up, all with different questions at different points in the assigned project.  She used to find herself running around frantically while students simply sat and waited for her to reach their group.   But, by having tutorial videos embedded into her project students can view them and actually find their answers.  Another highlight was listening to a student from Mr. Reeves class talk about her experience with the QR Codes and her ability to find answers when she is not in school.

In conclusion, one component that really can have an impact on this Wicked Problem is that parents have access to these videos so that they can gain knowledge and help their children with their work.  I have received many positive comments from parents who are thrilled with having access to the lessons their students are learning.  In most cases, parents want to help their children and want to be involved in their learning but simply do not know the right questions to ask.  By watching these video tutorials, students and parents can have productive, intelligent conversations about what the students are learning.  They can watch a video and it is as if the teacher is sitting with them at their computer helping them through. 

This has resulted in the best differentiation I have experienced.  Each individual group, no matter the ability level, has access to one-on-one instructional aid from their teacher at their fingertips at all times. As a result, the students, parents and teachers can reduce stress levels and are able to enjoy the process of learning.

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