Monthly Archives: March 2013

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Week 10 – Advanced ID Project Progress

Write a reflection about your instructional design as it stands today. What has gone well? What has been problematic? How are you going forward from here?

The team we have assembled is well balanced and equally motivated.  Each persons has some very good skills that is lacking in each other so the complimentary synergy is very high.  At first the idea of using robots for teaching math seemed to be a little extreme.  By doing some basic research, I was able to find some new technology that would be robotic and fun and be used to help teach the concept of ratios.  This simple idea became a huge motivator for me personally, simply because I was learning so many new things.  Not being a teacher, I was not familiar with some of theTEKS requirements for courses, so that broadened my view on the teaching environment.

It was a good experience to see how we came up with a consistent theme in our lessons.  The lessons grow in complexity from fun and simple to a little bit more complicated into a final lesson that requires knowledge from the first two lessons.  The design document had a central theme for each lesson too.

Part One                Explore (Inquiry based learning)

Part Two                Reflect (group discussion)

Part Three            Accomplish (the assigned task)

Part Four               Connect to the TEK Math Standards

We collectively created a logo for the lessons and a brand name too.  We call it GoldMind.  The reason is that the first lesson is based on the Golden Ratio.  We have a lot more work to do in building the prototype.  We have taken on a big job with the robots, because there is a level of programming involved.  It is actually a fun project and I really enjoy the teamwork approach.  The next step will be in organizing and making everything consistent as if one person was responsible for the design.


Week 9 – Advance ID Project Scope

Write a reflection about the advanced instructional design model that your group chose for the project. Why did you choose it? How do you think you will approach it? How did you divide up the work among members of the group? What will be your timeline for completion?

Our group chose to create an advanced ID classroom delivered course that  focused on using robots to help teach eight graders one of the basic and important concepts of multiplicative thinking. One of the most difficult topics for middle school students to master is fractions, ratios and proportions.  Yet, mastery of this topic in middle school is essential to success in high school math, and some research indicates it is a general predictor of high school success. Robotics is an approach that engages students in math and science learning and integrates learning across disciplines.  Building on work to date, this instructional design project will use relatively inexpensive educational robots appropriate for middle school students to teach concepts in fractions, ratios and proportions.

Our approach is as follows.

The overall topic is fractions, ratios and proportions.  More specifically, these lesson plans are intended to provide real-world context to help students make the additive/multiplicative transition, which focuses on understanding ratios between measurements and applying proportional thinking to solve problems.  The three lesson plan topics are ordered and intended to build on each other to help students make the transition desired.  The topics assume students have basic familiarity with fractions and related operations.  Each lesson plan will cover a specific topic to move students towards a multiplicative thinking mindset.

Lesson 1:  Engage students; introduce big idea of ratios; have fun with ratios.
Lesson 2:  Apply ratios and proportional thinking in a simple, meaningful case.  Use directed inquiry to guide students to additive and multiplicative approaches.
Lesson 3:  Apply ratios and proportional thinking in a more complex scenario; move students who are developmentally ready to a multiplicative thinking mindset.

Each of us will be responsible for creating a lesson.  The framework is Guided Inquiry. The lesson plans will be based on constructivist theory and teachers will be guided in proper approaches for delivery through the lesson plans.  The overall project will include a design document, three comprehensive lesson plans and a research paper.  The timeframe for accomplishing this task is very short and will require a number of private group sessions in order to meet the end of class schedule.


Week 8 – Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Problem Based Learning:

It is not surprising that PBL would be developed within a medical school like McMaster University.  If I teach you the problem you can use this concept to solve another problem in the near future.   Each new concept links to previous knowledge   The idea is to transfer information to students so they can solve problems, but it does not generally work that way.  A student can pass a course  but can’t use the knowledge to solve problems.  When you place the student in the middle of the problem they can learn by practicing. The transfer of knowledge from the detailed context into the concept makes a lot of sense.  This allows you to take what you know and apply it to what you are trying to learn.  The problem actually become the motivation and stimulus to learn.

Wheeler states “we encounter problems every day, some of which merely take a minute or two to solve.  Others take days or even years to circumvent, and then often with no guarantee of success.  Problem solving is therefore a key component of the lifelong learning process, involving many cognitive resources and much commitment and practice.”

PBL is used in areas where there are a lot of problems to be solved.  So it is found in medicine, law, engineering, etc.  Being an engineer in my previous career role I can definitely see the process take place.  The problem is presented to the student, the instructor becomes a facilitator, the student becomes engaged and responsible and collaborates with others.  This approach has been used in medical schools over an again.  Usually what happens in medical school is the following.  The academic teaching doctor will tell you what has to be done, then then will show you how to do it, then have you do it and then have you teach someone.  By doing this, you transfer the basic knowledge into a deeper thinking model and can apply this to other problems that you might encounter as well.

Now I can say that  am rooted in constructivism and practicing a PBL approach of instruction and learning.



Week 7 – REALs and Inquiry Based Learning


REALs is of course an acronym for  Rich Environment for Active Learning and is related to the work of Vygotsky who is a Russian teacher and psychologist involved in developing social learning theories. Social learning theories help us to understand that we learn from each other and the impact that  learning communities have on us.  The social learning theory dictates that  we learn through our interactions and communications with our peers, teachers and other experts. Since the environment is very important, it should be rich with opportunity to interact with others and have discussion.  Consequently, teachers would want to create a  learning environment that maximizes the learner’s ability to interact with each other through discussion, collaboration, and feedback.  So I think of this not so much as a model but more of an environment that can be used with a constructivist approach.

Inquiry Based Learning

This has the most appeal to me and our group and will most likely be the method that we use for our project.  This is also know as Guided Inquiry Learning.  I have found two really good books that are recently published that demonstrate the value of this approach.  Guided inquiry: Learning in the 21st century and Guided Inquiry Design: A Framework for Inquiry in Your School .  These were written by a mother and her two daughters, all of which have many years of accumulative knowledge and expertise in this field.   In their book, Kuhlthau, Maniotes and Caspari (2007) confirm the origin of Guided Inquiry Learning (GIL) is based on the solid theoretical foundation grounded in the constructivist approach to learning.  The constructivist approach is based on Dewey, Bruner, Kelley, Vygotsky and Piaget.  The constructivist approach holds that learners impose meaning on the world and construct their own understanding based on their unique learning experiences.

There is an eight-phase framework as the elements of the GIL design process.

1.) Open – this simply means to get the students attention and get them thinking.
2.) Immerse – requires building background knowledge to generate some interesting ideas to investigate.
3.) Explore – the ideas.  The concept of exploring means to ask and inquire.
4.) Identify –and clearly articulate the exploration question.
5.) Gather – the relevant information that is needed to learn.
6.) Create – organize the information so it can be developed into a creative presentation.
7.) Share – with others what you have learned.
8.) Evaluate – to reflect on content and process that you experienced.

Each of these phases in the framework helps to reinforce a connection and continuity between the curriculum and the student’s experiences outside the school.  The intent is to establish a framework that learning is a lifetime proposition.  It is not just something to do in order to get ready for a test.  When the student is encourage to think deeply on a subject and become actively engaged, they are more likely to stay motivated and pursue further learning.

GIL comes in flexible and can be used with a lot of flexibility.  The key ingredients have the students explore, reflect and accomplish as they learn.  This learning process should allow them to connect with the real world and not be limited to the classroom.  The key ingredients for the teacher is to guide, direct and coach the students.  This process of encouragement and empowerment established a basis for critical thinking and analysis.