Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wicked Problem project - Part D (Findings and Implications)

1. Formative: Did the project get implemented as planned?

With the exception of some adjustments and bumps in the road, the project was implemented as planned. When I first proposed my idea for the project, I had intended on involving multiple students. With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, however, I realized this would be incredibly difficult to do, given the amount of end-of-the-year work and assessments I still needed to do with each student. Thus, I decided to take my most at-risk reader and focus the project entirely on him. This way I could really devote a lot of time and energy to the project and my student. Another bump in the road was the student’s lack of attendance. As noted in my podcast, this has been an issue all year, so it wasn’t a great surprise, however, it did make full implementation of my project difficult. Out of the 15 days I had devoted to the project, he was absent for 6. Thus, we didn’t get to record as many audio books as I had hoped, nor did we get to move on to record books at the next reading level (which was one of my main goals for him, as he has barley made progress as a reader this year). Overall, I really had to adjust the project to math his attendance. When he was there, we’d find time to work together and record books. When he didn’t come to school, I would use the time I would have spent with him to assess and work with other students. Again, with the exception of some adjustments, the project was implemented as planned.

2. Summative: Evidence of success in addressing the problem of practice

My initial reason for implementing this project was to motivate and engage struggling readers. Now uncommon, my most at-risk readers have the most difficult time staying focused and on-task during independent reading time. Thus, it was my hope to take my most at-risk readers and give them the opportunity to record their own audio books to listen to during independent reading time, to keep them engaged. As stated above, I only ended up having time to implement the project with one student, my most at-risk reader. Although we only worked together on this project for a total of 9 days, I noticed his increased motivation and level of engagement during independent, among other things. The most exciting result I saw from this project was the student's increased level of engagement during reader's workshop, his excitement and enthusiasm for recording books and then having the opportunity to listen to them, his motivation to participate during guided group time and when working with me one-on-one, and most importantly, a complete change in his attitude towards reading. These were all huge successes for him.

3. How would you approach another project of this type differently given what you’ve learned here?

The biggest change I would make is starting the project earlier in the year. This is definitely something I would want to start as soon as my reader's workshop has been established, the students are used to the rules and routines, and I know my students as literacy learners. I would start with my most at-risk readers, but ultimately I would like to have all of the students create their own audio books at some point throughout the year. I think it would also be great to allow students to listen to each other's audio books during their Listening-to-Reading center time.

4. What are the lessons learned that others might benefit from knowing about?

The biggest lesson I learned while doing this project, and the lesson that was continuously reiterated throughout my first year of teaching, is that you have to be flexible. Teaching is full of surprises and, as type-A as I may be, I really had to learn to go with the flow this year and adjust things accordingly. This was especially true during this project. Even though I had it all mapped out, I didn't plan for my student's lack of attendance, and I had to be flexible and adjust the project to fit his attendance. 

5. In what ways will you endeavor to do the same project again, and what will you change or not do?

The biggest change I will make when implementing this project next year is attempting it with all of my students, at some point throughout the year. Initially, I will start with my most at-risk readers, and those students who seem the least excited/motivated about reading (typically these are the same student). Because of the overwhelming success I had with one student, I think this would be an incredible project to use with all of my students. Moreover, once the other students saw student X getting to record his own audio books, they all wanted to do it (who wouldn't want to record their own audio book?). I think it'd be great for every student to record an audio book, at their reading level, immediately at the beginning of the year. Then, I'd love to have each of them record a final one, at the end of the year with their ending reading level, and for them and their families to see their growth!




  1. Isn’t it amazing that the students who are at-risk the most attend school the least? One of my 5th graders, who was reading at the 1st grade level missed more than 30 days of school this past year. It was very difficult to keep her motivated and engaged in learning. I really appreciated the way you adjusted your sails (read: project implementation), for this one particular student, and were able to achieve measurable results in a short amount of time. Isn’t it amazing that the students who are at-risk the most attend school the least? One of my 5th graders, who was reading at the 1st grade level missed more than 30 days of school this past year. It was very difficult to keep her motivated and engaged in learning. I agree with you – one needs to remain flexible – always adjusting to the needs of the learner and where they are coming from. I loved the modifications and project extensions you have in mind for continued implementation in for the fall. You are going to have to stay in touch because I’m really interested in learning how this all turns out – I hate cliffhangers=8-) Looking forward to your final presentation.

  2. I will add my "pat-on-the-back" for flexibility. I too tend to run on the organized end of the spectrum-and I know why-we want to see success SO MUCH!! I know how hard it is to let it all go. I am so glad you were able to connect with this student. I also think it is a Great idea to have students be able hear themselves at the beginning and the end of the year, and also what a great "artifact" to have for parent teacher conferences or administrative reviews. Congratulations again!

  3. Congrats Megan on the implementation of your plan. Teaching never goes exactly the way we plan and I think you did a great job working with what you had access to and the ability to, given that it was the end of the year. This might sound cheesy, but my pastor says that you should “do for one what you wish you could do for all” and by relating that to teaching, I think that starting out small like you did still was a success. By doing it on a smaller scale the first time around, you will probably be more prepared to implement your idea with more students and perhaps your whole class next year! I don’t know the situation of your particular student, but it does boggle my mind that some students have so many absences. Perhaps they (or their parents) don’t realize that it has such a negative effect on their learning. I agree with you that your technology will produce engagement and a new excitement in learning how to read. P.S. nice pictures!

  4. Great job on implementing your plan. Even though you only had time to focus on one student I think the results were encouraging. I will mention again how smart it is to start small and scale your project to meet the demands of your class. It saves you a lot of headaches when trying to troubleshoot since you've already fine tuned with one student or small groups. You're well on your way to implementing this for your entire class next year.