Wicked Problem… and Solutions (rough draft)

Picture this: your students arrive, ready and eager to learn. You begin teaching a concept, and you tell your students that the concept is tough, that they will work with peers to solve issues, and that they will FAIL in the process. Immediately, the room goes quiet. An uncomfortable silence sets in. Fail?

In today’s schools, students are told if they are not right, they are wrong. They are not always given another chance, because the due date has passed or the test is done and over with. Why are we setting up our school system this way? What about students working together, solving issues, taking multiple attempts to build up their knowledge base? Why are we not allowing students to fail, and learn from their failures, in order to succeed?

In my Wicked Problem Project think tank, we took a closer look at the wicked problem of failure as a learning mode. This is a problem which has many solutions, but the problem lies in discovering what could work best. My group members (Jeff, Sarah, and Kate) and I spent time researching and developed a potential solution to this issue – how to help our students learn from failure. We delved into the development of the growth mindset (and leaving behind the fixed mindset), the benefits of students working collaboratively to tackle problems, the potential of video game technology in helping students to learn and grow, and a shift in our gradebooks to support the growth mindset with standards-based grading.

You can view our curation here, created through Blendspace. You will find information on our visual representation, proposed solutions via a white paper, our brainstorming document where we organized our thoughts, and a mash-up of our recorded conversations and resources.

Technology and Classroom Use – Survey, Data and Report

Technology is huge. More and more districts are putting technology into their classrooms, and into the hands of their teachers and students. Having the technology is great, but there’s more to it than simply having it. Are teachers set up for success in regards to integrating it into their classrooms? In a time when we are so quick to try out the newest gadgets, are we doing everything we can to be sure our teachers, and consequently our students, are even prepared to use what they already have?

To find out, I surveyed the third grade team at the elementary school where I currently teach in southeast Michigan. My colleagues and I are lucky enough to be in a 1:2 technology situation with six chromebooks and six tablets in each room, but I wondered what else could be done to help teachers feel more prepared for integrating technology in their classrooms. We have the technology, and we are integrating it, but we need to do more. How comfortable and confident are teachers with integrating technology, and how can their needs best be met? The best answers come from the mouths of the teachers themselves. My survey is available here. Check out the infographic of my survey data below, and click here to read my report analysis. Questions and comments are more than welcome, as well as any ideas YOU may have for integrating technology successfully!

Technoloy and Classroom Use (1)

Dyslexia and Raz-Kids

Dyslexia is a special learning need which is extremely complex. As teachers, we need to be prepared to teach students with dyslexia, but more importantly, we must make sure we are setting them up for success in the classroom. In a time when more and more teachers are evaluated based on their students’ reading scores, we must be sure that we are doing everything possible to help our most struggling readers. In my white paper on dyslexia and technology to support students with dyslexia, I found interesting research on brain imaging and the cause of dyslexia. I describe the differences in the white and grey matter of the brains of people with dyslexia and of people who do not have dyslexia. From there, I discuss an interesting article on how silent reading time may not be as beneficial for our students with dyslexia as we thought. Finally, I explain how Raz-Kids (a website and app) can effectively support students with dyslexia. I also include a screencast to show exactly how it works. Raz-Kids provides resources and options for students, but it also provides a monitoring piece for teachers – in this way, students are supported because teachers are able to monitor student progress. Any comments or questions are appreciated. References for my white paper are cited at the end of the paper.


(photo credit: Freeparking. (30 May 2007). Rosina Emmet Sherwood, girl reading 1888 [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/freeparking/521525494/.)

Silent reading time may hurt, more than help, our students with dyslexia. It is our job as teachers to help these students progress as readers.


Freeparking. (30 May 2007). Rosina Emmet Sherwood, girl reading 1888 [photo]. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/freeparking/521525494/.

InfoDiet Reflection

This week in CEP812 we were asked to reflect on our current information diet – the information we consume, and how/why we consume it. The danger with gathering information online comes in the form of what Eli Pariser refers to as “filter bubbles” – the information we see is individualized; it is what the internet thinks we want to see, not what we need to see (Pariser, 2011). I use facebook a lot for information. Many of my facebook friends are teachers, so I see a lot of information I can relate to and agree with. I read blogs of educators who teach third grade. Why not read more about what works in their classroom, and see if it could work in mine? Recently, I was having difficulty finding resources to teach making inferences. I began by “googling” and stopped every time I found a lesson for a book in my classroom library. It was a quick, easy way to find resources. I tend to do this with other comprehension strategies, too – as a new teacher, I just do not have the resources built up on my own.

Eli Pariser mentions that we need to make sure the information we gather is relevant, but more importantly, that it challenges our viewpoints and makes us uncomfortable (Pariser, 2011). I generally do not go looking for information that makes me question what I am doing in my classroom. For example, when I googled “third grade making inferences”, I immediately omitted viewpoints and resources from grades other than third, and from strategies that may not be making inferences (but may be related!). If the lesson is for a book I do not have access to, I keep looking until I find one for a text I do have. I could potentially be passing up on an excellent resource, simply because it is a challenge to locate a text.

In order to push my thinking and challenge my ideas, I revisited my RSS feed from CEP810 and added three new resource sites to it:

ProfHacker – The Chronicle of Higher Education: I see my students in the present, as 9 year olds… not in the future, as college-bound teenagers. This needs to change! I need to think more about whether I am instilling the appropriate values in my students that they will carry through the rest of their school careers. I am building the base of a solid education, and my students are relying on me for that.

Blended Learning Environments: I always thought I couldn’t have blended learning in my lower elementary classroom, because I have never had experience with it (or know anyone who has). I realize now that it is possible. I need to believe in my students and help them see what they are capable of producing outside of my classroom. I need to believe blended learning is possible so my students can see themselves as successful with it. I need to open my students’ eyes to the possibility of learning outside of school.

Scoop.It!’s Common Core Online: My facebook is always full of “these common core assessments are too hard”. I also tend to think this way. I need to realize that common core is here to stay, and make sure my students are prepared to meet the standards. Rather than complain about the assessments, I need to stay informed so my students are ready. I have every right to disagree, but I also have the incredible responsibility of educating my students to the best of my ability.


(photo credit: Roberts, Kayleigh. (2014, April 2; updated 2014, June 2). Is Picky Eating an Eating Disorder? Living With Selective Eating Disorder and No Vegetables [photo]. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bustle/picky-eating-an-eating-disorder-living-with-selective-eating-disorder-and-no-vegetables_b_4986010.html.)

Just like being picky while eating prevents us from trying new things, being unconsciously picky with the information we receive prevents us from expanding our minds.


Roberts, Kayleigh. (2014, April 2; updated 2014, June 2). Is Picky Eating an Eating Disorder? Living With Selective Eating Disorder and No Vegetables [photo]. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bustle/picky-eating-an-eating-disorder-living-with-selective-eating-disorder-and-no-vegetables_b_4986010.html.

TED Talks (producer) with Pariser, Eli. (2011, March). Beware Online “Filter Bubbles”. Available from http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles?language=en#.