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.


One thought on “Wicked Problem… and Solutions (rough draft)

  1. The further I got into your project, the more I enjoyed it. Mostly due to personal experience, I was nervous when you mentioned standards based grading in your blog entry. Standards based grading can be phenomenal, when done correctly. I think to do it correctly it needs to be a point of a district or school’s teacher professional development. When educators have a poor understanding it can do a disservice to students, specifically when the focus is on content standards instead of performance standards. With that said, I love the idea of focusing on a growth mindset, collaborative group work and formative assessment failures without penalty.

    When I initially looked at your info-graphic, I found it a bit busy and difficult to pull information out. I found myself edging up closely to my screen to read the smaller fonts. There was good information, but I think it should be easier to access the information at a glance, rather than search for the numbered points.

    Again, I think I’m drawing from a perspective with my own experiences, but in the white paper, I found myself wondering if students would take advantage of a lack of punitive measures to be a bit lazy? I wonder what could hold them accountable for their effort because I fear that simply taking away punishment in the grade book may not, for some students, directly lead to motivation. Did your group discuss additional measures to increase motivation? All and all I think it makes so much more sense to support students learning by focusing on the end product rather than their path to getting there and liked your paper.

    The mash-up video was truly inspiring. Your group had great discussion clips that built on each other. I found myself getting more and more excited as it progressed. If students could have the video game mindset for their education, it would be a truly powerful tool for them. Did you come across any examples or ideas to teach that mindset and ways to continually remind students to think that way throughout the school year?

    It’s a very enjoyable project and I think your group came up with strong, empowering ideas.


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