At the June 4 meeting of the Tackling a Wicked Problem instructors group, we were asked to develop an action plan to lay out things we need to learn about and/or do between now and our next meeting on July 30. Here is my action plan.
I want to start the first day of the class with a discussion of “what is learning?” I have an idea for an activity to practice, fail, and improve their yoyo skills (I got the idea from the Kaospilot workshop on designing learning spaces that I went to a year and a half ago). After that exercise (which will also serve as an ice breaker to begin the development of our classroom community), we will debrief the conditions necessary for the encouragement of learning. We will talk about how those conditions can be fostered in our classroom community. I need to plan this activity.
I also want to begin the class with a spirit of inquiry and a sense of curiosity. So I’m thinking that I’d like to give students some phrases related to our wicked problem (climate change) and ask them what they know about those phrases and how they know those things. I will allow them to use their electronic devices during this exercise. I need to plan this exercise and determine a set of phrases that make sense and will result in discussion.
I think I’m going to use ungrading in this class. I have read a number of articles and blog posts by people who have used this technique in their classes and want to go read those articles and blog posts again so I can figure out which flavor of ungrading I will use.
I read a blog post about transforming a lecture class but found the ideas about syllabus design fascinating for any class. In particular, I love the idea of thinking about the syllabus as an invitation to learning and getting META on the syllabus where we explain why we’re doing what we’re doing. So I want to think about my own syllabus for IS1115 as a real tool for getting students to think about their learning and the role that our classroom plays in their learning and development of the Habits of Mind.
Elisabeth Johnston and I are having our students meet together once a week for an hour. We’re both using the same wicked problem but think some benefit will come from our students talking together across sections. Elisabeth and I need to meet (a lot!) to talk about how we’re going to use that hour, especially early in the semester when students aren’t working on projects yet. I think we’ll use the early meetings to build a community across our sections but we need to talk about how to do that.
I need to think about how I’m going to get students to choose things to read about climate change and how to share what they learn from those readings with the rest of the class. I had thought about getting every student set up with a domain of their own so they could create individual web sites where they could post what they learn. But it feels daunting to get them up and running with the technology given all of the other things we want/need to do with the class. So I need to do some research about innovative ways to share and figure out what might work best in the class.
I also need to think about how I’m going to get students into their project groups. When I taught First Year Seminar, we did concept mapping and they identified areas about fake news (our wicked problem) that they were interested in learning more about. And then I grouped them based on their interests. It was only somewhat successful. For example, I had a group of students who were friends because they played on a sports team together. They all indicated the same area of interest although I’m not sure it was an authentic expression of their interest.
I am going to incorporate regular (probably weekly) self-reflection on students’ practice and development of the Habits of Mind. I’m thinking that I will repurpose the 7-7 forms that I used when I taught FYS but I need to carefully think about how that might happen.
I have a lot more than this to do to get ready to teach this class but this is a good start on an action plan. I’ll add to it as I think of more stuff.
Image credit: Yoyos taken by Cathie LeBlanc (me!) on October 4, 2018.
I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in astrophotography, game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.