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Defensive Mids

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Analyzing Scope Creep

The Plan

In a junior high school that serves over 900 students, our administration wanted to find a way to get a consistent teacher contact with the students to guide them through their eighth and ninth grade years.  The goal of the program was to build personal relationships with students so that they would feel comfortable talking to a teacher about their future plans and educational goals.

To achieve this goal, an opportunities/advisory/excel period was created right after 2nd period.  The advisory period, which happens about once a month, has the teacher working with students on their portfolios that include their four year plan, high school and beyond plan, and their work samples.  At the end of the year students present their portfolio to their teacher and parents.

The majority of this extra period is spent using opportunity/excel.  During this time students go to their advisory classroom, check in, and then go to opportunities or excel.  Students are assigned excel if they are failing classes, but if they are clear they can go to opportunities which allows them to go to the commons or gymnasium area to socialize or play games.

Scope Creep

The original goal of the program was to build personal relationship with students so they would feel comfortable talking about their future plans and educational goals.  Somewhere along the line the the opportunity/excel program was implemented alongside the advisory program.  As a teacher it is difficult to switch gears once a month to address the advisory program.

Students are so used to coming into my classroom without any expectations that when they have to stay to work on the advisory materials they are disappointed.  Student disgust with having to stay in the room permeates throughout the lesson.  Although the opportunity/excel period has it’s merits, the advisory program has suffered.

Project Management Implications

The stakeholders still have not addressed this issue because they highly value the opportunity/excel period.  They set out to accomplish one goal, and ended up achieving a different one.

The scope of the project was expanded to the point where the original goal was diminished.  Using a change of scope document to communicate and approve changes with the stakeholder, will help manage the growth of the project.  (Video Program: “Monitoring Projects”)  I would use this document to make sure that the original objectives are fully met.  Realizing that changes to scope can diminish the results in the beginning of the project may have deterred scope creep that happened.

Communicating Effectively

While viewing “The Art of Effective Communication” video, these are the impressions I was left with after reviewing the lessons taught through different modalities. My responses will be analyzing how I understand the tone, changes in interpretation, and content through each modality.

Written Text

There was a definite sense of urgency in the email for Mark to finish up his portion of the project. Timing appears to be critical, and Jane’s work will be directly effected by Mark’s work. This email implies that Mark should have been done with the work already and that Mark is late in getting it to Jane. Jane uses a very sincere writing style and is pleading for the documents to be finished up and given to her.

Audio

Again there was a sense of urgency because Jane asked several times for the report to be sent over. Her voice was sincere, but also to the point. I could sense a little bit of frustration in her voice, that did not come across in the email.

Video

It is interesting that when I saw her face to face, I didn’t feel the urgency as strongly as I did through the voicemail and email. Seeing her also made me feel more calm, and probably more responsive to her needs.

Implications for Working with Project Team Members

I found the email was the modality that created the most urgency. In this situation, the email appeared to be the most effective in creating the needed urgency to assure that Mark would do his portion of the work in time for Jane to be able to act upon the data.

Relationships are key in working with other team members, and the face to face communication was the most effective for maintaining a positive working relationship. The voice mail and the email on the other hand were able to create the needed urgency that this work needed to be done.

To create the urgency and maintain a strong working relationship, it would be best to have a face to face conversation about the needs, and then follow up with an email to restate and formalize the needs that were expressed.

Background

Measurement is a difficult subject to address in my eighth and ninth grade courses. When students come into my room 50% of the students know how to measure and 50% of them have no clue. When deciding to address the learning gaps, I decided that there were enough students that didn’t know how to measure so the entire class would participate in the lecture.

During the lecture based lesson, I called for answers and received them quickly from the students who already knew how to measure. Being comfortable with what I was saying and being reaffirmed by quick responses from students, I assumed that the lesson was a success.

Reality

After I completed the lesson, students were then expected to know how to measure to a 1/16” accuracy on their projects. I was disappointed to find that about the same number of students still did not know how to measure properly. Looking back at the lesson, I realized that I did not address the needs of the students who did not know how to measure, and my lesson should have been focused on these learners.

Instructional Design to the Rescue

The planning phase is essential to a successful project, and a part of the process is learner analysis. In specifically analyzing the students who did not know how to measure, I would have developed a lesson that would have better met their needs. I could have asked myself and the students with the need what kind of experiences with measurement they have had, how have they been taught to measure in the past, and how they feel about math subjects. By analyzing theses learner more in depth, I could have formulated a better lesson for them.

Application

Since that failure of a lesson, I have approached measurement very differently in my classroom. Although I did not formally run through the learner analysis laid out in ADDIE, (because I didn’t know about it), I did recognize that there had to be a better way of reaching these students.

I ended up having conversations with these students about their learning to determine how to approach the subject. From this knowledge, I was able to build a new approach, that tackles the issue from more than one angle.

New Approaches to Addressing Learning Gaps

Students often don’t want to learn something until they need to know it, so I have put more emphasis in creating attractive projects that students will want to build which also requirethem to know how to measure. With these motivating projects, I now have students who come to me asking how to measure.

Measurement is more easily taught in a one on one or small group setting, where it is easier to check for understanding. As I discover students do not know how to measure, I pull them aside and have honest conversations about their ability. Most admit that they do not know how to measure and then I can take next steps.

References

Greer, M. (2010). Theprojectmanagementminimalist: JustenoughPMtorockyourprojects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

The Impact of Open Source

Open courses allow students to acquire new knowledge without enrolling in a program or paying tuition. MIT has an entire site dedicated to providing open courses in just about every subject. Having an engineering background I immediately found myself clicking on engineering, mechanical engineering, and finding the course I will be evaluating, Design and Manufacturing 1.

Pre-plan and Design

Although the course appears to introductory, when looking at the lecure notes and activities it quickly becomes apparent that there is a considerable amount of prior knowledge that students need to be successful. “… it is essential to know the nature of the audience.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) Given that there are so many other courses available in these open sites it would be helpful to make a list of prior knowledge or skills that students would need. If there is a course available to help students gain this knowledge they could be hyperlinked to that course.

The layout of the course starts with displaying sections for review; course competition videos, selected lecture notes, projects and examples, assignments and solutions, and exams and solutions. These options lead me to believe that this course was not designed specifically for the online environment, but rather it is part of a web-facilitated course or a hybrid course. The section for selected lecture notes lets me know that there is a lecture portion to the course and I may not be able to grasp all of the content because there may be gaps in the learning.

Does the Course Follow Recommendations for Online Instruction

“… courses previously taught in tradtitional classrooms may need to be retooled.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) The course did not have a readily available syllabus or outline to help the learner understand where the learning activites were going to take them. Providing this information can help students decipher and focus on the important parts of each learning activity. Without a syllabus too much student effort can be expended on irrellevant information. A syllabus would also show the specific learning objectives.

Looking through the learning activities it did encourage interactivity with the content matter, but not with other learner or an instructor. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) Students were asked through assignements to demonstrate their understanding by using a 3d modeling program to create their solutions. Students could then check their solutions against the answers, which also provided explanations for each step.

To determine the quality of online learning courses it is essential to ask two questions; Is this approach going to work?, and How can I make this better? (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) I do believe that an individual with the appropriate prior knowledge would be able to meet the learning objectives, but the second question is where the online course falls short.

Active Learning

“… the goals and objectives will influence the selection of media.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2009) It does not appear that a lot of thought was put into what type of media would be most useful for content presentation. Written works with supporting images were the primary means for instruction. Given that the learning activities and formal assessments were all based on using a 3d modeling program to show understanding of concepts, it seems appropriate that a screencast of this program solving a similar problem would be very useful for student review.

References

MIT (2009) Design and Manufacturing 1 as taught in Spring 2009

http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mechanical-engineering/2-007-design-and-manufacturing-i-spring-2009/

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (4th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.