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A Design-Based Learning Project for Second Graders By Marta Rosales James Madison School 2008-2010. MAGIC LAND. Design-Based Learning. Backwards ThinkingTM. Table of Contents. I ntroduction ------------------------------------------------------------------- 3

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a design based learning project for second graders by marta rosales james madison school 2008 2010
A Design-Based Learning Project for

Second Graders

By Marta Rosales

James Madison School

2008-2010

MAGIC LAND

Design-Based Learning

Backwards ThinkingTM

table of contents
Table of Contents

Introduction ------------------------------------------------------------------- 3

The Magic land Project------------------------------------------------------- 4

Second Graders at Work----------------------------------------------------- 6

Magic Land Challenges -------------------------------------------------------7

How did Magic Land Began ------------------------------------------------- 8

NBS Way to Introduce Yourself -------------------------------------------- 9

NBS Body Object ----------------------------------------------------------- 13

NBS Instant City ----------------------------------------------------------- 16

Context for Magic Land ---------------------------------------------------- 19

NBS Creature -----------------------------------------------------------------20

NBS Shelter ----------------------------------------------------------------- 23

NBS Way to Use Nature for Nourishment --------------------------------26

NBS Way to Move from Place to Place------------------------------------29

NBS Ideal Leader ------------------------------------------------------------32

NBS Place of Learning ----------------------------------------------------- 35

NBS Way to Protect Magic Land ------------------------------------------ 38

NBS Tribute ------------------------------------------------------------------ 41

Long-Range Planning Boards ----------------------------------------------44

The History Wall -------------------------------------------------------------46

Classroom Organization-----------------------------------------------------47

Transfer of Learning---------------------------------------------------------48

Classroom Meetings ---------------------------------------------------------49

Conclusion --------------------------------------------------------------------50

introduction
Introduction
  • My name is Marta Rosales. I was born and raised in Spain. I have taught second grade students at James Madison School in Pasadena for over twenty years. I was a recipient of Pasadena’s Teacher of Excellence Award in 1995.
  • The Magic Land project was a Design- Based Learning (DBL) project implemented during the school year 2008-2009 and completed during the school year 2009-2010. The Magic Land project is still been implemented in my classroom.
  • Students participating in the Magic Land project were English Language Learners (ELL), primarily Spanish speaking. 100% of participants qualified for the free school lunch program.

The Project Teacher

the magic land project
The Magic Land Project

2008-2010 and Beyond!

the magic land project5
The Magic Land Project

The purpose of the Magic Land project was to develop an integrated, hands-on, standards-based, yearlong curriculum with the intent to increase higher-level thinking skills, transfer of learning, English Language acquisition, and to motivate children to attend school. This was accomplished using the Doreen Nelson’s methodology called the Backwards Thinking™ methodology of Design-Based Learning (DBL). The hands-on activities used in DBL reached a broad spectrum of learners, recognizing the different types of intelligences represented in the classroom.

The Magic Land project consisted of eleven sequential Never-Before-Seen (NBS), three- dimensional designs or challenges. With each challenge, students created components of a three-dimensional model of a city called Magic Land. They developed systems that represented real systems in their own communities. They also created a system of governance for Magic Land and for their classroom.

During this project, I applied Backwards Thinking™ methodology. Each challenge included 6 and ½ steps. First, I identified the theme or concept that I needed to teach. Secondly, I presented the problem from the curriculum. The ½ step consisted of stating the design challenge as 3-D and Never-Before-Seen. For the third step, I created a criteria list that I used for assessment. During the fourth step, students built their models and presented them to the class. While they talked, peers evaluated and offered feedback using the criteria list as a rubric. Students were now ready to learn more about the theme through the guided standards-based lessons. During the last step, students revised and modified their designs.

second graders at work
Second Graders at Work

Using Backwards Thinking™

methodology, students applied

Higher levels of reasoning. They

created, justified, evaluated,

synthesized, and modified their city

designs.

Students discussed, analyzed, and

solved issues they encountered in

their city throughout city meetings.

Similarly, they solved problems in the

classroom through classroom

meetings.

magic land challenges
Magic Land Challenges

Sequence of Challenges

The Magic Land

project consisted

of a yearlong

sequence of

eleven Never-

Before-Seen, 3-D,

challenges

organized into

pathways which

included guided

lessons

Magic Land

how did magic land began
How Did Magic Land Began?
  • We started the school year with the Never-Before-Seen (NBS) Way to Introduce Yourself challenge. This activity provided an opportunity to familiarize students with the Backwards Thinking™ method of Design-Based Learning. They designed 3-D models to introduce themselves in a unique way. Later, they talked about their designs.
  • The second challenge was to design an NBS Body Object. They brought objects from home.They interviewed their objects and they became them. During this challenge, they familiarized themselves with the design process and its six and a half steps further. They also learned an invaluable lesson about people’s different points of view, concluding we all look and think differently but we all form part of a community.
  • This conclusion lead to the next challenge. Students were asked to design a Never-Before-Seen Instant City. They followed the criteria list to find solutions for shelters, education, health care, etc. Students concluded designing a city is an undertaking which needs to be planned. They decided to start building each component of the city separately, as a result of this, the Magic Land story began.
  • Before students began constructing Magic Land, they needed a landform to build their city. They designed the land and divided it into eight land parcels distributed among the classroom’s groups. Once they had their land parcels, they designed NBS Creatures for their land. The creatures were intricate and complex, but they needed to survive the elements. They decided to design NBS Shelters for them. As they began role-playing the Magic Land story, they predicted the many elements needed. The next challenges were to design NBS Ways to Use Nature for Nourishment, and NBS Ways to Move from Place to Place. Once they had designed these components, they concluded they needed NBS Leaders for their land parcels. This was a good opportunity to introduce the concept of democracy and self-governance for Magic Land and for our classroom. The next challenges were NBS Places to Learn, and NBS City Protection. The last NBS challenge was to design a City Tribute to summarize the year’s challenges and to say farewell to Magic Land.
nbs way to introduce yourself
NBS Way to Introduce Yourself

Pathway 1

The Powerful Idea

The Problem

We all need to live cooperatively.

Sometimes we take people for granted

and forget attributes that define them.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Way to Introduce Yourself

Whenstudents built a Never-Before-Seen way to introduce themselvesthey learned to

identify different ways to introduce themselves to others and identified character traits,

then they compared and contrasted people’s similarities and differences.

nbs way to introduce yourself10
NBS Way to Introduce Yourself

The criteria list was created by the teacher

with students’ input. It was divided into two

sections; the Needs list developed by the

teacher and the Don’t Wants section

created by thestudents. The Needs list

included the concepts that needed to be

taught during the challenge. The criteria list

was used as an assessment tool when

students presented the Never-Before-Seen

designs. Students used the criteria list to

self-evaluate their progress.

The Criteria List

Students created the

Don’t Wants list

nbs way to introduce yourself11
NBS Way to Introduce Yourself

I began the first challenge by establishing a problem from the curriculum. Then, I stated the

challenge as a Never-Before-Seen Introduction. Students were perplexed at such a request as I

began setting the criteria. They had difficulty converting their names into a three dimensional

form. As students began building, I had to constantly remind them to check the criteria list for

guidance. Suddenly, Jesus made a connection and concluded that his name could be symbolically

represented by a cross. Immediately, he began advising other students. Students became

motivated by his suggestions and began constructing their 3-D, NBS names. ”My name is also a

flower” said Jasmine as she began creating a 3-D flower with color paper. When students

finished their designs, they introduced themselves using them. They presented their designs in

30 seconds which proved to be difficult for some students because they had not acquired the

notion of time yet. I taught the concept of telling time as a guided math lesson after the

challenge was completed. While they presented, I modeled asking questions and giving

suggestions for modifications.

Students created 3-D symbolic,Never-

Before- Seen way to introduce themselves.

A student justified his design. His peers

offered ideas to modify his product.

nbs way to introduce yourself12
NBS Way to Introduce Yourself

Curriculum Integration Chart

California State

Standards

After each challenge, students

learned concepts through

guided lessons.

Guided Lessons

Developed from

the Design Challenge

nbs body object
NBS Body Object

Pathway 2

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Point of view is worth 80 IQ points. Often we have difficulties understanding people’s

point of view.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Body Object

When students built an Never-Before-Seen Body Object, they learned to identify attributes that were similar

even when they appeared to be dissimilar, then they analyzed other people’s points of view and appreciated

diversity.

The Criteria List

Students used the criteria list to evaluate their own progress as they built their design. The Needs list included concepts I needed to teach from the second grade curriculum.

nbs body object14
NBS Body Object

Students brought objects from home which had special meaning to them and wrote about their

character and physical traits. It was easier for them to select character traits. I concluded the

reason was they were emotionally connected to their objects. Then, they built a Never-Before-

Seen Body Object representing their object. They had questions about the criteria list. “How can we

become the objects?”, said Victoria. Suemy referred everyone to the criteria list and pointed out, “we

have to cover ourselves”. They concluded they needed to build a type of costume. They began to

evaluate their body object against other students’ body objects. After their designs were completed,

they wore them to become that object. Then, they created interviews to ask questions to other

objects in the class. “ Who are you afraid of? Where do you live? Who is your enemy?”. Later, they

found their families and antifamilies among the NBS Objects. I concluded students believed

they were the objects themselves. While they were role playing, they began to understand other

objects’ points of view, thus beginning to appreciate diversity.

Students planned and decided on their objects’

character and physical traits.

Students analyzed their objects’ point of view

by becoming the objects.

nbs body object15
NBS Body Object

Curriculum Integration Chart

The Curriculum Integration

Chart included standards-based

activities stemming from

the NBS Body Object challenge.

nbs instant city
NBS Instant City

Pathway 3

The Powerful Idea The Problem

What we want is not always what we need. We understood our objects’ and our friends points

of view, now we need a community were we can

continue sharing our new found knowledge.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Instant City

When Students built a Never-Before-Seen Instant City and combined their cities together to identify

elements and functions in their cities, then they analyzed the complex integration of elements in society.

Criteria List

Using the criteria list, students familiarized

themselves with the project’s new terminology,

particularly the terms NBS and 3-D, and the list of

requirements that apply to any city.

nbs instant city17
NBS Instant City

The third challenge was to build an Instant City. As with the first two challenges, Instant City was

an introduction to DBL and the precursor to The Magic Land Story. As they began constructing,

they realized their structures needed to be Never-Before-Seen. This caused confusion because

they wanted to replicate structures they already knew. I tried to restore their confidence by

referring them to the criteria list. As students began building NBS Instant Cities using recyclable

materials, I noticed some students were checking the criteria list to confirm if they had all

the Needs. They created NBS solutions for transportation, education, shelters, protection,

health care, green spaces etc. Then, they combined all the cities together to form a mega city. As

they categorized the components of their mega city, they realized they had more schools,

hospitals, and parks than they really required for one city. They concluded cities can’t be

built instantly, they require planning. Students decided to slow it down and build all the different

city elements separately to design a new city.

Students combined the Instant Cities and

evaluated the results.

Students arranged their city elements

to build an NBS Instant City.

nbs instant city18
NBS Instant City

Curriculum Integration Chart

This Curriculum Integration Chart

included some of the lessons that

I taught during the Instant City

challenge. Students made charts

using solid shapes they found in their

Instant City.

context for magic land
Context for Magic Land

Magic Land story began as students created a context for their new land. They measured and used grid lines to divide the land into eight land parcels. Later, they distributed the land parcels between the groups using a lottery system. As they were designing their land parcel, I observed students while they worked. They talked about Never-Before-Seen water spaces and landforms. I interpreted this as an indication students were acquiring and using new vocabulary. The new land parcel became the context for future challenges and the new context for learning. They named the new landform “Magic Land”.

Students created a context for Magic Land in which they would place their new 3-D,

Never- Before- Seen challenges. They proposed to build and design a new city that

would not be Instant.

nbs creature
NBS Creature

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Everything is done for a purpose. Now we have a landform but we need

someone to manage it and take care of it.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Creature

When students built a Never-Before-Seen Creature to identify their creatures’ physical attributes

and how they affected their survival in their city, then they compared and contrasted the attributes and

characteristics of different species and inferred the reasons why some species have been more successful than

others.

Pathway 4

Using the criteria list students measured

their creatures to be two inches or less which

lead to a math lesson about measurement.

Equally, students learned about solid shapes

and the five senses. Guided lessons after the

challenge included subjects such as math,

science, language arts, and social studies.

nbs creature21
NBS Creature

We had a landform, now we needed someone to live in it. Students built a Never-Before-Seen

Creature to manage their land. “We need to manufacture a Never-Before-Seen body protection

for our creature”, analyzed Abel using our “big” vocabulary word for the week. “This

grasshopper is not Never-Before-Seen”, concluded Vicky. Sara evaluated her creature and

decided she was not pleased with it. “It doesn’t have to be perfect, it is Never-Before-Seen”,

added Jasmine. They built a design with body devices which provided their creature with water

and food on demand. After they presented their creatures to the class, students assessed them

and concluded that some of them did not meet the criteria list. They decided to revise and

modify their designs .

Jasmine compared and contrasted her

creature to that of other students and

concluded it was larger than required.

Students evaluated their creatures and

their ability to stand up on their own.

They received advice from other students.

nbs creature22
NBS Creature

Curriculum Integration Chart

The curriculum Integration Chart

incorporated guided lessons that taught them how to write

compositions describing their creatures and their creatures’ ancestors.

nbs shelter
NBS Shelter

Pathway 5

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Innovation is a specialty of our species. Our creatures need to find refuge from predators

and from the elements.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Shelter

When students built a Never-Before-Seen Shelter to identify the characteristics of a safe, affordable,

comfortable dwelling and how creatures found shelter to protect themselves from the elements, then they analyzed

the reasons why humans have adapted so well to the environment and other species have not.

I used the criteria list to introduce

math concepts such as =, <, >.and

geometrical shapes. Additionally,

students researched science concepts

about energy, water, environment, and

recycling.

nbs shelter24
NBS Shelter

As students were placing their NBS creatures on their landform, they decided they needed a place to

live. This idea lead to a new challenge. For the next challenge, students designed a Never-Before-Seen

Shelter. As they checked the criteria list, they measured their creatures and made the shelters larger

than them, but not greater than three inches.” Where does the shelter get the light from?” inquired

Adilene. “I told you the light gets inside through the big glass window”, justified Vicky. “What about

night time”, insisted Adilene. “The moon provides the light at night” decided Vicky. As I listened to

them justify their designs, I concluded students were analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating each

other’s designs thus using higher-level thinking skills throughout the challenge. They debated and

decided to add new elements to their shelters. They included solar power, glass doors, and protective

devices. Some groups placed the shelters near their creatures. Other students became curious about

energy sources. Later, they researched, compared, and contrasted solar power and power plants.

Students observed and evaluated the

features on their shelter to make sure

they had met the criteria.

Students placed their shelter on their

landform and compared and contrasted

their shelters and other shelters.

nbs shelter25
NBS Shelter

Curriculum Integration Chart

The curriculum Integration

Chart was a snap shot of all the

standards-based lessons

taught during the challenge. The

rest of the standards-based guided

lessons were written on the

Long-Range Planning Boards.

nbs way to use nature for nourishment
NBS Way to Use Nature for Nourishment

Pathway 6

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Our resources are not unlimited, we Our creatures need a way to nourish their

must use them wisely. bodies to be able to grow and survive.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Way to Use Nature for Nourishment

When students built a Never-Before-Seen Way to Use Nature for Nourishment to identify the

characteristics that a source of energy should include to help their creatures survive in their landform, then

they compared and contrasted the characteristics of various sustainable resources to help us survive.

The Criteria List

This criteria list was a modification of a

previous criteria list which proved to be

confusing for the students, leading to

solutions neither NBS, nor on-going.

By adding “Never- ending ”and “It comes from

nature” to the Needs list students created

sustainable solutions that provided nourishment

for their creatures. I concluded words are

important!

nbs way to use nature for nourishment27
NBS Way to use Nature for Nourishment

I stated the next challenge as a Never-Before-Seen Food Supply. It was an error. Another

mistake was the criteria list. As students began building their designs, I realized that all the

groups were producing similar designs. I concluded words were very important when

stating the challenge. I decided to modify this challenge’s original name and criteria list

from “Design an NBS Food Supply” to “Design an NBS Way to use Nature for Nourishment”.

By using the first option students were given the answer to the problem and were creating

containers of food instead of sustainable ways to provide nourishment for their creatures.

By modifying the criteria list and challenge statement, students created very intricated

designs including ways to use their parcel’s natural resources for survival.

Students explained and justified their system to obtain nourishment.

Students analyzed their friends’

NBS challengesoffering suggestions.

nbs way to use nature for nourishment28
NBS Way to Use Nature for Nourishment

Curriculum Integration Chart

The Curriculum Integration Chart

incorporated standards-based science

Guided lessons about life cycles.

nbs way to move from place to place
NBS Way to Move from Place to Place

Pathway 7

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Everything is connected to everything else. Our creatures need to exchange goods and

ideas but the distances are too great to walk.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Way to Move from Place to Place

When students built a Never-Before-Seen Way to Move from Place to Place to identify the features and forces that

made their design move around their landform, then they compared and contrasted machines that use forces of pull

and push.

Criteria List

Students controlled the Don’t Wants section

of the criteria list. However, as they

were getting more knowledgeable about the

project’s procedures, they gave suggestions

for the Needs list that were included on the

criteria list. They suggested the design needed to be twice as big as the shelter to accommodate twenty creatures and needed to be safe.

nbs way to move from place to place30
NBS Way to Move from Place to Place

Students were extremely engaged while constructing their movement challenge. They

requested to work throughout recess time to complete their designs. I tried to persuade

them to reduce the building time, to keep focused on the task, but they voted to continue

building. I recognized at this point that students were beginning to “own” the project,

becoming emotionally attached to their city. They were creating and role-playing the

Magic Land Story and I had the privilege to be an observer and a participant of their

unique solutions. Their designs included fast and safe vehicles that moved on land,

water, and air. I was pleasantly surprised when they described their systems of

transportation and movement. The most timid of my students explained and justified his

design perfectly and without hesitation. What a transformation!

Students explained and justified their complicated system to move around Magic Land.

Students planned and organized their

ideas to build an NBS Way to Move.

nbs way to move from place to place31
NBS Way to Move from Place to Place

Curriculum Integration Chart

The Curriculum Integration

Chart included science lessons

to encourage students to

research about transportation

and forces of pull and push.

nbs ideal leader
NBS Ideal Leader

The Powerful Idea The Problem

We are all designing our own future. Our city needs leadership to execute and

coordinate our ideas.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Ideal Leader

When students built a Never-Before-Seen Ideal Leader to identify the character traits of a good leader for their

city, then they analyzed past and present heroes’ individual actions and character and evaluated the difference

they made in our lives.

The Criteria List

Students offered suggestions for

the Needs section of the list. As they

began mastering the process, their

suggestions became more insightful.

I coached them into including character

traits for their leaders. I also included

the leader’s size to introduce a math

lesson.

nbs ideal leader33
NBS Ideal Leader

We had creatures, shelters, a way to survive, and transportation. We needed someone to manage

and make sure everything worked in Magic Land. The next challenge was to design a

Never-Before-Seen Leader. Students were particularly aware of scaling when they began

constructing their leader. The criteria stated the leader should be six cm or less. This was a

good opportunity to stop the challenge and introduce a mini lesson on the metric system. As

they continued building, their leaders took form, their presentations were outstanding. They had

created a wide variety of NBS leaders. The comments and suggestions were very insightful and

provided valuable feedback to other students. They used the criteria list as a rubric to evaluate

their leaders. A student suggested they should elect one of the leaders as the leader of leaders.

I used this opportunity to introduce division of labor and the democratic process in our class and

held elections for our city and our class.

Students compared their leaders against

the criteria list.

Students discussed and evaluated their leaders’ character traits.

nbs ideal leader34
NBS Ideal Leader

Curriculum Integration Chart

This Curriculum Integration

Chart taught some of the guided lessons students used to create a system of governance for the city and the classroom such as

writing laws for their city and rules for their classroom.

nbs place of learning
NBS Place of learning

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Facilitation of learning rather than “teaching for We have creatures in our land, shelters,

information”; we can learn anything at any ways to move, sustainable ways to

age given the appropriate environment. survive, and a leader. Now, we need

an environment conducive to learning.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Place of Learning

When students built a Never-Before-Seen Place of Learning to identify the components of a good

learning environment, the technology available, and the reference material that their learning place included,

then they analyzed their own Place of Learning.

The Criteria List

Students offered suggestions for

both sections of the criteria list such

as places to play. I included resource

materials and technology that lead

to guided lesson on the use of the

thesaurus, the dictionary, and internet

resources.

nbs place of learning36
NBS Place of Learning

Magic Land was taking form and it needed places where our creatures’ brains and souls would be

enriched. The next challenge was to create a Never-Before-Seen Place of Learning.

Students showed good judgment and reasoning skills while building their ideal Place of

learning. They included places to read, write, investigate, and play. The designs were strong and

safe. Students demonstrated self-confidence approaching the new challenge. They displayed a

sense of independence and good decision making skills I had not experienced before with other

groups during my teaching career. They showed initiative and spent time researching and using

reference materials as follow-up lessons.

Students created new features for

an ideal place of learning.

Students discussed and analyzed the

features on their NBS Place of learning.

nbs place of learning37
NBS Place of Learning

Curriculum Integration Chart

The Curriculum Integration

Chart was displayed on the

History Wall to illustrate the

type of guided lessons

taught during the challenge such

as the use of the thesaurus

and the dictionary.

nbs way to protect magic land
NBS Way to Protect Magic Land

Pathway 10

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Civilization is built on argument, not fighting We have a safe city, but we may need to find ways to resolve conflicts with other communities.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Way to Protect Magic Land

When students built a Never-Before-Seen Way to Protect Magic Land to identify the ways in which

groups resolved conflicts in their city, then they compared and contrasted the strategies students at their school,

people in the community, and politicians use to resolve conflict and concluded that communities are built on

argument, not fighting.

Criteria List

Students constantly reminded each other to compare their designs against the criteria

list. They recognized the purpose of it was to assess their own work.

nbs way to protect magic land39
NBS Way to Protect Magic Land

It appeared Magic Land was a an ideal place to live. It was peaceful and prosperous. Our creatures worked, traveled, and learned in our land. Not for long! Prehistoric giant creatures started to approach Magic Land. They were outside the landform, but moved closer every day. Students measured the distance and concluded they moved at a rate of five inches daily. Soon they would reach Magic Land. “We need to protect our city”, urged Alex.” Let’s have another challenge”, said Vicky, the class president. She called an urgent meeting and they decided to design a Never-Before-Seen Protection. I was amazed to witness my students

take charge of the process. “Teacher, we need a criteria list”, said the class president.

Students designed elaborated ways to protect Magic Land. Throughout the building process, I observed the students and took notes. I noticed the degree to which higher-level thinking skills were utilized. Their problem-solving ability, and their oral language ability had improved tremendously in the last few months. DBL was definitely the key component missing from my instruction.

A student analyzed and evaluated

Magic Land’s new protection against

possible enemies.

Students described their city protection

ideas while other students asked

questions and evaluated each answer.

nbs way to protect magic land40
NBS Way to Protect Magic Land

Curriculum Integration Chart

Through the guided lessons

students learned about conflict

resolution between people and

countries.

nbs tribute
NBS Tribute

The Powerful Idea The Problem

Big challenges give us the chance to do great things. As the year comes to an end, we want to remember

and evaluate things we have done in the past.

The Challenge

Design a Never-Before-Seen Tribute

Whenstudents built a Never-Before-Seen Tribute to identify the main idea of each of the ten previous

challenges, then they evaluated and synthesized the whole year curriculum.

The Criteria List

The last criteria list represented

a final assessment of the year’s

curriculum. Students synthesized

at least three of the challenges

using existing city parts.

nbs city tribute
NBS City Tribute

The last challenge of the year was particularly meaningful to all of us. We were approaching

the end of the school year and we decided to honor and pay tribute to Magic Land. Students had

to design a Never-Before-Seen Tribute to Magic Land. Students approached the last challenge of the

year with complete confidence. After we set the criteria list, the class president/ City Mayor

took the lead and arranged and distributed materials with the help of the city commissioners. As they

were building their designs, I observed them carefully. Their conversations revealed a superior use of

academic language. I was very impressed ! They used parts of the existing city to build their new design.

A student suggested to make a suit and glued the different components on it “just like Body Object”,

she announced. Daniel explained his design included a camera that had recorded each of the ten previous

challenges. “Did it record just your parcel’s challenges or the whole city’s?” “We made a statue we can

wear on our head”, said Alberto. “I want to make a connection”, Irene said, “It is like the Statue of Liberty”.

I opened the Social Studies textbook and we read about it. What a motivating way to learn about a topic!

The designs were complex and synthesized the challenges accurately. Students were making connections

that evidenced the transfer of learning occurring during the challenge.“ This is like summarizing a story”,

“ We are also recycling parts of our city”, said a student.

Students combined their City Tributes and placed

their designs on Magic Land. Later, they

commemorated Magic Land’s completion with a

parade.

Students removed elements from Magic Land’s old challenges to design a new challenge summarizing what they had learned during the year.

nbs city tribute43
NBS City Tribute

Curriculum Integration Chart

The Curriculum Integration Chart

incorporated guided lessons in

writing to describe the Magic Land

Story developed during the year.

long range planning boards
Long-Range Planning Boards

The Long-Range Planning boards represented a whole year’s curriculum and were a visual

representation of the Magic Land story. They included a sequence of DBL challenges for the

year. Each board reflected a month-long curriculum including a 3-D, NBS challenge, the

powerful idea, the California standards, and the guided lessons to be taught during each

challenge. Each board was divided into five channels reflecting the main subjects taught

in second grade. The channels included color coded standards and the lessons for each

standard. The standards were represented by octagons and the lessons by rectangles. There

was a sixth channel to indicate the topics discussed during classroom and city

meetings.

long range planning boards45
Long-Range Planning Boards

One month Long-Range Planning Board

The Long-Range Planning boards included six channels containing language arts, ELD, math, science, and social studies lessons and standards. The last channel consisted of classroom and city meetings. There were eleven boards, one for each challenge.

Subjects

CA State Standards

Follow-up Guided Lessons

Classroom and City Meetings

the history wall
The History Wall

The History Wall was a visual representation of the Magic Land’s eleven challenges. It displayed students’

work representing the standards and lessons included on the Long-Range Planning boards. It integrated

the guided lessons taught, some of the activities completed during each of the challenges, and photographs

of students designing and constructing the Magic Land’ project. The History Wall assisted students and parents to

visualize the material learned during the school year through the Magic Land project. The History Wall was

divided into eleven panels. Each panel represented a design challenge. It also included the name of the challenge,

the Powerful Idea of the challenge, the Problem, and the Criteria List.

A student synthesized information displayed on the History Wall during Back to School Night.

Students and parents analyzed and assessed

Magic Land’s History Wall.

classroom organization
Classroom Organization

Magic Land decentralized the classroom

throughout the use of a system of self-

governance where students became leaders

and decision makers, and I became a

facilitator. They practiced with the democratic

system by creating their own rules, conducting

regular class and Magic Land meetings,

and selecting classroom and city leaders.

Classroom Jobs and Magic Land Jobs

class meetings and city meetings
Class Meetings and City Meetings

Through the Magic Land project, students practiced the democratic process. During the Magic Land project, students became better class citizens because they had made their own rules. Therefore, they became better citizens in general. The Mayor/Class president, and the commissioners wore distinctive artifacts to distinguish them from the rest of the class while they were conducting class and city meetings. Meetings were held twice a week to resolve city or classroom issues such as setting rules, procedures for organization, and conflict resolution. Magic Land made problem solving more real and relevant because students were responsible and accountable for their own actions, in both, the classroom and the city.

The Transportation Commissioner instructed students

to move their vehicles and justified his request by

announcing a road accident.

The class president/City Mayor lead a city and classroom meeting.

transfer of learning
Magic Land provided students with the necessary tools to be responsible for finding

information to create their own knowledge and understanding. They were actively

involved in creating, understanding, and learning the curriculum. Through Magic Land’s

story the curriculum became relevant to them. Students were motivated to learn more

about the challenges. They made connections with the real world and their own lives

transferring the new acquired knowledge to new situations. Magic Land provided

students with the arena to get the motivation and engagement to successfully achieve

transfer of learning. As they solved problems emerging from the Magic Land’s challenges

they learned to solve similar and distant problems in the classroom, and ultimately

outside the classroom.

Transfer of Learning

Students compared Pasadena’s laws to Magic Land’s laws and concluded Magic Land was less polluted and had less trash because everyone in Magic Land was required by law to recycle.

conclusions
Conclusions
  • The Magic Land project used a Design-Based Learning methodology called Backwards Thinking™ created by Doreen Nelson which includes six and a half steps.
  • The Magic Land project presented students with a whole year curriculum which was integrated, sequential, hands-on, and contextualized.
  • The Magic Land project consisted of eleven 3-D, Never-Before-Seen (NBS) challenges. Each challenge lead to the next, creating a story line called Magic Land Story.
  • Each challenge included the name of the challenge, a powerful idea, a problem statement, and a criteria list used by the teacher and the students for assessment.
  • The History Wall and Long-Range Planning Boards illustrated the guided lessons and standards taught through the Magic Land project.
  • Through The Magic Land project, students gained a deeper understanding of concepts. They made connections with the real world facilitating transfer of knowledge gained from the Magic Land guided lessons and activities.
  • Students internalized the curriculum because all of the challenges were hands-on and meaningful to them.
  • Students were highly motivated to build their designs and took pride and ownership of Magic Land thus improving class attendance.
  • The Magic Land project was proudly displayed at the center of the room. It included all the year’s challenges and became the context for classroom and city meetings facilitating a process of self-governance.
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