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Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Collaboration and Rigorous Reasoning in a Project-Based Classroom. Janet L. Kolodner College of Computing Georgia Institute of Technology

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Creating and Sustaining a Culture of Collaboration and Rigorous Reasoning in a Project-Based Classroom

Janet L. Kolodner

College of Computing

Georgia Institute of Technology

Jackie Gray, Jennifer Holbrook, Barbara Fasse, Mike Ryan, and a host of other LBD™ pioneers and group members (teachers and researchers)

culture of collaboration and rigorous reasoning
Culture of Collaboration and Rigorous Reasoning
  • Awareness, want, and appreciation of the need to collaborate
  • Collaboration and communication skills
  • Awareness, want, and appreciation of the need for rigor in collecting and using evidence, using the vocabulary of a domain, explaining phenomena, and justifying decisions
  • Skills to engage in those practices fluently

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

creating and maintaining that culture is hard
Creating and maintaining that culture is hard!!!
  • Because competition for grades is the norm in school, not collaboration
  • Because right answers are normally required rather than deliberation
  • Because students normally are expected to follow rules rather than take responsibility for what they are doing and learning
  • Because teachers roles are different and evolving
  • And because it takes time to learn all these things -- a lot of deliberate repetition and practice

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

our solution foregrounding the learning of important practices and skills
Our Solution: Foregrounding the Learning of Important Practices and Skills
  • Continuous, frequent, authentic, and reflective use of targeted practices/skills over a variety of contexts
  • A classroom setup in which kids always need each other’s results and reports
  • Expectations of rigor set clearly, discussed, modeled by the teacher, and enforced (gently)
  • Reflective iteration towards solutions
  • Public ritualized practice of collaboration, communication, and science practices (skills)
  • Scaffolding responsibilities shared by teacher, paper-and-pencil journals, software, and peers

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

and developmental sequencing to promote gradual learning of practices
And Developmental Sequencing to Promote Gradual Learning of Practices
  • Skills/practices/expectations are introduced within the context of a “launcher unit” at the beginning of the year
  • Then practiced (publicly) over a variety of units throughout the year
  • With the teacher beginning as a modeler, coach, and enforcer and students gradually taking on those roles

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

learning by design
Learning by Design™
  • A project-based inquiry approach to science education for middle school
  • Students learn science concepts and practices together in the context of attempting to achieve design challenges.
  • Highly collaborative
  • Ritualized classroom activities and scaffolding are embedded in the approach to promote learning practices and creating culture.

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

we began with principles drawn from the literature on learning
We began with principles drawn from the literature on learning ...
  • But making it all work in the classroom took many iterations, working along with our collaborating teachers and going back to the literature for advice

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

the practices we want students to learn
The practices we want students to learn
  • Project practices:
    • Understanding a project challenge
    • Planning, managing time, ...
    • Aiming for solutions together with understanding
  • Science practices:
    • Investigation with a purpose: identifying what needs to be investigated and carrying out an investigation well
    • Informed decision making, reporting on and justifying conclusions
    • Explaining scientifically
  • Collaboration practices:
    • Teamwork, collaboration across teams, giving credit

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

our units
Our Units
  • Physical Science
    • Apollo 13 – introduction to practices of design and science
    • Vehicles in Motion – motion and forces
    • Machines that Help – simple machines and mechanical advantage
  • Earth Science
    • Digging In -- launcher unit
    • Managing Erosion – erosion and accretion
    • Tunneling through Georgia – geology, rocks and minerals, rock formations, underground water

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

a sample unit vehicles in motion
A Sample Unit: Vehicles in Motion
  • Design and build a vehicle that can propel itself over several hills and beyond; the farther the better
    • Coaster Car Challenge
      • Friction and keeping things going
    • Balloon Car Challenge
      • Getting and keeping things going
    • Rubber-band and Falling Weight Challenge
      • Comparing different kinds of propulsion
    • Put it all together

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

sequencing to notice
Sequencing to Notice
  • Iteration towards better solutions provides opportunities for iteration towards better understanding.
  • Sharing experimental results, design ideas, and design experiences promotes focus on skills building.
  • Design diary pages and software provide scaffolding for doing and reflection.
  • Multiple opportunities for engagement in science process, communication, collaboration, planning, reflection, design in the process of learning and applying science content

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

lbd s sequencing
Pose design challenge.

"Messing about" leads to question posing. (Messing About)

Investigation following scientific methodology. (My Experiment; SMILE)

Balloon-car challenge

W/balloon engines

Size of balloons?

Length of straw?

Diameter of straw?

Double balloon?

Double engine?

Each group chooses a question and designs and runsan experiment

LBD™’s Sequencing

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

from group work to class discussion from activity to reflection
Sharing results (Poster Session)

Drawing out design rules of thumb (My Rules of Thumb); Drawing out scientific methodology

Why were the results of that run so different?

Maybe you didn't blow up the balloons the same every time.

Two engines are better than one

When designing an experiment, make sure to ...

From Group Work to Class Discussion; From Activity to Reflection

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

getting to the science
Design planning (SMILE)

Pin-up Session (Pin-up Notes)

Construction and testing (Testing my Design)

Gallery Walk (SMILE; Gallery Walk Notes)

Need for science (My Rules of Thumb)

Let's use two engines and double the balloons in each because …

When we did that, the wheels spun out. … We don't know why.

Read pages about Newton’s 2nd law, refine rules of thumb with explanations, demos, ...

Getting to the Science

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

iteration summary pulling it all together
Iterative refinement

Final gallery walk

Product history (SMILE)

Application problems and scenarios

Lessons learned (SMILE)

Back to Vehicles’ big challenge

Individual and group writeups

About science, science practice, collaboration, ...

Iteration, Summary, Pulling it All Together

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

results
Results
  • Kids “talk” science
    • Use vocabulary of forces
    • Explain
    • Justify and persuade
  • Kids “do” science
    • Control variables, design procedures, measure, observe, record, interpret, apply, …
  • Kids require each other to be “rigorous”
  • They collaborate willingly
  • They learn content
  • All gets better and better throughout the year

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

making it work getting to the culture
Making it Work; Getting to the Culture
  • Foregrounding of practices
    • Pushes kids to focus on how they are doing things, what works well, what doesn’t
  • Introduction through “launcher”
    • Helps kids understand the importance of practices and when each is used
    • Gives a first chance at using them and learning about them
  • Repeated public and reflective practice
    • Helps them debug the way they do things
    • Provides opportunities to see how well they are performing
  • Shifting roles of teacher, shifting locus of initiative

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

foregrounding the practices lbd s community rituals
Foregrounding the Practices: LBD™’s Community Rituals
  • Provide a systematic way of carrying out some important skill set that
    • systematizes practices to make them methodical; promotes habits
    • situates practices in several contexts; promoting adaptability
    • engages students in public practice as collaborators; affording noticing, asking, discussion, productive reflection

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

three presentation rituals
Three Presentation Rituals
  • Poster sessions (investigation, interpreting, reporting results; done after investigations)
  • Pin-up sessions(making decisions, justifying them; done after planning or designing a first solution)
  • Gallery walks(testing solutions, explaining results; done after trials)
  • Each tied to a set of science skills/practices
  • Ritualized public ways of participating in those practices
  • Well-articulated expectations
  • Repeatedly practiced and publicly discussed

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

making the rituals work
Making the Rituals Work
  • Introduction and identification of expectations
  • Reminders before group work
  • Paper-and-pencil scaffolding during group work; also teacher help from time to time
  • Preparation for presentations (with software or paper-and-pencil scaffolding)
  • Public presentations of results with discussion of “how to’s”
  • A chance to try again (iteration)

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

introducing community rituals
Introducing Community Rituals
  • Gallery Walk:
    • Introduced at a time when they want to report to each other about what they’ve done
    • We tell them what will be useful for their peers
    • We prompt listeners on what they might ask
    • They experience the help peers can provide
  • Poster Session:
    • Introduced before they design and run their first experiment
    • We remind them that their peers will need their results and will need to trust results
    • We prompt them with what they should pay attention to (but without much detail)
    • They experience the trustworthiness and lack of it in different experimental designs and procedures; that becomes grist for discussion and setting of expectations

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

community rituals getting to expectations
Community Rituals: Getting to Expectations
  • Kids can identify expectations after their first experience; then make them better over time
  • Gallery walks:
    • To make their solutions the best they can, they’ll need to test the solutions they’ve come up with and make decisions about what to do next; requires making predictions, running several trials, recording results, noticing patterns, comparing results to expectations, explaining discrepancies, ...
    • For others to trust how well their solution works and appreciate how well they did, they will need to explain why they did what they did and why it works the way it does
    • Peers can help; this requires making all the above clear to peers and identifying where they need help
  • Poster sessions:
    • One experiments in order to get to results others can trust and use; this requires planning well so that variables are controlled well, measuring accurately, running enough trials, recording data, noticing patterns, …
    • All of this must be communicated well to peers

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

design diaries paper and pencil scaffolding while doing
Design Diaries: Paper-and-Pencil Scaffolding while Doing

Helps kids know what to do

Helps them know what to report

Helps teacher know what to emphasize when helping a group or leading a whole-class discussion

Very sketchy

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

smile software scaffolding to prepare for presentations
SMILE: Software scaffolding to prepare for presentations
  • Design discussions
    • Investigation planning and presentation (poster session)
    • Design plans and decisions (pin-up session)
    • Design experiences (gallery walks)
  • Summary authoring
    • Goals, plans, results, science used
    • Two most important iterations
    • Lessons learned and how they might be used

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

smile our experiment
Your question

Your hypothesis

How you tested it

Your procedure

Variable you varied

Values you gave it

Properties you held constant

Data/results

Interpretation of results

Rule of thumb

Scaffolding is of three kinds

structuring with a leading question or topic

hints

examples

Helps both students and teacher

SMILE: Our Experiment

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

public presentation
Public Presentation
  • Student groups present
  • Teacher and peers ask questions, make recommendations
  • For each presentation, teacher attempts to restate student statements using scientific terminology and explanations; asks for evidence to justify decisions and interpretations; …
  • After full set, teacher helps students compare and contrast over the set and abstract out what’s most important (depending on the type of presentation) -- new design rules of thumb might be derived, new principles for designing and running experiments, new principles for reporting results, new phenomena noticed, old principles questioned and refined, new questions raised, …
  • After discussion, class decides what to do next
  • Students eventually take more initiative

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

the full set of rituals in lbd
The Full Set of Rituals in LBD™
  • Gallery walk-- explanation
  • Pin-up session-- decision making and justification
  • Poster session-- investigation and data interpretation
  • Design rules of thumbgeneration-- data interpretation and connecting science principles to observed phenomena
  • Messing About and Whiteboarding -- observation, inquiry
  • Product History -- summarizing, abstraction

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

community rituals as learning devices
Community Rituals as Learning Devices
  • Continuous, frequent, authentic, and reflective use
  • In public
  • Kids need each other’s results and reports
  • Rigor discussed, modeled by teacher (and eventually by other students), and enforced
  • Chances to try again (iteration)
  • Scaffolding distributed between teacher, paper-and-pencil journal pages, software, peers

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

summary affording and sustaining the culture
Summary: Affording and Sustaining the Culture
  • Foregrounding of practices
    • Pushes kids to focus on how they are doing things, what works well, what doesn’t
  • Repeated public and reflective practice
    • Helps them debug the way they do things
    • Provides opportunities to see how well they are performing
      • By comparing performance to peers
      • By experiencing the degree to which peers understand and trust what they report
  • Shifting roles of teacher, shifting locus of initiative

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

creating the culture
Creating the Culture
  • Learning by Design™ uses “Launcher Units”
  • Over a 3 to 6-week period:
  • Community rituals are gradually introduced
    • As ways to introduce science, project, and collaboration practices
    • In the context of short, engaging, and authentic challenges that require only simple content
  • They are gradually interleaved with each other
  • Students experience adults engaging in the same practices

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

apollo 13 the launcher unit
The Book Support Challenge (2 days)

The movie -- Apollo 13 (2 - 3 days)

The Oreo Cookie Challenge (2 days)

Introduces collaboration, design, gallery walk

Scientists and engineers engage in collaboration, design, and science practices

Replicating procedures, controlling variables, collecting data, knowing if your solution is in the right ballpark

Apollo 13: The Launcher Unit

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

apollo 13 continued
Which tape shall we use? (4 days)

The Parachute Challenge (6 days)

Ideo Corp. video

Fair testing (measuring, observing, managing variables, replicating procedures), informed decision making (justifying with evidence, explaining), poster session, pin-up session

Putting it all together, messing about, whiteboarding

Adults do it all too

Apollo 13 (continued)

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

the book support challenge
The Book Support Challenge
  • Our goals: Help the class
    • come to appreciate collaborative learning
    • begin becoming proficient at vocabulary and practices of design
    • learn about the gallery walk
  • Design and build a structure that will hold up a large textbook 3 inches above a desk using only index cards, paper clips, and rubber bands.

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

the book support challenge orchestration
The Book Support Challenge: Orchestration
  • Students work in groups for 10 - 15 minutes to achieve the challenge.
  • The class reads about "gallery walks" together.
  • Each group presents their design; there's some discussion about each.
  • Teacher asks students if they want to try again.
  • Students try again.
  • They hold another gallery walk.
  • They accuse each other of copying.

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

book support orchestration cont
Book Support Orchestration (cont.)
  • The teacher introduces them to the notion of building on the work of others, patents, citations, …
  • They read about collaborative learning and its benefits and requirements (e.g., giving credit)
  • They talk about designing -- what did they do when they designed; how did they know if they were getting to a good solution -- the vocabulary of “criteria” and “constraints” is introduced; how their peers’ ideas helped.
  • They revisit the notion of the gallery walk and update their notion of what’s needed.

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

book support the sequel
Book Support: The Sequel
  • Make your bookstand appealing to buyers but not too expensive to produce.
  • Now questions arise about support structures and forces.
  • Students read a bit to answer their questions.
  • They identify criteria and constraints.
  • They attempt solutions.
  • Gallery walk, comparisons, discussion of support, iteration (this time giving credit), …
  • When done, revisit design and collaboration and LBD (the role design might play in learning)

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

results37
Results
  • When students work on other challenges, they use the practices they've experienced and talked about in the launcher.
  • Some begin to use the words collaboration, credit, iteration, variable, trial, ...; others follow suit over time.
  • Students get better at practices, some adopt early, others follow.
  • Students and teacher refer to these experiences later as anchors to make points about designing, collaboration, science practices, and project practices.

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

take away point 1 once is not enough
Take-Away Point 1: Once is not enough!!!
  • Participating masterfully in project-based learning requires repeated use of projects and repeated reflective, rigorous, and scaffolded use of project practices.
  • Students will get better at the practices of science, collaboration, and projects over time.
  • Students will probably learn the content better in later projects than in earlier ones; start the year with relatively simple content and introductions to practices.

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

take away point 2 much scaffolding is needed distribute it
Take-Away Point 2: Much Scaffolding is Needed; Distribute It
  • Kids need help participating in science, collaboration, and project practices
  • Paper-and-pencil diary pages can provide reminders and help them manage an activity
  • Teacher needs to provide more specific help to small groups as they are working
  • Software can get more detailed than paper by providing reminders, hints, and examples, but not as individualized as the teacher
  • Public performance aimed at peers allows peers to model for and scaffold each other
  • Teacher modeling of rigor is essential early on
  • Discussion based on presentations can helps kids notice good practices and important phenomena

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

take away point 3 create the culture early and with rigor
Take-Away Point 3: Create the Culture Early and with Rigor
  • Activities that introduce need for targeted practices/skills
  • Activities that introduce need for learning content and using it well
  • Activities that allow students to experience ins and outs of targeted practices/skills
  • Teacher coaches and models for rigor
  • Discussion following allows kids to identify what good practice is
  • List guidelines for practice on the wall, revisit and revise them often

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

take away point 4 public participation in skills and practices is a charm
Take-Away Point 4: Public Participation in Skills and Practices is a Charm
  • Take time early in the year to do it; it’s worth it.
  • Students get to see others doing things they need to learn.
  • Students get to see if others can understand and use what they are providing.
  • Students gain confidence and empathy.
  • The teacher gets to identify student strengths, weaknesses, conceptions, misconceptions

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom

take away point 5 distributing investigative needs around the class is a charm too
Take-Away Point 5: Distributing Investigative Needs Around the Class is a Charm too.
  • Kids listen to each other if they need each others’ results, ideas, or experiences.
  • As a result, they question each other, gain appreciation for each other’s skills, and want to help each other (because they want help too).
  • Listening provides them with many more experiences to abstract from than simply their own.

Kolodner: Creating Culture in a Project-Based Classroom