• Week 2-Designing Activities and Assessment
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Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding the complexity of lesson design for teaching with technology and inquiry
    • Fit with curriculum
    • Affordance of available resources
    • Assessment issues
    • Student collaboration issues





JimWeek 2 video transcript (minor changes)NoNo 
Rosemary/Philip/AmyUTS Script Week 2  no changeNo 
Shawn Brooks

Near Pod/Circuits Design Page for Shawn

no changeNo 
Richard Messina no changeNo 


Discussion prompts

Lets talk about integrating inquiry into our courses. How much class time do you think you could give to an inquiry project? Is that enough to make a difference in student learning?

What opportunities are gained by the teacher when using inquiry and technology?  Please use any examples from your own experience, where relevant.



How is Shawn’s lesson design process similar to or different from your own?

What are some of the greatest challenges in designing an inquiry lesson for your classroom?

Inquiry activity

lesson critique: 

Pick a lesson design from the list. You will be shown the design description. Add some constructive comments about how they can improve or target their design, and suggest some useful resources from the resource list. You will get full grades for submitting one comment (This is open ended. I suggest we ask a specific question. Such as "How they can improve their assessment design in light of the learning goals" ).


Video 1 transcript


SPEAKER 1: The topic for this week is designing activities and assessments
for inquiry.
Given that a teacher wants to use an inquiry approach in her classroom, what
are some of the barriers to her success, and what
are some strategies that can help her succeed.
One of the things you may notice from this week's video
is that I'm not actually reading it from a text on the screen.
In other words, it's not scripted.
I'm just lecturing as I would in one of my classes
using my slides here on the screen.
And hopefully, that will make the lecture more accessible and personable.
The downside or disadvantage of that is that it's probably not as efficient
as it would be when we were able to carefully word all of the content,
but we'll try it this week and see how it goes.
I'll try to be efficient and not run long-winded
and hopefully you'll find it to be interesting.
Maybe we'll check to see your opinion on that.
So I think design, as a topic, is central to this course.
And it came to light this week, for me, when
I was reading through some of the comments
that you were making on the resources. (needs a bit of edit or maybe we can say as a footnote, that Jim is referring to the live version)
Where a teacher would see a great looking resource, even a general one,
like Pinterest, or a very specific one, like a Khan Academy lesson,
and they would write, I see that this is valuable,
and I see that this would lead to a lot of deep student learning,
but in my course I just don't now how I could
make it work, I don't know how I could make it fit so that students really
learned and I wasn't wasting the time, essentially, that I was spending on it.
So to me, this points to the issue of design.
And I think of design as one of the three special skills
that teachers must possess, or sort of, the hard work of teaching.
The first one is classroom management and just
your rapport with your students.
And that is something that maybe can't even be taught
but crucial to your success with any kind of teaching.
The second one is monitoring what students know
and how that knowledge is progressing throughout the time of the curriculum.
And the third one is designing activities and assessments.
And this course may not even help much with the first one,
but hopefully it will at least give you some pointers and potential experiences
with the second two.

Another interesting theme I saw-- particularly in the discussions--
was concern with the issue of how much time inquiry takes
from your curriculum.
Scott P. says here, I love the idea of depth of coverage (edit? or add a footnote?)
with helping students in reflection and making connections
between various topics, but I just don't have the available curriculum time.
So in other words, there are those of you
who feel like you're confident that you could put together a deep content
treatment that would take several weeks for students,
but you just don't have the luxury of that much curriculum time.
And I have to say I appreciate that.
It's been an element of my own professional life as a researcher
that the teachers I work with have this concern--
and especially in secondary math and science--
where there's an awful lot, almost a severe,
level of content to be covered in a given term.
And I think what I have to say there is, that it is an issue,
and that essentially the strategy has to be
to make the most out of whatever limited treatment that you can give to inquiry.
To use your inquiry that you add to your curriculum, even in small doses,
to your advantage.
So a few of the kind of advantages we could get out
of adding even a week of inquiry into our curriculum or even a few days.
First, that it helps us make connections between topics which might otherwise
be treated sort of piecemeal and never brought
into a coherent view for students.
It'd give them a chance to make a connection to their own understanding
and to deepen their understanding.
A second advantage is that inquiry can allow you to cover important process
standards like collaboration, critical thinking, design, and argumentation.
And these are sometimes also required of teachers,
but it's difficult to find a good way to integrate those into your courses.
So inquiry offers a plausible, realistic solution
to how those can be treated seriously.
Another important advantage to inquiry is
that it can support rich interactions or dialogue between students,
and their peers, and the teacher.
Particularly for the teacher, it's very hard
to have these kind of interactions and discussions if you're up on stage,
if students are lecturing, and taking notes.
So the ability to get off the stage and out into the room,
to actually listen to students, and work with them while they're
engaged with the difficult topics gives you
a chance to develop your own insight about what students
know in this domain, and how they're learning in this domain,
and this could be a lifelong opportunity for teachers.
So designing inquiry is the name of the game.
And I think the first step for any teacher who feels challenged by this
is to actually acknowledge that they are going to be doing curriculum design.
Most teachers do see themselves as designers of curriculum,
and in this case of inquiry it's no different.
Some of the specific challenges that we'll face doing this
are first, to connect to the course topics.
It's easy to engage students with some neat technology, or some process,
concept mapping, or building a Pinterest board, or a PowerPoint presentation,
but it's another thing entirely to make it count.
To have that activity-- as engaging as it might be-- lead to learning.
Another challenge is capturing students ideas.
So how do I use the products of their inquiry,
the particular designs that they make, or the media that they develop,
or their reflection notes that they typed, as a source of assessment.
One that not only lets me have a sense, as a teacher, of how they're doing
but also gives me a way to use that as an input into further activities,
so sort of a formative assessment that technology can really help with.
A final challenge is engaging students to work collaboratively with a peer,
or with a small group, to ensure that those interactions are
on task, that they have meaningful things to do,
that nobody's feeling left behind, and that the group makes progress in such
a way that one step leads to another.
Nobody's feeling like time is wasted.
So just to review a little bit from last week, at the heart of inquiry
is what we refer to as constructivism.
This is the process where students build on their existing knowledge, ideas,
and experience, and develop deeper understandings,
make meaning of new material, and reconcile gaps in their understanding
or disagreements.
Some of the activities that we talked about last week
that could be useful for inquiry are reflection, any kind of reflection
note, or creating explanations and arguments.
Connections, so being asked to link ideas to other topics
or to prior experiences.
Construction, so any time I ask students to work on a design,
or make some sort of model, or any representation of their understandings.
And as we just mentioned, collaboration.
Where students [INAUDIBLE] the benefit of those diversity of ideas
and just the benefit of having to make peer explanations and language
Finally, there's one that is dear to my own research, collective knowledge
building-- or when the whole class is actually
building a resource together-- either knowledge base, or a Pinterest board,
or Wiki, or some sort of a collection of [INAUDIBLE] from the class.
And these are all, for me, types of fundamental activities
that could be used within inquiry.
So right from the start, what are some of the things
that we would need to think about in designing an inquiry lesson?
First of all, topics.
It's important to find the right topic that
is well-suited for inquiry in your course and in your discipline.
In science, for me, a successful topic is
one that's challenging for students maybe
so much so that it's really difficult to convey through lecture,
so that would make inquiry a good strategy if the normal approach isn't
Topics like evolution, or force, or as we saw last week,
the difference between heat and temperature.
Not easy to lecture about those things.
Also, topics that are cross cutting.
So that might appear in several places or that weave together some themes
within the course.
Another issue to think about from the beginning is the duration.
How much time, basically, can you afford to give an inquiry unit?
Last week's example with Jennifer and the WISE lesson that she used
was about two class periods, but for her those
were 75 minute periods-- so 150 minutes--
that's a lot of curriculum time for some teachers
and others can afford that much.
One strategy that allows you to, perhaps,
claim a little bit more curriculum time is if you
can weave several topics together.
Or perhaps, if you feel the value of developing a capstone lesson
that allows students to apply the concepts
and solidify their understanding.
A third important issue from the outset is that of placement.
Where in your course will the inquiry lesson happen?
If it happens right at the beginning you could
consider it a hook or a minds-on activity that
could engage students and get them reflecting about the topics to come.
If your inquiry is somehow the main event of your course
or a large part of your course-- an entire unit
or a multi, multi week lesson-- you will need
to think very carefully about how the content is actually being addressed,
how it's being assessed, and how students
are able to emerge from that experience with the same kind of mastery
or better than you could have gotten with other methods.
Another likely location for inquiry is near the end of a unit.
Where it can serve as a capstone activity allowing students
to, essentially, work with the conceptual understandings
that they've developed during the rest of the course,
apply them, exchange with peers about them,
and develop a greater, more coherent understanding as a result.
So there's always the question of whether a teacher should
go with a sort of prepackaged inquiry lesson that's already
well-designed with assessments, and all the technology is clarified,
and the materials might even be prepared,
including rubrics, or a homemade from scratch lesson
that they designed themselves.
And obviously, there are trade offs between those two approaches,
and maybe there could be some intermediate solutions.
The prepackaged ones really are an option
if you can find just the right one, but that is the problem.
There are so many to search through.
There are some credible educational clearinghouses or collections
that you could take a look at.
There are some professional communities.
Your discipline where you can go to ask forums if anyone
has lessons that they can recommend.
In general, if you find those kind of lessons,
you'll find that you need to do some tailoring, some adaptations,
to help them fit with your students.
Alternatively, the made from scratch approach
is one where you're assured of being in full command of everything.
You're very familiar because you designed it yourself,
you know your students, and you know [INAUDIBLE] achieve.
So many, many teachers choose that as an option.
Last week you met Jennifer, who was a new teacher to that school.
And she had found the WISE-- web-based inquiry science
environment-- a pre-packaged heat and temperature lesson.
This was very attractive to her because it
addressed one of the topics she felt challenged by
is how to get students to differentiate between the topics of heat
and temperature.
It included some hands-on activities where
they would run around measuring and finding
that their predictions disagreed with their measures.
It included some great online activities as well.
And this worked very well for her.
She did have to make some tweaks.
Most importantly, she had to decide where in her course
that lesson would fit well, what she would
have to pre-teach beforehand so that it made sense to students when
they got there, and what it might have missed
that she'd have to cover afterwards.
This week you'll meet another teacher named
Sean, who demonstrates kind of exactly the opposite approach, where
he had a topic that he really wanted to explore.
He needed to find out what his students were bringing
with them to their 11th grade physics class in terms
of their knowledge about electric circuits.
He had actually taught some of these kids in ninth grade
that same topic and he knew that they would
be bringing some memories of that and maybe some misconceptions
about this topic.
So he designed a custom made lesson using Nearpod--
which is one of the resources I saw up on the list--
and he used some of his existing circuits materials
and created interactive items for the students to try to respond to.
This let him design and develop a short two class period
lesson that actually revealed to him many surprising details of what
students were thinking about electric circuits.
Sean also refers to his own design process--
and one that is supported widely in UTS school-- as one of backward design.
This is where you first identify where you're trying to go as a teacher.
What kind of knowledge do you want students to achieve?
What kind of learning skills do you want them to attain?
And then after identifying the targets of your instruction,
you'd think about the activities that will exercise those topics or lead
students to improve their knowledge about them.
And these activities would employ some of the basic approaches
that I listed up above, reflection, idea generation, design, collaboration.
Finally, in backward design you also think about assessment,
and how are you measuring whether or not you have achieved those goals.
And how do you use those measurements as a way
of providing formative assessment to students
and helping yourself as a teacher to keep a sense of where students
are in the learning.
For me, the first steps are to look at examples.
We started you off looking at a few lesson designs
from my own previous teaching but find other examples that are out there.
They'll help you get your own mind around what kind of things
you can achieve with your students.
It can give you a sense of whether you'll
be able to find a prepackaged activity or whether you'll
need to develop your own.
Second, I think importantly, if possible to work with a colleague.
Preferably somebody from your own department who
would be teaching the lesson as well.
This will give you a second or even a third pair of eyes--
if you can get a group of three of you-- that would all apply the lesson
and learn together about how it's working, or what's working,
and what's not working.
Very important to remember that this will be an iterative process.
You will likely run these lessons not just once
but several times improving them with each offering.
Finally, think carefully about where in your major unit
you would insert the activity.
What kinds of pre-teaching would be required
to help students get the most out of it?
Make sure you prepared everything well beforehand
and ideally try out the activity yourself.
Most importantly over the course of enacting
the activity be sure to reflect on how it's working,
evaluate student engagement, and their output, and keep
notes on what could be improved for the next time.
Finally, you can really only learn about designing inquiry by doing it.
So we hope this MOOC will be one way to get you started.
If you want to, or if you're able to participate in the design
strand we're actually giving you support along the way to create a lesson
and get some experience of doing that.
And we'll try to give you support throughout that process
as you take this first step in becoming an inquiry designer.

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