Today in class students began thinking about the Legacy Cycle final project by getting an introduction to the technology they will need to use. When the Legacy Cycle began, there was no user-friendly interface and a teacher would need to have knowledge of programming in order to put materials out on the internet. Five years ago as part of a Biomedical Engineering grant, Dr. Petrosino began working with the Learning Technology Center (LTC) at UT to create an interface that would allow teachers to upload their materials in a way that is user-friendly for other teachers and students to use.
David Kim from the LTC came to class today to introduce our students to the Legacy Cycle site (http://www.edb.utexas.edu/visionawards/petrosino/) and the various features and options it affords them. Mr. Kim walked our students through creating an account, logging in, the various editing tools, adding images, flash animations, and media. He also pointed them to the help portion of the Web site and gave students his contact information should they need technical support while creating their cycles. Dr. Petrosino stressed to the students that this tool is always undergoing revisions and updates, and they should make suggestions if they have an idea for improvement.
Dr. Petrosino reminded students that simply knowing how to use the interface does not guarantee a good Legacy Cycle; a good product is the result of lots of thought. In thinking about a high school student as the ultimate user of this product, PBI students need to think about language, design, materials and activities. Cycles written for different age groups have a different feel to them for a reason. This Legacy Cycle website is not intended to be a 100% online environment, just a tool that would be used in a classroom environment, and additional materials may be needed to supplement the online element.
Creating a Legacy Cycle differs in a couple important ways from the outlines of a meter stick project that students created a few weeks ago in class. First, in the meter stick activity it was sufficient to simply state that there would be a quiz, while in the Legacy Cycle that quiz needs to be created and included in the final product. If there is a video, it needs to be created. Students are expected to collect the multiple perspectives required by the Legacy Cycle and represent them in their final product (students should be mindful that perspectives doesn’t have to mean expertise). The second difference is that students should push themselves to be more creative and represent their personalities and skills in their lesson plans. Creating these Legacy Cycles should promote personal reflection and be fun, rather than an arduous task.
Dr. Petrosino used a randomizer to order the names of students in the class, and in this order students were allowed to select their topic for the Legacy Cycle. They were able to choose from the meter stick activity, the circumference of the earth activity, model rockets, or their field lesson plans. Students may work alone or collaborate with another class member.
To create a legacy cycle, students will need to balance the tension between engaging activities and the standards. In keeping with the backward design ideas of Wiggins and McTighe, the activities must be driven by the big idea. Dr. Petrosino went through the steps of the Legacy Cycle again with the students:
Look Ahead and Reflect Back, which allows students to see where they are going and to reflect back on where they have been; for example, students are able to see how the concepts underlying any given challenge map into the taxonomy of knowledge for solid biomechanics.
Generate Ideas allows students to explore, within a group setting, their initial thoughts and ideas about the challenge at hand.
Gather Multiple Perspectives gives students the opportunity to listen to experts in the field describe their own hypotheses and ideas about the same problem.
Research and Revise allows students to test their own hypotheses concerning a challenge; for example, through advanced computer-based simulations, students are able to vary parameters of a model and study the effects that these changes have on model performance.
Test Your Mettle provides a means of formative assessment, allowing students to reflect on what they have learned thus far, and to identify any weaknesses or misconceptions they still may have.
Go Public encourages students to share their thoughts and ideas with their peers and provides a summative assessment.
He encouraged students to be creative with the research and revision step, and to think about a variety of ways that data can be collected or analyzed in the classroom. He also reminded them that tests and quizzes are not the only forms of assessment and urged students to think outside the box as far as assessment is concerned.
Lastly, he stressed to the students that a project is more than a sequence of lesson plans. Students tend to fall back on the 5E lesson plan model when they are uncertain, and in this class they need to push themselves to use backward design and create an arc that goes throughout the unit.
Picture: David Kim is the programmer for the Vision Awards, providing expertise in .NET, PHP, Java/JSP/JSF, Flex/Flash and Actionscript. David holds a Master of Science in Information Studies and a Master's degree in Computational Linguistics. His interests include Information Retrieval and Information Architecture. He is the developer of several Natural Language Processing applications. David joined the Learning Technology Center in 2005. Since then his work has included back-end programming, front-end design, and database engineering.