While there are many different options to choose from in the fifth mode of design thinking in the Stanford Design Model, I chose to make observations and interview the test group.
For my test, I chose two activities from my newly designed curriculum, of which I had my second graders complete. The first activity was called “Scoot”. During this activity task cards with different problems on them, along with a number, are placed all around the room. Students have a recording sheet to write their work and answers down on as they make their way around the room completing these problems. Students cannot be at the same task card and they cannot talk to their classmates during the Scoot so that they don’t share answers, or the classroom does not get chaotic. Students are able to move freely around the room when the music is playing and work at their own pace.
For the second activity, I chose to take my students to the computer lab to work on the computers. We used MobyMax and a list of websites and games related to measurement, our math concept for the week. Students were first expected to go through the lesson on measurement and complete some of the problems that followed. After that, they were able to explore some of the websites on their own and play a measurement game upon completion.
At the end of the week, after these activities were complete, I selected five students, all different levels of learners to interview in addition to my own observations during the activities. I had a list of questions that I used as a guide to this interview, but also fed off some of the responses I received. I had a student worker record the interview for me, that way I could refer back to it for quotes and information to use in the retesting of my prototype.
Some of the key takeaways from the User Test mode, which included the observations and student interviews, include:
- 100% of the students were engaged 100% of the time during both activities.
- By laying out student expectations prior to the activity and thoroughly explaining rules and boundaries during these activities to prevent classroom chaos, students were able to work efficiently. Students were not distracted, nor were they disengaged. Discipline was not an issue during these non-traditional teaching methods that students are used to.
- Students loved the “Scoot” activity and actually preferred it over the computer lab because they were able to move freely around the classroom.
- This actually surprised me a bit, because I know how much my students love going to Computer Lab for their special class. The simple concept of allowing students to move freely around the room proved to be the favorite.
- Students enjoyed the computer lab most when there were incentives to earn in addition to a high score. (Ex. For every five high scores, they earned game time and a badge.)
- I try to stress to my students about intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. The MobyMax computer software was great because students were proud of their hard work. They didn’t expect a prize, but by earning the badges, this kept them motivated and continually working toward a higher goal. It gives them a whole new level of motivation and excitement, which is great. I was happy to see students pulling for one another, giving one another “high-fives”, and the excitement they all had for learning. This may have been one of the top teacher moments I’ve had to date.
- Students do indeed enjoy completing worksheets from time to time, but not daily. The ones they enjoy most require them to do more than just answer math problems, but to color, cut, and paste things in place.
- I thought this was great to reinforce the drill-and-practice section of my newly designed curriculum, as well as the interactive notebook component which allows them to cut and paste into their resource notebook, while also completing math problems. This feedback was crucial to a quality design because I know the benefits of practice, especially in math, and sometimes the best way to do that is through a worksheet. It was nice to see that students do enjoy the occasional worksheet, but that they also reinforced my initial problem statement and cause for the curriculum re-design; worksheets should not be the foundation or sole component of the curriculum, but a supplement.
I learned a lot from the interview process. Ultimately, this curriculum design is for my students, so their feedback was great to keep in mind. It was also neat to see them get excited about their learning and take ownership when they were being interviewed. I may continue to use the interview process periodically just to be more in touch with the thoughts of my students about different activities and ideas in my classroom. From their feedback, I felt like the activities I had chosen reinforced their presence in the re-designed curriculum, but also pointed out a few things that need a second look. I will make a few tweaks to the design prototype and keep their responses in mind for the duration of the school year when planning math activities.