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Artifact 1 : Bridging the Gap

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Rationale for program standards and goals:

Primary Alignments:

Standard 3: The application is designed to address a problem of practice, the availability of resources for and streamline organization of differentiated groups.

Standard 5: The project includes a variety of mediums. An infographic defining the achievement gap was created, a survey which was taken by numerous teachers was constructed and annualized, and finally, the final video presentation of the application was created in Adobe Captivate.

Standard 6: The project was created with three other students through numerous share folders, Zoom meetings, and the creation of a WhatsApp group.

Goal 1: A good deal of research was done into the definition and possible causes of the achievement gap.

Secondary Alignments:

Standard 1: Project seeks to create a more responsive learning environment and explicitly seeks to address the persistent achievement gap between students of different backgrounds.

Standard 4: Much of how our group defined the problem and looked for solutions relied on our experiences in the classroom.

Final Presentation

Posted February 18, 2018

It has been a challenging and wonderful experience working with my three colleagues, Erin, Courtney, and Jaymie, trying to find a solution to the wicked problem of the achievement gap. Here is our a video that describes the problem, our journey, and our proposed solution.

Discussion of Survey

originally posted Feb 10th, 2018

Our wicked problem group is deep into our work solving the wicked problem of the achievement gap. We have established a clear, shared definition of the achievement gap. And we have looked at the many variables at work and the numerous solutions that have been tried in the past. We each made infographics to share our overview of the wicked problem and commented on one another’s work in hope of better understanding each other’s insights and perceptions.

Early in the week, we met and put together a set of “why” questions. In A More Beautiful Question, Warren Berger (2014) says that “why” questions are questions of “seeing and understanding” (p. 75). After spending some time generating these thinking and understanding questions we started determining some possible areas of attack for our wicked problem. But instead of just jumping in and come up with solutions, we put together a survey to distribute to teachers in our professional networks. Why? Because we might be missing something. We might be assuming things that aren’t true. We want our solution to be useful to the end-user. We want it to help them attack this problem in a way that is comfortable and useful for them. Most importantly, we don’t want to come up with a solution that has no basis in what the end-user (in this case the teacher) would actually use. So we put together a survey and are asking for feedback from anyone who teaches in a K-12 setting. We hope to use the data from this survey to craft a more responsive and relevant solution to the wicked problem of the achievement gap.

You can take the survey here:

While we know that wicked problems tend to be immune to perfect solutions, we know that with enough feedback from teachers and enough asking of big questions we will be able to put forward our “best bad solution”.

Resources

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: the power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York: Bloomsbury.

Trying to get a handle on the achievement gap

Originally posted February 4th, 2018

In spite of numerous efforts to ensure educational equality, some groups of students achieve at a lower-levels than others. The first challenge in looking at the achievement gap, is narrowing down exactly what we mean by achievement gap. There are, in fact, a number of different achievement gaps. Students of color, students with disabilities, students from non-English speaking households, and students from low-income families demonstrate achievement gaps when compared with affluent white students. Additionally, disparities can be seen between male and female students throughout the average student’s academic career. There are a number of potential variables that could be the cause of the various gaps: underfunding of school districts, culturally non-responsive curriculums, lack of pre-school education, and home factors to name a few. All of this takes place against a shifting background of demographic changes and policy revisions at the federal, state, and local level.The achievement gap is truly a wicked problem.

This week I have been working hard with my colleagues to get our heads around this big, gangly issue. Throughout this process, it has been very hard to hold back judgment and ask open questions. I have an instinct to quickly analyze the problem and start brainstorming solutions. It actually takes a great deal of discipline to stay in the stage of asking ‘why’ questions. For me the greatest challenge of design thinking has been applying a beginner’s mindset to a field in which I have experience. When you see something every day, it can be hard to see it from a new perspective. I made this infographic to try to take a broad view of my understanding of the problems currently. In the last section, I ask the four questions my colleagues and I will be using as we go forward trying to solve this wicked problem.

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