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ImagineIT – Phase 3

Phase 3: Action Plan

Products Produced: Publish by August 18

Now you will work on fleshing out your plan (and develop a teaching demonstration, similar to the one you conducted in class around your own promising practices). In this, you will follow the Backward Design approach discussed in class. In brief, you will:

  1. Identify desired results
  2. Determine acceptable evidence (performances of understanding)
  3. Plan learning experience and instruction

We will now explore each of these in greater detail.

  1. Identify desired results

500 Word Maximum

The fundamental goal of your plan should be to develop student understanding (going beyond the facts towards deeper meaning). As Dewey wrote, many years ago:

To grasp the meaning of a thing, an event, or a situation is to see it in its relations to other things: to see how it operates or functions, what consequences follow from it, what causes it, what uses it can be put to.

In this section of your plan, you will focus on the big idea (or ideas) that you seek to have your students understand. As we discussed in class, this should be something that has enduring value beyond the classroom and also resides at the heart of the discipline. This is the idea (or ideas) that you will seek to uncover through your instruction.

Your writing in this section should: (a) identify the key idea (or ideas), (b) demonstrate how and why they are key to the discipline. You should frame this section around Gardner & Mansilla’s four-fold approach towards disciplinary thinking (the Purpose (why does this discipline exist), the essential Knowledgebase, Methods of developing this knowledge and the Forms of representing this knowledge).

This section is of critical importance since it sets the goals that you seek to achieve. The more thought and effort you put into this section the better your project will be.

  1. Determine acceptable evidence (performances of understanding)

500 Word Maximum

In this section, you would focus on the kinds of performance of understanding (formative and summative assessments) you would use to determine whether or not your students have indeed gained an understanding of the big idea (or ideas). As Blythe and Associates described it in The Teaching for Understanding Guide (1998):

Performances of understanding require students to go beyond the information given to create something new by reshaping, expanding, extrapolating from, applying, and building on what they already know.

These may include surveys, interviews, classroom observations, teacher journals, or even some kind of a no or low-stakes pre-test and post-test that will allow you to determine what your students have learned. Go back and look at the six facets of understanding as described in the Wiggins & McTighe article on Understanding Understanding (here’s a quick refresher) and identify which are important to the discipline you are teaching. How would you assess those facets of understanding?

In your write up you should focus on the key aspects of these performances of understanding (as described here: Performances_of_Understanding_handout). Most importantly such assessments need to be ongoing (rather than one large test at the end of the unit). How would you make this clear, relevant and public? You should consider how often such performances would occur, how they would be evaluated, and how students would receive feedback on their performance.

 Plan learning experience and instruction

1,000 Word Maximum

You now have the two key pieces of the project in place (i.e. you have identified desired results AND determined acceptable evidence). Now it is time to construct a plan to achieve it. What is the best way to develop a solution for your problem given the reality of the context within which you practice? For this section, we will be using the TPACK framework as a guiding structure to help you conceptualize and plan it out.

Please remember again, that even though we are using the TPACK framework that does not mean that technology itself is the focus.  Technology is a means to an end – that end being the teaching goals for the content, and the learning transformation that you dream of seeing your students.  Technology is one key part of the plan/solution that will help us get there.  The TPACK framework is useful for this because technology is one part of the interaction, but also front and center is pedagogy and content (the P and the C of your teacher knowledge).  This section of the paper should consider all of these points individually and as an interaction.

Specifically, describe the solution that you have come up with. Specifically, you must address the following key ideas.

  • Context: What is the specific context in which you are working, as a STEM educator? What are the affordances and constraints of this context? Give us a picture of what you do, your classroom, your students, i.e. any information that would be useful for us to understand the “situated” nature of your problem or concern. In the context of this assignment, this means writing a section that lays out the STEM subject matter and grade level that you teach, the kinds of students you typically have and the kind of technology infrastructure and support you have. This is the context within which your solution has to work. Providing photographs or other artifacts related to your classroom context may be useful here.
  • Content: What is it in your STEM discipline(s) that you want your students (or others) to learn and be able to do? What are the problems different students might have learning some particular area of STEM content? What are some challenging concepts of the content area (BIG IDEAS) that you think students have trouble understanding? Keep it brief (since much of this has been described already).
  • Pedagogy: What pedagogical approach do you think will work best given your choice of content and your goals? Think of the readings on developing curiosity and aesthetic understanding that we discussed in class. How can you capture some of these aspects within your STEM disciplines, and within your teaching? What would you do to achieve your goals? Here are a couple of resources that you may find useful as you think about this. The first is a comprehensive list of Instructional Strategies ( and the second is an updated version of an infographic created by Candace available at If you are in search of more specific ideas, a quick google search for “instructional strategy glossary or list” will provide more ideas.
  • Technology: What technology seems best suited for your problem—for your context, content, and pedagogy? Why is this the best as opposed to other options? Outline the specific technology or combination of technologies that you would like to integrate in order to facilitate the transformation in learning you outline above.

The Total PACKage:  The goal is to integrate technology organically and dynamically in your teaching in order not to “cover” the STEM material, but rather to “uncover it”, and help you and your students truly understand the core of the material. Keep in mind some of the things we have discussed in class over the past few days: the critical barrier that preconceptions, prior knowledge, and beliefs can play; the critical importance of contexts and perspectives; multiple ways of knowing (concepts, theories, stories, schemas, etc.)? Are all three pieces (C, P & T) integrated or are they disjointed and separate from each other? In particular, see how your use of technology is content specific and that it facilitates deeper understanding and allow students to manipulate the information, explore a “network of ideas,” explore the material with curiosity and a sense of wonder, and investigate multiple representations of the material. How does this plan hit the “sweet spot?”

Finally, develop a teaching demonstration (or some other way of sharing your ideas) with others. This will be used to conduct two focus groups (one with a small group of teachers, and the other with a small group of students) to be completed by October 10.

In the fall and spring semesters… we will do the following. Further details of these will be provided at a later date. Broadly, however, this is what we are looking forward to:

  • Conduct Focus Group +Teaching Demo (deliver 1 to teachers and 1 to students) by mid-October
  • Short report on Focus Groups (what changes were made to ImagineIT and what were not): Early November
  • Implement one round of ImagineIT (through fall semester)
  • Report on First Round Implementation of ImagineIT: Early December
  • Implement second round of ImagineIT (through spring semester)
  • Proposal around ImagineIT submitted to CPS Technology conference: TBA (typically in April/May)
  • Documentation of process: Ongoing updates on ImagineIT progress