CARP Jr: Design Principles REDEFINED (FINAL COETAIL PROJECT)

Children are growing up in an increasingly visual world, yet many still struggle to convey ideas and understanding in a comprehensive way. Design is everywhere and more than ever, students need to understand the principles of design to communicate effectively.

As the K-5 EdTech Coach, I noticed there was a lack of design thinking happening across all grade levels. Thanks to Keri-Lee Beasley’s Design Secrets Revealed eBook I was able to support upper primary teachers in their quest to address these design challenges in G3-G5. But I wondered if G3 was too late to be introducing the four main principles of Contrast, Alignment, Repetition and Proximity (C.A.R.P)? Children were creating and designing posters and eBooks right from Kindergarten. But are the C.A.R.P terms too advanced and complex for early readers? I immediately thought of young children’s fascination with dinosaurs, and recalled my younger brother (nearly 30 years ago) using their latin names like ‘Dilophosaurus’ before he could properly read. I figured, if young children can learn long complicated dinosaur names, the only thing stopping young children from learning the C.A.R.P principles was us, their teachers.

38899545

Below is a copy of my Final UbD Project

Carp Jr:  Redifining Design Principles for KG-G2

Since this unit is designed for young children in KG-G2, I decided to use a variety of devices and tools to teach these concepts. The primary platform I used to design and deliver the lessons was Google Slides, because it allowed me to access Creative Commons Attribute Free images, and the collaborative feature allowed me to share the lessons easily with staff in the school, and beyond. Teachers who choose to use these resources can also make copies and modify them for their class.

Public Domain Logo: CC image from Wikipedia

 

What were your goals for your lesson/project?

To introduce the CARP design principles with students and create a collaborative eBook with students explaining the CARP principles for others to use. Below are examples of the 4 posters I created using Google Slides.

What tools did you use? Why did you choose these tools for this task?

I used Google Slides to share the presentations and activities across classes. I also used Google Docs to collaborate, plan and reflect on week-by-week activities. Below is an example of the collaborative planning document I used with the classroom teachers:

For planning, we also used Keri-Lee Beasley’s “Design Secrets Revealed” ebook to support and plan for the lessons, as well as several other websites & resources outlined in my UbD Unit Outline.

For the summative task, students had the opportunity to use the My Story or Chatterpix app to showcase their understanding of CARP. They created a visual text to be shared on the ePortfolio platform, SeeSaw.

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.51.25chatterpix logo

How did you go about introducing your lesson/project?

I first needed to propose this project to a teacher who would be willing to collaborate on it. In my role as EdTech Coach, I am responsible for planning with teachers on ways to integrate EdTech in the classroom. Two grade 1 teachers were happy to bring these new concepts (CARP) into their classroom as students were just beginning a unit on visual literacy.

How did the students react? 

Students were very engaged in the lessons as they were a mix of inquiry and hands-on practice. Many of the students are developing into confident readers so they enjoyed learning new vocabulary. Students were even able to apply their learning in a broader context. According to the classroom teacher, words like ‘Alignment’ were being used to describe how work books were organised; During math lessons when children were ‘aligning’ their work and answers. One student had commented that they didn’t know there were “real words for the way things looked”.

Outcome? Did you meet your goals?

While the lessons took longer than expected, the ultimate goal of exposing students to the CARP principles was met. As my final video (below) shows, several of the students adopted the terminology and were able to explain their visual texts using the language of Design Principles. Unfortunately, due to time constraints and extenuating circumstances, we were unable to create the culminating eBook. Instead, students produced a visual text using one of the iPad apps: Chatterpix, My Story or PicCollage. They implemented as many CARP principles as they could remember and then explained them orally.

Evidence of learning

My final video best documents the learning achieved by students over the course of the 6 week unit:

Here is a reflection from one of the G1 teachers:

I’ve been surprised that the students were able to grasp the principles.  This came from some trial and error with simplifying and scaffolding activities that would give them practice with identifying first and then replicating the different principles.  We worked mostly with Contrast and Alignment, not only because they’re the first, but also because they were a little more concrete for the students. Also, having posters with examples in the classroom to refer to often reminds them of the principles in different contexts/disciplines.

I’ll definitely teach and use CARP principles with my classes in the future. It really helps them to have experience seeing the difference between good design and poor design, even at this young age. It motivates and empowers them to improve the design in their own work!” ~ H.M Grade 1 Class Teacher

What would you do differently next time? What did you learn? 

Overall this experience was really successful and the teachers and students got a lot out of it. However, in future I would prefer to run this with my own classroom. As the EdTech Coach, there is only so much I can do between lessons, and often there were extenuating circumstances that arose and caused lesson time to be cut short or rescheduled. While the teachers I collaborated with were very accommodating and flexible, if we were unable to finish the lesson it was challenging to pick up where we last left off because too much time had passed. I think this unit is best adopted by a classroom teacher in KG-G2, as they can tweak the resources to suit their class needs, and also they can plan out and deliver the lessons in a more timely manner. Also, there were three teachers working with me, and each teacher had a slightly different approach to embedding the CARP design principles in their classroom routines. The more successful classes had a clear display board that was regularly referenced to when teachers were looking at other visual texts, or any designs where these 4 principles could be applied.

IMG_0907

IMG_4218 (1)

I also learned the importance of flexibility and lesson ‘tweaking’, since ultimately we were unable to reach our goal of publishing a CARP Jr Design Principles eBook by week 6. However this is still something we hope to do in May/June. Instead, students had the opportunity to publish a visual text that showcased some or all of the CARP principles, and the teachers were satisfied with this as a reflection of student understanding. I do think a classroom teacher has the benefit of time to ensure the outcome of an eBook. Next year when I am back in grade 5 as classroom teacher at UWCSEA, I look forward to implementing a similar unit with my own students.

How do you plan to share this with your colleagues?

Everything I created has been shared through Google Drive and is stored in this folder. These resources are free for teacher use around the globe. I will embed these resources on a separate tab in my COETAIL blog. I will also promote this unit and the resources through the collaborative team meetings I attend each week, and through #coetailchat, #edtechchat, #1stchat on Twitter.

What was your greatest learning in this course?

The learning that was most influential for me during Course 5 was how concepts from the other courses intersected in this culminating final project. Creating the Carp Jr. unit on design also allowed me to rethink and redefine tasks using digital tools such as MyStory.

My growing PLN has been another great source of learning for me, and I am in awe of the numerous amazing projects and initiatives taking place by Coetail students and graduates. I also learnt that a paradigm shift is needed in education, and no one educator can make the shift happen on their own. We need to bond together as like-minded educators and work to change pedagogy. I look forward to continuing these relationships through Twitter and G+ communities after Coetail ends.

Did this implementation meet the definition of Redefinition?

This is my favourite visual of the SAMR model, created by Sylvia Duckworth:

SAMR

Redefinition is defined as allowing “for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable”. While many of the concepts learned throughout this CARP Jr unit were ‘analogue’, students did create a summative Visual Text about CARP principles using a digital tool (one of the apps on the iPad). The analogue tasks were also paired with a digital eBook (Keri-Lee Beasley) and the collaborative planning documents and Google Slides. This is an example of redefinition because students combined media from a variety of sources, such as drawings, photos and digital images, to create a final visual text that exhibited elements of CARP. The camera allowed them to document their ‘analogue’ work in a digital format, which is inconceivable without iPad or digital device. The iPad also allowed them to add their own narration to explain their thinking(My Story & Chatterpix).

Final Thoughts about the Final Project

Overall the experience of delivering this unit was very positive and full of challenges. I developed stronger relationships with the G1 teachers I worked with, and was able to tweak my resources as I went so that they could be more accessible and practical for other teachers to use.

Recently I had the privilege of attending and facilitating a cohort of teachers at Europe’s first Learning 2.0 Milan. There were so many important messages to take away but perhaps the one that resonates most with me and this final project is the importance of Failure in the learning journey. Jeff Utecht shared this during his final presentation: “FAIL = First Attempt In Learning”.

IMG_4123
Photo Credit: Me. Jeff Utecht @Learning2 Europe

 

At the start of this unit, I wasn’t sure if I would be successful implementing a six-week long Design Principles unit with 5-7 year olds. However, I realise I needed to implement this unit (through trial & error) to really understand how it can best be used in the classroom. The video shows that students learned and applied these concepts at an age-appropriate level, and with these tools they will be better prepared to tackle design in upper grades as well. I hope those who choose to use this unit in their own classroom can benefit from my experience, and my mistakes.

All Resources for CARP JR Design Unit can be found below:

GOOGLE DRIVE SHARED FOLDER

Screen Shot 2016-04-17 at 12.58.51

Show What You DON’T Know

What Challenges do EdTech Coaches Face?

As I was reflecting on my coaching practice, I thought about some of the points mentioned by Jill Jackson in her article “4 Steps to Your Successful Coaching Model“. Her advice definitely resonates with my experience in my first year of coaching. However, I do disagree somewhat with her second point: Know Your Content. While “Knowing your Content” definitely provides credibility, I think if we are to help teachers become more independent in the classroom, we cannot be seen as the only expert. I can actually vouch for having more credibility with teachers by being in classrooms working with students, rather than in my office researching and looking stuff up. Both are important and you need to make time for each, but in your first year I definitely think face-to-face interactions count for more than simply being an expert.

LegoTechSmith

Last year, my biggest fear was someone asking me something I had no idea about, and I realised that was silly. Of course I couldn’t know absolutely everything EdTech related! This year I’ve adopted more of a growth mindset approach when teachers ask for help. Occasionally I will, in their presence, say “I’m not sure, let me find out”, then Google the very question they are asking, so they can see how easy it is to find answers online. I’m open to letting them know that their question is a good one, and something I don’t know about yet, but that the answer is within easy reach (usually via a youtube ‘how to’ video). I remember one time doing this and the teacher abashedly saying, “Oh I guess I could have done that too”. Since I’ve modelled this basic approach, I’ve noticed a slight drop in requests for basic IT support (creating new folders in Google Drive; Uploading a Youtube video to Blogger etc.) However, only about 10% of the teachers I work with have taken initiative in finding the answers.

This video by Thought Leadership, demonstrates the importance of focusing coaching time on the ‘middle carriage’ to encourage movement towards the ‘front carriage’.

Thought Leadership from Annie Agnew on Vimeo.

Modelling a growth mindset for teachers is one way to help them feel comfortable with the unknown, and hopefully encourage them to be tech problem-solvers themselves. An example of this happened last week when one PreK teacher approached me and said she had been drafting her fourth email of the day to me asking for blogger support when she remembered me googling to find answers. She had been trying to remove ‘recommended videos’ from the youtube videos she embedded on her blog. She proudly told me that she found a youtube tutorial video and after watching it all the way through was able to solve the problem. She was another teacher who just last year was a self-proclaimed ‘tech phobe’ with no understanding of computers. I definitely wouldn’t advocate ‘Googling’ as a primary focus for coaching, but I do believe modelling a certain level of comfort with the unknown, will help promote a growth mindset in teachers. As the Brain Pickings article describes:

“A growth mindset…thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.”

Throughout the Eduro coaching course, I attempted to differentiate between the 3 main coaching models: Cognitive, Instructional, and Peer Coaching. Considering my current coaching context I think the most effective approach so far has been a Cognitive Coaching model. My role as a coach is still fairly ‘new’ in the school, and just getting teachers comfortable using iPads in the classroom has been my main focus. For this reason, a model promoting “teacher autonomy, the ability to self-monitor, self-analyse, and self-evaluate” (ASCD Reflections on Cognitive Coaching), fits best for most teachers who are still in the so-called middle of the carriage.

A personal anecdote using Cognitive Coaching:

Mrs.Y and I had our second meeting this week and referring back to our original Google Doc meeting minutes was an effective way to start. Before meeting, I went over some of the topics we’d covered and also the action we’d agreed to take. We both realised many of the tasks are more long-term and so very little had happened since we last met. The one item that Mrs.Y was able to take initiative on was creating a google doc for iPad App revision. We have agreed that she will send this out to her team to complete at their next collaborative planning meeting, and then feed back to me.

We also revisited her plan for introducing the My Story app, and I asked again about what the process would look like for drafting their Public Spaces eBook. I helped her download Keri-Lee Beasley’s Design Secrets Revealed eBook, outlining the CARP Design Principles (I’ve described these on my COETAIL blog here). Mrs.Y was really excited about using these to guide her students as they designed the layouts for their ebooks. We also talked about creating a culture of independence in the classroom by allowing students to apply to be tech ‘experts’/helpers so they can help other students with certain apps. We discussed the possibility of building in some Digital Citizenship to align with the PYP PSHE outcomes and also their Unit of Inquiry on Public Spaces. There is a great video and lesson on Common Sense Media called My Online Neighbourhood that would be very relevant for her class, as they explore the Internet as another Public Space.

Throughout our coaching session I really tried to follow some of the Partnership Principles suggested in What Good Coaches Do. I maintained Equality with Mrs.Y, by allowing her to discuss some personal concerns that were happening within her class, and then we started by going back to the shared meeting minutes we created last week. I even clarified a few things we’d written and we both took turns going through the agenda items.

Next, I ensured Mrs.Y felt she had Choice in what we focused on. I started off by saying “I realise we had discussed a lot last week and I’m not sure how much either of us were able to action. Which item do you want to focus on today?”. From there, she led the the direction of the meeting and had the opportunity to raise concerns and ask pressing questions.

Voice is something I would like to develop further. While Mrs.Y and I have a trusting relationship, I do like the idea of extending further and including videoing a lesson as an option for review and further development. While I am comfortable posing questions to the teacher (following more of a cognitive coaching model), I am less comfortable when I’ve noticed something I don’t agree with, and being diplomatic about improving an area. I prefer to focus on positives, rather than negatives of a lesson, but I know there are constructive ways of approaching difficult topics. Having a video of a lesson would really help with this.

Finally I really focused on Reciprocity, telling Mrs.Y how much I appreciated these meetings to develop my own coaching and also to develop our working relationship. She immediately fed back that these meetings have already improved her understanding of the purpose of iPads and have her ‘buzzing’ with ideas for how she can purposefully integrate tech in the classroom. It’s also been helpful because she is team leader, and wants to streamline how tech is implemented across the grade level. She felt these conversations allowed her to flesh out some of her thinking and refine her understanding of how iPads can and should be used.

Choosing a coaching model that works is a bit like trying on different hats: it depends on the individual, and the context. There is definitely no one coaching model for all conditions, and sometimes what I think will be suitable just doesn’t work for that particular day. Above all, maintaining a growth mindset has helped me be patient as I cultivate a unique coaching model that works for both the teachers and me.

 16083801148