For several years I have dreamed about designing a learning model that would provide a more engaging and meaningful experience for my students. I want my students to be active in their learning. I want them to feel that what they are doing will make a difference. I want them to feel comfortable taking risks. I want them to take more ownership over the pace and depth of their learning. I want to know that they are learning and if they are not, I want to provide personalized feedback. Finally, I want my role to shift from the guy in front giving all the information to the guy who facilitates discussions, offers advice, and explains ideas in small groups. So in short, I want a lot!
I have been inspired over the years by many people and organizations. Most notably, our science department is being trained by Van Andel Education Institute on their QPOE2 model. Among other things, this model encourages thought, design, analysis, discussion, risk taking and application. It is truly an active way to learn science where everything is centered around questions and investigations rather than planning a one day lab around previously taken notes. A second major influence has been my experience with blended, hybrid and online learning. I love the idea of using digital online tools to enhance my students experiences. Using a good learning management system allows the classroom to be expanded as resources can be accessed around the clock. My LMS (Edify) also allows me to tag assessment items (and resources) with our learning targets so that I can track individual student performance and intervene with specific advice and resources. Finally, I have been inspired by a science teacher in Montana. I have great respect for Paul Anderson and his blended learning cycle. He combined parts of the learning cycle and blended learning to create great hands-on learning for his students.
Encouraged by my Ed Tech classes at MSU and with a new school year rapidly approaching, I finally started to pull together what I call the SIMPLE Learning Cycle. It stands for “Seize”, “Investigate”, “Master”, “Produce”, “Look Back” and “Evaluate.” This year in AP Biology, I have built this cycle into each lesson. However, it is a work in progress and while I believe the SIMPLE Learning Cycle has potential to meet my long list of demands, I feel it needs a lot more thought and development. Once the school year started, I no longer found the time to reflect on this model. Therefore, while I am currently using it, I have not truly assessed its effectiveness or reflected on how it can be improved. I also never considered my model from the standpoint of design thinking – until I started CEP 817 last week.
Therefore, my problem of practice will be designing a better version of the SIMPLE Learning Cycle. However, I’m not entirely sure how I want to approach the problem. My plan might remain more general as I try to refine the goal of each stage and research how each of these goals can best be implemented. Another approach might be to research the goals I listed earlier and learn more about best practices. This may provide better clarity as I build each SIMPLE lesson in Edify. A third possibility is that I focus on the design of one upcoming unit and the SIMPLE lessons it will contain. As I build the lessons in this unit, I can intentionally reflect on my goals. Regardless, I plan to spend time hearing from my students as I get their thoughts and opinions on what we have been doing this past year and what they would like to see.
I was excited when I first penciled in my SIMPLE Learning Cycle this past summer. Then life happened. Now my excitement has recharged as I look to accomplish what I originally set out to do – providing my students with a more engaging and meaningful experience.