My wicked problem was two parts. The first part was that the children were not fully accountable for their technology learning. The second problem was that we did not have adequate technology resources at my school. Originally I thought that these were two separate problems. But the more time I spend analyzing this project, I realize that they are fully intertwined. The children were unable to feel fully accountable because of the lack of technology. So the success of this project was fully dependent on how much technology the children were able to use.
The project was fully implemented. I made some modifications during the planning process, as I realized that Skype really wouldn’t work. First graders do best with smaller, easier to manage projects, such as a video. So I decided to switch it. This was easy, since I had recently acquired an Easi-Speak and with use of my digital camera, the kids became mostly accountable. This is what I would consider my summative assessment data. The kids used an Easi-Speak. They used the digital camera. When we ran out of time thanks to our snow days, the kids used the internet to come up with pictures of our community. Right there are three technologies used by the kids.
When I complete another project similar to this, I would first check the weather. The snow days definitely messed up my plan! I would keep the video portion similar. What I have learned about Wicked Problems, specifically to technology, is that you have to use what you have! There is no sense in moping around because you don’t have the latest piece of new, expensive, instructional technology. The technologies we used were simple and cheap. A digital camera is something that is easily accessible; old, used ones could even be donated to the school. I used the Easi-Speak and it was fantastically easy. It cost about $50 out of my pocket, but I bought it before the project for other purposes. When it comes to technology, as Tim Gunn from Project Runway would say, “Make it work people!”
I now know that I have to consider the implications of the project. I thought that the brainstorming, writing, editing, recording, and photographing was the entire project. But I didn’t plan for the events that might come as a result. We just watched the North Carolina video today. My students were stunned! I feel like I do a great job with the resources I have in my classroom (and by resources, I mean four computers!). But when the video started, we were introduced to center time. My kids said, “We have centers too!” But then they zoomed in on these children using an assortment of tablets. Minutes later, the kids saw a math center which featured a few iPads. Moments later, we saw where the COW’s (computers on wheels) were stored. This was in addition to what appeared to be a SmartBoard and multiple classroom computers. By this point my students had their jaws hitting the tables. When the video stopped, my students were mad. “Mrs. Plank, why can’t we have that?” Or, “Mrs. Plank, will you buy use iPads?” Sure kids, forget my mortgage payment for this month.
I have immediately thrown out my plans for the next week. We are going to focus on the Social Studies standards for, “Writing about a public issue.” The kids are going to spend the next week discussing differences in school policies (in a kid appropriate way). They will then gather data and work to develop opinion pieces. Now will next year’s class have the same response? Maybe not. But something meaningful, such as this project, is very likely to develop some other sort of project. If the kids are motivated by what they are doing, they will want to learn more.