Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Making Minor Adjustments Turns Up the H.E.A.T.

The other day I was listening to an audio seminar from renowned life coach, Tony Robbins, about achieving goals whether they be personal or professional. Mr. Robbins used his golfing experience and, specifically, his deep frustration with not hitting the golf ball consistently as an example of why people often cannot achieve "success." As he turned to his golfing coach one day, Robbins was amazed that what was recommended was not a complete overhaul of his golf swing, but a few minor adjustments involving less than a fraction of an inch. Applied to achieving success, Robbins commented, "When it seems impossible, when it seems like nothing is going to work, you’re usually just a few millimeters away from making it happen."

How can we apply Tony Robbins’ message to elevating the level of teaching innovation in the classroom? Using the H.E.A.T. acronym representing Higher order thinking, Engaged learning, Authentic connections, and Technology use, let’s apply a couple of millimeter-like adjustments to a middle school learning experience.

Common Core State Standards - Math 8.F.B.4 
Construct a function to model a linear relationship between two quantities.

The original lesson plan featured students completing a table of x and y values based on the equation y = mx + b, identifying the slope and y-intercept, and plotting the data points on grid paper. A quick H.E.A.T. assessment would have documented this Grade 8 learning experience as follows based on the H.E.A.T. Framework:
  • H (Higher order thinking):
    • 4 — Student learning/questioning at Applying level (Blooms Taxonomy)
    • 4 — Students justify learning at the Strategic Thinking level (Webb's DoK) 
  • E (Engaged learning): 
    • 1 — Students report what they have learned 
  • A (Authentic connections): 
    • 2 — The learning experience represents a group of connected activities, but does not connect the content to the real world 
  • T (Technology use): 
    • 1 — Digital and/or environmental resources are (1) not available, (2) not used, or (3) not directly connected to the learning 

The revised lesson plan featured students generating data from a computer simulation for an international 100-meter sprint race and then finding the slope based on the subsequent mathematical pattern (y = mx + b). To culminate the lesson, students participate in a class debate/discussion about the possibility of what the actual world record will be for the 100 meter sprint in 40 years based on the established mathematical pattern. The revised plan, with small adjustments for the same math content standard, would document higher levels of H.E.A.T. on a H.E.A.T. assessment:
  • H (Higher order thinking): 
    • 6 — Student learning/questioning at Evaluating/Creating levels (Blooms Taxonomy)
    • 5 — Students arrange learning at the Extended Thinking level (Webb's DoK) 
  • E (Engaged learning):
    • 4 — Students collaborate to solve a teacher-directed problem with possible options
  • A (Authentic connections):
    • 5 — The learning experience provides opportunity for students to apply their content understanding to a real world situation.
  • T (Technology use):
    • 4 — Students use teacher-directed digital and/or environmental resources to accomplish learning outcomes

Sometimes, making the slightest adjustments can help students make connections that would have never occurred otherwise.