CAPSTONE: Population and environment by design (2 of 2)

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Objective

In this Capstone project, students will be able to: 1) collaborate with peers to develop a rigorous public presentation; 2) describe an area of interest where human population impacts the environment; 3) articulate the key features of the human population in the chosen area using data visualizations; 4) identify problems in an area caused by human population growth; 5) develop solutions to problems identified 6) identify the research necessary to better understand potential solutions; 7) publicly present to an audience; 8) provide rigorous feedback to presenting groups; 9) self-assess proficiency using rubrics and captured video; 10) and revise in-class presentations as standalone screencasts present iterate screencast publish

Big Idea

Human population growth impacts the environment . How might develop an engaging presentation about an area that elucidates the problems and potential solutions to problems posed by a constantly growing human population?

FRAME: Capstone presentation and iteration

During this second week of the Capstone project, students present public products, critique, revise, iterate, publish, and reflect.  The most important activity during this week is the public presentation and peer feedback component.  This feedback is what drives students' iterations of presentations. 

As noted in the previous FRAME, the Capstone is an example of project based learning (PBL).  The Buck Institue for Education outlines a few elements of PBL that are integral to the second week of the Capstone project:

  • Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management. 
  • Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product - Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.

The current "lesson" describes the presentation and iteration stage of the Capstone.  It lasts for four to five 55 minute class periods.

Below is a rough schedule for the presentation and iteration stage aligned to the lesson objectives.  This is a linear schedule in which all presentation happen on the same day.  This year I experimented with "hybrid lessons" in which only one student group would present each day and then the class would move into a new lesson.

7) publicly present to an audience; 8) provide rigorous feedback to presenting groups; 9) self-assess proficiency using rubrics and captured video; 10) and revise in-class presentations as standalone screencasts.

DAYS FIVE and SIX:  Students present Capstone projects.  Observing students provide feedback to presenting groups.  The whole class debriefs the feedback and students can ask questions or provide verbal feedback.  The teacher sends video of presentation as well as a summary of student feedback to each group to use in self-assessment.

Relevant objectives: 7) publicly present to an audience; 8) provide rigorous feedback to presenting groups; 

DAY SEVEN and EIGHT: Students review feedback and video and self-assess against the the Capstone project requirements.  Students articulate next steps and iterate on presentations.  The teacher supports students with identified next steps.

Relevant objectives: 9) self-assess proficiency using rubrics and captured video.

DAY NINE:  Students present final presentations to the teacher during scheduled times during lunch.  Time permitting, student groups then screencast final presentations and students taught by other 11th grade teachers within the school provide student feedback.

DAYS FIVE AND SIX-PROTOTYPE + BABY SHARK TANK: Student presentations

120 minutes

What is the purpose of this section?

Students deliver prototype presentations and give feedback.  The teacher captures video artifacts of students presentations and facilitates verbal feedback session for presenting groups.

As noted in the FRAME, this is a Baby Shark Tank activity, meaning that it is foundation for iteration.  None of these presentations are finished projects.  Each is an in-process solution.  Peer and teacher feedback, as well as video of each presentation are all feedback sources.  Presenting student groups aggregate feedback data to identify areas of strength and weakness.  Student groups iterate to develop more refined presentations.  Ideally, these presentations become well-developed, standalone screencasts.  These screencasts are then distributed to other 11th grade classes; students in these classes provide feedback that will be used to drive a final iteration of the screencasted presentation.  These screencasted presentation is the end goal, but may not be realistic for all students groups, because of time limitations or technology skills deficiencies.

What will students do?

Presenting students will deliver presentations.  (See next section for examples.)  Observing students use this feedback form to provide feedback. This feedback form provides presenting student groups with feedback and also allows a teacher to look at the overall performance of groups using the "show summary of responses" feature from the form that captures student response. Here is an example of this summary view from these presentations.

What will the teacher do?

I make sure all hardware and software is in working order for groups. If groups need somebody to advance slides, I will take that role.  Finally, I will facilitate the feedback discussion following presentation.  Observing students ask specific clarifying or probing questions about the presentations and the presenting team has an opportunity to respond.  

This type of presentation protocol is a well-developed practice in my classroom.  Students nearly always debrief presentation by first asking clarifying questions of students groups (about four minutes), then asking probing questions (about four minutes), and then providing any final feedback (about two minutes).  These times, of course, are flexible; some groups will need less and some groups will need much more. 

NOTE: The attached resource from Indiana University explains the difference between a clarifying and probing question.  Teachers interested in using this framework should develop it as a classroom norm through frequent use.

How long does this take?

A typical class will have six presentations.  Each presentation lasts about an average of eight minutes.  Students spend about two minutes after each presentation completing feedback forms.  Feedback discussions last about 10 minutes.  These presentations might happen at the same time or might be spread out over multiple days.  Spreading out student presentations over multiple days is something I tried this year with great success.

 

STUDENT EXAMPLES: Prototype presentations

How might a teacher use this section to support the end stages of a Capstone project?

This section contains a sample of student presentations covering a range of outcomes.  Here is a link to aggregate feedback from students for these presentations.  As noted in the FRAME, this is a Baby Shark Tank activity, meaning that it is foundation for iteration.  None of these presentations are finished projects.  Each is an in-process solution.  Peer and teacher feedback, as well as video of each presentation are all feedback sources.  Presenting student groups aggregate feedback data to identify areas of strength and weakness.  Student groups iterate to develop more refined presentations.  Ideally, these presentations become well-developed, standalone screencasts.  These screencasts are then distributed to other 11th grade classes; students in these classes provide feedback that will be used to drive a final iteration of the screencasted presentation.  These screencasted presentation is the end goal, but may not be realistic for all students groups, because of time limitations or technology skills deficiencies.

For each presentation below, there are a few important questions to consider.  What did the teacher think? What did the observing students think?  What did the presenting group think from the video footage?  What are the next steps for a teacher?  I provide an example for Japan, and a summary of trends that emerged during Capstone presentations.  Again, here is feedback form describing the criteria for success. 

Japan:

What did the teacher think? This is a stronger presentation that met most of the criteria in the feedback form.  The connection between the population pyramid and current environmental problems could be stronger, especially what the population pyramid will look like in the future and what this will mean for the environment.  Similarly, the IPAT presentation is good, but would benefit from a few more examples.  How did IPAT change over time?  Which variable has changed the most?  Most importantly, the connection between IPAT and the reported environmental problems and attendant solutions is not clear.  How do problems, solutions, and IPAT fit?  The group mentions hybrid cars and earthquake proof building.  A well-developed explanation of this solutions would have linked these examples to the "T" and explained how these solutions affected "I."  

What did the observing students think?  Students were largely "seduced" by the amount of information presented by this group.  Many simply noted "great job" or "good visuals" without really connecting feedback to the criteria.  Some students also added that the group should have memorized the presentation.

What did the presenting group think from the video footage?  This group saw the need to improve the IPAT explanation as well as the need to clarify the relationship between IPAT and future directions.  Mostly, however, this group focused on the surface.  I look dumb.  I hate how I sound.  I should look up more.  

What are the next steps? This group needs to focus on improving the explanation of the facts presented.  Right now, this presentation biases towards reporting; it needs to move towards interpretation.  Teacher-centered modeling of interpretation would probably be the most effective teacher move here.  Also, this group can improve its presentation delivery, but the development of the ideas is the more pressing need.

New York City:

 

Dubai:

 

South Korea:

 

What student needs emerged in the feedback cycle?

There were a number of student need that emerged during this process.  Among the most important to consider are:

  • Students are self-conscious.  Many focus on the appearance of a presentation, rather than the content.
  • Students many not actually understand the criteria for success.  If student feedback is vague and does not reference the feedback form, students may need additional training in how to provide effective feedback.
  • The Capstone project requires substantial synthesis thinking that may students may have difficulty accessing.  Teacher knowledge of students' skills will help determine the criteria for success.  If higher order thinking is difficult for students, teacher may need to modify the presentation requirements to reduce the amount of higher order thinking.  This does not mean that there will be no higher order thinking or that the assignment is less rigorous.  Rather, this means that teachers need to respect where students are at and what they can realistically develop as they work in their "zone of proximal development."

 

DAYS SEVEN, EIGHT, and NINE-ITERATION: Next Steps

120 minutes

What will students do?

Students review feedback from peers and have 15 minute feedback conferences with the teacher to identify areas for improvement.  Students then revise presentations and develop a final screencasted presentation that will be posted internally to all cohorts as well as other 11th grade students taught by other teachers.  Every student will be expected to provide feedback on every presentation.

What tools might students use to screencast?

New screencasting tools seem to appear on the scene every week.  Some tools that my students have successfully used include:

What if my students are not able to create screencasts?

This is the ideal outcome, but realistically, many students may not reach this stage.  There may be technology skills deficits, conceptual understanding deficits, or time constraints.