Return to Summer 2014

DreamIT v 2.0

Dream IT: A Proposal for Transformative Learning

Draft – This is a draft of the Dream IT Proposal assignment. It will be changed and updated. 


Dream Ambigram by Punya Mishra


There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why… I dream of things that never were, and ask why not? ~ George Bernard Shaw

Dreams are the touchstones of our character ~ 
Henry David Thoreau

The DreamIT is a year-long multi-stage project that starts during the summer session (July 9 – 23, 2014) and continues through to the end of the spring term (May/June 2015). The description below provides context, and details of the stages to be completed along with a timeline.

Over the 11 days of the face-to-face sessions we have explored a variety of topics and issues related to teaching and learning in the STEM disciplines and the potential of educational technology to transform learning. This includes ideas such as the value of disciplinary learning, misconceptions that people may have, the importance of understanding the aesthetic aspects of teaching and learning, backward design, performances of understanding and the role of technology (particularly the TPACK framework) plays in the educational process. We would like you to keep all of these readings, assignments, activities and presentations in mind while planning for the upcoming year.  Of course, each of your projects will be different, depending on a range of contextual factors:  audience, content to be covered, situational constraints and so on. So your project should be designed to fit your professional work and responsibilities.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that this is NOT a project you are doing to merely complete the requirements of the fellowship. This is for real.

We also ask you to aim high and take some risks. Making change happen is not easy. But in choosing to become a MSU-Wipro STEM & Leadership Fellow you have shown that you are not interested in the status quo. Aim to do something transformational. We recognize that many of you are already doing things that are innovative and effective within your different areas of STEM curricula.  However, the best teachers are continually evolving their practices, developing and redeveloping their lessons, units, and pedagogy for constant growth and innovation. See this project as an opportunity to do that.

Timeline (related to the DreamIT project)

PHASE I: Due by July 23, revised based on feedback by August 8

By the end of the summer (July23) you must have submitted a 2-page draft of your DreamIT idea. This document should NOT be emailed to us but rather should be posted on to your website. This document should include:

  • A description of the your professional context (audience, grade level, time available, course selected, etc.);
  • Identify a key big idea (or ideas) that will be ultimate goal of your teaching
  • Include your explorations of this idea (thorugh iImagesExplain it to me video and any other approaches you may have tried). Provide us with a broad stroke understanding of the content you seek to cover/uncover and provide links to any supporting activities (such as the iImages and the video).
  • Include some thoughts on the kinds of performances of understanding you seek to implement.
  • Finish with a brief description of your plan — the pedagogical approach you seek to implement, the role of technology in the process and the manner in which technology, pedagogy and content work together in your project (i.e TPACK).

REMEMBER that while the DreamIT is a plan of action for addressing some STEM content using technology – technology is not the overriding focus.  You start from the big ideas in your discipline and then work back to the solutions (a part of which could include technology).

With that in mind, think carefully about an aspect of your STEM content that involves some pedagogical problem that you need to address:

  • Is there an area that students struggle with or can’t relate to?
  • Or an area in which (despite your best efforts) misconceptions are still strong?
  • An area in which students are unmotivated to learn?
  • Or an area that is commonly thought of as “boring” or dry, in which students are disengaged?
  • Or perhaps there is some other area in which you can identify pedagogical issues, struggles with content, and/or a teaching problem of practice that needs a plan to address it …

… the DreamIT project is the opportunity to do this, to deal with these issues, and then to put that plan into action. 

We will provide feedback on your plan during the online session that begins right after the face-to-face sessions conclude. You should incorporate this feedback and revise your 2-pager by August 8.

PHASE II: Due by September 7

Following this you will work on fleshing out your plan (and develop a teaching demonstration, similar to the one you conducted in class around your own best teaching experience). In this you will follow the Backwards Design approach discussed in class. In brief, you will

  1. Identify desired results
  2. Determine acceptable evidence (performances of understanding)
  3. Plan learning experience and instruction


We will now explore each of these in greater detail.

  1. Identify desired results

The fundamental goal of your plan should be to develop student understanding (going beyond the facts towards deeper meaning). As Dewey wrote, many years ago:

To grasp the meaning of a thing, an event, or a situation is to see it in its relations to other things: to see how it operates or functions, what consequences follow from it, what causes it, what uses it can be put to.

In this section of your plan you will focus on the big idea (or ideas) that you seek to have your students understand. As we discussed in class, this should be something that has enduring value beyond the classroom and also resides at the heart of the discipline. This is the idea (or ideas) that you will seek to uncover through your instruction.

Your writing in this section should (a) identify the key idea (or ideas); (b) demonstrate how and why they are key to the discipline. You should frame this section around Gardner & Mansilla’s four-fold approach towards disciplinary thinking (the Purpose (why does this discipline exist), the essential Knowledge base, Methods of developoing this knowledge and the Forms of representing this knowledge).

This section is of critical importance, since it sets the goals that you seek to achieve. The more thought and effort you put into this section the better your project will be.


  1. Determine acceptable evidence (performances of understanding)

In this section you would focus on the kinds of performance of understanding (formative and summative assessments) you would use to determine whether or not your students have indeed gained understanding of the big idea (or ideas). As the Harvard Teaching for Understanding website describes it:

Performances of understanding require studnets to go beyone the information given to create something new by reshaping, expanding, extrapolating from, applying, and building on what they already know.

These may include surveys, interviews, classroom observations, teacher journals, or even some kind of a no or low-stakes pre-test and post-test that will allow you to determine what your students have learned. Go back and look at the six facets of understanding (as described in the Wiggins & McTighe article on Understadning Understanding) and identify which are important to the discipline you are teaching. How would you assess those facets of understanding?

In your writeup you should focus on the key aspects of these performances of assessment (as laid out in the Harvard Teaching for Understanding website). Most importantly such assessments need to be ongoing (rather than one large test at the end of the unit). How would you make this clear, relevant and public? You should consider how often such performances would occur, how they would be evaluated, and how students would receive feedback on their performance.


  1. Plan learning experience and instruction

You now have the two key pieces of the project in place (i.e. you have identified desired results AND determined acceptable evidence). Now it is time to construct a plan to achieve it. What is the best way to develop a solution for your problem given the reality of the context within which you practice? For this section we will be using the TPACK framework as a guiding structure to help you conceptualize and plan it out.

Please remember again, that even though we are using the TPACK framework that does not mean that technology itself is the focus.  Technology is a means to an end – that end being the teaching goals for the content, and the learning transformation that you dream of seeing for your students.  Technology is one key part of the plan/solution that will help us get there.  The TPACK framework is useful for this because technology is one part of the interaction, but also front and center are pedagogy and content (the P and the C of your teacher knowledge).  This section of the paper should consider all of these points individually and as an interaction.

Specifically describe the solution that you have come up with. Specifically you must address the following key ideas.

  • Context: What is the specific context in which you are working, as a STEM educator? What are the affordances and constraints of this context? Give us a picture of what you do, your classroom, your students, i.e. any information that would be useful for us to understand the “situated” nature of your problem or concern. In the context of this assignment this means writing a section that lays out the STEM subject matter and grade level that you teach, the kinds of students you typically have and the kind of technology infrastructure and support you have. This is the context within which your solution has to work. Providing photographs or other artifacts related to your classroom context may be useful here.
  • Content: What is it in your STEM discipline(s) that you want your students (or others) to learn and be able to do? What are the problems different students might have learning some particular area of STEM content? What are some challenging concepts of the content area (BIG IDEAS) that you think students have trouble understanding? Keep it brief (since much of this has been described already).
  • Pedagogy: What pedagogical approach do you think will work best given your choice of content and your goals? Think of the readings on developing curiosity and aesthetic understanding that we discussed in class. How can you capture some of these aspects within your STEM disciplines, and within your teaching? What would you do to achieve your goals? Here are a couple of resources that you may find useful as you think about this. The first is a comprehensive list of Instructional Strategies ( and the second is an updated version of an infographic created by Candace available at
  • Technology: What technology seems best suited for your problem—for your context, content and pedagogy? Why this is the best as opposed to other options? Outline the specific technology or combination of technologies that you would like to integrate in order to facilitate the transformation in learning you outline above.

The Total PACKage:  The goal is to integrate technology organically and dynamically in your teaching in order not to “cover” the STEM material, but rather to “uncover it”, and help you and your students truly understand the core of the material. Keep in mind some of the things we have discussed in class over the past few days: the critical barrier that preconceptions, prior knowledge, and beliefs can play; the critical importance of contexts and perspectives; multiple ways of knowing (concepts, theories, stories, schemas, etc.)? Are all three pieces (C, P & T) integrated or are they disjointed and separate from each other? In particular, see how your use of technology is content specific and that it facilitates deeper understanding and allow students to manipulate the information, explore a “network of ideas,” explore the material with curiosity and a sense of wonder, and investigate multiple representations of the material. How does this plan hit the “sweet spot?”

Finally, develop a teaching demonstration (or some other way of sharing your ideas) with others. This will be used to conduct two focus groups (one with a small group of teachers, and the other with a small group of students) to be completed by October 10.

Later in fall… we will do the following. Further details of these will be provided at a later date. Broadly however, this is what we are looking forward to:

  • Conduct Focus Group +Teaching Demo (deliver 1 to teachers and 1 to students) by October 10, 2014.
  • Short report on Focus Groups (what changes were made to DreamIT and what were not): Mid October
  • Implement one round of DreamIT (through fall semester)
  • Report on Ist Round Implementation of DreamIT: December 1, 2014
  • Proposal around DreamIT submitted to CPS Technology conference: TBA
  • Documentation of process: Ongoing on website