Thursday, September 27, 2018

How might we deal with the mismatch?

Last week I heard Kat Holmes talk about her new book, Mismatch. I learned how designing for "normal" can miss the mark. As a result, many of us encounter mismatched experiences in our physical and virtual spaces. Effectively dealing with these mismatches requires inclusive design principles: 1) recognizing exclusion; 2) learning from diversity; and 3) solving for one - extending to many. In order to illustrate the second principle, Kat introduced us to Victor Pineda who made the following point:

There's a triangle of three different things that have to come together to really unlock human accomplishments for people with disabilities. And those involve assistive technology, personal assistance—somebody that's aware, understanding how to support you, and three is coping strategies. And so these three things sort of create a variety of tools.
Of course, I started connecting these ideas to teaching.

A curriculum is often designed for the normal/average student.
In reality, a student and the curriculum are typically mismatched.
To help the student to connect with the curriculum and be a contributor, the teacher might need to offer personal assistance, assistive technology, and/or coping strategies. And we can ask the student (learning from diversity, or as Dr. Emdin writes - co-teaching) to participate in the design.

Having planned for one student, the teacher must consider how to extend the design to many students.

After Kat's talk, I had the opportunity to watch a student-teacher deal with the mismatch between her students' experiences solving problems involving scientific notation [8.EE.A.4] and the curriculum used in her school. We talked about using a think-aloud (personal assistance) to create an anchor chart (assistive technology) that students could refer to (coping strategy) while solving 8.EE.A.4 problems. 

In the next lesson, she tried these ideas out. The lesson started with her making her thinking visible while solving an 8.EE.A.4 problem. Next, she asked students what they noticed in her thinking and added it to an anchor chat. She happened to put the anchor chart in the back of the room so it was obvious later in the lesson how many of the students were using this tool as they turned in their seats to see it. Because of her efforts, students were able to successfully connect to the curriculum.

I'm still processing a lot of this and would appreciate you sharing your thoughts in the comments.

[This blog post was written with the help of the Innovators' Compass. Check out my planning.]