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Virtual to Real Teaching!


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How to Use the Handbook

The SimMentoring project seeks to help novice teachers more rapidly develop maturity and expertise in adapting
teaching to the diverse needs of all learners and increase retention rates of new teachers through development and
use of simSchool – a web-based dynamic simulation of a classroom – together with new forms of pre-service teacher
mentoring. The project stems from a partnership between the teacher education program at University of North
Texas and CurveShift, Inc, a private sector educational solutions company that developed simSchool.

This handbook has been designed to provide an individual or group with support for learning simSchool and pro-
vides lessons for running simulations in order to gain practice in planning and adapting instruction. There are a total
of 15 lessons that start with the basics and then increase in complexity. As you and your preservice teachers experi-
ment with lessons you will find ways to modify and improve these lessons.

It is not necessary to complete all 15 lessons in order to benefit from simSchool. An individual will want to work
through a different list of lessons depending on the end goal.

In order to begin using simSchool it is suggested that Lessons 1, 2, and 3 be completed first. Then you should pick
and choose the lessons that fit the objectives for your classroom. Lesson 4 was originally a slide deck and provides
the theoretical basis behind the creation of simSchool. This can be used before completing any lessons but it seems
to work best if introduced after the first three lessons.

Lessons 5-7 deal with a five student classroom and work with planning an appropriate set of activities for a given time
period. These lessons are good for lesson planning practice and differentiation issues.

Lessons 8-10 deal with creating students in simSchool based on actual students seen in classrooms and then teaching
the created students. These lessons are good for practice in identifying characteristics in individuals that can affect
learning in the classroom and how to account for these characteristics in teaching.

Lessons 11-12 deal with creating tasks to then use to teach any of the simSchool students whether provided in the
program or added by the participants. These lessons provide practice in thinking about the strengths and weakness-
es of tasks as well as the sequencing and scaffolding needs of tasks and students.

Lessons 13-15 deal with the eighteen student classroom. These are the most advanced lessons and the
recommendation is to attempt these only after a significant amount of practice has been completed with
the other lessons.

 
Acknowledgements
The authors would like to express their thanks and gratitude to Dr. We gratefully acknowledge the valuable artistic contributions
Carol Wickstrom and her language arts methods students at the by Rebekah McPherson of the video tutorials referenced in this
University of North Texas. Their willingness to use simSchool and manual. Her numerous discussions with the authors and the project
provide feedback were instrumental in the lessons and learning directors helped formalize instructional processes as well as in-
aids in this handbook. tended outcomes from simulation activities.

We also extend our thanks to Dr. Kelley King and her secondary A final acknowledgement is due to FIPSE. This guide was funded
preservice teacher education students. Their participation and in part by the U.S. Department of Education Fund for the Improve-
feedback provided the impetus for refinements to several of the ment of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) Grant #P116B060398.
lessons and learning aids. Principal Investigators: Rhonda Christensen, Gerald Knezek, Leslie
Patterson.

Copyright © CurveShift 2008


Table of Contents

The simSchool Interface

Outline of suggested lessons

What is simSchool?

How simSchool Works

Lesson 1: Introducing the program- How do I register?

Lesson 1: Introducing the program- Running a simulation

Lesson 2: Learning the program basics- Tasks

Lesson 3: Learning the program basics- Comments

Lesson 4: Presenting the theories behind simSchool

Lesson 5: Introducing the five-student classroom

Lesson 6: Designing a lesson plan

Lesson 7: Improving a lesson plan

Lesson 8: Creating a student- Introduction

Lesson 9: Creating a student

Lesson 10: Running a class of five created students

Lesson 11: Creating a task- Introduction

Lesson 12: Creating a task

Lesson 13: Introducing the eighteen-student classroom

Lesson 14: Using created tasks in the eighteen-student classroom

Lesson 15: Adding up to 5 created students and tasks in the eighteen-student classroom

Appendix
The simSchool Interface
The thermometer shows how Click on the laptop computer When you select an individual
well-matched the student is to see your class roster and student you see an update on
to the task. The round white read student profiles. Profiles the power (ability to do a task);
meter with a red needle is like give you clues about how your happiness (feelings about the
a speedometer that shows how students learn. task), and academic changes
quickly the student is learning. (gains or losses in perfor-
mance).

In the teacher console you can Click the bell to assign tasks The far right hand corner con-
select tasks and talk. and make comments to the tains the buttons that control
whole class. Click on an the game. They are
individual student to impact play (► ) pause (║ ),
one student at a time. and stop (■ ). Beneath these
buttons is a sentence saying that
the Simulation is either running
or paused and below that a line
that saying Simulation time: ___
simMinutes.

simTime is much faster than


real time. Ten seconds of real
time equals one minute of
simTime.
I. Outline of Suggested Lessons
Lesson one: Introducing the program. Register Lesson nine: Creating a student Have student
students, run Everly’s Bad Day simulation, reflect in create a student in simSchool with the information
blog (45-65 Minutes) collected and then run a 45 minute simulation using
that student. Reflect in blog and discuss. Direct stu-
Lesson two: Learning the program basics, tasks. dents to now complete the handout for a below and
Pair up students, provide tasks learning aid (Appen- above average student. (45-60 Minutes)
dix B), and have them run Everly’s Better Day, reflect
in blog. Discuss. (45-60 Minutes). Lesson ten: Running a class of five created stu-
dents Pair students and have then pick from their
Lesson three: Learning the program basics, com- six available students to create a classroom of five in
ments Pair up students, provide the circumplex simSchool. Complete and run a five student lesson
(Appendix A) and comment learning aid (Appendix plan. Reflect in blog and discuss. (45-60 Minutes)
B) Have them run the two simulations with Lacey.
Reflect in blog and discuss. Lesson eleven: Creating a task-Introduction Pair
(Approx. 60 Minutes) students and have them design two tasks to run in
simSchool using the Create a Task handout (Appen-
Lesson four: Presenting the theory behind sim- dix F). (30-45 Minutes)
School On this day present the power point (video)
about the theory behind simSchool. (45 Minutes) Lesson twelve: Creating and assigning a task Pair
students and have then run a five student classroom
Lesson five: Introducing the five student class- using their designed tasks. Reflect in blog and dis-
room Pair students and have them run a five student cuss. (45-60 Minutes)
classroom, fixed personalities. Reflect in blog and
discuss (45-60 Minutes) Lesson thirteen: Introducing the eighteen student
classroom Pair students and have them run an eigh-
Lesson six: Designing a lesson plan Pair up stu- teen student classroom, fixed personalities. Use the
dents and have them complete and run the lesson sample seating plan (Appendix G) for taking notes
plan (Appendix D) for a five student class, fixed on students. Reflect in blog and discuss
personalities. Reflect in blog and discuss. (45-60 Minutes)
(50-75 Minutes)
Lesson fourteen: Using created tasks in the
Lesson seven: Improving a lesson plan Using the eighteen student classroom Pair students and have
data from day five, have the students attempt to them create several tasks and then assign them to
design a better lesson plan. Reflect in blog and an eighteen student classroom simulation. Reflect in
discuss. (45-60 Minutes) blog and discuss (60-90 Minutes)

Lesson eight: Creating a student-Introduction Lesson fifteen: Run an eighteen student class-
Handout and go over the Create a Student handout room with created students and tasks Pair stu-
(Appendix E). Direct the students to observe an dents. Using students and tasks they have created
average student in their observations and complete have them run an eighteen student class room
the handout. (30-45 Minutes) simulation. Reflect in blog and discuss.
(60-90 Minutes)
What is simSchool?
In simSchool you are the teacher and responsible for the learning of all your
students. Just like in school, you can learn about your students by reading their
student profiles that include statements about their behavior and learning
preferences. In the simSchool classroom, you select tasks and conversational
exchanges to best fit your students’ needs. Students respond to tasks with
changes in posture and statements. As you play simSchool you make decisions
and experiment. Then based on what happens you refine your strategies.

With simSchool you play to learn to develop expertise and think like a teacher.
In simSchool, success comes through helping your simStudents improve, both in
their academic performance and their behavior.

How simSchool Works


SimStudent Profiles
** simSchool
can define Each simStudent in the class has an individual personality with settings on 6 di-
20*20*20*20*20*20 mensions: 1) expected academic performance, 2) openness to learning, 3) consci-
students, that’s about entiousness toward tasks, 4) extroversion or introversion, 5) agreeableness, and
64 million students 6) emotional stability. The settings range from very negative to very positive on
each dimension, with about 20 different possible points on each of the 6 dimen-
*** So with sions (actually there are many more gradations.).** We’ve selected 8 students for
5*5*5*5*5*5 narrative the demo version of simSchool.
variations, simSchool
can describe over 15 Each student’s settings (hidden settings that are invisible to the player) determine
thousand students exactly how the student learns. Each student’s profile has a set of narrative hints
about how the student learns correlated with the student’s hidden settings. You
can read the student profile narratives by clicking on the laptop computer on the
desk in the classroom.

The narratives describe each of the student’s personality dimensions using 5


possible points that translate into characteristics (for example: very academically
capable, moderately capable, expected to be on grade level, has a few difficul-
ties, has many difficulties).***. The 8 students we’ve selected for the demo ver-
sion (3 in the single student mode and 5 in the 5 student classroom) may or may
not remind you of students you’ve had, but we hope that they resemble profiles
of students you may have someday.
Lesson 1 For a more detailed dem-
onstration on registering,
Introducing the program-Running a simulation
download and view the
videos located at:
I. Getting Started
http://www.iittl.unt.edu/
• Selecting your browser: simSchool works with Firefox, Netscape and iittl/fipse/simMentoring_
Safari. We recommend using Firefox. web/simSchool.mov

and
Download Firefox http://www.mozilla.org/products/firefox/
http://www.iittl.unt.edu/
• Connect to simSchool - https://simschool.org/my/ iittl/fipse/simMentoring_
web/Comments_in_sim-
School.mov
• On the initial
screen, Register
your Informa-
tion to set up
your account:
https://sim-
school.org/my/
register

• Make sure to use an e-mail you can easily access.

• After clicking on register, a confirmation e-mail should appear in your inbox.

• Click to confirm registration.

• Login with your password on the next screen.

• You are now ready to experience simSchool!

Lesson 1
Lesson 1
Introducing the program-Running a simulation
Objective: Players
will gain an under- Warm-ups
standing of the
available tasks and The “Warm-up” scenarios give you basic knowledge about how the game is
how the simStudent played and how it works.
responds to tasks
based on their spe-
cific profile. Scenario 1: Everly Kassam’s Bad Day

Everly Kassam is an “on grade level” student. In relationships,


he shows self-confidence and likes stimulation. He manages
to get along with others most of the time. He is diligent about
assignments, follows instructions and stays on task. He is a
steady, friendly, warm person with good self-esteem. He’s
interested in a lot of things, enjoys new ideas, and likes a chal-
lenge. When approaching tasks, he talks a lot, likes variety and interaction. He
learns best by “doing” and likes to work with others. He is generally positive
and enthusiastic. Everly likes to plan and have structure. He needs closure, and
thus completes every task. He wants everything “to count” toward the grade.
He is creative, makes up hypotheses, improvises answers, and takes risks.

Let’s see if we can teach him!

Step 1: Set up to
teach Everly

click on the tab “New Simulation.”

click on the box “Use preset students”

click on the box “1 student”

click on the box “At grade level”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”


click on the box “Include visual, audi-
tory, and kinesthetic variables”

type “Everly Kassam”

click on the box “Create”

At the completion of this step, you have defined a “game” or “scenario” with

Lesson 1.1
a well known student who is expected to perform at grade level in any subject you
teach. Oh! Before you do
  Step 2: Teaching Everly the Step 2 actions,
you might want to
click on the box “Launch” next to “Everly Kassam” read through them
first, because once
The classroom now loads to your computer. This might take several minutes. Sim- the game is start-
School is loading the body positions, talking exchanges, and learning characteris- ed, time is ticking.
tics for Everly. When finished, you’ll have a new window looking like this:

Figure 1. Everly, waiting for class to start.

When the game opens it is now “paused,” indicated by the gray parallel bars in the
middle. The game starts when you click on the white triangle in the lower right
corner. To the far right is the white square “stop” button. Don’t start or stop the game
just yet.

Click on the laptop computer screen on the desk. This takes you to your class
list, with student records. You can read about Everly and see past grades. Read the
profile, focusing on the personality profile and teacher reflections. Don’t worry too
much about the grades.

Let’s build a lesson with a set of tasks for him!

Everly’s nightmare 45 simMinute lesson plan


Go over last week’s lessons (15 simSimMinutes)
Take notes during lecture (15 simSimMinutes)
Take an oral quiz (15 simSimMinutes)

That doesn’t look like an inherently bad teaching plan does it? It’s not that exciting,
but truth be told, we’ve all had classes like this. If we teach Everly using this plan,
he will not do well; how do we know this? Let’s do it just to see what will happen.
(One of the advantages of simSchool is the ability to experiment like this without
hurting students). Every minute of class time (simTime) that passes (about 10 sec-
onds of real time) Everly feels and reacts based on your choices.

Lesson 1.2
Step 2 (cont’d): Teaching Everly (with a bad lesson plan for him).

FYI: Leaving the simulation


at this point. click on the “Start button”

If you need to “bail out”


on this or any class, close
the browser window. Do
NOT click the “Stop”
button. If you click
the “Stop” button, the
simulation will record your
scenario as a completed click on Everly
session and will save your
incomplete results – so,
only use the “Stop” button
to save your work, finish
the session, and begin re-
flecting on your teaching. The round white meter with a red needle is like a speedometer that shows
If you hit the pause button how quickly the student is learning. It’s based on expecting the student
at this point and then
also close the browser, to gain 1.0 in the academic variable, over the course of a
the game will save as simulated 45-minute class. If the student is on track to meet that
though you had pressed
the “Stop” button. Here
goal, the meter will be pegged at the far right. If the student isn’t
we go. learning at all, the meter will be at the far left, and if the student
is learning, but slowly, the meter will be somewhere in between.

The theromometer shows how well matched the student is to the task, by
looking at the difference between the student’s power/affiliation and
Power/Affliation: The sim- the task’s power/affiliation. Everly’s thermometer on this task will never move,
School model posits that we
interact with one another since there is no learning opportunity in the task. Let’s assign a task, the clock
by negotiating power and is ticking!
affiliation. For example, if
a teacher and student are
friendly with one another,
the student will react
differently to the teacher
than if the student didn’t
have a level of trust already
established. Conversely,
if a student approaches a
teacher submissively, the
student is likely to expect
the teacher to assume a
dominant role in his or her
response to the student.
In this case, inherent in the
tasks are settings related to
power and affiliation, e.g.,
Power – the student’s sense
of ability to do the task at
hand; Affiliation – the stu-
dent’s compatibility with the
task’s academic potential.

Lesson 1.2
1. Assign the task “go over last week’s lessons”

click on the “Task Menu” in the lower left of the teacher’s console

click on “Level 1” and mouseover on the tasks until you find “go over

last week’s lessons” and then click that one.

When you select Everly by clicking on him, you will see an information update
in the center portion of the teacher’s console. It confirms that he is working on
the task you assigned and is listening. Notice that you are tracking changes
over time in:

Power - his sense of ability to do the task at hand Happiness – his sense of af-
filiation with the task Academic Growth – his academic performance.

If you mouseover the white update screens, they will expand for
detailed viewing.

watch the “Simulation time” in the lower right hand section of


the console.

About every 10 seconds, 1 minute of class time goes by. The readout tells you
how many simMinutes of simulated class time have elapsed.

2. Assign the task take notes during lecture:

click on Everly when 15 simMinutes have passed

click on the “Task Selector” again

click on “Level 3” and then

click the first task “take notes during lecture”

watch the “Simulation time” until 25 simMinutes of class time has

elapsed.

Lesson 1.2
3. Assign the task take an oral quiz:

click on Everly [click] on the “Task Selector” again

click on “Level 1” and then

click the second task “take an oral quiz”

click the “Stop” button when 45 simMinutes of class time has


elapsed.

At the completion of this step, you have recorded a “simulation.” Press the
stop button and go to step 3.

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “View data” next to “Everly Kassam”

There are many ways to analyze your results, so we’ll only point out a couple
of the most obvious ways now. You should see a timeline as in figure 3:

Figure 3. Viewing the data from a simulation.

Everly’s learner characteristics at the start of class are the positions on six vari-
ables of expected performance: Academic, Agreeableness, Emotional Stabil-
ity, Extroversion, Intellectual Openness, and Persistence. Everly is clustered at
or slightly above grade level expectations on all of these variables.

Lesson 1.3
The scroll bar at the bottom allows you to see the entire timeline. The dark
blue line is tracking Everly’s academic performance during this class. We can
see that after 1.5 simMinutes (3 vertical lines) of doing “nothing,” his aca-
demic performance begins to drop when the task is changed to “go over last
week’s lessons.” The task is not asking Everly to “stretch” his performance.
He just needs to sit there while the teacher is going over last week’s lessons.
While that task might be good for solidifying knowledge for some students,
for Everly the task expectation is below his expected grade level of academic
performance, so it can only elicit a lower level of performance than he is capa-
ble of giving. This feature of tasks (its fit with a student’s profile at a moment
in time) can be thought of as the task’s “opportunity to learn” for a particular
student. It will be different for different students. (e.g. A task might be a good
fit for one student and at the same time, a bad fit for another student.)

Using the slider bar to examine the transition from the first to the second task
(indicated by the change in color), we can see that for Everly to “take notes
during lecture” raises his intellectual openness and as a result, slightly raises
his academic performance.

Examining the last transition of the class, we see that the ten-minute lecture’s
expectation for academic performance remained low and the oral quiz was
even lower so his academic performance (blue line) declined.

In behavioral terms, Everly did not cause trouble during this class, even though
he wasn’t learning much, because his emotional variables, (i.e. agreeableness
and emotion), were relatively undisturbed. We will examine behavioral actions
and variables in another scenario with another student.

Lesson 1.3
You can see more about each task’s expectation if you click on the box
“Show details” (Refer back to Figure 3). In this visual analysis, each task’s
expectation level on all variables is shown in relation to Everly’s actual perfor-
mance.

[Interpret] Everly’s academic performance

For example, his academic performance drops to the level expected and
required by the task, converging about four simMinutes into the review of last
week’s lessons. If we had only reviewed lessons for about one or two sim-
Minutes, Everly’s performance would not have dropped as low. After about 5
simMinutes, Everly’s drop in performance reaches its minimum. At the tran-
sition to the second task, the task requirement is considerably higher, and
Everly’s performance is slow to catch up.

There are several underlying reasons for this. Acquiring new knowledge is
TIP: ZPD is the differ- harder work than forgetting or losing ground, and a task with an expectation
ence between what a above the ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development ) of his current performance
learner can do without level slows the process of learning even more. In addition, if any of the other
help and what he or five emotional variables are involved in the task, then Everly’s cognitive load
she can do with help also increases. Although Everly was making slight academic gains, when as-
signed the oral quiz, the task’s performance expectation drops again, and his
performance sinks to match.

Overall, after 45 simMinutes of the worst possible lesson plan for Everly, we
can see that he lost about .5 from his initial expected academic performance.
We can see this visually by comparing beginning to ending positions of the
variables. His initial expectation was “at grade level” and at the end he was
performing below that level. We can also download exact numerical results,
which we’ll do in a future scenario.

Lesson 1.3
The meaning of gains and losses in simSchool is relative to the actions of your
teaching decisions (e.g. in this case, choosing and sequencing tasks) on a scale
of zero to 100% in either a positive or negative direction. In this scenario, we
forced a bad lesson plan on Everly and he lost ground – about 50% of the pos-
sible ground that he could have lost.

This means that we could do even worse (make teaching decisions that are
not helpful) with Everly, but let’s not torture him or ourselves any further. Next
time we want to explore or experiment with this scenario, Everly will be right
where he started today, happy and ready to learn from you (or not) depending
on your decisions. This allows you to Explore and Experiment.

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

It’s a good idea to step back after teaching and think about what worked and
didn’t and what you might try next time. Take a moment to think about what
this warm-up exercise means. Does it bring up questions about classroom
structure and the nature of classroom tasks? What does it say about getting
to know your students? If you know your students, how does that impact what
you do as a teacher?

With simSchool, reflecting on teaching can lead immediately to Exploration and


Experimentation. In real teaching, it can lead to ideas for “action research” –
where you become a teacher-as-researcher in your own classroom.

Exploration: Is there a “better lesson plan” for Everly?


Exploration captures
______________________________________________________________________ the idea that new
questions might come
______________________________________________________________________ up at any time. Some
of them will not have
definitive answers;
some will have
groups of answers
that are better than
others.

Experimentation: What is one thing you can vary with Everly to improve his
academic achievement? Experimentation in
simSchool occurs
______________________________________________________________________ when you control
some things and vary
______________________________________________________________________ others, watching for
significant differences
between scenarios.
Thinking about the above questions, write a reflection in the simSchool blog
about your first experience with simSchool.

Lesson 1.4
Lesson 2
Learning the Program Basics, Tasks

Scenario 2: Everly Kassam’s Better Day


Objective: To learn
the kinds of tasks What is a task in simSchool?
and how they can
effect student Tasks
learning Tasks change a student’s academic performance.

Four types of tasks available


Recall
Skill/concept
Strategic thinking
Extended thinking

Task Characteristics
TIP: Select the kind
of task that best fits Each task is characterized by 6 dimensions, which interact with the
the learning and be- simStudent profile to produce classroom and academic behavior. The
havioral characteris- dimensions set performance goals (act like “attractors”) for each sim-
tics of your students. Student’s current characteristics. For example, the task has a setting for
intellectual openness, which acts on the student’s setting for intellectual
openness.

Tasks exert performance requirements independently on each student,


causing some to learn and others to be stymied or get bored. The 6 di-
mensions align exactly with the personality and academic performance
dimensions of the students (this is after all, a model of teaching, not the
real world!).

As each task requirement dimension is compared to each simStudent


personality setting, the distance to the goal of the task may or may
not be within the learner’s Zone of Proximal Development. If the task
is too hard, the student’s progress may be very slow or never get off
the ground. If the task is too low, then the learner gets bored. A steep
decline in the academic line indicates that the task was too low.

The trouble is, with 6 dimensions for each task, parts of some tasks are
good for only parts of some of the student personalities. It’s complex!

Lesson 2
A Note about Assigning Tasks
TIP: A task that is
You can assign tasks to the whole class or individual students. To assign to highly structured
the whole class you click on the bell on the desk. To assign to an individual is more suited to
student you click on that student. For right now, we only have one student so students who are
either will work. “teacher directed”
while a task that
Step 1: Set up “Everly’s Better Day” simulation allows students to
work on their own
click on the tab “New Simulation.” fits those who prefer
to work “indepen-
click on the box “Use preset students” dently.”

click on the box “1 student”

click on the box “At grade level”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic variables”

type “Everly Kassam2”

click on the box “Create

Step 2: Teaching Everly

click on the box “Launch” next to “Everly Kassam”

The classroom now loads to your computer. This might take several simMi-
nutes. SimSchool is loading the body positions, talking exchanges, and learn-
ing characteristics for Everly.

The game starts when you click on the white triangle in the lower right
corner. The game is now “paused,” indicated by the gray parallel bars in the
middle. To the far right is the white square “stop” button. Don’t start or stop
the game just yet.

click on the laptop computer screen on the desk. This takes you to your
class list, with student records. You can read about Everly and see past grades.
Read the profile, focusing on the personality profile and teacher reflections.
Don’t worry too much about the grades.

Let’s build a lesson with a set of tasks for him! See Appendix C for a list of
the twenty available tasks found in simSchool. Spend a few simMinutes with
your partner looking over the tasks and the levels. For this simulation we have
chosen the following:

Lesson 2.1
Everly’s Better 45 minute lesson plan
Take a written test (15 simMinutes)
Apply a formula (15 simMinutes)
Develop a hypothesis (15 simMinutes)

Take a few minutes and discuss with your partner why these three tasks are
better for Everly. Refer back to his profile for supporting evidence.

Remember, before you do the Step 2 actions, you might want to read through
them first, because once the game is started, time is ticking. Every minute of
class time (simTime) that passes (about 10 seconds of real time) Everly feels
and reacts based on your choices.

Step 2 (cont’d): Teaching Everly (with a better lesson plan for him).

click on the “Start button”

click on Everly

1. Assign the task take a written test

click on the “Task Menu” in the lower left of the teacher’s console

click on “Level 1” and click on the seventh task “take a written test.”

2. Assign the task apply a formula:

click on Everly when 15 simMinutes have passed

click on the “Task Selector” again

click on “Level 2” and then

click the fourth task “Apply a formula.”

watch the “Simulation time” until 30 simMinutes of class time has


elapsed.

Lesson 2.2
3. Assign the task “develop a hypothesis”:

click on Everly click on the “Task Selector” again

click on “Level 4” and then click the fourth task “Develop a hy-

pothesis” click the “Stop” button when 45 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed.

At the completion of this step, you have recorded a “simulation.” Press the
stop button and go to step 3.

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

[click] on the words “View data” next to “Everly Kassam” Observe the
graphs and discuss with a partner why this was a better lesson plan for
Everly

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for Everly, reflect in the simSchool blog about what
you have learned about what tasks are in simSchool and how adjusting tasks
can raise performance.

Lesson 2.4
Lesson 3
Learning the Program Basics, Comments

Scenario 3a: Lacey’s Self-Esteem


Objective: To practice
in simSchool with a Lacey Blakely is someone who needs to think things through.
below grade-level stu- She must be undisturbed in her own private space to be successful. She can
dent and to gain an be aloof at times, and can be critical of others. She gives up easily, has low
understanding of the self-esteem. She tends to resist new ideas, and has trouble integrating new
use of comments information. Her feelings get hurt easily. She will withdraw or rebel if pressed.
She is somewhat cautious, pays attention to immediate details in the environ-
ment, and likes set procedures.

Lacey is teacher-directed, and likes simple goals and clear objectives in assign-
ments. She does best with familiar contexts and guided instruction.

Let’s see if we can teach her!

Step 1: Set up to teach Lacey

Have students get into pairs.

click on the tab “New Simulation.”

click on the box “Use preset students”

click on the box “1 student”

click on the box “Below grade level”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Simplified simulation”

type “Lacey Blakely (below grade level)”

click on the box “Create”

Lesson 3.1
Step 2: Teaching Lacey

Lacey responds to tasks differently than Everly. She doesn’t lose as much
ground on the tasks that were bad for Everly, but several more tasks don’t
work as well for her. Given the same amount of time on a task that is good for
Everly and Lacey (e.g. silent reading, creating a graphic, taking a pop quiz),
Lacey’s academic gains accumulate more slowly than Everly’s because Lacey’s
ability to learn is lower. For this scenario, we’ll run an experiment. First we’ll
let her work on “a brief presentation from memory” for 30 simMinutes on her
own. Then we’ll do the same task, but talk to her during the half hour. We’ll
see if we can improve her performance on the task by talking to her.
First, establish a “baseline” for Lacey on the task

click on the “Start” button

click on Lacey

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “Level 1” and then “a brief presentation from memory”

watch the “Simulation time” until 25 simMinutes of class time has


elapsed.

During the 25 simMinutes, you’ll notice that Lacey shifts around in her seat
several times, and may raise her hand. This task is far above her current level
of performance, so she needs help, but is not getting it.

She may raise her hand for help. If none arrives, she may get a bit discouraged
and sink lower. If you continue to ignore her, she may blurt out something or
act out.

If you click on her, looking at the thermometer you’ll see that the task has
potential for her. You’ll also see that she has made no discernible progress on
the task.

At 20 simMinutes into the lesson, Lacey has had ups and downs in her feel-
ings about the task, mouseover the “Happiness” graph, but has steadily
gained capability to do the task mouseover the “Power” graph, and has
started to adapt her learning to match the task characteristics (the thermom-
eter has risen slightly).

Lesson 3.2
At the end of 25 simMinutes, we can see that the task goal or requirement is
a long way above her. But, Lacey has recently rapidly adapted her learning to
match the task (the thermometer has moved up more) in the last 5 simMinutes
than in the previous 20. Why do you suppose this might be?

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

click the “Stop” button

Lesson 3.2
Step 3: Seeing Your Results

You can now review her performance on this task

click on “Saved Simulations”

click on the words “View data” next to “Lacey Blakely (below grade level)”

The full 25 minute lesson looks something like this:

click on the box “Show details”

We can see why this task was so hard for Lacey. The performance expectation
is far above her current expected performance level. That is one of the reasons
for the slow learning curve, but there are also other influences.

This task poses several challenges to Lacey at the same time. She is a bit
withdrawn and likes to work alone, but making a presentation is a public act
requiring emotional stability, and a fairly high degree of extroversion. Since
the presentation is “from memory” the task also requires high persistence to
enable memorization and to recall the memory.

All of these additional task requirements add layers of difficulty for Lacey. The
cognitive load of this task is outside the ZPD of her learning characteristics,
adding to the difficulty and impeding achievement on this task. During the
simulation you had an indication of the task difficulty and cognitive load by
looking at her body position and the game feedback indicators. Now you
can see the particular components of why that task was difficult by looking at
these reports.

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

Can you improve Lacey’s performance by talking to her? In Everly’s Bad Day
we saw that changing task requirements can improve student performance,
but what about leaving the task as it is, and trying to encourage, scaffold and
support Lacey through talk as a student works on a task?

Let’s try boosting Lacey’s self-esteem, by giving her academic direction (taking
control) in a friendly way, and experimenting with giving her control.

Lesson 3.3
Scenario 3b: Lacey Needs Direction

Step 1: Set up to teach Lacey again

click on the tab “New Simulation.”

click on the box “Use preset students.”

click on the box “1 student”

click on the box “Below grade level”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Simplified Simulation.”

type “Lacey Blakely (talking experiment)”

click on the box “Create”

Step 2: Teaching Lacey

If you left the computer and came back later, go to www.simschool.org

click on the tab “My simSchools”

click on the tab “Saved Simulations”

click on the box “Launch” next to “Lacey Blakely (talking experiment)”

click on the “Start” button

click on Lacey

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “Level 1” and then “A brief presentation from memory”

watch the “Simulation time” until 5 simMinutes of class time has


elapsed.

click on the “Conversation Bubble” in the teacher’s console while re-


ferring to your comment learning aids (Appendix A: the Circumplex and
Appendix B: Comments in simSchool). You’ll see six choices that rep-
resent an assertion (!), observation (*) or question (?) concerning either
behavior (B) or academics (A).

click on A! to make an academic statement

Lesson 3.5
You have stated your intention to speak about academics and to make a
statement. Now it’s time to make the “tone” choice. You’ll see a range of Hint: The exact
colors for the conversational bubbles: phrase spoken is not
as important as the
Greens emphasize being assertive or taking power in a friendly way tone, in influencing
Browns emphasize friendliness while increasingly giving power Lacey. “It’s not what
you say but how you
Reds emphasize giving power while growing cooler and distant
say it.”
Blues emphasize cool distance while increasingly taking power

The colors blend into each other without clear demarcations as do the influ-
ences of the choices.

click on a green conversation (the 3rd one is in the middle of the


“greens”)
watch the class time for one or two simMinutes (10 to 20 seconds)

click on A! to make an academic statement

[repeat these three steps two or three times]

Now, let’s change our conversational approach

click on a red conversation

watch the class time for one or two simMinutes


(10 to 20 seconds)

click on A! to make an academic statement

[repeat these three steps two or three times]

click on the “Stop” button after about 25 simMinutes of class time

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

During the first half of this 25 simMinute lesson, Lacey’s emotional stability,
extroversion and persistence were all raised by teacher talk, and academic
performance improvement resulted. If the teacher had left her alone for the
remainder of the lesson, Lacey’s academic gains would have been improved
from the baseline established earlier. However, during the last 10 to 12 sim-
Minutes of this lesson, the tone of the teacher talk brought down some of
Lacey’s key “self-esteem” variables and contributed to losses in academic
performance. You may have noticed that Lacey’s responses to your talking
seemed unhappy or perhaps even slightly hostile. Even though you were
making good impacts on her emotional state during the first half of the les-
son, the task was still very hard for her and she knew she was not making
much progress on it. She would have been much happier with a new task that
was better matched to her strengths. However, since your goal was to help
her with this task, the best that you could do is talk her through it.

Lesson 3.6
Examining what happened in more detail, you can see that for Lacey, speaking
with an outgoing and assured voice makes a positive impact on her academic
performance. The impact is slight because of the difficulty of this task for her.
But notice that speaking from a purely dominant tone causes her academic im-
provement to halt, flatten out and begin to decline. Even returning to the out-
going and assured tone of voice does not help reverse the negative impact.

(She is so touchy!)

You can also see that a warm and deferring tone is not very helpful to her
(these tones are in the red zone). Remember that Lacey is teacher directed, so
if the teacher says in effect “do whatever you want to do” it does not help her
learn.

She needs the teacher to be assured and outgoing.

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

Knowing what you do now, what would be the best way to help Lacey master
this difficult task?

_________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

Experiment on your own to help her achieve better than your baseline results
with the task alone.

Lesson 3.7
Lesson 4
Presenting the Theories Behind SimSchool

The Theories Behind SimSchool


The psychological, physical and cognitive learning
theories underlying the simSchool simulation

Lesson 4
The fundamental idea of
simSchool is that just as pilots
learn how to fly by practicing
in a simulator, teachers can
also learn by practicing with a
specially designed computer
program. The kind of knowl-
edge that develops through
practice is sometimes called
“know-how” to distinguish it
from the kind of knowledge
that is memorized and remem-
bered for tests. We hope that
playing and experimenting
with simSchool develops hab-
its and insights that are usually
learned through trial and error
in real classrooms.

SimSchool’s software engine is conceptually organized


along the lines of an experimental scientific inquiry. The
components of the experience can be thought of as groups
of variables: observable, hidden, independent and
dependent. Teachers can see and read ob-
servable variables such as a student’s past
school record and profile and the way
the student behaves and performs in
class. Teachers create changes in
the parameters of independent
variables such as which classroom
tasks are given, in what order,
for how long; and what is said
to students from moment to
moment. Those decisions inter-
act with the student’s hidden
variables, primarily the internal
learning characteristics. Finally,
as the student reacts both a
moment-by-moment and histori-
cal record is created as the depen-
dent variables of student outcomes.

Lesson 4
Three subsystems or submodels make up the simStudent personality: physical, psychological and
academic-cognitive.

We’ve selected three physical dimensions that seem to be most relevant for typical classroom learn-
ing: visual, auditory, kinesthetic (VAK). The “theory of multiple intelligences” utilizes a high setting on
“V” to characterize a highly visual learner.

The Five-Factor Model of personality informed the creation of ranges of expected performance along
continua that have been long recognized in psychology. The model is sometimes referred to as the
OCEAN model as a mnemonic of the five factors. For example, “E” stands for “Extroversion” and
represents the fact that all students lie somewhere on the continuum from extraversion to introver-
sion.

SimSchool assumes that students might change where they lie on each continuum during a lesson or
in response to a new context such as a new task or something the teacher says.

Finally, simSchool uses a changing number of academic dimensions (A) to represent content knowl-
edge and cognitive processes highly associated with specific subject areas. In the current models,
only one general “academic performance” variable is used while we are studying alternatives for
multidimensional representations for various subject areas.

Lesson 4
SimSchool uses nine dimen-
sions just outlined (VAK,
OCEAN, A), with sliding
scales on each one that bring
up 5 narratives. For example
“highly introverted” “some-
what introverted” “ambiva-
lent” “somewhat extraverted”
and “highly extraverted.” The
total number of students that
can be represented equals
the number of scale posi-
tions raised to the power of
the number of dimensions,
or in this case 5 to the 9th or
1.9 million different student
profiles.

The profiles are generated dy-


namically on the fly as needed
by the application.

There are no static “personali-


ties” in simSchool.

This slide illustrates how


two different students
might look on the 9 dimen-
sions.

The space of all possible


students is 1.9 million when
considering the dynamic
narratives that are assem-
bled into student profiles.
But in actuality, the simula-
tion uses 20 positions on
each dimension, which raises the number of potential students to 20 to the 9th
(which is more students than anyone needs to think about!) about 512 billion
personalities.

Lesson 4
A common set of 20 tasks
comes with the basic version
of simSchool. Users can add
their own tasks. As a task is
created, it is characterized by
a profile using the same VAK-
OCEAN-A variables.

During each moment of the


simulation, students are im-
pacted by the task that has
been placed before them as
well as by any verbal interac-
tions of the teacher.

We can think of the individual


learning challenge as a set
of simultaneous requests or
requirements for the student to
perform on each of the VAK-
OCEAN-A variables. Some of
them require the student to
“climb up” to the requirement
and others require “dropping
down.” This situation in each
moment of the simulation
places various pressures on the
student to perform and affects
the student’s power to accom-
plish the task as well as happi-
ness about doing it.

Lesson 4
Teacher conversations are
organized into 16 categories
arranged along two axes of the
Interpersonal Circumplex: pow-
er (dominant – submissive) and
affiliation (hostile – friendly).
The player decides whether the
conversation should be warm
or cool (affiliation), and wield-
ing power or empowering the
student (power) each time they
interact with a simStudent.

As a result of their choice the


interaction will reinforce or
inhibit the student’s actions
positively or negatively.

Choosing to talk to a student


about behavior slightly favors
the affiliation dimension, and
choosing to talk about aca-
demic matters slightly favors
the power dimension.

Users see body position chang-


es that represent various states
of attention and on-task behav-
ior, and students talk back when
spoken to.

Lesson 4
The user generates a steady
flow of independent decisions
that constantly impact each
student. Some decisions im-
pact everyone, and others only
impact a single student who has
been selected. It is thus pos-
sible to individualize instruction,
adapt lesson plans, and make
disciplinary and personally sup-
portive decisions.

As time progresses during the


class session, each student
is evolving toward the task
requirements and is either
hindered or helped along by
what the teacher says as well
as by each change in task.
The progression is dynamic
and determined by each user
decision, so each class session
is unique.

Lesson 4
Gains take time to evolve. In this
illustration the student Ali has
been given three different tasks
at the beginning of a class ses-
sion, with three different results
that appear after 5 simMinutes
of class. Note that if we stopped
and measured her academic
gains after only 2 simMinutes,
then the gains would be small
and about equal for reciting
a poem and participating in a
whole-class oral response

The sum total of all changes in


the academic dimensions rep-
resents the total academic gain
for the class, so gains and losses
can cancel each other out, or
gains can accumulate depend-
ing on the user’s choices. The
user can also examine the
moment-to-moment changes to
learn how individual decisions
effected the outcomes.

Lesson 4
Lesson 5
Introducing the Five Student Classroom

By this time students should be familiar with the available tasks, comments, and
options found in simSchool. They should now be ready to work with more than Objective: In this
one student. lesson, the students
Scenario 4: Teaching five students at once will run a five student
fixed personalities
simulation. It will be
left to them to decide
on what tasks to as-
sign and comments to
make.

Step 1: Set up to teach the five student classroom


Get with your partner.

click on the box “Use preset students.”

click on the box “5 students”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Simplified simulation”

type “Class of five”

click on the box “Create”

Lesson 5.1
Step 2: Teaching the five student classroom

click on the laptop and read each students profile. You and your
partner may want to jot down some notes about each student.

Amazo, Jay Young, Aaron Young, Airianna

Youngston, Alonzo Zeba, Ali

If at any time you would like to make a comment to an individual student

click on that student

click on the “conversation bubble”

click on one of the letters and then a colored bubble to make the
comment. Refer to Appendix A, B, and C for assistance.

click start

click the bell on the desk (Remember this is so we can assign a task to
the whole class)

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “Level 1” and then choose a task that you think most stu-
dents will benefit from doing.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time has
elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

Lesson 5.2
click on the “Task Selector”

click on “level 2” or “level 3” and choose another task.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time has
elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “level 3” or “level 4” and choose another task.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time has
elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next to each student.


Observe the graphs and discuss with your partner which student was
most successful?
___________________________________________________________
Least successful?
___________________________________________________________

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for the five students, reflect in the simSchool blog
about what you have learned about teaching more than one student in sim-
School. With your partner discuss what tasks you could assign to improve the
learning of all or most of the students.

Lesson 5.3
Lesson 6
Designing a Lesson Plan

In this lesson, students use a worksheet (Appendix D) to plan in advance the


tasks they are going to assign to their five student classroom. After they plan,
they will run their lesson plan and then review how successful they were.

Scenario 4: Planning in advance for teaching five students at once

Step 1: Set up to teach the five student classroom


Get with your partner.

click on the box “Use preset students.”

click on the box “5 students”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Simplified simulation”


type “Class of five-lesson plan1”

click on the box “Create”

Step 2: Teaching the five student classroom

click on the laptop and read each students profile. You and your
partner may want to jot down some notes about each student.

Amazo, Jay Young, Aaron Young, Airianna

Youngston, Alonzo Zeba, Ali

Lesson 6.1
Using your task list and the lesson plan worksheet, decide on four tasks you
plan to teach to your class. Remember to decide on the best order and time
for each before starting the simulation.

If at any time you would like to make a comment to an individual student

click on that student

click on the “conversation bubble”

click on one of the letters and then a colored bubble to make the com-
ment. Refer to Appendix A, (The Circumplex) and Appendix B, (Comments
available in simSchool) for assistance.

click start

click the bell on the desk (Remember this is so we can assign a task to the
whole class)

click on the “Task Selector”

click your first task from your lesson plan

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of class time
you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on task 2.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of class time
you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 3.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of class time
you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

Lesson 6.2
click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 4.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of class time
you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next to each student.


Observe the graphs and discuss with your partner which student was

Most successful? ____________________________________________

Least successful? ___________________________________________


___________________________________________________________

Which tasks worked the best for the most students?

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

Which tasks, if any, were not effective with any of the students?

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for the five students, reflect in the simSchool blog
about what you have learned about teaching more than one student in sim-
School. With your partner discuss what tasks you could assign to improve the
learning of all or most of the students.

Lesson 6.3
Lesson 7
Improving a Lesson Plan

Using your reflections on how your simStudents responded to task assign-


ments in lesson 6, decide on four tasks that you plan to teach to your class Objective: To improve
that will work best for the majority of students. Then decide on the best alter- the learning of their
native assignment for the low performing student. Remember to decide on lowest student from
the best order and time time for each before starting the simulation. Refer to scenario 4 while keep-
your task list and the lesson plan worksheet found in Appendix D. ing the performance
of the highest student
Scenario 5: Planning in advance for improving teaching five students at up.
once

Step 1: Set up to teach the five student classroom


Get with your partner.

click on the box “Use preset students.”

click on the box “5 students”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Simplified simulation”

type “class of five-lesson plan2”

click on the box “Create”

Step 2: Teaching the five student classroom

click on the laptop and read again each students profile. You and
your partner may want to jot down some notes about each student.
Focus on those areas you want to improve on from the previous lesson.
Make a note of the student that performed the poorest in scenario 4.

Lesson 7.1
Amazo, Jay Young, Aaron Young, Airianna

Youngston, Alonzo Zeba, Ali

Look for key words that will help you to identify appropriate tasks for all.
Hint: If at any time you
would like to make a
comment to an indi- Using your task list and the lesson plan worksheet, decide on four tasks you
vidual student plan to teach to your class that will work best for the majority of students.
Then decide on the best alternative assignment for the low performing stu-
click on that stu- dent. Remember to decide on the best order and time for each before starting
dent the simulation.

click on the “con- click start


versation bubble”
click the bell on the desk (Remember this is so we can assign a task to the
click on one of the whole class)
letters and then a col-
ored bubble to make click on the “Task Selector”
the comment. Refer
to Appendix A, (The click your first task from your lesson plan
Circumplex) and Ap-
click on your low performing student
pendix B, (Comments
available in simSchool) click on the “Task Selector”
for assistance.
click on your first alternate task

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of class time
you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

Lesson 7.2
click on task 2.

click on your low performing student

click on the “Task Selector”

click on your second alternate task

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 3.

click on your low performing student

click on the “Task Selector”

click on your third alternate task

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 4.

click on your low performing student

click on the “Task Selector”

click on your fourth alternate task

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Lesson 7.2
Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next to each student.


Observe the graphs and discuss with your partner which student was
most successful?
___________________________________________________________

Least successful?
___________________________________________________________

Was this lesson plan more or less successful than your previous one?
___________________________________________________________

Which tasks, if any, were not affective with any of the students?

___________________________________________________________

___________________________________________________________

Did your alternate tasks improve the success of your low performer?

__________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for the five students, reflect in the simSchool blog
about what you have learned about teaching more than one student in sim-
School. With your partner discuss any difficulties you are seeing. Also talk
about what you are learning about choosing tasks for a variety of students and
assigning modified tasks for some students.

Lesson 7.3
Lesson 8
Creating a Student-Introduction

For this lesson you are introducing the Create a student handout (Appendix E)
and asking Students to go out and observe a student in a classroom that they Objective: Students
can then attempt to recreate in simSchool to try to teach. For this attempt, have will use the hand-
students look for an average student. Pass out the Create a Student paper to out (Appendix E) to
each person. Go over each step and discuss any questions or concerns. You create a simStudent
may want to have students go to simSchool and load a class to read profiles based on a actual
and discuss with a small group how they would translate what they read about student that they ob-
each student onto the available slider variables. Have the groups discuss several served in a classroom
different students until they have a good “feel” for how to scale certain kinds of
behaviors. Direct the students to choose a student in their current classroom or
field experience to observe. Then from their observations fill out the handout for
where they think the student falls along the different variables. Direct them to
bring their completed handouts to the next session.

Lesson 8
Lesson 9
Creating a Student

Scenario 6: Teaching a created student


Objective: Creating
a student based on
observation and then
placing that student
in a classroom to
teach him or her.

Step 1: Create the student

click on the tab “Custom settings.”

click on the line “Create a new student” Use the information that
you collected to “create your student”
click on the box “Save student”

Step 2: Set up and run the created student simulation

click on the tab “New simulations”

click on the box “Use my custom students”

click on your student you created.

click on the box “next step”

click on the box “Include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic variables”

Lesson 9.1
type in the name “created student1”

click the box “Create”.

click start

click the bell on the desk or on the individual student

click on the “Task Selector”

click on a task you think will work with this student

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover the student to gauge his/her progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on another task.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover the student to gauge his/her progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on a third task.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover the student to gauge his/her progress

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on a fourth and final task.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover the student to gauge his/her progress

click the stop button

Lesson 9.2
Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next to your created student.


Observe the graphs and think about the student you created and the
tasks you assigned. Were your tasks successful?

_______________________________________________________

Did the student respond like you suspected he/she would?


_______________________________________________________

Why or why not?

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for your student, reflect in the simSchool blog about
what you have learned about teaching a created student in simSchool. Using
the same planning sheet, next time you are in your classroom or field experi-
ence, observe and make notes about a student you consider below grade
level and one you consider above grade level.

Lesson 9.3
Lesson 10
Running a Class of Five Created Students

Each student should have created three students: at-grade level, below grade
level, and above grade level. By this time the students should be familiar with Objective: To have
how to create a student and how to set up and run a simulation. students work
cooperatively to
Scenario 7: Teaching a 5 student class of created students create new students
to add to their sim-
Step 1: Create each of the five students class

click on the tab “Custom settings.”

click on the line “Create a new student” Use the information that
you collected to “create your student”

click on the box “Save student” Repeat the above steps four more
times

Step 2: Set up and run the created student simulation

click on the tab “New simulations”

click on the box “Use my custom students”

click on the five students you and your partner created.

click on the box “next step”

click on the box “Include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic variables”

type in the name “created students5”

click the box “Create”.

click on the laptop and read each students profile. You and your
partner may want to jot down some notes about each student.
Using your task list and the lesson plan worksheet, decide on four tasks
you plan to teach to your class. Remember to decide on the best order
and time for each before starting the simulation.

click start.

click the bell on the desk.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 1 from your lesson plan

Lesson 10.1
watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of
class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 2.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 3.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 4.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Lesson 10.2
Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next each student.


Observe the graphs and think about the students you created and the
tasks you assigned. Were your tasks successful?

_______________________________________________________

Did the students respond like you suspected they would? Why or why
not?

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

What could you and your partner do to improve the performances of


your created class?

_______________________________________________________

_______________________________________________________

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for your student, reflect in the simSchool blog about
what you have learned about teaching a class of created students in sim-
School.

Lesson 10.3
Lesson 11
Creating a Task-Introduction

In simSchool, players have the ability to design their own tasks to assign to stu-
Objective: To learn dents.
how to create a task
for a simClass Pass out the Create a Task paper (Appendix F) to each person. Go over each
step and discuss any questions or concerns.

Share the following information about how tasks are designed in simSchool with
your students to help them understand how to design a task for simSchool.

Depths of Knowledge

Level 1 (Recall) includes the recall of information such as a fact, definition,


term, or a simple procedure, as well as performing a simple algorithm or ap-
plying a formula. Key words that signify a Level 1 include “identify,” “recall,”
“recognize,” “use,” and “measure.”

Level 2 (Skill/Concept) includes the engagement of some mental processing


beyond an habitual response. A Level 2 assessment item requires students to
make some decisions as to how to approach the problem or activity, whereas
Level 1 requires students to demonstrate a rote response, perform a well-
known algorithm, follow a set procedure (like a recipe), or perform a clearly
defined series of steps. Key words that generally distinguish a Level 2 item
include “classify,” “organize,” ”estimate,” “make observations,” “collect and
display data,” and “compare data.” These actions imply more than one step.
Some action verbs, such as “explain,” “describe,” or “interpret” could be
classified at different levels depending on the object of the action. Caution is
warranted in interpreting Level 2 as only skills.

Level 3 (Strategic Thinking) requires reasoning, planning, using evidence,


and a higher level of thinking than the previous two levels. In most instances,
requiring students to explain their thinking is a Level 3. Activities that require
students to make conjectures are also at this level. The cognitive demands at
Level 3 are complex and abstract. The complexity does not result from the
fact that there are multiple answers, a possibility for both Levels 1 and 2, but
because the task requires more demanding reasoning. An activity, however,
that has more than one possible answer and requires students to justify the
response they give would most likely be a Level 3. Other Level 3 activities in-
clude drawing conclusions from observations; citing evidence and developing
a logical argument for concepts; explaining phenomena in terms of concepts;
and using concepts to solve problems.

Lesson 11.1
Level 4 (Extended Thinking) requires complex reasoning, planning, develop-
ing, and thinking over an extended period of time. The extended time period
is not a distinguishing factor if the required work is only repetitive and does
not require applying significant conceptual understanding and higher-order
thinking. At Level 4, the cognitive demands of the task should be high and the
work should be very complex. Students should be required to make several
connections—relate ideas within the content area or among content areas—
and have to select one approach among many alternatives on how the situ-
ation should be solved, in order to be at this highest level. Level 4 activities
include designing and conducting experiments; making connections between
a finding and related concepts and phenomena; combining and synthesizing
ideas into new concepts; and critiquing experimental designs.

Task Characteristics
Each task is characterized by 6 dimensions, which interact with the simStudent
profile to produce classroom and academic behavior. The dimensions set per-
formance goals (act like “attractors”) for each simStudent’s current character-
istics. For example, the task has a setting for intellectual openness, which acts
on the student’s setting for intellectual openness.

Tasks exert performance requirements independently on each student, caus-


ing some to learn and others to be stymied or get bored. The 6 dimensions
align exactly with the personality and academic performance dimensions of
the students (this is after all, a model of teaching, not the real world!).

Direct the students to design two different tasks using the provided Create a
Task Handout. Direct them to bring their completed handouts to the next ses-
sion.

Lesson 11.4
Lesson 12
Creating and Assigning a Task

Scenario 7: Assigning a created task


Objective: Creating
a task from observa-
tions and then assign-
ing and then assign-
ing that task to their
classroom of students.

Step 1: Create the tasks

Get with your partner click on the tab “Custom settings.”

click on the line “Create a new task” Use the information that you
collected to “create your task”

click on the box “Save task” Repeat the above steps for the other
task

Step 2: Set up and run the created tasks in a five classroom simulation

click on the tab “New simulations”

click on the box “Use preset students.”

click on the box “5 students”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Simplified simulation”

Lesson 12.1
type “class of five-tasks”

click on the box “Create”

click start

click the bell on the desk

click on the “Task Selector”

click on one of the task you created. It will be listed under the level
you assigned it as the first task

watch the “Simulation time” until 20-25 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover the students to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on the other task you and your partner created. watch the
“Simulation time” until 20-25 simMinutes of class time has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover the students to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next to each student Observe the
graphs and think about the tasks you created. Were your tasks success-
ful with any of the students?
______________________________________________________________

Did the students respond like you suspected they would? Why or why
not? _________________________________________________________

Do you think you could assign the tasks in the opposite order and im-
prove performance? Why or Why not?
______________________________________________________________

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for your students, reflect in the simSchool blog
about what you have learned about creating a task in simSchool.

Lesson 12.3
Lesson 13
Introducing the eighteen student classroom

Provide each pair of students with the Seating Chart for 18 Classroom Notes
Objective: Run an (Appendix G)
eighteen-student
simClass in which Scenario 8: Teaching eighteen students at once
students choose ap-
propriate tasks and
comments based on
prior experiences
in simSchool as well
as through a care-
ful reading of the
student profiles.

Step 1: Set up to teach the eighteen student classroom


Get with your partner.

click on the box “Use preset students.”

click on the box “18 students”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Include Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic variables”

type “class of eighteen”

click on the box “Create”

Step 2: Teaching the eighteen student classroom

click on the laptop and read each students profile. You and your
partner will want to jot down some notes about each student. Your
teacher will have provided the Seating Chart for 18 Classroom Notes.

Lesson 13.1
Class roaster

click start

click the bell on the desk (Remember this is so we can assign a task to the
whole class)

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “Level 1” and then choose a task that you think most students will
benefit from doing.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time has
elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

Lesson 13.2
click on the “Task Selector”

click on “level 2” or “level 3” and choose another task.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “level 3” or “level 4” and choose another task.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next to each student.


Observe the graphs and discuss with your partner which student was
most successful?
___________________________________________________________

Least successful?
___________________________________________________________

How does teaching a class of 18 differ from teaching the class of 5?


___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________
___________________________________________________________

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for the eighteen students, reflect in the simSchool
blog about what you have learned about teaching more than one student in
simSchool. With your partner discuss what tasks you could assign to improve
the learning of all or most of the students.

Lesson 13.3
Lesson 14
Using created tasks in the eighteen student classroom

This lesson is for use when your students are very comfortable creating tasks
and have had some experience with the eighteen student classroom. Once Objective: In this les-
again you will want to provide the students with the Seating Chart for 18 class- son, students will use
room notes (Appendix G). tasks they created to
teach eighteen stu-
Scenario 9: Teaching eighteen students with created tasks dents and reflect on
how to improve the
Step 1: Set up to teach the eighteen student classroom tasks so that as many
Get with your partner. students as possible
will be successful.
click on the box “Use preset students.”

click on the box “18 students”

click on the box “Fixed personalities”

click on the box “Include Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic variables”

type “class of eighteen_tasks”

click on the box “Create”

Step 2: Teaching the eighteen student classroom

click on the laptop and read each students profile. You and your
partner will want to jot down some notes about each student. Your
teacher should have provided the Seating Chart for 18 Classroom
Notes.

click start

click the bell on the desk (Remember this is so we can assign a task
to the whole class)

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “Level 1” and then choose a task that you created. Remem-
ber they should be listed first.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

Lesson 14.1
click on the “Task Selector”

click on “level 2” or “level 3” and choose another task that you cre-
ated.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on “level 3” or “level 4” and choose another task that you cre-
ated.

watch the “Simulation time” until 15-20 simMinutes of class time


has elapsed. During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next to each student.


Observe the graphs and discuss with your partner which student was
most successful? Least successful?
How did the class of 18 respond to your created tasks?

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for the eighteen students, reflect in the simSchool
blog about what you have learned about teaching the class of 18 with created
tasks. What could you do to improve the success of your tasks or how could
you modify them so that more students would be successful?

Lesson 14.3
Lesson 15
Running an eighteen student classroom with created students and tasks

Prior to being able to run the simulation they will need to have time to create
enough students. They can use ones they have created previously, ones you Objective: To create a
have them collect prior to this lesson or ones their classmates have created. If classroom made up of
they use their classmates’ students, they will need to use the information on original simStudents
their handouts and create the student in their account. and then attempt to
teach those students
Scenario 10: Teaching eighteen created students with created tasks with original tasks

Step 1: Create each of the eighteen students

click on the tab “Custom settings.”

click on the line “Create a new student” Use the information that
you collected to “create your student”

click on the box “Save student” Repeat the above steps as many
times as necessary until you have 18 students to pick.

Step 2: Set up and run the created student simulation

click on the tab “New simulations”

click on the box “Use my custom students”

click on the eighteen students you and your partner created.

click on the box “next step”

click on the box “Include visual, auditory, and kinesthetic variables”

type in the name “created students18”

click the box “Create”.

click on the laptop and read each students profile. You and your
partner may want to jot down some notes about each student.
Using your task list and the lesson plan worksheet, decide on four cre-
ated tasks you plan to teach to your class. Remember to decide on the
best order and time for each before starting the simulation.

click start.

click the bell on the desk.

click on the “Task Selector”

Lesson 15.1
click on Task 1 from your lesson plan

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 2.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 3.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the bell again.

click on the “Task Selector”

click on Task 4.

watch the “Simulation time” until the number of simMinutes of


class time you and your partner decided on for this task has elapsed.
During this time

mouseover each student to gauge their progress.

click the stop button

Lesson 15.2
Step 3: Seeing Your Results

click on the words “Show details” next each student.


Observe the graphs and think about the students you created and
the tasks you assigned. Were your tasks successful? Did the students
respond like you suspected they would? Why or why not? What could
you and your partner do to improve the performances of your created
class?

Step 4: Reflecting on Teaching

After reviewing the data for your simulation, reflect in the simSchool
blog about what you have learned about teaching a class of created
students with created tasks in simSchool. Can you think of ways you
could improve your tasks or the order to encourage more learning?

_________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

Lesson 15.3
Appendix A: The Circumplex-Comments in simSchool

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Appendix A
Appendix B: Comments Available in simSchool

B!=Behavioral Assertion A!=Academic Assertion


Get back to work now. Evaluate the question first
You just earned two points toward the pizza party. You can understand this
I need your attention. Look at this example
You’re setting a good example for others. Let’s think about what we did
You’re being so good, it makes me feel great. Your restatement was clear
I don’t really want to make you stay after school... Great! I couldn’t have explained it any better
I am sure you can get your work done on time. Your idea seems valid
Do you want to lose your recess? I never would have thought of that
If I tell you one more time to stop. Tell me what you need to get started
Go to the office. Maybe I should go over it again
I can’t believe you are still acting this way! Can’t give you that information
You just lost your privileges. That report can’t be your best
Move your seat. Stop it right now
Detention for you, see you after school. You need to recall those details
Put your head down on your desk. I don’t think you get it
Stop that! Pull out your rubric sheet

B*=Behavioral observation A*=Academic observation


You’re falling asleep Your evaluation works
You seem confident You have a good understanding
You’re showing others how to behave (thumbs up)
Good team work Others are being influenced by you
You’re being friendly (smiles)
(smiles) I see how thorough your work is
I trust you to behave Your ideas are to the point
(sigh and walk away) I notice you wait to contribute
I can’t tell you anything I see you agreeing with everything
I don’t get you I think you’re on track
Hmmm I haven’t seen you or heard you yet
(look away from the student) It is obvious you cannot follow directions
You’re asking for it (sarcastically) Don’t you think you’re smart
You’re being a pain You’re putting people off
I can’t turn my back on you You’re acting like you don’t trust me
Everyone else is behaving well You’re racing ahead

B?=Behavioral Inquiry A?=Academic Inquiry


Are you doing what I asked? Have you evaluated the question?
Can you do what I do? Do you understand?
Do I need to show you? Can you demonstrate another way?
Want to work in teams? Can you explain this to your neighbor?
How are you doing? Can you restate your idea?
Are you OK with this activity? Can you tell me more please?
Would you like a break? Can you describe your thinking for me?
What do you want to do? What are your thoughts?
What can I do for you? Should I repeat the question?
Are you sure you heard what I said? Should I go over it again?
What do I have to do? Do you need more details?
What is it with you today? Is that report the best you can do?
What are you doing? How could you make such a comment?
Do you know the rules here? Can’t you recall the facts?
Can I turn my back on you? Aren’t you able to define these ideas?
Can you act like the others? How about a comparison with the rubric?

Appendix B
Appendix C: Tasks in simSchool

AVAILABLE TASKS in SIMSCHOOL

Level 1: Recall (e.g. computation)


nothing
do an oral quiz
go over last week’s lessons
take a pop quiz
do a brief presentation from memory
recite a lengthy poem
take a written test

Level 2: Skill/Concept (e.g. word problem)


do silent reading
do whole-class oral response
do a team worksheet
apply a formula

Level 3: Strategic Thinking (e.g. problem involves reasoning)


take notes during lecture
play a game
analyze text
create a graphic
compare and contrast
do design on multiple criteria

Level 4: Extended Thinking (e.g. develop a project plan)


student-lead class discussion
make a creative product
develop a project plan
develop a hypothesis

Appendix C
Appendix D: The Five Student Classroom Lesson Plan

Objective: You and your partner are going to select four tasks that you think
will be most effective in teaching your class for a 45 minute period. You will
need to decide on the tasks, the time to spend on each task, and the order of
the tasks.

1. Log into simSchool and create a 5 student class named LessonPlan1.


2. Load the game and read the 5 student profiles. While you are waiting for
it to load, begin to make some decisions about possible tasks.
3. After reading the profiles, write the four tasks you are going to run in the
space below with the length of time for each. Total time should not equal
more than 45 simMinutes.

TASK ONE____________________________________________________

TASK TWO___________________________________________________

TASK THREE__________________________________________________

TASK FOUR___________________________________________________

4. Now you may start the simulation and begin running your four tasks in
order. You may not change tasks once you have started but you may
make comments to either the group or individuals as you and your part-
ner think is appropriate. Use the space below to record any comments
that you make indicating to whom the comment is directed (either whole
class or give the student name):

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________

After about 45 simMinutes in simSchool time stop the simulation and analyze
your data. Focusing on the Academic graph for each student, decide who
was most successful? Least successful? Can you think of some immediate
changes you could make to improve one or more of the students’ learning?

5. If time allows, create a second lesson plan and see if you can improve the
academics of the least successful student but still stay successful with the
previous highest student.

Appendix D
Appendix E: Create a Student Worksheet
Complete this worksheet with a particular student in mind that you would like
to create in simSchool.

1. First decide on a gender:

MALE
FEMALE

2. Now decide on the race of your student:

African American
Asian
Caucasian
Hispanic

3. From the screen in simSchool you will need to choose a name from a list
of provided ones as well as a picture for your student’s profile.

4. Write a brief description of your student. Think about the kind of terms and
sentences used in the profiles in simSchool.

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________

5. On a scale of -1.0 to 1.0 what academic level is your student? (-1.0 would
be a below level student and 1.0 would be an above grade level stu-
dent)

_______________________________________________________

Appendix E
6. Using the same scale , -1.0 to 1.0, set the levels for the following:

Pays attention to things


Pays attention to private Extroversion
going on around oneself
thoughts and feelings or
or
expresses privately -1……-.5……..0…….5…..1
expresses publicly
Agreeableness
Works alone or avoids Works with or depends on
others others
-1……-.5……..0…….5…..1
Persistence
Works creatively or with Works ultra-carefully or
abandon with persistence
-1……-.5……..0…….5…..1
Shows unrestrained Emotion
Tempers emotions or is
emotional response or is
imperturbable
highly sensitive -1……-.5……..0…….5…..1
Solves well-defined Intellect Solves ill-defined problems
problems or likes to do or like to change
repetitive tasks -1……-.5……..0…….5…..1 approaches frequently

7. Finally, using a scale of 0.0 to 1.0 decide on the visual, auditory, and
kinesthetic levels of your student. Keep in mind that a zero in any one area
means complete absence of that sense (e.g. a zero in visual would mean
blindness). For most students, 0.5 would be the minimum for each with one
or two being higher meaning that they have a strong leaning in that direc-
tion.

Visual ____________
Auditory ____________
Kinesthetic ____________

Appendix E
Appendix F: Create a Task Worksheet

Complete this worksheet for a particular task that you would like to create and
assign in simSchool to a student or group of students.

1). First pick a level for your task

Level one: recall


Level two: skill/concept
Level three: strategic thinking
Level four: extended thinking

2). Now name your task ______________________________________________

3). Give a brief description of your task


_________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________
4). On a scale of -1.0 to 1.0 how difficult is your task? What is its academic
potential? (-1.0 would be a low level academic task and 1.0 would be a
high academic task)
_________________________________________________________________
Pays attention to private thoughts Extroversion Pays attention to things going on around
and feelings or expresses privately -1……-.5……..0…….5…..1 oneself or expresses publicly
Agreeableness
Works alone or avoids others Works with or depends on others
-1……-.5……..0…….5…..1
Persistence
Works creatively or with abandon Works ultra-carefully or with persistence
-1……-.5……..0…….5…..1
Shows unrestrained emotional Emotion
Tempers emotions or is imperturbable
response or is highly sensitive -1……-.5……..0…….5…..1
Solves well-defined problems or Intellect Solves ill-defined problems or like to
likes to do repetitive tasks -1……-.5……..0…….5…..1 change approaches frequently

5). Using the same scale, -1.0 to 1.0, set the levels for the following:

Extroversion: ____________________________
Agreeableness: _________________________
Persistence: _____________________
Emotion: _______________________
Intellect: ______________________

6). Finally, using a scale of 0.0 to 1.0 decide on the visual, auditory, and kin
esthetic levels of your task. Keep in mind that a zero in any one area means
complete absence of that sense (e.g. a zero in visual would mean no visual
information is needed or required for this task)

Visual: _________________
Auditory: ______________
Kinesthetic: ____________

Appendix F
Appendix G: Seating Chart for 18 Classroom Notes

Benson, Keri Yarbrough, Alvarez,


Alvin Xavier

Armstrong, Arnold, Marcus Zhu, Abraham Ancheta, Wright,


Katherine Lucia Ajanee

Amaya, Esmerelda Anderson, Alder, Mary Zavala, Alba, Yael


Lawrence Adela

Young, Airianna Amazo, Jay Youngston, Young, Zeba, Ali


Alonzo Aaron

Teacher Desk

Appendix G
www.simSchool.org