BB2C Teacher Perspective: Allison Ricket, Athens High School, Pt. 1

Allison Ricket is an English teacher from Athens High School that participated in the Problem Scenario Project last summer and fall. She is highly motivated to create career development programs for students in Athens County. In her own words....

"I've never done anything like this before in school."
"This project seems more important."
"I've worked a lot harder on this project than I have for any other project in school, ever."

These represent just a few of the comments about the Problem Scenario Project I received when I asked for feedback in a group of my sophomore English students. I randomly selected a handful of students from each of my classes to participate in a half-way-through-the-project feedback session, and as the comments circled around the table, a consensus emerged. The business problem scenario challenged, engaged, and inspired my students.

Five local businesses from Athens, Ohio donated their time to my classroom for the Problem Scenario Project. The first step in the process - planning the problem scenario - required a brief strategizing meeting between myself and the business owner or representative. During this meeting, I asked the business representative to talk to me about his or her job, what they liked, what problems they faced, while I mentally checked their problems against my curriculum standards. Usually it took only a half hour before we collectively alighted on a real problem that fit my curriculum standards and I believed my students could solve.

BB2C's Problem Scenario Project is based on the best practice of Problem based learning, which encourages students to develop higher-order thinking skills like analysis, synthesis, projection, and creativity. Problem based learning depends on an "ill structured problem" - a simply stated, open-ended, multifaceted real-world problem - which then requires students to understand multiple perspectives, research at length, and think holistically in terms of outcome and impact.

For example, one of my businesses, The Market on State, wanted new approaches to draw in foot traffic to their mall. When owners Brent and Cindy Hayes came to my classroom, they presented this problem to the class.

Although this problem scenario may appear simple, the complexity emerged as students began to question Cindy and Brent about current shoppers, available retail space for expansion, the mission and vision Cindy and Brent have for the mall, and current marketing efforts. Taking all these factors into account, my students went to work.

Look for part 2 next week.....