Thursday, May 17, 2018

One Year in AP: Grades Part II (Week Thirty-six)

By Mark Heintz


I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is downright hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

Answer the Question:

AP is hard. There is no way around it.  Furthering the problem is assigning a grade to a student.   The AP examination stratifies students and ranks them.  Because of that reality, how does a teacher assign a fair grade?  Do I equate grades with predicted AP scores?  Should I change grades based on AP scores? How do I curve four parts of a test?  Do I value work ethic?  How do you factor in a weighted grade?

To help me understand what they thought about all of this, I asked them a few weeks ago what they thought they should have earned.  Before I handed back their last major assessment, I asked them again what grade they thought they earned.  To gather data, I posted a Google form that asked the students to state what their current grade is, what grade they felt they have earned, and explain why they earned the grade they selected. I was amazed at the honesty in their responses.  There were quite a few students who gave themselves a lower score and some of their responses really made me think about the year.

Here is what some of the students had to say.

Provide Specific Evidence: 


I would choose to give myself a low A. I know that I’m giving my best on every test that we take in class, but I just don’t feel that my work is that exceptional. My reasoning is not as reflective as I would like it to be, and I’m always rushed on time. However, I’ve been spending a considerable amount of time at home lately going over prompts we’ve done in class and writing practice DBQs and short answers, which I send to Mr. Heintz for feedback. Just this morning, I woke up early to take a practice stimulus test to challenge my mind and see how I would do that early in the morning. Finally, I am one of the most focused people in the class, and I have finished all my checklists on time throughout the whole year.


I think that the grade I deserve would have to be a C because I have tried in this class but at the same time have lacked on the part of doing my work on time. As well in asking for help when it was needed and asking questions. Also with waiting to last min. To do things that needed to be done a long time ago.


Although I would like an A, I believe that I deserve a B since I don’t really study, practice essays/DBQs/short answer, or do all of the checklists on time.  My actions are also the reason why I’m getting worse at everything in AP World History so I will try to study and practice for the AP exam and study and practice more next year.


I know I have earned a B because I work really hard in this class and at certain times it can be one of my best grades. The hard work that I accomplish for this class pays off in our tests and writings that we do. I prioritize this class over all my other classes because I enjoy the workload and learning about history even though it can be infuriating and frustrating at times. This class always manages to get the best of me but I also get the best from itself by learning things that might potentially stick with me forever.


Because even though I don't keep up on checklists I make up for them. I still do the checklists, but then my grade doesn't increase. Some DBQ's we write and then grade with peers I do well on but scores don't go into the grade book sometimes. I do participate in class, I pay attention, and I think that should earn points itself. Also, I do know the material and what we're talking or writing about even if I'm not the best at expressing it.


My students are very hard on themselves.  Between balancing coursework, getting up early, prioritizing other work, and being attentive in class, their reflection reveals the struggle with the course and their lives.  It is a stressful time for them. Their posts challenge me because of their self-deprivation.  School should be a place that lifts people up and gives confidence since they are gaining new skills and knowledge.  Instead, they are looking at what they haven't gained instead of what they have.

Furthermore, it is interesting to note the emphasis the students place on time in the classroom and paying attention.  The way our school system is set up, time is highly valued.  In our current system, many view time spent in the seat equates to learning.  However,  I thought I moved past that with my students.  Time in the seat help learning occur. But that is not the case.  As a teacher, I constantly converse with students, read their work, and probe with questions that help push their thinking.  In my class, it is not just the time in the seat or filling in of worksheets.  It is what they can do or apply.  In reading their reflection, I need to keep working on it.

Overall, I am not sure the place grades have in the classroom.  They often get in the way of creativity or students taking risks because it is easier to take the linear path to "earn" the A.  They change the narrative of learning.  I have to issue grades and I have really enjoyed reading the students insight.  As I stated before, I need to include them in the process more frequently next year.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Part I: Giving Up Control - Student Led Projects

By Quinn Loch

This is part one of a two-part blog post documenting my experience with planning a large student-led project in my freshman biology classes. In this post I will share the background of the project from the teacher perspective, while the second part will focus on the thoughts and experiences from the student perspective.


Our school recently built a detention basin to accommodate rainfall due to a newly constructed gym. The space offered a blank slate and it was decided that this space would be great for a native pollinator garden - a garden full of native plants that will both attract native pollinators (bees, butterflies, hummingbirds) and soak up water during heavy rains. I acquired some grant money from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and began to brainstorm how I could incorporate this project into my biology classes.

The future garden space from the roof of the school.
I saw this as a great opportunity to have my freshman students plan the space. Over the course of three weeks, each of my four classes developed a proposal that included the major components such as design, plant choice, budget. At the conclusion of the planning process, students presented their proposals to a panel of staff members. The class with the best overall proposal would have their plan carried out.


Before starting the planning process, students learned some basics about plants and pollination through activities and readings. Each student also researched a native plant of their choice in preparation of the plant selection process.
A student sample of a plant ID used during the planning process.

The class was split into five student-chosen groups that included specific roles and responsibilities for the overall project. They included:

  1. Project Managers (facilitated communication between groups, organized presentation)
  2. Survey & Design (measured space, drafted overall layout)
  3. Plant Research (researched and chose appropriate plant list & layout)
  4. Materials & Logistics (developed materials list, budget, and calendar)
  5. Public Relations & Social Media (shared class progress on Twitter, designed garden signage)
I shared some guiding questions and some expected outcomes from each group, but the groups had significant amounts of freedom during the planning stages.

Group Responsibilities in the Plant Research Group

Each day, one student from each group completed a daily reflection form (google form) that included the progress they made for the day, their goal for the next day, and things (supplies, advice, etc.) that they needed from me. Each day, I shared these responses with the project managers so that they could help groups set goals and make progress. I spent most days during the planning process just monitoring the class, making observations, and saying very little as I wanted this project to be as student-led as possible.


When finished, the garden will serve several purposes - a functional habitat for important native pollinators, a location for future learning experiences in life science classes, a place for students to earn service hours through maintenance, and an aesthetically pleasing feature in the front of our school.

However, the planning of the project served another purpose - learning by doing. Students learned quickly how complicated planting a garden can be, and through the struggles and problem solving, I witnessed so much authentic learning. While some of the planning process had little to do with biology, important communication and collaborative skills were being developed. Students struggled at first, but learned the importance of setting goals and delegating to make sure that deadlines were met and everyone was engaged and contributing.  Below is a clip of students planning the layout of one of the gardens:

What I Learned

During the several days in which students were planning, I often said nothing to students other than say that they had the class period to work. Most days I walked around and took notes on how they were doing and when students asked me questions, I either shrugged or responded with questions only. While somewhat amusing for me, it forced my students to problem solve either on their own or in groups.

Too often I feel as though I am enabling students when I just "give them answers." Making experiences students-driven allowed for the problems that they needed to solve their own problems and not problems that I was dictating for them. I've learned that giving up control, something that can seem counter-intuitive to classroom teachers, can actually increase engagement and learning. 

Progress on the garden will be ongoing and will start this Spring and continue throughout the next school year. You can follow its progress, and the Tweets from the planing, on Twitter - @EGPollinators

Next week, I will share feedback that students provided at the end of the planning stages through a survey and class discussion.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

We Are EG Podcast: S1E17 "She Was Such A Fighter!"

Alexa Rodheim Cutler touched the lives of students and staff as an English teacher at Elk Grove HS. She sadly passed away from breast cancer at the age of 29, yet her legacy lives on. Here, her last full class of students, now seniors ready to graduate, share their stories.
For more information on The Magnolia Tree Foundation and Alexa's life and legacy, visit their website at
While there are many students who were touched by Alexa's life, we want to thank the following students for sharing their stories: April, Billy, Estefania, Katie, Jazmin, Jesus, Nella, and Shirley.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

One Year in AP: Student Reflection on Reviewing (Week Thirty-five)

By Kunal Patel,  John Kaczowka, and Mark Heintz


I have two main focuses as I write this weekly blog. Two driving questions that I have in my mind while making decisions.  They are:
  • How do I know if my students know? 
  • How do I get them to know if they know?  
Whether that is a skill or content, I want to know if they know it.   I no longer think it is acceptable for me to guess or get a feeling on whether or not they know it. Getting the students to know if they know it is downright hard, but I am really attempting to get to a point where the students can recognize their understandings or progress on their skill levels and content knowledge.  Therefore, the purpose of this year of reflection is to see how I make progress towards these two goals and elicit feedback from staff, students, and hopefully people who follow along on the journey.  You can read how last week went here.

This week's post is by Kunal Patel and John Kaczowka.  Here is their reflection.

As May 17th—the day many sophomores take the AP World History exam—comes nearer, students begin to “study.” But what is “studying” exactly? How can one effectively prepare for the exam? What have we done in class to help us prepare?

Class Activities and Homework Designed to Help us Prepare

Review Period Checklists: These short Schoology quizzes are designed to test our content knowledge on each time period we have covered this year. The questions are taken from previous checklists from past units. They are usually due each Thursday.

John: Instead of spending hours reading long texts and taking notes, Mr. Heintz created videos that were accompanied by quizzes to check our understanding of the material. I thought that these quizzes really helped me learn the material quickly without any difficulty. The end of each checklist consisted of a review for the week, usually made up of 20 to even 80 questions. The review period homework was a set of quizzes from the entire year divided into smaller parts to review important aspects of each time period. These quizzes saved me a lot of time during the week, and as a result, we didn’t have to learn the AP material during class but instead focus on writing, which will really help me on the AP exam.

Kunal: These weekly review checklists have provided me with a nice way to check if I have the content down. Although it can get repetitive, I believe that this repetition is necessary so that we can commit pertinent information into our memory. I tend to do each checklist twice (within a week or two) and always shoot for a perfect score. When I do get a question wrong, I read the question again, read all of the answer choices, look at the explanation for why my answer choice was incorrect, and come up with a new answer after doing all of the above. For me, I prefer the checklist system over doing a worksheet because I get instant feedback on my answers and an explanation for why an incorrect answer is incorrect as well. It also saves time in class because students will know the content prior to coming to class.

Short Stimulus Checks: These mini-stimulus quizzes are about 7 to 9 questions each. We have done three of these so far, two in the Foundations time period (8000 BCE to 600 BCE) and one in the Post-Classical time period (600 to 1450 CE). We went over the answers to each of these in class. Either Mr. Heintz gave us the answers or we worked together in small groups.

John: The stimulus-based multiple choice is one of the sections on the AP World History exam. This part is worth the most on this test (40%). Starting class off with a couple of stimulus-based questions is a great way to practice this skill. I really thought that these small practices helped me time-wise since this part is only 55 minutes. Timing was a big issue for me.  Making these little practices timed really improved my timing.  Afterward, we would go over the answers as a group, discussing which answer is correct and why the other answer choices are wrong.  Sometimes we choose the correct answer, but we don’t quite know why the answers are wrong or what they are talking about.

Kunal: I feel that this is one of the BEST ways to prepare for the stimulus exam, other than taking a full practice one! It’s a great way to start the class and doesn’t even take up that much time. By seeing more and more stimulus questions, students will get comfortable with the format and become better test takers by exam day. To work on our pacing, Mr. Heintz can have the timer set to a certain number of minutes that would equal the number of questions present. (For example, if there were 9 questions, students should only be allowed 9 minutes to answer them.) Going over the answers afterward is very effective since we can talk through each question and its corresponding answer choices. I feel the class is definitely more engaged when the class is under a time limit. What I would like to see in the near future are short, timed stimulus checks on Schoology that students can complete for practice.

Long Essay Practice: This is similar to the DBQ except the long essay does not include documents that need to support the claim nor do they need to corroborate each other. We did two practice long essays in class before we took one for our final.

John: We, as a class, really didn’t focus on Long Essays since they’re similar to the DBQs. This past week, Mr. Heintz gave us two prompts from actual AP exams to look at during class. We discussed what we can write on this particular prompt. He gave us a couple of minutes to write down whatever we thought would be useful to know about the period 600-1450 CE.  Every aspect is similar to the DBQ in terms of the thesis, contextualization, and corroborating except that there aren’t any documents that we can use. Using what we know is the entire aspect of this part. I decided to write on the 600-1450 prompt as practice for a test we had the following day. This was great practice because I sent it to Mr. Heintz and received feedback on the parts that could have been added to my essay. Writing using past AP prompts really helped me advance my writing abilities.

Kunal: Mr. Heintz didn’t give us any official practice to prepare for the long essay until the month of April. This worked out well because AP changed something about the requirements/format that would have made our preparations not as useful. At first, when we worked on one in class on the whiteboard tables, I wasn’t sure if I was using the right evidence or whether my reasoning was strong; I had very little confidence in myself. On the second long essay we did, I was only able to write the thesis in class. However, we had the long essay final the following day, so I vowed to finish the practice one and receive feedback from my teacher. After writing each paragraph, I sent them to Mr. Heintz via Remind. (You can find my long essay below.) I got GREAT feedback that improved my writing and boosted up my confidence level!! On the day of the final, however, I didn’t feel that great about what I had written. I was only able to write one body paragraph when I had planned to write two, and my reasoning was a bit repetitive. To my surprise, I got 6 points because I wrote my one body paragraph really well and my reasoning wasn’t as repetitive as I thought it was. (What is required of us in class is actually more than what’s required in the actual exam.) At this point in time, I do feel much more confident about writing long essays. The only question I have is whether I’m writing too much in terms of the evidence.

Memory Recall: Every day, Mr. Heintz tests our content knowledge. On some days, we organize historical events by time period and on others, we brainstorm all we know about a topic. Memorizing the content isn’t enough; we have to be able to access the knowledge during the AP exam under time pressure.

John: A big part of learning history is to actually remember the things we learn. The Schoology quizzes are repetitive for a reason. Mr. Heintz asked us to write any facts and important events for certain time periods for the past two weeks.  This was a great way to see which time periods we are struggling with and which ones are mastered. Sometimes, we worked alone to see what we know and other times with our table partner. Together, we could see what facts we could recall. This is a perfect warm up to start class.

Kunal: These “memory recall” times of the period are my favorite! I enjoy being tested on what I know and don’t know and the challenge it provides. These activities are very engaging and stimulate group conversations as ideas bounce around. Sometimes, Mr. Heintz requests us to work individually (which works for me), but after the independent work time, I think that group collaboration should occur as often as possible. One day, Grace (my table buddy) and I created a list of all the Chinese dynasties, the major empires/republics in Europe, and the empires who had power in India. We also created a pyramid and labeled the Caste System. It was fun, engaging, and useful at the same time!

Grace and I brainstorming:

Individual Memory Recall: Mr. Heintz started the class off with individual self-checks to practice recalling information.

Trade Routes Map Activity: We were given a map and a certain time period beginning from 600 C.E. to the present. The goal was to mark any major trade routes used, the empires who legitimized their rule during the time period, and the items traded without using the Internet or any outside sources except for classmates.

John: Drawing and labeling trade routes for a certain time period on a world map was a different approach to what we usually do. I feel that the activity could have been changed since there was some confusion as to how to approach the activity. The idea was there since it made us recall which empire dominated and which trade routes were used. Working in our table groups on a certain time period would have made the activity more interactive. I myself didn’t add all the things I would have liked on my map, and to me, it didn’t really look too appealing. As groups, we may have been able to throw more ideas out and we could have decided what was important and what wasn’t as much. Perhaps adding everything on one map may have improved the activity.

Kunal: Drawing trade routes and labeling empires on a map was fun, but I’m not sure whether that was the best activity for that Friday. On that day, Mr. Heintz was out for a meeting, so a handful of students were not doing the task and instead we're talking about other things or on their iPADs. This is usually the case when a sub is present. I was on task during that class period and I even encouraged Max for us to work together because we had the same time period, 1450 to 1750 C.E. We both got our maps done by the end of the time period, though I just realized that I forgot to include the goods that were traded/transported between Europe, Africa, and the Americas in the Triangular Trade System. However, I personally thought that this activity should have been done earlier in the year. Doing it when the sub was present didn’t turn out well, and if Mr. Heintz were here, we should’ve been working on our writing instead. I think a better idea would have been to take a practice stimulus test or short answers that would be “graded” to force everyone to take it seriously and stay focused.

DBQ Practice: Last Thursday, we got a DBQ prompt. Mr. Heintz timed us for 15 minutes, during which we had to plan out how we would go about answering the question and organizing the documents into two or more groups.

John: Writing during class is one of the best things we do. I’ve always enjoyed writing and learning how to express my thoughts in different ways. The AP exam almost consists entirely of writing. Knowing how to write an essay well will really help me now not only on the AP World History exam but also in the long run. Mr. Heintz gave us a prompt from a retired test, and on Thursday, we were given 15 minutes to analyze the documents to highlight important aspects and connect the documents so we can support our claims. The DBQ is worth the most out of the writing portion of the exam so it’s important we do well on it. What we’ve been doing in class was a great way prepare ourselves for the DBQ. At the beginning of the year, I was struggling to write a good thesis, now after writing countless essays throughout the year in class and on tests, I have really started to write quality essay thanks to these practices.

Kunal: When it comes to AP tests, standardized tests (PSAT, SAT, etc.), and even tests/quizzes in class, my greatest concern is time. When I do my homework, I take my time, read everything carefully and make sure I understand what I’m reading before moving on, and I proofread my work. However, this has been my biggest weakness. If there’s anything I’m worried the most about for this upcoming AP exam, it’s whether I’ll have enough time to answer every single question for the multiple choice and whether my writing is accurate and on topic but also detailed. Due to this, I usually briefly brainstorm and move on to my writing as quickly as I can so I can write all I want to write. This has not been the best idea because it’s led to many jumbled thoughts and not a clear plan. Being timed for 15 minutes allowed me to see what I could get done in that amount of time. I was able to read through each document and list the main points. Additionally, I began grouping the documents and was getting ready to write my thesis. Taking 10 to 15 minutes to brainstorm will allow me to write a DBQ that has effective evidence, strong reasoning, and correct corroboration/qualification between documents.

Practice Test (Final Exam Part 1): For the last two weeks, we took our first final, consisting of a full 55-question stimulus test, three short answers, and one long essay.

John: Taking actual AP exams is a great way to test our knowledge and skills. Mr. Heintz divided the test into a couple sections since there aren’t enough minutes in a class period to an entire AP exam. We took a 55-minute stimulus test and short answer for two days. A week later we took the long essay and this week we’re supposed to write a DBQ, a short answer, and another stimulus to see if we’ve improved or where we could still use some work. Afterward, we analyzed each part individually and as a class to see where we went wrong and where our focus should be. Mr. Heintz had us grade other students work to see what we would give the person and why. He would check the grade himself to see if we were on the same page. I enjoy taking these tests because they show the things I have learned and mastered. Having the will to take these test will only benefit me since this is an excruciating test, and the only way to do well and get through it is to actually want to take the test.

Kunal: Taking a practice exam was very beneficial. It creates an environment similar to the AP exam and allows students to see what they have mastered and what they need to work on. After we took a certain part of the exam, we spent about a day or two going over the answers and understanding what we have done wrong. For example, a couple of days after the stimulus exam, Mr. Heintz handed out our packets and provided us with our results. Additionally, he posted the correct answers to Schoology and explanations for each answer choice for each question. I was able to go over every question I got wrong and decide whether I had made a silly mistake or if the question really was tough. This was very helpful! I realized that many of the questions I missed were silly mistakes that I rushed on due to time. For both the short answers and the long essay, Mr. Heintz requested that we grade our own before he handed out what he graded us. This allowed for a ton of reflection and stimulated group conversations.

How will we both study, and continue to study, for the exam?

John: The AP Exam is right around the corner. Here are some of the things I intend on doing in order to be successful.

  • Take three full practice exams. I found one complete exam on the College Board website and the Princeton Review has a handful of tests as well.
  • Watch videos from on the time periods which I could use some reviewing. There’s around 13 hours worth of content to watch. This would be a great resource to use.
  • Look through objective sheets provided by Mr. Heintz and try filling out blank ones to see which time period I’m still struggling with
  • Look through the Princeton Review and take notes
  • Go back to prompts from the year and try rewriting some of the DBQs and short answer questions
  • Quickly skim through previous tests
  • Reflect on the year and acknowledge how hard I’ve worked to get to this point
Kunal: At this point in time, here is what I’m planning to do outside of class to prepare.

  • Take at least two practice tests that are in the Princeton Review
  • Go over the answers from these two practice tests and understand and reflect on what I’ve done wrong
  • Complete all of the objective sheets with the best of my knowledge to test my memory recall and then review the ones with the answers
  • Do all of the review checklists once again from the whole year
  • Watch videos on to review content and test format/requirements
  • Finish any writing practices that we’ve started in class
  • Read through the Princeton Review and take notes
  • Look over all of my writing and the work I’ve done from the whole year

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Looking to embed social comprehension in your classroom? Book Rec: Being the Change

By Kim Miklusak

This year and last I have been helping to facilitate formal and informal conversations between teachers, with students--and LED by students--about how we can work to embed social comprehension in our classrooms.  That wasn't what we called it at the time, but we discussed how in the classroom teachers and students can...
  • honor people's identities
  • respect and/or discuss differences of belief and experiences
  • have difficult conversations in the classroom
  • build community in the classroom and broader school
I just finished reading Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed, and I wish I had had this resource earlier!  I highly recommend it for anyone looking to embed socio-emotional/affective processing in their classroom in addition to doing any identity and community mindset and practices.

Each chapter covers topics such as "Placing Ourselves in the World," "Listening with Love," "Seeing Our Bias," and "Moving Beyond Our Initial Thinking" among others.  Ahmed sets the context for the book in the preface and at the start of each chapter.  She discusses her own personal experiences but then also makes connections to the broader world and current events.

Inside each chapter she provides clear steps--including a script if one were interested in it!  She provides a list of links and resources to partner texts to help push students' thinking.  Additionally, she provides images of models of work from her class as well as conversations with students and their experiences.

Ideally, each one of these chapters and lessons build on the previous.  However, it is possible to gain insight through individual chapters.  For example, if you've done identity map work in your class before, she speaks in the book (and if you get a chance to see her at a conference!) about how to layer this activity into your lessons all year in order to enhance learning for individuals and the class as a whole instead of having stand-alone activities.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We Are EG Podcast: S1E16 "There Are So Many Amazing Things"

Senior Oscar Gonzalez is excited about his future career plan that opened up to him through the courses he took as part of District 214's Career Pathway Program. He reflects on both the academic and extracurricular experiences that made his four years at Elk Grove High School so memorable.

Learning at Elk Grove: Intro to Engineering

By Patrick McGing, Merlyn Manoj, Kaelyn Rittle, and Mark Heintz

I was fortunate to visit Pat McGing's Intro to Engineering course a few weeks ago.  I asked him and a few of his students to document the learning that took place that lesson and what they hoped to learn in future ones.  From my outsider's perspective, there was a high level of student agency present.  The students were focused and working with purpose.  They rarely deviated from the task at hand and that was evident by the amount of time student spent on the task at hand.  

More importantly, the teacher and the students were all learners.  The teacher was learning right alongside the students.  Because the student projects were so different, it was impossible for the teacher to know the answers to all of their questions.  Rather than giving the students the answers or saying he did not know it, he worked with the students to come up with the solutions.  The equity in the partnership between students and the teachers reminds me that everyone is a learner and together we grow so much more than by ourselves.  Watch the short clip of student focus and the partnership between student and teacher.  Aftwerwards, be sure to read the reflections that follow.  

Teacher Perspective: Patrick McGing

What did learning look like in the lesson?

Learning looked like collaboration.

Students in this Introduction to Engineering Design section are at many different points in a project. Many students were working with their peers to solve problems, demonstrate, or just assist in a minor way to help a peer along. I could look around the classroom and see multiple students leaning over to their neighbor or getting out of their seat to assist a classmate. Therefore, the teaching did not come from me but from students peers.

  • Learning looked like students building skills in smaller areas of Autodesk Inventor with 3D modeling or 3D assemblies.
  • Learning looked like students building communication skills.
  • Learning looked like students building time management skills.
  • Learning looked like students recalling previous knowledge to aide in their current project.

What do you hope to do for the next time?

I hope for students to have a better grasp and understanding of assembling parts in Autodesk Inventor. Many of the students helping each other during the lesson were helping students assemble parts. Something I have tried in one of my other courses is having students develop a step by step “protocol” for troubleshooting specific problems. This helped students actually attempt troubleshooting a problem with already brainstormed solutions and gave them better success in solving a problem on their own. I would like to try this in my introductory course so that students could better persevere through problems.

Student: Merlyn Manoj

What did you learn this lesson?

During this project, I learned how to use my manage my time since we worked on our project independently. It was a bit hard though because if you were falling behind you would have to go to the lab outside of class to catch up with your peers. This project also gave me a lot of freedom since we had to create our own parts, and even though it was frustrating at times because you can’t just follow a plan right in front of you when things are going wrong, it was fun having that creative aspect in our project.

What do you hope to learn for the next time?

I want to learn more about Inventor rather than the basics of it. I think learning how to figure out a solution to a problem rather than just asking a friend or a teacher right away would be a great skill to have.

Student: Kaelyn Rittle 

What did you learn this lesson?

I’m not sure I can say I learned anything new from this unit because most of what we did included skills I learned in the past. However, this unit granted a lot of freedom as to what we were allowed to create, and I would say the design process was the most challenging for me. My project is slightly different in that I have two cranks whereas pretty much everyone else has only one which makes spacing everything just a little harder. I have 5 parts - three in the back and two in the front and measuring everything out so that they wouldn’t hit each other involved a lot of trial and error. This was difficult because whenever I’ve worked on Inventor in the past, I was either following a sheet with the dimensions given to me or I was physically measuring parts as I went along.

What do you hope to learn for the next time?

I think it would be fun to work with other features on Inventor that I haven’t used before. As far as I know, I’ve only used the very basics of it, and maybe exploring it more will help me further understand the program in case I were to ever use it in the future.