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Tope’s Project Ideas

Project 1: Wiki for Teachers

Elevator Pitch: 

Problem Statement:

Sixty percent of teachers leave the profession within the first five years.  Unfortunately, research suggests that quality instruction usually occurs with teachers who have over five years of classroom experience.  What can be done to help teachers stay in the profession so that they can be most impactful?  Well, one of the biggest challenges that many new teachers face is the lack of instructional materials and access to actual lessons that can be tailored to meet the needs of their students.  Finding instructionally sound and free lessons to build upon can be an isolating and time consuming process. Most teachers spend ample time scouring websites to create piecemeal a lesson.  Furthermore, gaining access to these lessons requires that underpaid teachers pay subscription fees, and put their computers at risk by downloading lessons that are potentially harmful and useless.


Solution:  Each one teaches one.  Create a user-friendly wikispace for teachers to upload quality lessons that follow the Understanding By Design framework and workshop model.  A list of suggested topics and aims will be posted based on the state’s scope and sequence.  Teachers will use a template to input information for different sections.  Users will be encouraged to provide a hyperlink for supplementary material needed to execute each lesson.  The discussion board will include teacher feedback about the implementation of each lesson.



Krisis a highly organized, first year teacher who just completed her Masters of Secondary Education at Fordham University.  She has an exhaustive collection of lesson plan templates and general classroom activity suggestions from her education.  Unfortunately, most of the saved resources and materials haven’t helped her to necessarily develop an actual unit plan or curriculum for her students.  For example, she was asked to teach a daily reading class.  Although Kris has a plethora of general reading strategies that she can use in her teaching, the daily struggle to find engaging texts and create an actual lesson is frustrating.


Josh is a second year Teach for America fellow that gets amazing support from his organization.  They provide him with exemplar units for all of the core-teaching disciplines.  He often shares these materials with his co-workers via email.  After his first year, his assistant principal decided that she would like Josh to teach an all-inclusion special education class. Last year he was only responsible for providing in-class support for general education teachers.  He has never taught a whole class of students with special needs.  He spends endless time searching the Internet for lessons and materials that build upon Teach for America materials.  During the larger department meetings, Josh expresses his discontent with discussions that digress from him obtaining actual and practical tools that enhance his classroom practice.   He feels isolated.


Michelle is a seventh year Social Studies Teacher.  She has collected lessons and materials throughout the years.  One of the Department of Education’s mandated initiatives is that teachers differentiate their lessons.  Five years ago, Michelle’s would often receive praise about her lessons from her principal.  Now, since her school is under pressure to increase student performance, Michelle thinks her lessons are obsolete.  Her teaching model does not align with the new models endorsed by the DOE.  She is considering leaving the profession.


Use Case Scenario:

Kris logs unto the Teaching Reading section of Wiki.  There she is able to peruse actual unit plans that teachers in New York City have used in their classroom.  She sees lesson plans, links to reading materials and comments made by other teachers regarding its implementation.  She is able to post questions to reading teachers about strategies in her classroom.  She presents a summary of these units of study to her students so that they can choose the direction of the course.  Kris is able to use these lessons as a foundation and continues to search the net for more supplementary material that she can add to the wiki space.


Josh logs into the Teaching Special Education portion of Wiki.  There he finds a discussion board and supporting Ning site that allows him to enter a community of special education practioners.  He uploads many of the resources provided by Teach for America and refers his coworkers to this site.  He is able to provide feedback to general education teachers who have special need students in their classrooms.  Josh becomes an active and contributing member of the Wiki.


Michelle logs into the Teaching Global History section.  She sees that each unit follows the Understanding By Design format that requires teachers to backward plan according to state standards and goals.  She begins to use these units and lessons as an exemplar to re-evaluate her previous lessons.  She realizes that there are missing components to the structure of her lessons.  She adapts her lessons and uploads them to the wikispace.



Full Version:

This wiki-space for educators will have multiple templates and frameworks that represent specific state mandates and initiatives for teachers.  For example, within the full site, there will be a sub-section for NYC teachers who have to adhere to workshop model template.  Different states have different rules for teacher practice.  The site will also include a section for discussion, links to reading materials and videos.  Eventually, the site will also include a link to teacher videos.  I would like actual students to also provide feedback on the lessons.

Scaled Down:

Start with a wiki-space for New York Teachers that can be a model for the full site.  Encourage graduate students to upload their unit plans to the site and solicit feedback from actual teachers.

Time Frame:

Full:  1 year

Scaled Down:

6 months

Project #2:  Readability App

Elevator Pitch:

Problem Statement:  New York City Teachers are often inundated with new initiatives by the state.  During the past five years alone, teachers have been expected to differentiate their lessons, align them to the Common Core and use new rubrics to assess the learning of their students.  Undergirding each new initiative is the idea that children need personalized learning plans in order to succeed.  Despite the seemingly altruistic intent of these mandates, teachers are not provided with the practical tools or resources to implement these initiatives.  The push towards differentiation requires that teachers have access to a variety of texts and media tools to appeal to the different needs of students.  How can you differentiate texts, when you only have one textbook?


Solution:  Over the years, I’ve implored teachers to utilize Microsoft word’s readability tool to determine the complexity of a text and consequently match it with the right student.  Perhaps an application that quickly assesses the reading and writing level of written and visual texts would enable teachers to easily differentiate their lessons.  An application that also modifies written text according to the preferred reading level of the user would foster more self-directed learners who build comprehension and understanding.



Meekay is a fifth year English Language Arts teacher.  She often seeks professional learning opportunities on her own.  She recently attended a workshop on the Layered Curriculum that has propelled her to dedicate herself to differentiation.  She comes back to her classroom to assess her reading resources. Most of her texts are on an eighth grade reading level.  She needs to order books that have different reading ranges.  She begins to rewrite certain texts, but it becomes too daunting. Eventually, she uses the same text to teach the whole class.


James is a tenth year, high school social studies teacher.  He uses primary source documents and multimedia tools to engage his students.  Unfortunately, he has never been trained as a reading teacher.  Many of his students struggle to comprehend the texts that he presents.  James therefore has resolved himself to using secondary sources that are below his students reading level just to get through the lesson.


Evelyn is in her first AP History Class.  She is excited about being a student in the class and how it will look on her high school transcript.  Unfortunately, most of the reading assigned in her previous social studies classes did not allow her to struggle with complex texts.  Evelyn has a hard time finishing her AP readings.  Although she finds articles on Wikipedia, the site’s reading level is sometimes difficult for her to comprehend.


Use Case Scenario:

All three users will be able to copy and paste written text unto the ReadITNOw website.  The site will then assess the reading level of the text and provide the option of reformatting it to a higher or lower reading level.




A web application that assesses the reading level of any text or video. It will also reformat written text into a language that is intelligible to the student.


Scaled Version:

A FREE website with copy and paste to determine readability of text.


Time Frame:

6 months to a year.



Posted in Assignment.

One Response

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  1. m. akinyele says

    Feedback from Presentations:

    The readability app is a no go! :(. Too much knowledge of code required to execute project within this lifetime.

    For my wiki page:
    1. What will be your platform? PB works, WikiSpaces or Media Wiki?
    2. Just Do IT: Pick and platform and select a superb lesson to upload.
    3. What copyright license will you use? CopyLeft: Creative Commons?
    4. How will you handle users with radical or conservative views on historical topics? Think about statement of purpose on site.

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