Case Study 1- A Teacher and CROP

CROP Case Study #1 -
An Introduction to 21st Century Curriculum Development

A Unit Plan Problem
  • First, read the directions. If you later need to recall these directions, scroll back to this point and take these text links, including How to Use This Case Study Web Page. Correlations with NC's teacher/faculty computer competencies are also available. You may find it useful to print out the text which narrates the actions in the tutorial videoclips.
  • If you know which videoclip demonstration you want, you can go there directly instead of scrolling by clicking on its number below:

    Look 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

    Evoke 24 25 26 27 28 29         Assess 30 31 32 33 34          Publish/Perform 35 36 37


    Mrs. Morris had a curriculum problem. She had a unit plan coming up again on Asia that she did last year that was required by the state curriculum guidelines in North Carolina. Though she chose to focus on China, she did not feel as comfortable with this social studies topic as she did with other subjects that she taught in her third grade class. Mrs. Morris was not sure if it was just the content, or if it was the methods that she used, and planned to reconsider both. She wished to update her unit plan while using the most current and powerful information systems at her disposal. That is, she wanted her desktop computer to be of more use to her. To guide her curriculum development, she chose the CROP web site and its four stages of problem solving: Look, Evoke, Assess and Publish. The process and problems that she encounters are universal to a wide variety of educational settings.


      1. How To: Connect to the Internet using the Netscape Application.
      To help work through her concerns, she found software that connected her to the Internet.

      2. How To: Reach the CROP site.
      Once connected, she linked to the CROP web site. CROP is a set of online and desktop resources for both personal problem solving and working with groups of people in a team or teams to solve problems. Her needs at the moment are personal to her classroom. She reads the explanatory information about the basic idea of CROP again just to review its basic design.

      3. How To: Make a Bookmark in Netscape.
      Realizing that she is coming here more and more frequently, she makes a bookmark to the site. From this computer, the bookmark will allow her to return to this site with a single click at any time.

      4. How To: Find Higher Order Questions.
      Knowing that a clear statement of the question speeds her work, she takes the link to the THINK branch and calls up and browses a list of question formats and their definitions for higher order thinking: recall, analysis, comparison and so forth. Comparison! How does China compare with the United States? That's it. Though they could repeat facts about China and the United States, Mrs. Morris recalls that her students had trouble in making comparisons between China and the United States. She will need to present more about the structure of and response to comparison questions. The material also reminds her that comparison is about both similarities and differences. Her students also need better ways to put information together for making comparisons. As she searches for current information on China, she will look harder for information categories in which one can more clearly make comparisons.

      5. How To: Explore LEAP.
      Now that her question has focused her efforts, she is ready to work on answering this question. She clicks on the LEAP link. LEAP is an acronym for a process: Look, Evoke, Assess, Publish. Each letter leads to a different set of activities and tools. LEAP is a distillation of problem solving processes in many fields.

      6. How To: Study Concepts in Problem Solving.
      Mrs. Morris begins by Looking for information. She finds that it helps to look at the phrases and words from many different fields of learning which focus the process of looking for information. She calls up this LEAP comparison table and scans it for concepts that will assist her looking. She notes the different terms that different fields use for the activity of Looking for information. In her Unit Plan she will use terminology appropriate to to the field of her Unit Plan on China, social sciences.

      7. How To: Make a Folder on a Diskette.
      Knowing that she will be collecting information in a word processing file and perhaps saving other files as well, Mrs. Morris makes a folder on her diskette to place her collection of files. She can close and open this window to her disk at any time. To remove her disk from the computer, she would drag it to the trash can. This does not erase it. This process only ejects it.

      8. How To: Make a Word Processor File, Save it, and Place it.
      1. How To: Make a Word Processor File and Prepare it for Work with the Internet
      2. How To: Save Your Word Processing and Place it in a Folder
      Next, Mrs. Morris opens a word processor window and resizes the window. The word processor window will hold the information she copies from the Internet. When you work with more than one window, windows can be resized so that they are overlapping. This means that some part of every window you are using is visible on the screen. If your screen pointer can touch any part of any window, no matter how many windows are in front of it, it will be brought to the front (e.g., top of the stack). These windows are metaphors for pieces of paper. So, these computer windows are like different pieces of paper. As long as you can see any corner or part of a piece of paper, you can pick it up and place it on top so that you can work with the information on it. Mrs. Morris sets her two windows so that she can see big parts of both her Internet (Netscape) window and her word processing window. Which ever window she clicks on with her screen pointer will come to the top.

      9. How To: Find a University Web Site.
      Mrs. Morris wants more direct contact with experts themselves, most notably those with expertise in China. She has learned the critical advantage of direct contact over reading an article on China. An expert can quickly size up a situation and provide a highly focused response targeted to Mrs. Morris's needs. The experts can do this efficiently because they will be able to ask questions of Mrs. Morris if they do not understand what she is asking. That is, human experts can change their comments if they do not fit Mrs. Morris's questions. Stored media cannot do this this. The ability to open a two-way channel of communication is what distinguishes connecting people directly versus using different information media stored and accessed in various ways. Using some of the search tools on the People Direct web page, Mrs. Morris tried to find email for the American Ambassador to China but failed. She decides to find a University with a strong program in the Pacific area. As Stanford University is well known and is in a state bordering the Pacific, she seeks its web address in the People Direct section of CROP.

      The topmost segment of the Look pyramid contains tools for directly contacting human beings. This thought reminds her to set a meeting with the building librarian to review any new source material that has come to the library. They meet and conclude that they have several references for the United States that will be useful in making comparisons but the China resources are a bit dated. She decides to go hunting for current information.

      As she looks for data and information, the pyramid icon and structure of the web pages reminds her that information comes in different qualities. Her strategy is to start at the top of the pyramid, and depending on how well the searches go towards the top of the pyramid, she may or may not need to work through to the bottom-most layer. That is, a variety of search tools are sorted and listed in a special order. They are placed in rough order of the amount of human intelligence that is available or used in the organizing and storing of the information. Such information could be referred to as reflected information. The most reflected or highest quality information is available through links at the top of the pyramid while the quantity of information increases as one moves towards the bottom of the pyramid.

      10. How To: Find Faculty Contact Information.
      Having found a relevant University, she finds the name of a faculty member who teaches about China, but this web page does not give his email address. She copies into her China notes word processing file the information about the expert she just found. She saves this file to the China Project folder in her disk. She will return again and again to this word processor file to add further information in the days ahead. She will be organizing the file as the data in it grows.

      11. How To: Find and Save Email Data.
      Given the information she has found, there is another way to proceed. Once she knows his name, she returns to the Stanford home page and looks for a Directory link. Following these links, she finds a place to enter his name. When the computer system has looked up his email address and made it visible, this email address and other contact information is also copied to her word processor file.

      She has now found a no-cost way to interact with a Professor at Stanford University with a specialty in Chinese Art, and his email address. Later, she will add the names of two or three more people on different campuses as backup resource people.

      12. How To: Find a LISTSERV.
      The Internet has also formed communities of people who trade email on topics of interest. These developments are known as email conferences and come in two forms, LISTSERVs and newsgroups. These will come in handy later as further questions arise. When questions occur that stump the class and their current resources, she will may take the student's questions and using her own email account, send it to the email conference. Using search engines, she searches tens of thousands of these global communities. First Mrs. Morris searches for LISTSERVs that discuss China.

      13. How To: Find a Newsgroup.
      Using roughly the same path of links, she next searches for newsgroups. For now, she collects contact and subscription information for the conferences. She will have to carry out other steps later to actually see the email being traded among those participating in the conference.

      14. How To: Organize with an Outline Processor
      She adds all these addresses to her word processing file, China Notes, and organizes them under various headings, such as Email Contacts and Email Conferences. Later, she will contact or interact with the people she has found online.

      15. How To: Find Juvenile (Children's) Literature Online

      The Library of Congress is the planet's largest library, but it is but one of thousands that you can access.

        Find Major Libraries e.g., the Library of Congress.
        Find and Use Telnet to Connect. Telnet is one of the original Internet applications along with FTP applications and email. There is a version of Telnet that works with any speed modem and nearly any vintage and brand of computer. Netscape may be used to start up the Telnet program, but it is still independent of Netscape and not necessary to run Netscape if you know the address of your destination. In this case, the address you enter into telnet is without any closing punctuation.
        Set Up to Capture Data.
        Search the Library of Congress.
        Quitting LOCIS and Telnet.
      Other online resources are also available. A middle section of Look's Tool Pyramid provides access to paper and other non-computer publications generally found in libraries. These publications contain information approved by committees and editors anxious to keep the reputation of their publication in the highest regard. Mrs. Morris first looked for stories about China at the interest level of her students. Online links connect her to libraries for which she can search for juvenile and children's literature and the subject of China. For now she is interested in books, at another time she will hunt for articles. The references that she finds (e.g., citations) are copied and saved and will be shared with the building librarian or media specialist who will be able to find and make available many of these items at the time of the unit's presentation.

      16. How To: Find Quality Child-Rated Web Sites.
      The lower level of the Look Pages' Tool Pyramid connects to resources that are immediately available over the globe's computer network called the Internet. This level provides the greatest quantity of information for immediate access. But it can be of lower quality than the previous higher levels of the pyramid. She will need to more critically analyze what she finds here than in higher levels of this pyramid.

      This bottom level in turn has its own prioritized layers. In fact, it could be thought of as having its own pyramid structure. At the top of this section of the pyramid are search engines (e.g., search systems) which contain reviews and ratings of qualified web sites in their databases. This is called the refereed sub-section. Mrs. Morris searches her favorite, Magellan, for sites with four star ratings. She visits these links to see if they are truly appropriate for her students and then saves selected sites as bookmarks. If she needs even more information she will use other web search tools further down in other sub-sections, such as the Catalog and the Robot systems sub-sections.

      17. How To: Gather Further Email Addresses of Experts and Consultants
      When visiting one of the sites, she discovers an interesting email address. She adds it to her collection of experts in her China Notes word processing file. She and her students can contact them as further questions arise during the unit when she and her class cannot together find the answer.

      18. Moving Bookmarks to Disk and Back

      19. How To: Search a Web Catalog Search System.
      The web pages commercials are distracting, but she learns to ignore them the same way she does with TV commercials. She searches Yahoo for a couple of bookmarks.

      20. HowTo: Search a Web Robot based System
      Next she searches a robot system, Lycos, but the immense number of references is intimidating. She simply records the number of references to share with students how immense the web has become. She makes a mental note that searching for China plus something more specific based on student questions would be of interest later during the unit.

      21. How To: Print.
      A significant number of resources have now been collected. To better organize her efforts, Mrs. Morris keeps a notebook for this unit. Returning to her word processing file, China Notes, she adds a title, boldfaces and centers it, adds the current date and prints it out.

      22. How To: Annotate a Netscape Bookmark.
      She opens the bookmark file and annotates it briefly. She includes the web page address in the annotation, so that when it prints, she and others will be able to see the actual electronic addresses. In this way, others can use her printouts, type in the addresses manually and arrive at the same locations.

      23. How To: Save and Print Out Bookmarks.
      Then, she also prints out her bookmarks on China. The printouts are 3-hole punched and inserted into the notebook. She compares this year's printout of four star web sites with last year's and notes with satisfaction that the list has grown significantly. However, she knew to expect that, given the 10-20% a month growth and the rate of change of the information on the Internet.

      Problem for Reflection: The principal has asked for her budget recommendations, given her increased understanding of the power of computers. But there is not sufficient funding to put both books and networked computers in every student's hands. Yet the single computer in the classroom appears to leave significant advantage to the children from families with the knowledge and wealth to have a networked computer at home. What should she recommend?


      24. How To: Find the Evoke section of LEAP
      Using her bookmark to CROP she returns to its LEAP page. Having completed many activities at the Look stage, Mrs. Morris is ready to move to another phase of problem solving. She moves to the Evoke stage, the composition phase. It is time for more complete compositions using the data she has collected. Mrs. Morris has had her interest in learning more about China raised significantly. That is, her research has evoked a greater interest in China. Her challenge is now to compose activities within her unit plan that evoke the same response in her students. She looks over the set of tools in the Evoke section to remind herself of a range of possibilities. She decides to continue to use the word processor she already knows and to use a spreadsheet which she has begun to learn to use. The CROP site merely reminds her of the tools available at the Evoke level. New application ideas are continually being added at CROP. She may or may not use these Evoke links. If she does use these links, she will also need to have the application programs of this web page on her computer and to have used the Options menu to prepare Netscape to activate these applications on her computer. Otherwise, she can use the standard operating system.

      25. How To: Use a Spreadsheet.
      She does recognize that she wants to emphasize comparison this time and that the rows and columns of a spreadsheet will be an excellent way to organize those ideas in tables for comparison. Further, it will introduce the use of spreadsheet without the higher level of intimidation that immediate mathematical activities will raise in her students while they learn something new. Again, the spreadsheet she and her class could have available may be different than the one that can be activated from the CROP site, but that is not an issue. She merely finds and runs the spreadsheet of her choice.

      26. How To: Modify Netscape to Run a Local Application.
      If she and the building computer support person agrees, they could buy a site license to these programs found at the CROP site and then set up their computers so that a click at the web site will start up that application on their desktop computers. Or they could create a bookmark to their own web page of desktop applications used in their lab. Either way, this would eliminate a step for students in finding the application that they need for their work.

      27. How To: Find and Copy Web Page Text - a Model for a Unit Plan.
      She also realizes that in her research she answered a couple of personal questions about China while she was building her list of resource material. She concludes that the process of generating questions of personal interest and working to answer them is a useful element in stimulating or evoking interest and engagement with and about China, and perhaps any topic. She plans to work this concept into her unit assignments and lesson plans. At the moment she just needs a template to a unit plan to quickly fill in some of the thoughts about her unit. For a moment she returns to the Look section of CROP and scrolls to its education section. There she clicks on Unit Plans and copies a template for one. Having done so, she realized she made a mistake. This text was not in outline format and she prefers the power of the outline. Since she has the Clarisworks application, she will need to try that again, but choose a different link.

      28. How To: Create a First Draft of Her Unit Plan.
      Depending on which link she chooses, she either copies and pastes this unit plan into her word processor or the Internet gives her a file already in the format of her word processor. From here she will begin to type in a first draft of her own thoughts and plans. She begins this first draft by inserting into this outline the collection of information she has previously gathered from the Internet and saved on her diskette.

      29. How To: Find the State's Curriculum Objective Requirements
      As she types she realizes that she does not have a copy of the state's objectives. Needing to review the state's requirements for the grade level of her unit plan, she uses the link in CROP to bring up the curriculum matrix and check out the details. After initial exploring, she will find the third grade social studies curriculum page.

      She will copy and paste the relevant, goals, objectives and competencies of her unit plan into growing Unit Plan Outline.

      Problem for Reflection: Mrs. Morris can easily find a large quantity of information on China. Yet though her students like to read and to listen to her, they also like to compose and organize information. They are also interested in doing these activities at the computer. Teaching computer skills though is very time consuming, especially with limited computer access. How should she balance the time students spend among these activities?


      Feedback is a critical part of the problem solving and composing process. But email messages have a short "shelf life" on the Internet email conferences. Often but a few days will pass and then they will disappear to make room for new messages. CROP's SUP database ensures that questions and answers to interesting questions remain in a stable location. There are both non-computer and computer models at the CROP site to ensure more frequent and deeper assessment of ideas.

      30. How To: Model Online Interaction Without Computer Technology.
      On the CROP site there is a set of steps for using tagboard and cards to simulate Internet activity, a Poster Internet. This process has direct and immediate benefit to ongoing class study. Through this technique she will be able to see what interests students have when comparing China and the United States. If and when a computer becomes available or more computers become available, it is easy to extend this activity to incorporate various levels of computer access.

      31. How To: Organize Class Interaction for Online Practice.
      Last year Mrs. Morris used the computer in the library that was connected to the Internet. This year, she feels fortunate that her classroom computer is connected to the Internet. Of course she also has tagboard, and enough scotch tape and lined 3x5 cards for all her students. She prepares a laminated tagboard poster that will be part of the China display on her bulletin board and display table and puts up a couple of the Still Unsolved Problems (SUP) that came from her previous work last year with the Poster Internet along with one they answered well. Her students will also add questions about China and then as a part of assignments or free time will use their Internet skills and library skills to research answers to the questions and tape their answers to the question on the Poster Internet.

      Mrs. Morris will then take this process one step further. She will pick some of the more interesting questions that her class generates and share them with interested others around the globe. Using a school computer linked to the Internet, she will connect with CROP's Center for question sharing:

      Her students will use these processes of adding and searching to enter their own questions, read the questions of others and leave their own responses. They will carry out these activities both on their Internet Poster and on the global Internet through the CROP site. In inviting her experts to leave questions of interest and responses at CROP in the SUP database, she will ensure that her students will be able to study those questions and participate in developing answers. She also ensures that her future students will be able to do so as well.

      Mrs. Morris considers these questions, the research and the sequence itself an important part of the writing process. In many cases, the work on answers provides the "story-starters" for numerous writing assignments throughout the year.

      32. How To: Use Email Conferences

      As the earlier searching showed, there are tens of thousands of electronic mail conferences. Though some email conferences are primarily made up of school children, most are electronic conversations among adults. Mrs. Morris uses them for her professional level needs, to keep as current as possible on various topics and to have a ready source of expertise. She may choose to share a question that her students have raised in class with an email conference, but she keeps her class out of email conferences as a whole because she can never tell when adult language, adult attached images and rude behavior will flare up in online email. This is not to say that there are not age-appropriate moderated email conferences, but as a general rule, any classroom use of email conferences requires careful study and continuous monitoring for appropriate dialog. Mrs. Morris can also work with her local Internet Service Provider to create an online email conference that will only allow her students and others to whom she has given specific permission to participate.

      One easily reached form of email conference is the newsgroup. Earlier Mrs. Morris used search systems to discover the newsgroup whose name is soc.culture.china and saved this data in her China notes. Working with newsgroups requires some flexibility. The procedures for sending and reading email vary from one web browser to another. Further, the software from any one browser company changes, sometimes significantly, with each new version of the software.

      Mrs. Morris uses several basic procedures in accessing newsgroups.

      33. How To: Send an Email Message with an Attachment.
      Having completed many parts of the first draft of her unit, she wants to share it with her old college roommate who has a great interest in China and has actually traveled there. She will use her email system to send her unit plan as an attachment to an email message. But she must make sure that her friend is using the same application as the attachment she sends or her friend will not be able to read it. In the same way she attached this word processing document, she can also attach multimedia files such as drawings, pictures, sound and video clips. Her friend can respond in minutes or in a couple of days. This same technique works just as well in newsgroup messaging.

      34. How To: Email a Newsgroup with a New Topic.
      Her notes file also hold the names of other relevant newsgroups. She also sends a new news message to the K12.ed.soc-studies newsgroup that her unit plan is available. In doing so, she finds another way to enter a newsgroup. She tells this email community that she can fax it to the first two or three who offer to critique it, but that she does not yet know how to make her own web pages so that as many as would like to can download it for free.

      Her return email over the next week generated several new resources and a couple of excellent suggestions. They also generated the email addresses of two Chinese students that would be willing to trade email with her students. These addresses are copied into her electronic notebook for future use. These interactions lead her to shift again to the Evoke stage of problem solving and edit and modify the unit in several ways which will make its use more effective.

      Problems for Reflection Email conferences, particularly newsgroups, vary from the depraved to the enlightened, from gossip to emergency assistance in times of disaster. Classroom conversation indicates that some of her students and their older siblings are clearly exploring newsgroups and possibly some of the seamier areas. How should she prepare students to handle strong adult material which they should not be encountering? How should she seek to censor student access in and out of school?


      To share your work with others is to publish. In this sense, teachers publish their work to their students with every unit and lesson plan. Mrs. Morris also realizes that there are two other audiences that are important to her and to her profession. These audiences also need to share in this work. She wants to look into ways in which she can quickly and inexpensively share her unit plan with other teachers and with the parents in her school. She arranges a meeting with the district computer coordinator and asks if her unit plan and lesson plans could become web pages for others to see.

      35. How To: Make a Simple Web Page
      Her district computer coordinator asks her to attend a workshop that will take her through very simple steps to do create her web files quickly. Once learned, this process actually takes but a matter of minutes. This workshop will also point out other steps that will allow her to improve the look, appeal and readability of her web pages in time and with more experience.

      Once web pages are ready, they must be placed on a computer that runs software called web server software. This application will distribute or disseminate them on request from others on the Internet as they tap links on their web pages.

      36. How To: Use Fetch to Transfer Files between Computers
      You will need the Internet address of a web server and an account on such a system to complete this activity for real. The Yahoo site maintains a long list of web server sites that will provide free web page services. A very large number of other sites provide web page hosting services for a wide range of fees. Whether you are ready to do this or not, by viewing these videoclips you can see that this process does not take long once arrangements have been made.

      A computer that distributes (publishes) web pages is a web server. The computer coordinator showed her workshop a list of several institutions that are interested in supporting teachers that wish to share their lesson and unit plans for free. These range from the state department of public instruction to agencies with grants to support education to the nearby university and community college to the school district superintendent who is looking into creating a web server that will be run by their school district.

      The workshop leader takes Mrs. Morris through the process of transferring (uploading) a file using a Macintosh application called Fetch. On computers running Windows operating system software, they might use FS_FTP. Once the file is transferred, the webmaster of the web server computer could make a new link from existing web pages to her new document. Mrs. Morris can make further links from her first web page to others that she might make, and do so on her own without the assistance of the site's webmaster.

      She decides to buy a modem and an Internet account for her home to make this work more convenient. Her Internet Service Provider makes web page file space available for a small monthly fee. She can then send her changes and updates directly to her web page over the telephone line from home and have them take effect immediately.

      37. How To: Copy a Disk.
      There are of course simpler forms of publishing including the use of a printer to make a printed copy and "sneakernet" to carry the copy to down the hall to another teacher. A faster form of local information distribution is to make copies of diskettes. Mrs. Morris made a copy of her disk with the unit plan and sent her disk to a neighboring city with an agency that has a grant to support educational projects in her area. Later, she also sent a copy of her disk to the state department of public instruction.

      Both institutions chose to put her work online on their web sites. That is, they put her web file on their computers and made a link from their pages to her work. When the webmasters of those sites replied to her that the task was completed, they also gave her the electronic address of her unit plan, known as its URL. She asked the principal to include the electronic address or location of her unit plan in an article to parents for the school newsletter so that they could read her material as well without running up duplicating costs.

      Finally, she sent email to friends who had helped with her unit and to many in her k12.ed.soc-studies newsgroup. She informed them all of the several electronic locations of her web pages. Mrs. Morris is sure that ready access to her unit plan by those with whom she interacts will yield even more ideas for improving it the next time around.

    Problems for Reflection The idea of creating linked web pages puzzles Mrs. Morris. The links on any given web page connect with the web pages of others from around the world. It is a skill within the range of her students to learn and some already have. The writing process that she teaches has several stages: pre-writing, writing, editing/revision and publishing. As Mrs. Morris teaches composition, which stage of the writing process should be used to incorporate the ideas and process of linking? Is it possible that linking is a new category within the writing process or is a different process?

    The End

    Case study #1 provided an extensive set of professional skills while raising several issues of the information age. Additional case studies will be developed at this site in the future.

    Communities Resolving Our Problems: the basic idea
    [SUP: Sharing Problems] [THINK: Guidance] [LEAP: Solving Problems]

    Pub: v1.0, 4/5/97; v2.0,10/7/1997