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We have collected a small archive of examples of STEP students' final cases, to help illustrate both the variety of issues and experiences that students' cases address, as well as to demonstrate what cases look like in a variety of subject matters. Any of the below cases can be downloaded as a PDF file:

"Rethinking Bruner: A case of intellectual honesty" by Sonya

    This case uses Bruner's concept of intellectual honesty to examine two lessons in a unit on Cyrano de Bergerac--one lesson which was successful, the other, less so. The author argues that the reason for the success of the second lesson was that it built upon students' needs, abilities, and interests, as well as was true to the text--in sum, it was more intellectually honest. Readers wishing to learn more about how cases develop can also examine Sonya's outline, first draft, and penultimate draft.

"Scaffolding for a Divorced Part of my Curriculum: Vocabulary" by Mika

    In this case, Mika explores the supports she provided for her students' work on learning vocabulary. Using course concepts such as transfer, metacognition, and cognitive apprenticeship, she examines the assessments she developed, considering ways that she might better assist her students in developing their vocabulary. Readers wishing to see how Mika's case developed can also examine her outline.

"The Mockingbird Essay: A case of unclear expectations" by Ryan Caster

    In this case, the author examines the final essay prompt he assigned his students in a unit on the book To Kill a Mockingbird. Ryan reflects upon the initial assumptions about his students' knowledge and how they may have shaped this particular assignment, and then assesses how he did--and did not-- scaffold  students' writing. In doing so, Ryan raises questions about how much support is too much, and how one structures the complex task of teaching comparative and figurative writing.   

"A Student-Teachers' Tale" by Bianca Dorman

    In this case, the author relates the moral and personal dilemmas she faced in teaching a unit on Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. Bianca considers the intersection between personal beliefs and curriculum, as well as addresses the nature of the kind of scaffolding that might be most appropriate for the kind of assignments she developed.      

Foreign Language

"Bun or Burger: What is a Thesis Statement?: A case of analogy gone awry" by Rebecca Bennion

    In this case, the author explores an experience she had teaching the writing of a five-paragraph essay to her ELD students. To help them understand the concept of the essay, Rebecca used the analogy of a hamburger, with the bun representing the thesis statement. In examining her lesson, she reflects upon the qualities of a good analogy--what sort of representation of subject matter can best aid student understanding? Noting that this analogy led to some confusion and lack of transfer, she considers how best to support students in transferring their learning to new situations. 

"Once Again, Short Form Rears Its Ugly Head: A case of what you don't know can hurt you" by Matthew Hall

    In this case, the author examines the use of peer teaching in helping his students develop an understanding of certain grammatical forms in Japanese. Matt discovers mid-way through his lesson that his students had not yet not been taught a basic grammatical structure upon which his lesson was based. This surprise leads Matt to reflect upon the critical role of prior knowledge in his classroom.


Why can't you just tell us?: The case of a lack of long-term scaffolding that resulted in disappointment  by Jessica

    In this case, the author describes her efforts to help students learn about the human immune system through a group activity involving jigsaws and expert groups. The students become frustrated during the activity and ask  for "answers," and Jessica finds herself and her cooperating teacher providing them. Jessica reflects upon the importance of scaffolding such a new assignment for her students in much deeper ways. This case also leads Jessica to reflect that in order for an activity like this to be completely successful,  schools may need to further encourage students to become more self-initiating learners. Readers wishing to see how Jessica's case developed may want to see her initial outline, first draft, or penultimate draft.

"Teaching Evolution: A case of overcoming misconceptions" by Karen Gee

    In this case, the author relates her experiences teaching a unit on evolution to her high school students. Despite students' abilities to demonstrate some understanding of Darwinism and natural selection, her assessments revealed persistent misconceptions about how evolution and natural selection occur. Karen reflects upon how best to attempt to overcome students' prior knowledge and commonsense explanations of natural selection, in order to lead them to more theoretically sound explanations and to deeper, more robust understanding.

"Genetic Diseases, Icebergs and Apprenticeships" by Stephanie

    In this case, Stephanie details a group project she assigned her students as part of a unit on genetic diseases, which required them to study and report upon a particular ethical dilemma associated with a genetic disease. While students' group projects were satisfactory, Stephanie felt disappointed. She believed that the students could have developed an even deeper understanding, better content knowledge and more interest in the material. How could she have helped her students come away with a more robust  understanding? Stephanie concludes that that she needed to make her own expectations and thinking more visible to her students; that she needed to scaffold the project even more thoroughly than she had done. 

Social Studies

"Imperialism Takes Hold" by Paloma Garcia Lopez

    In this case, the author describes and examines a set of lessons in which she wanted her students to develop an understanding of the concept of manifest destiny. Her students do not, to her disappointment, immediately question the concept as she had expected. They do, however, raise questions at a point when she feels she is less prepared to answer them. This experience leads Paloma to consider how to teach  a powerful--and personally meaningful-- topic in an intellectually honest way, in other words, how to transform curriculum in such a way that better supports her students' learning.

"Whose Lesson is it Anyway?: A case of intellectual ownership" by Winter Pettis

    In this case, the author examines a unit she taught on United States foreign policy which built upon the essential question; "Is U.S. foreign policy democratic or not?" Throughout the series of lessons Winter wrestles with her own ownership of and investment in the unit  (it was developed initially by her Cooperating Teacher); with  concerns about its  impact upon and relationship to her students'  cultural identities; and with her own  feelings as an African-American woman, about the material she is helping her students learn. Using course concepts of cultural relevance, understanding and information processing, Winter considers how best to develop a unit that might address these three important concerns.


"Ready or Not" by Rick

    In this case, the author describes a puzzling challenge in his Algebra I class:  his students were quite successful managing and solving mathematical equations but when the same equation or notation was presented to them in a word problem format, they were stumped. Concerned that his students were not able to think mathematically about real-world problems, Rick attempts to develop some strategies to assist his students in tackling word problems. Rick uses the concepts of cognitive apprenticeship to analyze his approaches and the ways in which those strategies were and were not successful in supporting his students' developing understanding of math in context. Readers wishing to see how Rick's case developed may also wish to view his outline, first draft or his penultimate draft.

Copyright 2000, Karen Hammerness, Stanford University. All the material contained on this site has been produced by Karen Hammerness, Lee Shulman, Linda Darling-Hammond, Kay Moffett, and Misty Sato. These materials can be downloaded, printed and used with proper acknowledgement, including the name and affiliation of the authors and the web-site addess.

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