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
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.
"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.
"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.