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Description of Unit

This unit encourages students to set up a proposal for an actual collaborative project which they can pursue. Students begin by developing a pre-proposal, and identifying stakeholders and potential funding sources. Finally, students will develop a real proposal and actually try to make the project a reality.

This guide links the We’ve Got a Problem unit to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for high school students. We’ve Got a Problem is an interdisciplinary unit that allows students to explore solutions to a real problem on their campus or in their community. We’ve Got a Problem leads students to practice skills in all subject areas. For example, students may use graphs, tables, and statistical data, included in the Mathematics TEKS, to present an argument for a change. They will use the writing and research skills of the English Language Arts and Reading and Social Studies TEKS. The following document includes the applicable TEKS and the details of the We’ve Got a Problem unit. The asterisks indicate the TEKS which are testable on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR). The final section of this document presents the applicable Texas College and Career Readiness Standards adopted by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) on January 24, 2008. 

Phase I. Learning Experiences

The learning experiences model the proposal development process. The class will go through the process as individuals will do in the independent research phase of the task. 

  1. Develop a pre-proposal.
    • Identify a problem or issue that the class will investigate 
    • Develop a rationale explaining why this study is necessary and important
    • Identify resources students will need to learn more about the subject (e.g., books, periodicals, experts, videos, surveys, experiments, computer programs, presentations, collections, museums)
    • Identify the research design students will use to collect data, the type of data to be collected, and the strengths and weaknesses of the design
    • Develop a realistic timeline
    • Identify all the stakeholders and the target audience with whom students will share the information 
  2. The class will do the research necessary to write a full proposal that will include strategies for solving the problem identified. They must build a strong case for why stakeholders should address the problem in the way the class has identified. This is a process that change agents must go through frequently to obtain the necessary resources for solving the problems that are important to them and to others in society. 
  3. Develop a proposal to take to a stakeholder group. The proposal should include:
    • A problem or issue
    • A proposed solution
    • A rationale explaining why the question is important and why the proposed solution will solve the problem
    • A statement of others' opinions about the problem or issue
    • A summary of research
    • Resources that will be needed to solve the problem, including a realistic timeline and budget
    • Résumés of those who will be working on the project 
  4. Present the proposal to the stakeholder group. Websites where potential funders or programs may be found include:
  5. A completed project includes: 
    • Process record that includes documentation of individual growth during Phase I: Learning Experiences 
    • Pre-proposal 
    • Proposal
    • Videotape of presentation 

Phase II. Independent Research

Upon completion of Phase I: Learning Experiences, students will begin to prepare their actual proposals for change. Students may choose to respond in a variety of formats, such as charts, diagrams, graphic organizers, paragraphs, or a combination of these. Students may use all of the material they have gathered in the learning experiences and other classroom resources to answer the questions.

What have you learned about the change process? Why are some people resistant to change? What does it take to change the minds of resistant people?

A. Research process

  1. Selecting a topic. Choose an area of need. Outline a plan for solving the problem.
  2. Asking guiding questions. Once the student has selected a topic, he/she should think of three to five guiding questions to explore, such as:
    • Why is this issue important?
    • What changes would you like to see? Why?
    • How can these changes be implemented? Break down the process into detailed steps.
    While these examples are general, the student's questions should be specific to the chosen topic. The questions should lead him/her to form individual research-based opinions. The student should develop a hypothesis or some possible answers to the questions.
  3. Designing a research proposal. The student should include numerous components in the research proposal:
    • The issue he/she would like to study
    • Three to five guiding questions he/she will investigate and hypotheses
    • Primary and secondary resources he/she will need to find answers to questions
    • Strengths and weaknesses of current policies governing the issue
    • The five most important things to know
    • Appropriate decision-making bodies involved (at city, state, and national levels)>
  4. Conducting the research. After you have approved student proposals, students begin using the resources they have identified and others they may encounter. During this stage, students will need to keep a log, note cards, or resource process sheets of all the sources and what they learn from each one.
  5. Drawing conclusions. Based on their research, each student should make a list of recommendations or solutions for their chosen issue.

B. The product

Each student creates a proposal to present. The proposal should include reasons the issue is important, changes that need to be made, and how these changes could be implemented. The presentation should be similar to what would be given to a stakeholder group.

C. Communication

Each student presents their proposal to the class. Time should be allotted for the audience to ask questions. The Q&A session should be impromptu and unscripted in order to accurately reflect student learning. 

Students will then contact the potential funders and begin to promote their proposals. Depending on the success of their contacts, the project can be taken as far as the student would like to take it.

D. A completed project consists of:

  1. The research proposal, including guiding questions
  2. A research log, note cards, or resource process sheets
  3. The product
  4. A Works Cited Page
  5. A videotape or audiotape of the presentation to the class, including the unscripted Q&A session

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