By, Sandra Algarin, Grandview Preparatory School Teacher
This past year, I decided to implement a project in my 9th grade Algebra 1 class using Agile. The project was designed to give my students a better understanding of something rather practical in life: the best way to purchase a car.
Students were broken up into groups (chosen by myself and a few student leaders trained by Agile) and were asked to work together to either:
- Lease a car
- Buy a new car
- Buy a used car
Students agreed to form a formal group alliance and hold themselves accountable for their actions during the project. This alliance took into account group members’ strengths and weakness, so tasks could be assigned accordingly. The students also used the Agile Learning Canvas to organize their goals and visually keep track of their work. They even signed a contract, creating accountability for the success of the project for all members.
Each group was then given a set of specific car purchasing scenarios; factors such as the number of family members involved, their financial health, and negatives such as bad credit, etc. They were also given a worksheet and each page had questions on it outlining the pros and cons of purchasing a used or new car or leasing one.
Then, the fun part began! Students began searching for cars to buy within their groups. Because the groups of students were chosen by their teacher, some had a difficult time accepting the fact that they were not necessarily working with their friends on the project.
What they did not realize then was that the PEOPLE in their group were not as important as the WORK the group could accomplish together.
Groups were soon realizing that most of the cars they wanted to purchase were too expensive. This required them to rethink their strategies. We had daily check-ins as a class to go over things and to field any questions anyone had. Before long, it was time for final presentations!
Each group’s presentation was formatted in a way that showed the audience multiple possibilities for each method of purchasing a car. One group worked very well together and their information was accurate and well organized. The second group happened to be the group that had never worked together before, but surprisingly they also did very well.. The car they selected was reasonable for their fictional family’s circumstances and situation. The last group had more trouble than the other two because each time we held class, several of their members were absent. Because of this, they were at a severe disadvantage and did not end up choosing an appropriate car.
Overall, my students and I felt that using Agile in the classroom to help groups organize a project like this one ended up being very successful. The process engaged my students, improved organization, and allowed them to visually lay out responsibilities, tasks, and levels of completion as the project moved along. Moreso, having student leaders lead them through the Agile process was beneficial to both the leaders and the rest of the class. The student leaders gained a better understanding of the Agile process, while also gaining experience presenting and teaching. And, my students were able to relate to the way their peers presented the Agile method. I plan to continue to use Agile in my classroom and look forward to coaching my fellow teachers on how to implement it in theirs.