You are on page 1of 4

Engaged Learning Project Draft Template Lin-Chiou Lee

Title of Project: Piranha Tank Subject(s): Science and Language Arts Grade Level(s): 7th
Abstract:
Inspired by Helen Keller’s hardships of being both deaf and blind, students first identify one target clientele and
the key type of hardships they want to overcome due to their genetic disorder or hereditary disability. Driven by how
Louis Braille invented Braille at the age of 15 to enable the visually impaired to read and write, students then use their
findings to create a new or improve an existing assistive product or device that allows their clients to take on tasks they
are never able to accomplish before. Lastly, students will present their assistive product or device to the Piranha Tank
judges consisted of one special education teacher, two community representatives with business backgrounds, one parent
representative with special needs children, and one representative from Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce. The
Piranhas will be waiting to chomp down any weaknesses in the device/product and inadequacies in the presentation.
Learner Description/Context:
There are predominantly Asian and Caucasian students in the school. Most students are high achievers who have
been applying knowledge across subject areas embedded in a project-based or problem-based model. Every student will
receive a Microsoft Surface tablet since the school promotes a 21st century personalized learning environment. Teachers
have been implementing various blended learning elements such as flipped classroom and station rotation in their
classrooms since last year. Parents and community members are highly involved. Teachers have a master list of parent
and community volunteers and business partners they can call upon for any types of educational support.
Time Frame: 15 days with each day a 45-50 minute work session
Standards Assessed:
Content S7L3: Students will recognize how biological traits are passed on to successive generations and explain the role of
genes and chromosomes in the process of inheriting a specific trait.
Content ELAGSE7W2: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information
through the selection, organization, and analysis of relevant content.
ISTE 1a.: Apply existing knowledge to generate new ideas, products, or processes
ISTE 1b.: Create original works as a means of personal or group expression
ISTE 2d.: Contribute to project teams to produce original works or solve problems
ISTE 3c.: Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
ISTE 4a.: Identify and define authentic problems and significant questions for investigation
ISTE 4c.: Collect and analyze data to identify solutions and/or make informed decisions
ISTE 5b.: Exhibit a positive attitude toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity
ISTE 6b.: Select and use applications effectively and productively
Learner Objectives:
Students identify themselves with people with disabilities or disorders, cultivate compassion through assistive
device/product development and enhancement, wanting to solve everyday challenges encountered by people with
affliction, and demonstrate to peers and adults locally and globally how they can make a difference in the world at such
young age.
The “Hook”/Introduction:
After reading excerpts about Helen Keller’s struggle of being both blind and deaf in the book Miracle Worker,
the class briefly discuss how, who, and what motivated Keller to overcome her challenges in life. If Braille is not
mentioned in the discussion, introduce how Louis Braille invented Braille at the age of 15 for the blind people to be able
to read and write. If Louis Braille was not much older than they are when he invented Braille, students in 7 th grade are
perfectly capable and ready to invent an assistive device/product to improve the life of someone with a genetic disorder
or disability.
Process:
 Three days prior to launching this project, students will find 2-4 members to work with and message the instructor a
group name and all member names on Edmodo. The instructor will then create and name all groups in Edmodo for
each group to document, develop, share, communicate, and collaborate with members and community mentors.
Jo Williamson, Ph.D., Kennesaw State University
Engaged Learning Project Draft Template Lin-Chiou Lee

 Day 1-2: Choose one genetic/hereditary disorder/disability. Research and answer self-generated questions to identify
the difficulties and needs of people with such condition. Discover and decide what assistive devices/products have
been developed, could be improved, or should have been invented to improve their everyday life. Different special
education teachers from the school and parents with students with special needs from the community have been
invited and scheduled to visit each class since two weeks ago. The plan is to have 2-3 facilitators, including the
instructor, assist with the research process.
(At the end of Day 2, each group submits findings on Edmodo by writing or recording a video, addressing (1) what each
member discovered and worked on, (2) which ideas found worked and which didn’t, (3) the group’s plan to create a new
or improve an existing assistive device/product?)
 Day 3-4: Draw plans to create a new or improve an existing assistive device/product that will allow its users with
disability or disorder to take on tasks they are never able to accomplish before. The teacher will bring in a wide
selection of assistive devices and products used by people with special needs, borrowed from colleagues and other
special education teachers in the neighboring elementary and middle schools (i.e., basketball with sounds, club foot
braces, etc.). The first wave of different parent and community volunteers with technology and business backgrounds
have been scheduled to visit each class since two weeks ago. The plan is to have 2 experts, not including the
instructor, provide professional support with the device/product development process.
(At the end of Day 5, each group submits progress update with a preview of the device/product blueprint on Edmodo by
writing or recording a video, addressing (1) what each member has worked on; (2) what idea worked, which didn’t work,
how the members negotiate different opinions; (3) the group’s plan for the next move?)
 Day 5-9: Students actually make their planned assistive device/product with a variety of technology-based tools
suggested or approved by the instructor and community mentors (i.e., prototype, model, sculpture, drawings,
PowerPoint with labeled images, etc.). The second wave of different parent and community volunteers with
technology and business backgrounds have been scheduled to visit each class since two weeks ago. The plan is to
have 2 experts, including the instructor, continue to provide feedback and support with the device/product
development process.
 Day 10-11: Technical Wring Days – prepare an assistive device/product user manual. Students can use a variety of
technology-based tools suggested or approved by the instructor and community mentors to write a product manual,
informing the target consumers how the device/product will allow them to do something they might otherwise have
been unable to do and giving clear instructions on how to use the device/product.
(At the end of Day 11, each group submits progress update by writing or recording a video, addressing (1) what each
member has worked on; (2) what modifications were made after submitting the plan; (3) the group’s plan for the next
move?)
 Day 12-14: After students watch 2 short video excerpts from the ABC show Shark Tank – one highlighting a strong
presentation where the sharks invested while the other one a weak presentation, lead a class discussion brainstorming
characteristics of strong presentation skills (i.e., eye contact, adequate volume, clear pronunciation, powerful
conclusion statement, etc.). Announce to the students that they will be entering the Piranha Tank in three days to
present their assistive device/product to a panel of judges from the community. Let the students know that the
Piranhas will assess their device/product and presentation on these five aspects: (1) Is the presentation so enticing
that you will want to invest? (2) Can the device/product truly improve its users’ life like promised? (3) Is the
device/product practical and affordable for manufacturing? (4) Will consumers find the device/product user-
friendly? (5) Does the device/product have longevity potentials in the market? Students can use a variety of
technology-based tools suggested or approved by the instructor and community mentors to prepare for their 3-5
minute Piranha Tank presentations.
 Day 15: Each group presents their assistive device/product to the Piranha Tank judges consisted of one special
education teacher, two community representatives with business backgrounds, one parent representative with special
needs children, and one representative from Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce. The Piranhas will assess both the
device/product and presentation on these five aspects: (1) Is the presentation so enticing that you will want to invest?
(2) Can the device/product truly improve its users’ life like promised? (3) Is the device/product practical and

Jo Williamson, Ph.D., Kennesaw State University


Engaged Learning Project Draft Template Lin-Chiou Lee

affordable for manufacturing? (4) Will consumers find the device/product user-friendly? (5) Does the device/product
have longevity potentials in the market?
(At the end of Day 15, each group submits progress update by writing or recording a video, addressing (1) what each
member has worked on; (2) what would the group have done differently for the project; (3) any suggestions to make this
project better for the next school year?)
Product:
Students will either create a new or revamp an existing assistive device/product that is going to transform the life
of people with a disability or disorder, allowing them to do something they can never do without this device/product.
Since special education teachers, parents with students with special needs in the community, business mentors, and
representatives from Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce are highly involved in the entire mentoring and evaluation
process, they will all be very interested to see how students come up with their end product and what impact students can
make.
Students can use many different types of technology tools to research, develop, program, or share their assistive
device/product. The students will present their assistive device/product to the Piranha Tank judges. The Piranhas will
assess both the device/product and presentation on these five aspects: (1) Is the presentation so enticing that you will
want to invest? (2) Can the device/product truly improve its users’ life like promised? (3) Is the device/product practical
and affordable for manufacturing? (4) Will consumers find the device/product user-friendly? (5) Does the device/product
have longevity potentials in the market?

Technology Use:
Beyond the classroom, students continue to document, develop, share, communicate, and collaborate with group
members and community mentors on Edmodo. After the teacher views each group’s project progress update video on
Edmodo, written feedback will be posted there so that each group can use these suggestions throughout the entire
project. Students construct and revise the product for the project using a wide variety of reliable research, production,
and presentation tools of their choices approved or suggested by the teacher and community mentors. To publish the
Piranha Tank performance, each group’s presentation will be videotaped and submitted to different venues. Video
excerpts will be audited and submitted to the school’s morning news team and Fulton County website to reach the local
audience. The teacher will also load the presentation videos to his/her YouTube channel to reach the global audience.
References and Supporting Material:
 Gibson, W. (2010). The miracle worker. New York: NY. Samuel French, INC.
 World Health Organization. (2016). Improving access to assistive technology for everyone, everywhere. Retried
from http://www.who.int/phi/implementation/assistive_technology/low_res_english.pdf
 Since the project content is derived from 7th grade language arts ELAGSE7W2 and science CCGPS S7L3., all 7th
grade language arts and science teachers should work together to divide up the content and tasks.
 Piranha Tank handout, student task checklist, and rubric – see attached samples
 The instructor is recommended to have an account for educational purpose on YouTube to post presentation
videos for this project.
 The instructor can find many different video excerpts from the ABC’s Shark Tank show on YouTube.
 If your school does not have a master list of parent and community volunteers and business partners, ask your
own students’ parents and colleagues to see if they want to be the mentors of this project. Also, consult special
education teachers so that you can contact parents with children with special needs to be a part of this project.
 Sample research tools: MackinVIA e-Resource management system, Galileo, etc.
What modifications have you made since you submitted your “idea” for feedback?
I have been working out all the details to the project design, making it more coherent to follow. I have focused
on aligning project content more closely with the EL indicators and Loti level the project is intended for.
Which indicators of Engaged Learning will be high in this lesson and Why?
Piranha Tank is an interdisciplinary lesson designed for students to synthesize, analyze, and apply science and
language arts standards-based content in solving real-life problems. The project task becomes authentic and meaningful
Jo Williamson, Ph.D., Kennesaw State University
Engaged Learning Project Draft Template Lin-Chiou Lee

when students must utilize a variety of technology-based tools to assist people with a specific disability or disorder to
overcome activities they cannot previously do. Students are self-directed in the entire process as they explore, invent,
and modify an assistive device that can better humanity under the guidance of teacher feedback and collaboration with
peers and community mentors.
Which indicators would you like to strengthen?
For the culturally responsive indicator, the teacher can suggest students to focus the investigation and
device/product development for a disorder or disease that is mainly present in their community or a specific culture. The
current project highlights the culturally responsive indictor with student choices, prior knowledge, and performance styles. For
the generative assessment indicator, the teacher can choose to have each group create and revise a rubric on what aspects of
their device and presentation they should be evaluated on. The current project does not focus on this indicator since students
are expected to learn how to sell an idea or product to different investors and stakeholders.
What LoTi level do you think this lesson would be and Why?
This project is a LoTi 6 since students are experts on using many different types of technology-based tools for
information queries, problem solving, and product development. Students are expected to take unexpected paths in the
process facilitated by the teacher, other special education teachers, business mentors from the community, and
representatives from Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce. As students research and solve a real-world problem
identified by themselves, they are empowered to make a contribution to society at an early age.
What help would you like to receive from us?
I welcome any further feedback and assistance from you. 

Jo Williamson, Ph.D., Kennesaw State University