Wicked Problem

Wicked Problem:

My wicked problem is that my school did not make AYP (annual yearly progress) for reading last year. This is based on my school’s MEAP scores. Due to this, improving students MEAP reading scores is now a school improvement goal and our new superintendent has asked us to work on improving reading scores by include reading in all classes.

Why is this problem a wicked problem?

The impacts and consequences of my school continuing to not make AYP the consequences could be severe.  There are different levels of repercussions for Title I schools (my school is a Title I school) not making AYP in Michigan, which are based on the amount of years the school does not make AYP. They begin at an improvement level for years 2-3, at year 4 the school is identified for corrective action, by year 5 state will beginning the planning process for restructuring and at year 6 the restructuring plan will be implemented. So, if my school continues not to make AYP the state could come in and restructure my school, which could mean loss of teacher and administrator jobs.

Below is a link that outlines in detail the ramifications of not making AYP.


I also fear that if students continue not meet reading AYP supplemental classes will be added to their schedule to teach them the reading skills they are lacking. This would most likely mean that students would not be taking exploratory classes such as art, choir, music, etc. As a result, if we continue to not make AYP  my class sizes would decline. If my class sizes drop too low my some classes could be cut and I would lose my full time position. Therefore, if this wicked problem isn’t solved it has the potentially to impact me personally.


What can I do to help solve my Wicked Problem and help my school meet reading AYP?

As an art teacher I must integrate more reading in to my art curriculum. I believe the best time to incorporate more reading in my class would be when introducing a new art unit.  In this way, I can use reading to build students’ background knowledge before they begin creating art as well as giving them more practice reading content based texts.

I must also work together with my students’ academic teachers to develop strategies to help our students improve as readers.  That way, we as teachers would work together as a staff to ensure that students make AYP for reading next year.

It has been my experience that kids like learning about art. They enjoy the images, colors, and the tactile nature of the subject. Reading art content based texts could then act as motivator for students. Guthrie, J.T, et al., (2006), cites Gottfried (2005), and supports my claim, “Motivation for reading is an important contributor to students’ reading achievement and school success. Researchers have shown that, especially for students in Grades 3–5, motivation for reading predicts reading achievement on standardized tests (Gottfried,1985)…” (p 232). What I take from this is that since my students like learning about art, by incorporating reading art based texts as part of my curriculum I have a chance to help them improve their MEAP scores and subsequently meet AYP for next year.

How can I use technology to help solve this Wicked Problem?

I can use technology to help solve my wicked problem by incorporating online reading of art content based texts.  For example, Scholastic Art magazine features digital texts of their magazines that are interactive for students.

However, reading online for academic purposes can be very challenging for students. Coiro (2008) discussed this topic in a podcast and stated that, “Kids overestimate their ability to complete online academic reading for information tasks based on the experience they bring from other online reading environments.” Additionally, online readers must be focused and able to navigate the information they are reading. Dwyer (2012) supports this by stating, “The reader must read selectively and strategically, monitoring the text to be read, while at the same time avoiding unwarranted distractions, such as advertisements” (p. 4).

So what can I do to help my students become successful readers online?

In effort to support online reading comprehension, Coiro (2011) suggests using a think-aloud lesson for online reading instruction to help students approach an online reading task. This includes a “four stage flexible online reading plan” (p.108).  These stages are:

Stage 1: “Approaching the online reading task” (Coiro, 2011, p 109).

  • This step involves me as teacher helping students develop a “plan of attack” about what their goal is when reading online.  Coiro (2011) believes that this will help students stay on task and focused on their goal and deters them from being distracted by online distractions.

Stage 2: “Navigating and negotiating online texts” (Coiro, 2011, p 109).

  • “This process involves strategies for determining important ideas, judging the relevance of those ideas in relation to their purpose…” (Coiro, 2011, p 109).
  •  An idea I have to help my students determine what the important ideas are when reading online is to give them art vocabulary to accompany their online reading. This way, students would know what words I want them to learn. As a result, they would also gain familiarity with the vocabulary I will be using when they start to make their artwork.

Stage 3:  “Monitoring comprehension of and pathways through online texts.” (Coiro, 2011, p 109).

  • According to Coiro (2011), “…skilled readers stop to revisit their purpose while monitoring both their understanding of the content and the relevance of their chosen reading path” (p. 109).
  •  From a teaching perspective this would mean I need to help my students to become skilled readers.  Therefore, I must help to develop my students’ metacognitive skills and teach/remind them to think about what is their goal when reading, and encourage them to ask themselves if they understand what they are reading. I will use “check points” throughout the lessons where I will stop class and ask students to share what they have learned so far and what they still need to find out. I could write these ideas on the board or use a site like Wallwisher.com. Another option would be to use an online tool like Diigo to point out things the kids should focus on. Students could also use this site to post questions and collaborate with their peers.

Stage 4: “Responding to online texts” (Coiro, 2011, p. 109).

  • “Skilled online readers are often actively engaged in reciprocal acts of reading, writing, and reflecting. This interactive response process typically involves summing up key ideas, making connections, looking deeper, asking questions, and contributing their own ideas in response to the posed challenge” (Coiro, 2011, p. 109).
  • This means that I must facilitate development of these skills when students are reading online art texts.  I believe my “check point” idea would work with this step as well.  After students create an art project I always have them write a reflection piece where they talk about their art work and their creative processes.  I will also have my students write a reflection about what they believe are the main ideas from their online reading and why they believe these ideas are the most important.

How will reading online help my students make AYP for reading next year? How will this help solve my wicked problem?

As I stated before, helping my students make AYP for reading next year is not a goal I can reach on my own. This is a goal for my whole staff. If my staff at my school uses Coiro’s (2012) “four stage flexible online reading plan,” I believe we can help student improve their reading scores on the MEAP and make AYP. I believe this because what I take from Coiro’s (2011) work is that if we as a school, structure our online lessons using these four stages, students will take away strategies  such as navigating text, synthesizing main ideas, monitoring their learning goals, and reflecting on their own learning.

These strategies can be taught when teaching offline reading of content based texts as well. Students could use these strategies when taking the MEAP reading test.  Coiro (2011) sites Guthrie & Cox (2001) and Castek (2008) in support my point: “…students in offline (Guthrie & Cox, 2001) and online reading environments (Castek, 2008) are more likely to transfer what they learn from strategy instruction to new informational texts when it is embedded within inquiry activities with content-specific goals” (p 109).  Each teacher at my school will of course have different content goals for our students but we must teach students reading strategies when teaching our content curriculum. From my research I conclude that the strategies that we can teach students for reading online will be beneficial for students to also use when reading offline. Student can use these strategies when taking the MEAP reading test next year, which would hopefully result in students making AYP for reading.


TPACK Framework:

The TPACK framework encourages teachers to think critically about how pedagogical knowledge (PK), content knowledge (CK) and technological knowledge (TK) can work together to facilitate student learning (Kereluik, K. et al., 2012). When approaching this wicked problem using the TPACK framework, I began with a pedagogical problem: How can I teach reading in art? I decided that the best time to integrate reading in my classroom was at the beginning of an art unit. In this way I can develop students’ content knowledge regarding art concepts. I then asked myself if using technology could help me solve this wicked pedagogical problem. By integrating online reading in my class I am using technology to help solve my pedagogical problem.

How and why will using technology help solve my wicked problem?

As I stated above, reading online texts for academic purposes can be challenging for students (Dwyer, 2012). It is therefore important for me to teach students strategies for reading online. I am using online reading as a way to teach student new reading strategies.  The strategies I discussed above such as navigating text, synthesizing main ideas, monitoring their learning goals, and reflecting on their own learning can also be applied when reading offline.  The goal is teach student to use these strategies in an effort to increase their reading comprehension. It is my hope that this will improve their reading scores and as a result make reading AYP next year.

How does technology interact with content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge?

In this plan for solving my wicked problem, technology is interacting with content knowledge in such in a way that I am using technology as tool to teach students about art concepts and developing their background knowledge. Technological knowledge and pedagogical knowledge fuse when I teach students strategies that they can use when reading online. In conclusion, by teaching students strategies that they can use when reading online I am facilitating students constructing their own knowledge about art.


Baker, E. A., & Coiro, J. (2008, September 1). Online reading comprehension. Voice of Literacy. Podcast retrieved from http://www.voiceofliteracy.org/posts/26036

Coiro, J. (2011). Talking about reading as thinking: Modeling the hidden complexities of online reading comprehension.Theory Into Practice, 50(2), 107-115. doi:10.1080/00405841.2011.558435.

Dwyer, B. (2012, in press ). Developing online reading comprehension: Changes,challenges and consequences. In K. Hall, T.Cremin, B. Comber & L. Moll (Eds.), International handbook of research in children’s literacy,learning and culture. UK:Wiley-Blackwell.

Kristen Kereluik, Punya Mishra, Matthew J Koehler (2010) On learning to subvert signs: Literacy, technology and the tpackframework, 12-18. In The California Reader 44 (2).

Guthrie, J. T., Wigfield, A., & Humenik , N. M. (2006). Influences of stimulating tasks on reading motivation andcomprehension. Journal of Educational Research, v99 (n4 ),p232-245 .

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