How to Implement Scrum4Schools Schools #2 - Create the Framework

Surely you have heard of the so-called "doorstep pedagogy": The teacher prepares for the lesson at the very moment he or she steps over the threshold into the classroom. In Scrum4Schools this scheme does not work. But I can promise you: The initial effort is usually rewarded. As soon as the learning teams work on their learning products step by step, you as the teacher concentrate on supporting them individually. In other words, you initially provide a framework within which the students work on their tasks independently. The most important elements here are the exploratory assignment, the learning steps, and the acceptance criteria.

Set a clear goal with the exploratory assignment

One of the most important principles in agile and thus also in Scrum4Schools is transparency. Therefore, the learning coach – that is the term for the teacher in the context of Scrum4Schools – should formulate an exploratory assignment before the actual start. This gives the learning teams orientation during the teaching sequence and shows the goals. In addition to a brief description of the learning product and the learning objectives, the learning coach specifies here which of the contents are fixed for the learners and where he or she leaves room for maneuver. The great advantage of working with Scrum: Both a very structured approach and a predominantly free approach are possible. According to experience, a class that is coming into contact with Scrum4Schools for the first time, or with freer learning formats in general, needs more guidelines than a school class that already has experience with self-organization.

Learning steps specify the learning product

Using the learning steps, the teacher actively controls the degree of freedom in developing the learning objective. Each learning step is written on a post-it with a short sentence and represents a part of the learning objective. Thus, it contains a clear task that is derived from the topic. The learning steps are either predetermined by the teacher or they emerge through a negotiation between the learning coach and the learning teams. Thus, many predefined learning steps give structure to the tasks that need to be completed.

Less predefined learning steps take the responsibility away from the students to come up with their own steps as part of the learning team and discuss them with their learning coach. Again, there is no specific requirement: structure the learning steps as you see fit for your students. The next step is to collect the learning steps in the learning list (backlog) and prioritize them by the learning team in the order in which they will be worked through later.

In general: A learning step does not contain any information about the HOW, i.e. the procedure to achieve the desired sub-goal. The learning teams are allowed to make these considerations and work them out themselves. If there should be guidelines for a learning step, a learning coach can define them in advance via the so-called acceptance criteria.

Acceptance criteria help with realization

Acceptance criteria are a kind of checklist for each learning step. As soon as the learning team can check off all items on this checklist, the learning step is done. As mentioned above, a learning coach can already use the acceptance criteria of the individual learning steps when planning the teaching sequence to determine whether he or she has certain requirements for them - for example, the minimum number of sources that must be investigated during an internet search and how these must be documented.

The other acceptance criteria for a learning step are discussed and determined by the individual learning teams during planning.

Exemplary learning steps with acceptance criteria

In order to get a practical insight into learning steps and acceptance criteria, I show below two exemplary examples from a Scrum4Schools project in the Protestant religious education of a ninth grade. The learning objective derived from the curriculum was: "To deal with different interpretations of work and performance as basic facts of human existence". In this context, the students were to deal with Luther's ethics of work in comparison to Marx's model of alienation and self-realization. Below are only the given acceptance criteria by the teacher.

Learning step 1: Research about Luther's professional ethics

Acceptance criteria

  • Search at least 3 different sources
  • Write down the results in note form
  • Tell the contents to another group member so that they understand them

Learning step 2: Visual representation of Luther's professional ethics

Acceptance criteria

document at least 6 photos of Playmobil or Lego figures

A timeschedule visualizes the project

In addition to content planning, a teaching unit with Scrum needs transparent scheduling. The different meetings and their functions, which I will discuss in detail in the next blog post, can easily confuse at the beginning. The schedule creates an overview and helps the students to estimate their time during the project until the finished learning product.

We usually visualize the schedule on a flipchart that we hang up in the classroom for each appointment (see figure). The schedule contains all dates on which the learning teams work with Scrum and the type of meeting for that day. Additionally, we highlight dates in color where, for example, special events such as an activity or the closing are taking place. Often, we also make special notes about individual lessons below the timeline.

Timetable for a longer Scrum4Schools teaching sequence as part of the project lessons

Set sprint length

Besides transparency, time-boxing is one of the most important principles in Scrum. Results are delivered in short iterations or loops. In this way, those working on the project quickly receive feedback as to whether the path taken is correct or not. Especially when starting with Scrum, the shorter the loops are, the better, as this allows the learning teams to internalize the approach more quickly. We often recommend that teachers schedule the first sprints for a double lesson.

What's next?

The first part of the blog series "How to implement Scrum4Schools in your school" was about the basics and the role of the teacher. In the next part you will learn everything about the meetings in Scrum4Schools. In addition, I will describe how a Scrum4Schools introduction lesson works and how you can lay the foundation for satisfied and motivated students in the project.

At www.borisgloger.com/scrum4schools you will find current trainings for teachers as well as the Scrum4Schools checklist and you can subscribe to the newsletter (available only in German).

The series: How to implement Scrum4Schools in your school

#1 – Basics

Only available in German:

#3 - Treffen

#4 - die Lerntafel

#5 – der Sprint

Picture: Unsplash License, Element5 Digital

Scrum4Schools
Carsten-Hendrik Rasche
February 26, 2021

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