Tech Tool of the Month: Case Maker – Part 1

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Case Maker offers a collection of 20 civic challenges designed for middle school students. Each challenge includes primary resources. Challenge topics include Brown vs. Board of Education, Principles of Major Political Parties, Propaganda and “Fake News,” School Desegregation and the Little Rock Nine, and several other historical and civic topics. Students are not required to register; the teacher provides a challenge code for student access. Using this code, students can access the challenge, add annotation, and create their case folders. Teachers are required to register to edit the assignment and resources.

Applying the Triple E Framework 

The Triple E Framework, created by Dr. Liz Kolb, is built on the belief that “effective technology integration begins with good instructional strategies and not fancy tools” (tripleeframework.com). Dr. Kolb wrote a book on Learning First, Technology Second (ISTE, 2017) that lays out the three main uses for technology in education: to Engage, Enhance, or Extend learning goals. We can use this framework to decipher why we are using specific tools in the classroom. Here is a rubric based on the Triple E Framework you can use to evaluate whether Case Maker (or any other technology) is a good fit with your learning goals and whether you should use it in your lesson.

  • Engage in learning goals: The students are more focused on the task because they are engaged in reading, learning, and annotating the challenges at their own pace. There are no badges, games, advertisements, or other extras to distract from the process of learning. The students are active social learners as they curate and annotate the primary sources and other information. The students are motivated to begin the learning process since they create their own case folders and investigate the information. 
  • Enhance learning goals: Case Maker allows students to use technology to make connections to understand civic issues from the past and present. Students can create their own civic folders to share questions, primary sources, annotations, concepts, and other learned information. The images and additional written information allow students to demonstrate a more sophisticated understanding of the topic by sharing their civic folders that include their findings and questions. Students use higher-order thinking skills to organize their thoughts and words for the civic folders. 
  • Extend learning goals: Dr. Kolb describes extended learning as an opportunity for students to learn, connect, and collaborate outside of the regular school day and as a bridge between the school day and real-life experiences. Creating civic folders outside of the classroom using Case Maker would fit with flipped, remote, or blended learning. These activities would make an ideal asynchronous learning experience. Independent work and curating can help students build skills used in everyday lives outside of the classroom environment. We are preparing our students for a world that doesn’t exist yet, but most jobs require independent motivation and knowledge of technology. 

SAMR Connection

The SAMR Model, by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, suggests that technology implementation has four levels. We can use this model as a guideline to analyze how we’re using technology tools in the classroom. For example, the challenges and civic cases using Case Maker can be at the level of Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition depending on what students are doing. Let’s talk about how we could take a challenge (for example, Freedom of Speech) using Case Maker and evolve this activity through the four levels of SAMR.  

  • Substitution: The substitution level is the most basic level of SAMR and refers to when technology acts as a direct substitute without any functional improvements. An easy example of this could be if students simply read the cases on Case Maker rather than reading them in a textbook. 
  • Augmentation: At the level of augmentation, the technology acts as a direct substitute and includes some functional improvements. We could take our Case Maker Freedom of Speech activity to the level of augmentation by having students investigate images and primary sources. Students can curate their findings digitally in a case folder that they create on the site. These options would not be possible without technology that offers functional improvements. 
  • Modification: The level of modification allows us to make (or modify) the activity into something more integrated with technology, meaning there is significant task redesign. Using the same Freedom of Speech challenge, we could use Case Maker and move to the level of modification by having students add annotations, questions, and other notes to the primary sources and other information that they curated into their case folder. 
  • Redefinition: At the highest level, the technology allows for the creation of new previously inconceivable tasks. Returning to the example of the Case Maker Freedom of Speech activity, we could get to the level of redefinition by having students participate in a Gallery Walk using Padlet, where students share their findings from the Case Maker challenge and have an opportunity to comment on other students’ work. 

Don’t miss Part 2 of the Tech Tool of the Month: Case Maker, where we’ll discuss using the tool and classroom use ideas. In the meantime, let us know how you have used Case Maker in your education setting in the comments below.


About the author: Melissa Henning

Melissa Henning is the Educational Content Manager for Source for Learning, the non-profit parent company of TeachersFirst. She has over 16 years of experience in education. Melissa is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences.


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