PCCAPS Adopts Industry Workflow Language to Help Students Aquire 21st Century Work Habits

By Rachel Pittard, PCCAPS Coordinator

Students need a tool for understanding good work habits for the 21st Century. In fact, students aren’t the only ones who need such a tool. Any organization with production goals and stakeholders needs a workflow structure to effectively convert ideas, desires and solutions into tangible products. 

At PCCAPS, Scrum has been adopted as that workflow system for students, instructors, mentors and business clients. Scrum solves many work habit problems, while at the same time, training students on industry workflow language they will inevitably encounter. Scrum is also a lucrative and in-demand project management career field most have never heard of. By implementing Scrum, students are able to assure clients of progress, roadblocks, and project deliverables.  

What is Scrum? Scrum is an agile project management system which was developed here in Utah by software industry leaders, Jeff Sutherland and Ken Schwabera. Scrum facilitates team collaboration on complex projects. Companies which have adopted Scrum or other Agile workflow systems include Spotify, Salesforce, Delta, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Adobe, Nokia, Siemens, BBC, CNN, General Electric, Bank of America, and many others. 

How do you teach students Scrum? Legos, of course. Supported by a classroom grant from Park City Education Foundation, Treasure Mountain Junior High teacher Ben Mueller piloted an innovative lego-based Scrum lesson for his ninth-grade Exploring Computer Science class during Fall 2019 semester. 

The goal is for student workgroups to collaborate on the construction of an entire town made of legos. They are given a backlog of specific requests from citizens of the town, such as a specific number of single family homes, a mansion for the mayor, trees, animals, retail shops, restaurants, hospital and transportation infrastructure. Students plan their work (sprints) in advance by estimating the time it will take to build each backlog item and by prioritizing the order of the tasks. Time allocated for each sprint is determined by the instructor. At the beginning of each sprint, students self-lead a stand up meeting in which each member answers three questions:

— What did I work on last time? 

— What do I plan on doing next? 

— What roadblocks, if any, are in my way of completing my tasks?

Each sprint is planned, which provides students with the opportunity to self discover and solve operational issues that may be delaying progress. In the end, students prioritize a complex set of tasks and collaborate to efficiently produce a single town using legos. 

On day one of the Spring 2020 semester, Mr. Mueller replicated the lesson for PCCAPS students at Park City High School. The Scrum workflow has been adopted as the operating system for student projects in order for them to experientially develop high-demand, 21st Century skills. 

About PCCAPS

A member of the national CAPS Network, and supported by Park City Education Foundation, the Park City Center for Advanced Professional Studies (PCCAPS) is an elective for Park City School District 11th and 12th graders. Student experience is guided by the principles of Project Based Learning (PBL), a teaching method in which students learn by actively engaging in real-world and personally meaningful projects.