Scrum & Agile in K-12

I just wanted to drop in a placeholder here for discussion or sharing of resources connected to Scrum & Agile practices in K-12.

ICYMI, Scrum/Agile is a project development framework borne out of the software industry. Case studies have shown Agile/Scrum to be far more effective, and far more efficient, than traditional, or “waterfall,” project management, to the point that this method is widely used in seemingly every software company you can imagine, and is now breaking into other industries including public education.

A couple years ago some of us on the Innovation team became interested in Scrum after @MikeSmart introduced the topic in a meeting. Mike and I were trained as Certified ScrumMasters last year, and have implemented some pilot projects around the district. We gave a session at TIES (presentation slides available on the Resource page) as well.

There seems to be a growing interest, not only in 287, but around the country in the idea of bringing smarter project management into schools and classrooms. I could say a lot more, but for now I’ll just share this document I’ve been assembling. Some good stuff here: Scrum and Agile K-12 Resource Hub

I’m pretty excited with how this is moving forward, both in our District and in education on the whole.

For classrooms, it offers possibilities for classroom PBL, student skill building, work management, all softs of things.

For outside the classroom, I’ve found it incredibly helpful for project management. We used it to rebuild the Northern Star Online website, and it turned a quagmire of a project into a two-week success. I was blown away with how well it worked.

The nice thing about Scrum, too, is that it’s fairly easy to learn enough to start using it right away. There are just a few basic principles. Once you know those, you can start applying it immediately.

Has anybody heard of The Pomodoro Technique? It’s very Scrum!

Basically it’s a strategy for getting things done by focusing for short bursts, and taking short breaks. You set a timer for 20 or 25 minutes, work uninterrupted (no distractions!) for that interval, then when the timer goes off you take a break for 3-5 minutes. After three or four of those, take a longer break.

I could see this being adapted for education, specifically with PBL. It could also be used to teach students to disconnect from their phones when they need to. I might start with smaller intervals with students, even as small as 3-4 minutes for some, with the goal of building up to 15-20 minute intervals.


Yes! I use this myself regularly for things like grading papers.

It’s very much connected to research on procrastination, which shows that it’s easier to get started on a task that is time-based rather than task-based. In other words, if you have a pile of papers to grade, it’s easy to start working on them if you think, “I’ll work hard on grading for 25 minutes,” rather than “I have to grade all these papers.”

The topic gets a lot of coverage in Coursera’s Learning How to Learn course. (free course)

I thought this was a technique that everyone used, I never realized that it was something we could teach as a strategy. I really like Ben’s idea of using this during PBL or individualized work. I do know that all students, and especially the ones that I work with have a real problem with “chunking.” Whether that is breaking things down into smaller time fragments (as mentioned), or even just smaller tasks. For example, I’ve recently taken to having my students write just one good sentence on the first day as their goal when starting a research paper. Then having them write one paragraph on the second day, etc. Our students definitely lack a mental map when it comes to getting from a blank starting point to a finished product.

Last month I read a couple of books on the topic of study strategies, and both of the authors argued that the majority of students—even highly successful ones—are generally horribly ineffective at studying, especially in light of recent research on how the brain learns. It’s eye-opening stuff.

I think AVID gets at this stuff, but there is still huge opportunity to help kids learn better by teaching them to study more effectively.