Outdoor Adventures: PLTW Design Challenge!

Hopefully you’ve read about how we’re learning about light and sound and how great PLTW is going in our classroom.  (If not, feel free to check it out before you go on with this post–LOL).  On Friday we got to the point where we were ready for the design challenge.

We had learned about the design process earlier on in the unit, and also were then reminded of the problem from the story about Angelina, Mylo and Suzi.

Since we had learned and explored about light and sound already, we were ready to answer that question from the end of our book:

If you were Angelina, Mylo and Suzi, how would you help them communicate over a distance to get help?

Luckily for us, we have a fabulous woods and Naturescape in our backyard in which to actually try out this challenge!  We will do that on Monday, but first we had to figure out how to answer the question.  We got into groups and had a limited list of supplies (which we happened to be carrying in our backpack):

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Kiddos had time to design and build their devices and then will test their creations in the woods on Monday.

Callahan and Lucas figured out how to make their device reach higher and shared their thinking:

We also had an unexpected problem-solving situation come up after I talked with my first grade teacher-friend, Ms. Turken.  I asked her how the challenge went with her class, and she told me they had these issues:

  • It was day time, and bright outside, so the light part of the devices didn’t really work
  • It was during recess and so the “outside sounds” made it hard to hear the sound coming from the lost kiddos and their devices.  Also, since our woods are right next to a neighborhood, lawnmowers also made it hard to hear.
  • There were too many groups–her class had 7 groups to “lose” and then “find”
  • Only 2 adults were available during the time of their challenge

We decided to take on this problem and see if we could figure out how to use this knowledge (and their struggles!) to make the challenge work the best for us when we took our turn to try it out.  We headed out to the woods to have a chat, because I figured it might be easier to think about it in the actual setting.

We gathered on the stage (built by the amazing Riggs Construction!) and talked about our options.  I was excited to hear how kiddos were thinking through the problems I presented, thinking about how we could address them with what we know.  We had many great suggestions:

  • Allie thought that we should be sure to focus on the sound part of our devices instead of just the light parts.  She said their group had made sure to put both light and sound on their device. 🙂
  • Many kiddos took the number of groups problem, and thought of ways we could fix it–split our class in half, send one group then another then another to find the “lost” ones, and so one.
  • We noticed that the time of day we were outside (which was later than when Ms. Turken’s class was outside) was not so loud.  There were no kids at recess, no one was mowing and all we heard was the wind in the trees.
  • Aadish suggested that everyone’s groups all go out into the woods to get “lost” at the same time.  We could then try to use our devices to communicate with others, and as we saw each other, groups would join together to look for others.  He suggested that the person who knew the woods the best could be the leader of each group.
  • Keira asked, “But what if everyone wants to be the leader?”
  • Aadish and the class agreed that maybe we could do the challenge more than once, giving more than one kiddo a turn to be in charge.
  • We even thought that we could do our evaluation and redesign right there in the woods before our next try to see if we could make our devices communicate even better.

WHEW!  WOW!  I was tired after all that smart thinking and was super impressed with how they were considering ways to make our experience the best it could be.  I know we’re ALL excited to see how it goes when we’re actually in the woods tomorrow!  Stay tuned and we’ll tell you all about it!

#classroombookaday UPDATE: Week 7

Another week, another list of great read alouds!  For some reason we only read 12 (instead of the almost 20 from most weeks so far), but boy were they good ones and man did we have fun!  Here’s what our door looks like as of Friday:

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Let me tell you about a few of the highlights from this week:

  • We added 3 Piggie and Elephant titles to our door, which we LOVE!!
  • We read another Peter Brown book ( well, 2 of them actually), and we’re becoming fans of another great author.  We loved My Teacher is a Monster and noticed lots of great things happening in the illustrations.  Then we shared The Curious Garden and LOVED it!  And we found The Curious Garden because we’d seen the amazingly beautiful song by Emily Arrow on her YouTube channel.  What a great partnership between music and literature!And speaking of The Curious Garden, we had great conversations about grit and growth mindset from that little city garden and the boy who helped it grow!
  • We added some Olivier Dunrea titles to our list, too, which we found after we first read Ollie the Stomper for shared reading early in the year.  Since the first one, we’ve met Gideon, his octopus buddy Otto and a perfect pair of friends named Jasper and Joop.  This coming week there’s more on the list to explore!
  • Another Ame Dyckman title was enjoyed this week– Wolfie the Bunny!
  • We read our first title for the Global Read Aloud this week and interacted with Nana in the City by Lauren Castillo.  We drew and wrote about how we could be brave in our capes.  We’re excited for next week’s book–The Troublemaker!
  • Lastly, we had a really special mystery reader come to our class and share a funny book with us called Naked by Michael Ian Black–Allison Bearden!  Do you recognize that name?  It’s my cutie-pie kindergarten daughter!  She had been reading and rereading Naked, practicing sounding like a storyteller, and I asked her if she wanted to read it to my first graders.  She was excited about that idea, and when she showed up, my kiddos were, too!

They were great listeners, Allie was a great reader and Rm. 202 kids were impressed that she could read the words in that book!  The next request was that Riley Bearden come down from 4th grade and share a book with them.  He’s ready to take on that challenge, so maybe he’ll be here next week on the 20somethingkids blog!

Another great week of reading, inspiring, thinking and book-loving in Rm. 202!  Thanks for reading!  Do you have a suggestion of a book we could read?  We LOVE recommendations from other readers!