I mentioned in my last post about Going Places that there was an awesome “learning buzz” that happened as we worked hard and focused in on our building projects. Most of the kiddos were on task, planning, collaborating and creating for almost 3 hours! This was the first time this had happened (which now I realize might be because I haven’t offered many opportunities like this…but that’s for another time), and students noticed it.
After we were mostly done, we gathered on the rug to talk about how things had gone–what worked well and what we would change for next time.
As is usually true, the sides look pretty equal (as far the number of things that were mentioned). But what I know, because I was there, is that most students are represented by the items on the “plus” side of the chart. While it doesn’t mean the “deltas” aren’t important, it does give me even further hope that we can quickly fix these problems; they are only happening with one partnership here and there, and others are ignoring the unexpected behaviors. That’s another thing that kiddos are getting so much better at by this point in the year–focusing on their own work and not joining in on the silly things their friends choose to do instead of what they’re supposed to do. Don’t get me wrong, they might notice–and even invite their friends back to work or remind them of what to do instead–but then they get back to their own thing and carry on.
I’m excited to see what this group can do again soon (and actually I guess I did, since Mrs. Sisul’s Snowman Challenge happened after this one and went equally well), particularly with allowing them to lead the direction on what they want to learn and how they want to show their new knowledge to the world. Stay tuned for that, will you?? 🙂
As I mentioned in the post about I Wanna New Room, as well as in the post about directed drawing, we did lots of projects during our first days back after the holidays. Partly its because we only had a two-day-week (can I get a woot-woot for that one??), but also because easing back into work and being with friends after being away for two weeks is always a good idea.
Another thing we did that went SO WELL and that kiddos LOVED, was when we read the book Going Places (thank you Peter and Paul Reynolds for this amazing text!) and did a design challenge. 🙂
I’m not really sure from where this challenge came, but we’ve done it in 1st grade for a couple of years and it’s been super. I think this time around, though, we upped the ante a bit and had kiddos share their creation in a different way.
First of all, the book. We are BIG fans of Peter Reynolds, so when I showed them this one, they were already “in.” When I told them that they’d be doing a challenge based on it, they were even more excited. I heard them say “We love challenges!” <3. And then, later on, I heard “We LOVE this story!”
After the story, I gave them the directions. They were to build something that would help them “go places,” using a kit that everyone would get (like in the story). We didn’t talk a lot about what to do or how to do it (because they were so excited and wanted to get busy right away!), but they automatically started looking for partners (again, like they did in the story). And EVERYONE ended up with someone else with which to share both their supplies and their ideas!
As we got started, I recorded this video, and I love what you hear in it–that “buzz” that happens when everyone is engaged and busy! Check it out. 🙂
Did you notice in the video how they asked if they could use the bag in their creations? LOVE how they think outside the box (er, bag!) for these projects. 🙂
And once our 18 minutes for the challenge were up, kiddos had amazing creations that they wanted to share with their classmates (and you!).
Before we presented them, though, we had a conversation about what information our viewers would want (or need) to know related to our work. I reminded them that our audience was NOT there for the experience in our classroom, and we’d need to fill them in on the details so they understood what we were doing. These smart kiddos came up with a very thorough list of what to include in their videos:
They worked with their partner, and another partnership to plan and then record a video of themselves telling you all about what they made. They were supposed to watch and critique, then revise if necessary, to make sure it was their best work with all the parts. Many did this, but we’re still in the beginning stages of the “revision” part, so some might still have some places to improve (i.e. please ignore the places where others friends come in a put up bunny ears while they are recording, or the off-camera comments/voices you may hear).
I will share these videos now, but first I have mention how AMAZING this project was in our room. We had mentioned in our class that since we’ve come back from the holidays that kiddos have really stepped up their game; they are much more mature, focused and on task than ever! We ended up working on this project for close to 3 hours of our day–and most of us were engaged, busy and hard-working during that time. :). We had a debrief after it was all said and done (which I will write about in another post), and we talked about how much more we will be able to do as learners when I can count on them to be busy and working–monitoring their own thinking, time and planning–for long periods of time. We’re excited for where we will be able to go and what we’ll be able to accomplish. :).
Ok, and so back to what they actually made. It’s pretty great, so hope you enjoy!
Remember when I wrote about Catch of the Days? I should have updated you LONG ago, but our class is ROCKING AND ROLLING with these and already have almost 50! Along the way, there have been rewards (for example, at 10 is an extra recess, 20 was pajama day and 30 was game board day) and we’ve enjoyed every one of them. Once we hit 40 it was an even BIGGER deal because the prize was “admin’s choice!”
We emailed Mrs. Sisul and Dr. Wilson and asked them to come visit us. Today was the day, and Mrs. Sisul came with two of our favorite things: a book and a design challenge!
We read lots of snow/snowflake books on Friday (which was early dismissal day for weather!), but she picked one we hadn’t read yet (and yes, that is a feat in itself–GREAT job, Mrs. Sisul!).
She read the book to us (which we enjoyed!) and then she gave us our challenge: just like the mice the story, build the TALLEST snowman you can….with one piece of paper. 🙂
We went back and forth on how much info we’d give them about how to do this challenge, but eventually decided we would give them idea that they could make paper chains (which reminds me of the comment Kate left the other day about how creativity abounds within parameters–thanks for that reminder, friend!). Otherwise, they may have spent all of their time just figuring out what to do and not actually building anything.
As we set off to work, I could tell kiddos were thinking about our last challenge (when we read the book Going Places last week), and they quickly began to find groups to work with, both so they could share their resources and so they could share ideas.
At the 10 minute mark, we had kiddos stop and do a gallery walk to look for ideas being done by other engineers that might help them in their own work.
Kiddos got back to work and we noticed that instead of several groups of 3, we now only had 3 groups altogether! I decided to see what they were all up to…
Interesting, right? This was the part that really reminded me of the work that happened with our other challenge–kiddos making decisions that they thought would help them, even though they weren’t explicitly stated in the directions. “They didn’t say we couldn’t….” was their rationale. 🙂
We finished our work (about another 5 minutes or so, and then work time was up. We laid our snowmen out on the rug to see who had made the tallest snowman.
Now…of course when you do a design challenge, the process is as important as the final product, so Mrs. Sisul then led us in a reflection conversation.
I loved watching their faces as they thought about what had happened and worked to decide what they would take away for next time.
I also really liked their answers to the questions and also how honest they were when they thought things weren’t fair or didn’t make sense. We just might try this same challenge again soon and see what happens differently!
And lastly, just for the record, Elena wins for cutest snowman. 🙂 She’s very proud!
THANKS FOR COMING, MRS. SISUL!! We love how much you love books, learning and coming to work with us! 🙂
Do you have any stories about design challenges you’d like to share? We’d love to hear them!
During 2nd quarter of first grade one of our units (which I think is one of the most fun to teach and learn about!) is geometry. A few years ago, it was also a time when we were visited by a fabulous artist who taught us about watercolors and a new geometry/art project was born. The topic has been different every year (for example last year kiddos had to make their house), but the focus every time has been on using what they know about 2D shapes to create a picture, then paint it.
We used shapes we had already learned about and used in math (pattern blocks that were squares, trapezoids, rhombuses, hexagons and triangles) and traced them to create a design. It was pretty tricky for some of us, as we’re still working on fine-motor skills and the tracing part can be hard! No worries, though, because in Rm. 111 we have a boatload of grit and we just kept trying!
After we had a pencil drawing that covered the whole page (which is an expectation we have whenever we do a painting or drawing project on big paper), we were ready to paint it. Kiddos were asked to paint it to match the colors of the actual blocks.
As with most watercolor projects we do, the last step is to trace our pencil marks with Sharpie. This makes the shapes crisp and clear.
Our last step is to analyze the creation, showing what we know about the shapes we’ve been working on. Kiddos completed a sheet called Shape Talk, that went along with their mathematical design.
Often, depending on the time year this unit happens, mathematicians may be asked to write equations to show how many of two shapes they have altogether, for example: triangles + hexagons =
Once these were finished, they hung on our hallway bulletin board for a while and they were BEAUTIFUL to look at every day! Check out our hard work!