How many palms long is my classroom? How many fathoms wide is the garage door? How many cubits high is my closet? My GTT students set out to answer these and other ridiculously silly questions today on our quest to prove that early, non-standardized measurements don’t cut it!
Below: Using palms and girth to measure tables and walls in the classroom.
These girls used string to keep track of the width of their hand (the way they used to measure horses, from tip of outstretched pinky to thumb) and then measure the width the classroom’s garage door.
Above you can see my students brainstorming their “Wave” by writing on the dry erase tables. Below is an early attempt to see if they’ve got a good starting point.
In the pictures and video below you can see how my students used the whiteboard tables to create the conditions for their learning.
This is some of the cool stuff that students do when left to their own devices. I showed them the directions for Damien Kee’s Domabot. Next I told them to go play. These groups of students decided to have a race using clapping and the sound sensor. There was no direction or instruction, no computers either; the students just figured it out themselves with the on-board programming. This really shows how important the concept of play is in learning and also how important it is to allow people to create their own learning- the whiteboard tables really help support the students in creating their learning conditions.
Today in Robotics we worked on the learning target “I can use observation and manipulation to determine various properties of LEGO pieces.”
I had the students look at and play with the black and grey pins, and also gave them two beams. I did not give them any other directions other than they had 5 minutes to observe and manipulate, then 3 minutes to write down their observations. Here’s a sample of their observations, I’ll make comments at the bottom:
After the students generated ideas like: loose, tight, smooth, stuck, harder to turn, swing freely, etc I told them to write the word friction down. Then they were told to circle the word and draw a line from friction to the color pin they thought had more friction. Most got it correct first time but for those who didn’t I added a definition of friction and once they tied that definition to their play with the pins they were all able to get it.
It was really interesting to me during this lesson and the next one (see LEGO Measurement) to see how differently the kids organized their thinking. Some wrote long hand notes, some drew T charts, some Venn Diagrams. I’m not sure if there was a best type to use, but I think it’s great that they had all these methods at their disposal (credit and props to Bethel elementary schools). What I think was important is that they were able to organize their own though process by having the LEGOs right there and then being able to write about them in front of them.
Ideally I would love every kid to have a Smart Phone with an app like Evernote so they could take a picture like I did and be done with it. Until that happens, I had them go back to their computers and finish the following statement:
After observing and manipulating the two different pins, we noticed the black one had more friction, this means…
They had to finish this statement as part of their exit ticket. This allowed them to use the new word friction, but still write about it in a way they understood.