Today, students were challenged to explore their understanding of 2D shapes, and knowledge of measurement, through problem solving. With sticks of 4 different lengths, students tried to figure out how many different triangles they could make. This ‘design challenge’ is a part of our Birds and Buildings Inquiry, investigating how and why things are built, and what considerations real designers and ecologists pay attention to, as they approach designing natural spaces to welcome wildlife.
So students can approach their work with confidence, we try to work together as a team to unpack a problem, before we are set off to solve it in small groups. When I handed out rulers to use, students shared their amazement out loud: This ‘regular’ tool we had used only before as a straight edge, was filled with numbers and patterns to work with. Their comfort came when they could see their familiar friends, the numbers, as a helper to tackle the difficult problem in front of them. Students brought the rulers close to their face, measuring out their sticks, and counting along, with an authentic purpose in mind.
Sitting together at tabletops, comparing their ideas, students reminded each other to make sure their shapes were closed, to draw points for fasteners, and to turn their papers, just as ‘real’ designers would. As I moved throughout the classroom, conferencing with students, a sense of urgency seeped through the conversations. One student pointed to a friend in the class “She told me I could use this one like this. It worked!” He hurried back to his design, drawing his triangle, and sharing out loud with his co-designers the idea for his next plan.
Today I learned…
As collaborators, students guaranteed each other’s success. Their own abilities, like the rulers in their hands, were tools they brought with them, to the design table. Speaking aloud, and sharing their work as they went, helped all of us come closer toward success!
Amy Goldberg (@MsGoldbergSays) and her students build a peaceful community together. She’s curious about STEAM in early learners and literacy.