We built more than a Structure, we built a Foundation

We’ve been doing a lot of challenges in Grade 1 – thanks ‏@bfinnimore . Our challenge, to build a structure that can hold as many dictionaries as possible.There have been a lot of tears in Grade 1. We’ve had conflict. Resolution. Design. Redesign. It’s been an interesting week. We’ve been involved in design thinking. We’ve been incorporating Math, Science, Social Studies, Art and Technology in design projects.P1060742


The kids like projects like these I think. Yes, theres turmoil and stress but in the end they are left with some sort of satisfaction of completion. Of teamwork. You cant get that feeling from a workbook or a worksheet. Most of our weekly challenges involve teamwork. Some kids ‘hate’  it. Others love it. Some kids assume role of leaders, others are given the role by peers. It depends. Its hard! We blog about it here too.

As a teacher I need to stop myself from jumping in and solving their problems, conflicts. Its hard to stand back but this is authentic learning. I provide guidance when needed, when asked, but I do not give them an answer.

P1060769These types of projects foster teamwork, collaboration, thinking skills. Real like situations here that will challenge these kids. We learned alot about math, max. weight capacity and bridge load. We used estimation and accurate measurement using standard measurement. In these challenges we have a our specs. For example make s structure X high or X long.. If kids want to innovate, awesome. Go for it. We often get other grades involved like the grade 4. They love to come in and test our hypotheses and give their expert feedback on how to better the design. How do they know? They had similar experiences years ago in grade 1. We learn that we can use other designs and make them better. We learn that we use other people for inspiration and for information. These are real life skills.

Afterwards we talk about what skills we used, why we even did this challenge and what weve learned. They get it. Its applied learning. In PYP speak kids are ‘Applying Meaning’ and using higher order thinking skills. I love the inquiry into maths here in these challenges. What I dont want to do is to plan everything the kids do. Plan each step. Thats not inquiry. Learning unfolds. If I did this next year it would be very different Im sure.

So what did I learn as a practitioner?
Kids need time
We make mistakes
We have different ideas
We use prior knowledge to make future decisions

Its great to learn from my kids. Building on my own foundation of learning.

Of course.. I could give a worksheet…


About Jason Graham

I am a Digital Literacy Coach in Indonesia. I am from Vancouver but now call Melbourne home. I have lived in Indonesia for over twenty years and enjoy sports and travel. I enjoy making stuff, photography and learning with and from others.
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3 Responses to We built more than a Structure, we built a Foundation

  1. No you couldn’t, Jay! You couldn’t give a worksheet. Anyone who does this kind of fantastic work with kids can’t go back to worksheets!


  2. I really like the transdisciplinary nature of projects like these as the high level of challenge involved (the words ‘significant’, ‘relevant’ and ‘engaging’ also come to mind)! And let’s face it, if there is no tension, no conflict and no stress at all, it’s probably not worth doing in the first place. Real-life tasks involve sorting through the tension and the conflict so why should classroom learning engagements be any different? I’m sure that throughout this project the children practised / developed most of the transdisciplinary skills withing the approaches to learning. I wonder who many of these skills would be addressed through a worksheet?!
    I also love the cross-grade collaboration and the awareness that we can use others for information and inspiration, taking something and making it better through experimentation, trial and error and reflection.
    Thank you for sharing this, Jay!


  3. Vivian says:

    It starts with a teacher who is willing to be a risk-taker. Then, kids feel safe to do the same. 🙂 Thanks for another peek into your classroom!


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