Thursday, January 10, 2019

Through exploration students drive their learning!


They say a big piece of work in a PBL is finding a real problem and weaving your standards through that problem to find a solution.  Well, what is a “real problem” for kindergartners in North Dakota?  My kindergartners at Liberty were faced with a pretty serious problem they are now working to solve.  They watched a video of a sled that just would not go down a snow hill on the playground.  We have put on our engineering hats and need to collaborate with our peers to design and build the best sled! How do kindergartners do this? Through exploring their science standard of push and pull, of course! We started by asking ourselves three important questions that all engineers ask themselves. 

1.     What is the problem that needs to be solved?
2.     Who has the problem that needs to be solved?
3.     Why is this problem important to solve?

My students answered these three questions by stating that the problem is that the sled will not work.  One of the teachers at Liberty has this problem.  It is important to solve this problem because sledding is a lot of fun!!

The students will be working in collaborative groups to design and build their own sled.  After the building process is through they will have the chance to go test their sled on our playground.  After their testing they will come in and communicate with their team about what they think they would change on their sled to get a better outcome.

As Georgia Heard & Jen McDonough say in A Place for Wonder “We need to think about creating classroom environments that give children the opportunity for wonder, mystery, and discovery; an environment that speaks to young children’s inherent curiosity and innate yearning for exploration is a classroom where children are passionate about learning.”

This is my second year doing this PBL, it is already very different from last year.  Asking my students two questions has driven this project discussion differently.  What do you know about sledding?  What do we need to know to build the best sled?  This right here is the powerful thing about giving your students the ability to drive the learning.  They are all in on this project and excited to do this work.  My students are using their curiosity and desire for exploration as they investigate, draft, develop, and test their sled designs.

Twitter Tuesday Questions
Q1: How do your students drive the learning in your classroom?
Q2: How do you record your student’s wonderings?
Q3: How do your students find the answers to their wonderings?
Q4: How do you make this learning happen during and outside of PBL?