I was invited to work with a group of intermediate students at Homma on Tuesday afternoon. I met this group of the fall and introduced the idea of pursuing passions and going deeper with inquiry.
As the students begin the third term, their teachers wanted them to work on a personalized project and to get them thinking outside of the box a bit as to what that could be. I re-visited a book they students already knew, On a Beam of Light, the story of Albert Einstein. This such an inspiring story that values wonder, curiosity, pursuing your passions and interests, being true to yourself and perseverance.
We then read the story Anything is Possible (about a wolf and a sheep who persevere in designing a flying machine), and inspired by the book, I gave each student a piece of paper and explained that they were to create the farthest flying creation with their only tools and materials were their hands and the piece of paper. Although the criteria for success was creating something that would fly the farthest, we suggested that we would like to see some creative thinking. Some students moved right into making paper airplanes while others made more unique flying creations. All of the students incorporated ideas of aerodynamics, balance and weight distribution into their creations. It was interesting to observe various degrees of stick-with-it-ness or perseverance, and to watch students make modifications based on their trial results. We had a fly-off and the creators of the furthest flying creations shared some of their “tips”.
Next we asked students to focus on communication, thinking about how they would explain how to make their flying to creation to someone over the phone (ie. not in person or via Skype where they could see the steps!). This proved quite difficult for the students and they realized quickly the details and specificity needed as they communicated their instructions. Some students needed to unfold and re-create their creations step by step while others were able to visualize this and others needed to write the steps down.
Students then began working in partners, providing their instructions orally.
An example of a student communicating his instructions for making a paper airplane:
This session set students up to think about different ways to share some sort of “how to” project. They can learn how to do something new and teach it to others or share their expertise in an already existing area of passion. Suggestions for presentations focused on oral communication with visual supports such an iMovie or an adapted version of PechaKucha.
As we move towards a more competency-based curriculum here in BC, highlighting and valuing competencies such as communication and creative thinking as we work with students will help to create awareness as well as nurture growth in these areas.