Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Closing Out the Year with Collaboration & Coasters

It's the last week of school! Incredibly hard for Angela and I to believe that this amazing year is over. This new group of 4th graders WOWED us again with their energy, hard work ethic, and collaborative efforts. We are already looking forward to our time together in 5th grade!

This past Monday, was our last collaborative activity with Mike Mohammad @Mo_Physics and his INCREDIBLE Brookfield Central High School AP Physics students. We are SO FORTUNATE to have such a close relationship with Mike. Without his amazing efforts, and his students' willingness to give it their all, our students would not have had the experiences they had this year. 

We could not close out the year without one more collaborative day of fun! This week's design challenge was for the groups to build a marble coaster with at least three obstacles. These obstacles could include hills, loops, and/or jumps. We had 10 groups of 4th grades, along with 3-4 high school students serving as coaches/mentors. The high schoolers outlined the challenge to the students, kept them on track, and supported our kids during the building process. Mike had reached out to me earlier last week to get the specific scientific terminology we use with our students during STEM time. This common language allowed our students to jump right in since this was the same way we had been communicating all year! 

The teachers in the space documented the event on Periscope, Twitter, and encouraged creativity. We let the groups use whatever materials we had on hand. The students grabbed foam tubing, tape, and marbles and got to work. Initially, the AP students took the lead and started the building process. In no time at all, our 4th graders stepped up and found other useful materials- funnels, xylophones, chairs, stools, Klennex boxes, Iced Tea bottles to add to the coasters. You name it, and they found a way to incorporate it into their design! As the "bigs" and "littles" interacted with each other, the building process became much more collaborative. The AP students took a bit of a backseat and let our 4th graders take control. It was so incredible to watch! ALL of the students quickly learned that there roller coasters would fail many times before ever reaching success. It was a proud teacher moment when there was no complaining, the groups just carried on with a growth mindset. They persevered, knowing the failure they felt would move them forward in their building process. In the end, ALL of the groups met the challenge and had successful coasters! 

The Learning Lab was abuzz with excitement and student engagement! The entire morning was amazing and a perfect way to kick off the last week of school! The students (who am I kidding? and the grown ups) had A TON OF FUN! 

A HUGE thank you to Mike Mohammad for an incredible year of collaborative learning! We CAN NOT wait to see what we can put together for next year!!

The high school students, along with Angela, Mike, I were busy Tweeting and Periscoping the morning of fun. Mike introduced us to Storify, so I figured I would use this opportunity to give it a go!

~ Kate