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Teaching students to work together can be tough. Some want to own the project, and some want no part of it. But for all to learn, all must engage. And if learning is always a messy process, then collaborating to learn can be train-wreck-ish!
The activity in the pictures to the left was conducted by LMS Jamie Dutton to demonstrate how each person's contribution impacts the other's. It can be found at https://thewaterlilyway.wordpress.com She did the activity with the Yamada book What Do You Do With an Idea? and the Spires book The Most Magnificent Thing. Her point: Even when an idea belongs to you, other voices can sometimes help it grow stronger.
The activity is a powerful metaphor-in-action for a greater message!
5. Google Classroom has something to offer every grade level. 4th grade students can work on assignments with a far greater independence than can K students, but a centrally located "holder of info" that can ding a parent's cell phone when the teacher posts something new is a great thing. And it's free.
4. When shopping for supplies for the students to use when constructing their STEM projects, think crazy out of the box. One of the best snowball launchers we had was constructed using a hunk of ratty styrofoam, a large serving spoon, and rubberbands!
3. Families are hungry for challenging and constructive time together. They don't know this about themselves, but if they work together on something that can result in a "not counted absence," they will be motivated in the beginning and happy in the end.
2. Nothing will prompt teachers to learn something new and somewhat complicated that does not have a solid reward at the end. No teacher here hated Google Classroom and student Gmail accounts, but STEM Day gave everyone a rewarding reason to get on board.
1. Watching students across grade levels design, construct, and reflect on an identical task revealed MUCH about where they are developmentally and how we can grow each child. Nothing informs learning like other learning. In our de-briefing of the STEM Day events, teachers had the most to share about this.
Author: Susan Hayes
Principal, Barkley Bridge Elementary School