Saturday, March 13, 2010

Learning with my students: Grade 7 MYP Technology (part 3)

I have been on a learning journey with the Grade 7 students to investigate, plan and design kites. This week we started to construct them. At the end of last week's lesson I had asked the students to enter a list of materials that they wanted to use into a spreadsheet - this week we started the lesson with distributing all these materials to the students and giving them the tools they could use (saws, knives and various types of glue).

Most students started with making the frames - attaching the wood and bamboo together. Some of them ran into problems with sawing through the bamboo - it was much tougher than it looked. Several of them had problems attaching the material to the frame. I tried to be helpful and to suggest different ideas to them if they ran into problems, but often I just asked them more questions and tried to point them in another direction without telling them what I thought would be the best way of solving their problems.

The idea of the MYP design cycle is that the students can modify their original designs if necessary, so I wanted them to experience what the problems were, before jumping in and suggesting different ways of tacking them. For me this was quite hard - when I could see students doing something that obviously wasn't going to work my first reaction was to go over and offer help immediately - I had to force myself to hang back to see if they could learn from their mistakes and come up with their own ways of fixing things.

One of the problems that they encountered was that the balsa wood, which many students had decided to use as it was so light, was also very fragile. A couple of the pieces broke as the students were trying to assemble their frames. I resisted the urge to give them more wood, and looked to see what they were going to do. Some tried to glue the pieces back together and others used selotape and string to attach them. I'm not sure how strong these will end up being! Some of them also discovered that the hot glue guns will melt the plastic. A couple of the students decided to try to use cling-film for the kites - this was very difficult to work with. Others decided to use bead wire to put around the frame and then attach the sail material onto that - only they found it extremely difficult to attach wire to bamboo. All of us learnt a lot from this, and all of us have plenty to think about before next week's lesson when we will finish off the kites.

1 comment:

  1. It has been so much fun to be on this journey with your students. The pictures make me feel like I am there, learning along side them. Thank you for posting about what each step of this process has looked like. It is so much fun to peek inside your classroom and see students learning through trail and error in a hands on project like this.