After dedicating almost every Friday this school year to our FULL STEAM AHEAD projects, we’ve had a lot of successes, a solid amount of failures, and a lot of time to reflect. Reflecting on the failures with the kids has brought about more teachable moments than you could imagine.
During a Snowman Challenge (which we wouldn’t categorize as one of our successes), we had at least 2 to 3 kids in each class in full-on tears , so now having a “snowman meltdown” has become a tagline in our classrooms, haha. We read, “Snowmen at Night”, by Caralyn Buehner and…The snowman challenge was this:
“Create the tallest,free-standing snowman possible.”
“FUN!” we said…”Challenging!” we thought… UMMMM – this was the kids take on it:
We’ve discussed time and time again that it is okay to get upset and frustrated, that having a “snowman meltdown” is perfectly okay because if you had the opportunity to try the project again – chances are you would have a different approach and that means you learned from it. Not everyone had trouble. Some kids enjoyed it. But many, like Erin, have it saved in their schema for years to come! In any case, all of the kids learned, tried, adjusted and used critical thinking.
As we ourselves take the time to reflect, we see where we can make improvements, but also notice times when can be proud of our achievements. Here is a unit we absolutely love:
Our last 4 to 6 weeks of FULL STEAM AHEAD Friday have been all centered around our most recent science unit – which consists of learning about biomes, animals that live in these biomes, and adaptations that these animals have that help them to survive. Our school implemented the use of Thinking Maps this school year (they are a pretty magical resource if you ask us), so we decided to create a large scale tree map on one of the walls in our classrooms and divide it into four sections, one for each biome. This turned into 4 very fun, yet simple FULL STEAM AHEAD Friday projects.
The four biomes we focused on were the Ocean, the Desert, the Arctic, and the Rain Forest. Throughout the week, we did lots of research on each biome by reading books as a class, watching Brain Pops, and searching Epic books (an amazing app we just discovered that is awesome for researching and reading books on each student’s level). By the time it was Friday, the kids had become experts and were ready to create an animal that could live in the specific habitat we were working on. The way the kids applied their knowledge of the animal and their adaptations to the design was on another level. Their creativity, as usual, blew us away!
Stay tuned, because what followed this unit is bigger and better than ever!!!!
“The Ultimate Animal…” a design thinking experience–
Coming soon to a blog post near you:).
But first, rest…
With summer on the horizon, and as the school year comes to a close, we feel grateful for another year well played. We are excited to take the next few months to reflect on our professional practices, take a look at where we can improve, and give ourselves a pat on the back for another year of learning new things. Our greatest hope is that we have taught our children that being adventurous and trying is better than being afraid to fail.
We look forward to coming back in August fresh and ready to start again, at which time, I know we will once again open our adjoining door and greet each other with our favorite catch phrase…
Jess and Laura