∆ Jackson

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Sep 06 2013

Picking up Paper Clips.

This past week (although short) was crazy in Room 116.  We are becoming designers and engineers and this week my students were designing and building their very own paper air planes.

Basically, I spent the week frantically shuffling from group to group helping them interpret their research articles, asking them to revise their hypothesis over and over to make it more detailed, and dodging paper planes that whirred past my face.  It was awesome.

This week and the next, we are laying a foundation.  And so far, I like what I see.  I see students working toward a goal.  I hear good group discussions about what works, what does not, and sometimes even WHY!  And mixed into that, I hear lots of discussion that has nothing to do with our project, but that is something we are working and it is getting better each day.

I have been taking groups out into the hallway to test their prototypes.  Discussing how to make observations like…
“It fell gradually toward the ground and then kept sliding after it hit the floor”
and
“It glided straight through the air and then spiraled on its way down”
rather than
“It didn’t go far”.

Despite our research about how planes fly and why they stay in the air, do I really think my students deeply understand the physics behind why their paper planes do or do not fly?  No.  But that’s not really the point of this project.

The point is that they are beginning to THINK like SCIENTISTS.

They are beginning to observe and ask questions and revise their ideas and think about why things happen the way they do.  They are having discussions about how to make their designs better and why one plane flies better when you add weight to it with paper clips but the other one does not.  They are researching and writing hypotheses and building planes based on their ideas and then rebuilding when their initial idea does not work.  Today, we wrote a test for seeing which plane flies the farthest.  I just can’t stop writing about how awesome my kids are.

Here, check it out for yourself:

(You can click on them to read them better)

So there you have it.  Now you can share in the joy that was my awesome week.  And even though it was exhausting, even though one of the exceptional education teachers came to observe my class and it probably seemed chaotic/ridiculous because there were paper planes flying everywhere, and even though in between every class I was running around picking up paper clips and scraps of paper that were accidentally left on the floor, it was great.

And I am so looking forward to seeing what else my kids can do.

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