Resist The Urge

Today, the students worked on creating their organ systems for our Big Body Bonanza on February 18th. Before they started following their plans and creating their systems, I modelled a plan of my own, and I modelled what to do when a problem arose. Students had all kinds of suggestions for me, and I was hopeful that they would have just as many ideas for themselves if they ran into problems.

Right away, one group struggled when they realized that they couldn’t cut the bottom off of their two giant water bottles. The plastic was too hard. What were they going to do? Initially the students kept looking at ways to cut through the plastic, but when it was clear that nothing would work, they started to do some thinking. They began by putting together what did work: the tee tube and the balloons. And then it was time to experiment. In this first video, the students start to explain their solution, and in the second video, the students explain how the respiratory system works.

Then I went to a second group that was working on the digestive system. They had a great plan, but the clips wouldn’t work close over their tubing. What were they going to do? As they were discussing some possible options with me, another student in their group managed to get one of the clips to work. Perseverance paid off, and in the end, their system worked as well.

I’ll admit that when problems arise, my instinct is to help solve them. I want to offer suggestions. I want to point out new materials that might work. I want to tell the students what they should reconsider. Today taught me though that one of the best things that I can do is wait, and give students the time to solve the problems on their own. Yes, I can ask questions. Maybe these questions will help right away, or maybe with some additional thinking time, these questions will make more sense. Struggling can lead to success, but we need to give students that safe environment to struggle, try again (or possibly try many more times), and succeed.

How do you resist the urge to jump in and help? How do you help students see the benefits to persisting through problems? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!

Aviva

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