It All Started With A Tweet …

For those that teach or attend public elementary schools in Ontario, Friday, January 11th was definitely a strange day. At one point, it was going to be a day of protest for public elementary teachers, but after an OLRB ruling very early that morning, school was actually back on for everyone. Considering how this day began, it makes me chuckle to think that it ended with the Duct Tape Challenge.

That night, I sent out a tweet asking about reasonably priced iPad cases. My principal was talking to me earlier that day about options, and I thought that I would see what I could find out for him. This is when Brian Harrison, a principal in York Region, replied with,

2013-01-25_1142As Angie Harrison (@techieang), an amazing Kindergarten teacher in York Region and Brian’s wife, mentioned in her post, “sometimes late on a Friday evening, educators are very tired and a little punchy.” Every once in a while, these amusing conversations can lead to something great … and this one definitely did!

Angie, Brian, and I continued to chat about duct tape, and quickly, @haledogg, @cherraolthof, @klirenman, @wrightsroom, @kathycassidy, @corisaas, and others started sharing as well. It didn’t take long for the challenge to evolve: have students build something out of one roll of duct tape. The only requirements were that the students could only use duct tape and all projects needed to be shared by January 25th. We created the Twitter hashtag #ducttapechallenge for sharing purposes, and the rest was up to us.

I love how we even started discussing expectations that we could meet with this fun challenge! It was an interesting conversation because we all taught different grades from different places in Canada, but duct tape brought us all together. So far, Angie has conducted an inquiry with her Kindergarten students on fasteners, and then used the duct tape for an art lesson. Kathy linked the duct tape challenge to her Social Studies unit on families and communities. Lisa Donohue, a Grade 3 teacher, that was not part of the initial conversation but quickly joined in, had her students design objects to sell, as part of a media literacy and financial literacy activity. Awesome!

As for me, I worked with my amazing teaching partner, Gina Bucciacchio, and we linked the Duct Tape Challenge to our Science unit on Flight. Gina, who teaches Science for both of our classes, designed this activity for our Grade 6’s. The students loved it! They worked well individually or in groups to design a plan, test their devices, and make changes accordingly. It was great to see one student that went home, thought about what he made in class, and even tweaked his design again, bringing back a new duct tape flying device the next day. I love to see students so excited about learning!

If you’re interested, you can actually see a record of our whole day in this Storify Story below:

I would definitely look at doing this challenge another year, and I love the versatility of it, regardless of what grade I teach. The biggest change that I would make though, is that I would have each student reflect on his/her own at the end. I know that the students collaborated well to design and build their duct tape flying devices, but this individual reflection really lets me see which students understand the scientific concepts and which ones do not. I would also try to get more students involved in tweeting their learning throughout the day. Timing was tight, so this didn’t work as well as we hoped, but there’s always next year. 🙂

I think that Chris Hale (@haledogg) truly sums this project up best with his tweet:


I feel so fortunate to be continually inspired by so many incredible educators on Twitter, and I think that the Duct Tape Challenge is another great example of that.

So, yes, the January 25th deadline is officially today, but some rules are meant to be broken. 🙂 If you have not done so already, please consider participating in the Duct Tape Challenge with your students, and share what you do here. Here’s to some more sticky fun and learning for all!


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