Today was the second day that we got the pleasure of welcoming a group of e-Learning Contacts to our classroom and our school. Last night, I spent a lot of time reflecting on yesterday’s visit and updating my plan for today. I’m pleased to say that my change in plans made today a lot better. It was actually one of our visitors, Anne, that caused me to really stop and think during our activity time.
After we explored some clock stands together …
and listened to our challenge …
I let the students go off and start creating and testing out their stands. While I had pulled together a large group of recyclable materials, a huge box of Lego, and some other various blocks, many students started by grabbing materials off of the shelf that they’ve used most frequently. Anne quickly noted this. She said that even though I had collected these other materials — that in fact, I thought would work better — students went initially for materials that they knew best. The straws were especially popular, as students liked the straw chair that a child built the other day, and they seemed to want to make a clock stand using these same items.
A Video Of This Chair Design
Now though, I had a decision to make. Looking around the classroom, I could see some clock stand designs that looked like they might work, and many that looked like they wouldn’t. Should I stop the building? I’ll admit that I was thinking about it, but instead, I decided to see if the students would identify the problems with their designs on their own.
This is when questioning was essential. I got the students to test out their designs. Even if their structure would hold a clock, I tried to point out some of the faults with the materials by attempting to knock the structure over. I asked the students questions that got them considering what happened, why it happened, and what needed to change to make a more stable structure.
Some students were quickly able to identify the problems and fix them. Some students really needed to engage in a lot of trial and error. Some students built entire stands to realize that there were problems, and had to begin again. While in the end, the stands varied in terms of being aesthetically pleasing, all of the stands, minus one, worked, and this group has a plan of action to update their design tomorrow.
And it’s as I thought about Anne’s initial comment and our activity completion today, that I came to this conclusion: maybe the most valuable “resource” that we have in the 21st century classroom is “time.”
- Time to think.
- Time to create.
- Time to problem solve.
- Time to try again.
- Time to listen.
- Time to talk.
- Time to process what we learned.
- Time to document this learning.
While there are many things that I’ve changed, and continue to change, about our classroom structure, the one thing that I haven’t changed, and won’t change, is the big blocks of time for student learning. I think that when we rush the process, we take control of the learning, and the students are the ones that ultimately lose out.
As the e-Learning Contacts go back and reflect on their visits, I hope that in addition to the discussions on technology and pedagogy, there is also a discussion on the flow of the day. If we want our 21st century learners to be skilled problem solvers, we need to give them the “time” to do so. This is where I think that we can all take a lesson from the Full-Day Kindergarten model. What do you think? How do you give students this gift of “time?” I’d love to hear your thoughts!