As I awoke this morning from my bed I shuffled through my morning routine . I began by turning on the coffee machine followed by my latest addition of technology “Good Morning Alexia” I say, to which Alexia responded “Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day”. Well isn’t that nice I thought, a day set aside for being randomly kind, I thought.
Gee, you know, I’ve never bought coffee in the Starbucks line for the car behind me. What am I missing here? It then occurred to me that I have to look no further than my own classroom to see kindness-exhibited every day and in many forms.
I will share a random act of kindness with you now.
For those who know me well, and certainly my student’s parents, they know that I do a daily blog entitled Mr. M’s Lollipop Kids. It’s no secret that I reward children for reading, writing, acts of kindness, etc. etc. I use a point system using Class Dojo, which other teachers use as well. It can be both positive and sometimes negative. If a child earns 10 points they can cash the points in and get a small trinket from the treasure chest or they can get a lollipop.
Most choose the gratification of the lollipop.
I have one student that from the beginning of the school year has saved his points . His reasoning? He wanted to give a lollipop to every student in the school. This is a lesson in kindness and a testimony to the child and the Pride we teach at Hillside.
And now for your lesson in Project Based Learning….
On the surface this might appear to be a no-brainer for teachers. Scaffolding is what we do. Teachers build on student skills in the usual step-by-step manner, one skill building upon another. Teachers have used this strategy for decades.
This is what it looks like, quite simply:
I do. We do. You do.
Teachers model what the learning looks like.
We then do it together.
And finally, you do it by yourself.
Now along comes PBL (Project Based Learning) in the form of STEM or STEAM. At Hillside Academy we use Project Lead the Way for our curriculum. When I attended training for PLTW (Project Lead the Way) one of the first things we heard from our instructors was to forget about how you taught before. STEM is different, your role will change.
My role now had became one of a facilitator, a coach, if you will.
As a facilitator your role is to guide and stimulate the thought process with your students. It becomes their task through discovery, experimentation and trial and error to solve everyday problems. The challenge I find with such young minds (5 to 7 year olds) is that they may not possess some of the rudimentary knowledge necessary to launch their project.
In the unit on structure and function, as an example, the children may not understand how bricks should be laid to create an inter-locking and thus solid structure. They may not know how to twist and connect a chenille stem (pipe cleaner) to construct a beanstalk. So what are we as teachers to do to bridge these initial obstacles?
I have found that children possess the most wonderful of skills, which is very simply trial and error.
What is working or not working?
The beauty of PBL is self-discovery and the sense of accomplishment I see on their faces when they successfully accomplish a task or solve a problem on their own. This “ah-ha” moment I believe enhances the experience way beyond the “I was able to do what the teacher just showed me” moment. I suppose that is way I find Project Based Leaning so appealing and gratifying to me.