Early Elementary Class
An Experiment in Thinking
Creating a Culture of Thinking
The Discoverers knew an unprotected egg falling on a hard surface would break, but what about on the sand? We tried it twice, it didn't. They knew from accidental cracks and drops or dribbling from dissecting eggs earlier this year that it oughtt to break, but the sand absorbed the pressure of the fall.
How do we protect things (fragile things, eggs) from breaking when dropped or when they fall onto hard surfaces -- in this case from the top of the tallest part of our structure onto a platform?
During some rainy days the class decided to build their own structures or encasements to cushion the egg and drop it inside the class off the loft bridge and observe what happens and why. But once the rain stopped they were ready to take the experiment to the tallest place on site, the tallest portion of the play structure -- more than eight feet tall.
I explained how a scientific experiment of this degree would need to have the same criteria, be the same height and variations or choices needed to be similar, if they were going to compare and analyze the results, which is an important element in scientific explorations.
The Discoverers created a list of supplies agreed upon by all, and each person drew their own designs. They wrote their theories about why it would work or dictated some of their thinking for the teachers to make notes.
We learned the best time for sharing calm scientific thinking and for the interviewers to ask deeper questions was later in the day, or even the next day after the excitement level wasn't as high and they'd had time to think about their own experiments in comparison to other children's. Using photographs and videos aided greatly, allowing the Discoverers to point out discrepancies and connections in their thinking with more ease.
Using the same variables, i.e., equal height level, equipment standards and an unchanging landing surface didn't, however, create same results as some of you may have noticed Monday night at our Creating a Culture of Thinking Night. We will continue to share photos and videos of discussions about what has actually been happening.
The Discoverers are aware the goal is a metacognitive look at their own thinking, not just the outcome “will it break or not,” but of course they are especially excited when the egg stays intact.
Students are growing in their ability to design and evaluate their devices prior to and after the drop. They are increasing their communication skills regarding the process, and their designs are becoming more complex as we move into the fourth experiment.
Resiliency Is growing as the eggs break and also the students are becoming comfortable with modifications, even when their egg didn't break. Yay!
Monday night all the students were interviewed by other students or a teacher about their thinking as they made each encasement. The evening was filled with excitement and suspense. It was lovely to hear them share their thinking, like a school day, with a few extra people. They shared today during class how exciting Monday night's drop was, how nervous they actually were, and how they consciously persevered through their nerves to achieve success in the sharing of their learning process with you parents. Thank you for coming and supporting our children's deep thinking!
Sample Plan for the Day:
8:45 Morning Start-Up Game
9:15 Project (grounded in children's interests)
10:00 Snack and Break
10:20 Math Games
11:00 Centers, Maker Space projects
12:50 Clean Up
1:00 Mindfulness meditation; Journaling
Multiple Intelligences in Reading/Writing Workshop, including literacy games, creative storying, bookmaking, and direct instruction in a variety of group structures: whole group, small group, individual. Reading and writing curriculum flows from the children's interests, personal relevancy, and their individual and group project work.
(The above is a general plan which is modified as may be needed to support the children's emerging needs and interests.)