Freshman outing. Twelve weeks. the WONDER project.
Our new Tinkering Lab is seeing a lot of action these days. We're a little over halfway through our Freshmen quarter of the WONDER project, and it's hard to believe that we are heading into a Thanksgiving Holiday weekend with a mere 3 weeks remaining!
The past 9 weeks have been an absolute blur. A flurry of Post-Its, foam core scraps, bits of tape, conversations, paint, soldering irons, smiles, enthusiasm, and wonder.
Our first 6 weeks were spent exploring the world of MAGIC. It led us down the path of digging into the magic of storytelling, aerodynamics, math logic, soundwaves, magnetism, and electric circuitry. Student driven. Teacher collaboration. Pure magic. Pun intended.
Mind you, we're talking about a group of students Kindergarten thru 2nd grade. There was some skepticism - from parents - whether their child could conceptualize, plan, and execute their own project. Let alone stand in front of a room of kids + adults on Exhibition Day, to explain what they worked on the past 6 weeks.
Boy did these students prove their parents wrong. With a mini-Exhibition behind them, and an individualized project in the can...we proceeded full steam ahead into the unknown. The unknown of student generated themes!
We hit the reset button at Week 7 to move into our student generated themes. The tricky thing is, we had no idea what we would be working on. No clue as to what project would occupy our time the next several weeks. And it was SO exciting! An absolute thrill.
These student generated themes all start with a 'wondering session'. Our wonderful teachers led the kids in a productive session of wondering. And we've got a 'wonder wall' - where the kids throw out anything they're wondering about - and it goes up on the wall. Our teachers then start to move all 'wonderings' into groups (or categories) to see what broader themes begin to emerge.
Students then vote on which theme they'd like to explore. We've created a culture that ensures each student has a voice, and an opportunity to gather others around their own interest. A culture that encourages the wondering to continue, long past the final vote count.
What might seem like an off-topic comment or question in any other classroom, is honored in our space.
Boom! It goes up on our wonder wall for us to come back to later.
Group 1's 'wonder session' led to an exploration of Oceans + Supersonic Travel. An evenly split vote. Our teaching team brainstormed how we could bring these two diverse topics together into a single project. We looked at our own skills, strengths, and passions. What could we offer to this group of students to collaborate on a big group project? Aha!
...an Underwater Supersonic MagLev Train?!
Group 2's 'wonder session' has us delving into the theme of Atmosphere + Flight. Again, our teaching team got together to figure out how we could turn this theme into a project. What about...
We find ourselves racing towards another Exhibition...actually, make that TWO because we now have two groups in motion. And these students are working on larger scale collaborative projects.
Each group project deserves its own blog post. So more forthcoming.
There are so many moments that I cherish and want to share from these past several weeks. So many that fill my heart with joy, and such pride in each and every one of our students.
I'll leave you with this last image (above) of one of our Kindergarteners at the white board. So curious, and very quiet in his observations the first handful of weeks.
After an exploration of batteries and magnets, Teacher Brittany invited anyone to come up and explain how they thought ions worked. He burst through the crowd of 1st and 2nd graders, grabbed a marker, and excitedly began to draw and explain how ions worked!
Such an exciting moment to witness. Such a moment of presence and power.
And a privilege to behold. Until next time folks...