#sol18- December 4, 2018
Our current unit in third grade is part of the theme Where We Are in Place and Time and has the central idea that innovation creates change and can lead to new possibilities. It was a new unit this year and looked like the perfect time for our students to really inquire into an idea of their choice. We started by looking at a few innovations and considered the positives and negatives of each. Students then considered their interests and identified a question or problem they wanted to address. Then they had time- time to research/investigate, develop their ideas, create, and evaluate- often toggling among all of these in the course of a few minutes.
Flash forward a few weeks and here we were today! The students probably had 10-12 hours to work on their innovation. I loved the variety of their ideas and the forms they took. We learned about global warming and the need to buy local, saw contraptions to make students feel more comfortable in their high bed, learned how to make bags from used t-shirts from a student concerned about too much plastic and more. Other students were also clearly impacted by our previous environmental focus and made baskets and chairs from cardboard, designed a combo trash/compost bin, reused markers, and tried to teach about the importance of not wasting food. Other students considered their own interests or needs and came up with a podcast to help you sleep, a book to teach about how to cope with stress, an umbrella hat with a soda can holder, taught more about various animals, made a prototype of sunglasses that morph into binoculars, combined an interest in Yoda with teaching children about bullying prevention. There were some boredom busters, ways to make your room more beautiful, and toy ideas for children who do not have much.
This is the kind of unit that I think will stay with the kids. They have had so much independence and really were so engaged. Their reflections were honest and sincere and their work was 100% theirs! As for me, I learned a lot too. Not only did I learn more about their interests, but I really saw their work ethic, perseverance, problem-solving, and more (sometimes less admittedly). This is definitely a unit we will keep for next year (and hopefully find ways to make it even more awesome).
Now to find ways to get that innovator mindset into more of our days!