In our Canada’s Links to the World text there is a section on Canadian inventions. It lists about 50 different inventions, with a brief explanation for each. I had asked the students to read the text and select what they thought was the most important invention. Students read quietly. It was almost the end of the day and most were reading because they had to. One student selected the chocolate bar.
“Really? You honestly think the chocolate bar is Canada’s greatest invention?” I asked in disbelief.
“Well, to a kid, yeah” was his reply.
By then it was the end of the day. The bell rang and we abandoned the discussion.
I went home and thought, a lot. Point of view is everything.
The next day I went back into class and apologized to the student. As a class we redesigned the activity. Different inventions will be significant depending on one’s point of view. We listed 10 different occupations and decided to see if we could find 2 important inventions for each. This became a challenge for the class. They were free to work independently, with a partner or in a small group. These formed spontaneously and they set to work.
I observed a great deal. Again, because it had become a problem to be solved, the level of interest and engagement was much higher. This time, the students were actively reading and DISCUSSING the information as they read. Two groups set challenges for themselves. One wanted to see if they could find an invention that would be important to all 10 occupations. Another’s goal was to not repeat an invention. Groups began sharing what they were reading with other groups. It was fun!
Why was this now a 21st century lesson?
1. It was collaborative.
2. It required students to solve a problem.
3. Students participated in designing the activity.
4. Higher level thinking and discussion took place.
5. All students were fully engaged.
6. Learning content, although this occurred, was not the primary goal.
It’s not that I haven’t done activities like this in the past; however, I don’t think that I have reflected deeply upon what made certain activities so successful. Now I know.Read More »