I have definitely had a tumultuous, triumphant, and technology rich school year. I can’t believe how fast this school year is going! I have an amazing class with a contagious desire to learn and explore. I am proud of all the amazing work they have done. I am also proud of all the failures they have learned from.
I know, I’m a teacher and I just said I am proud of failures. No, I am not crazy. I just love all the learning opportunities that have come from the failures my students have encountered this year.
Can you imagine third graders constructing catapults, creating vehicles that traverse the classroom on a zipline, or developing safe vehicles for eggs parachuting 9 feet from the ground? I certainly never envisioned such a thing prior to this school year. After attending the weeklong KTI summit this summer in Shippensburg Univeristy and attending the STEAM sessions I was hooked on letting my students explore, create, invent, and fail.
This year I piloted STEAM challenges during our WIN (What I Need) period. I learned a lot about my students, but I learned so much more about myself and my teaching style in the process. Too often teachers provide too much scaffolding, too many safety nets, and fear failure for themselves and their students. I definitely fell, and still fall, into that category. However for one 30-minute period a day I relinquished control, embraced failure, and watched in amazement as third graders took the reigns on their learning and became makers, creating with a common goal. The results by far exceeded my wildest imaginations.
These amazing kids went from timid, unsure explorers to confident, willing, hands-on learners who brainstormed, collaborated, created, tested, reconvened, and adjusted designs, prototypes, and strategies. They never gave up! Instead they dove in, gave it a whirl, learned what worked and what didn’t, realigned, re-imagined, and then altered their strategy until success was found.
Through these amazing WIN groups I have learned the value of wait time, a quick question, and trial and error. I do not need to have all the answers, nor do my students. There just has to be time, resources, supplies, and an objective. The mastery of standards, the application of learning, and the doing are worth their weight in gold and the magic is in the process.