To kick off the school year, I also begin with a series of inquiry-based activities to further reach my students that are more hands-on, more visual, and more interdependent. Not only do I want to encourage language that includes what to do next if something is unsuccessful, but I also want to encourage listening to each other, brainstorming, and adjusting plans based on feedback/trial and error. During the first few weeks of school, I use Design Squad Project Ideas to promote...
- team work
First, we watch Episode 110: Pumped from Season One. (free on their website!) We discuss the levels of conversations, parts of inquiry, and teamwork that occurs as two teams face off to build a manual contraption that puts water on the slides at their local YMCA.
Next, we use Wonderopolis 236: How Long is the Longest Bridge for examining bridges. Little do they know that I am supporting them with background knowledge to attempt their first Design Squad Challenge... How to create a table that will hold a book using one piece of cardboard, a heavy book, masking tape, and 8 sheets of newspaper...it is called the Paper Table Challenge. (Last year's class designed a table that held 32 books!) Our focus is more on conversations, meaningful observations, and determining variables while examining scientific inquiry. We also do the Pop Fly Challenge and a Marshmallow Construction Activity in teams. All year long the students beg for more Design Squad Challenges. Design Squad by PBS is a great resource for promoting inquiry, community, mistakes, and accomplishments in the classroom at the beginning of the year.