I am suppose to be marking some math assignments...but I can't get this moment out of my brain. When people ask teachers what they do when they get home from work, I think that it is safe to say that we still do think about students. I know I do.
We have been learning about area, perimeter, and measuring in math and today I thought we could explore the idea of making a geodesic dome as a class. There is a lot of skill involved. We divided into 2 groups. One group had to make 35 poles and the other had to make 30 poles that measured 66cm in length and 71cm in length. There were several instructions. They worked hard as a class and people designated themselves as the person who measured while others liked creating the poles out of paper and tape. We finally made it to the point where we had all 65 poles and we were ready to assemble it. We tried our hardest but the geodesic dome collapsed. There was a ton of disappointed students and even heard a couple students say, "I didn't think it was going to work" and "Not everyone was helping." We decided to take a break and move on to Daily 5, except there was one kid who came up to me as I was trying to salvage the dome and said, "I think we need to do it again." I knew that some people had already hit their breaking point and that it would no longer be the group who would be invested. I'm not going to lie, it bothered me too...how come it didn't work? We mostly followed the instructions.
I asked this kids to stop Daily 5 and I said, "Who is bothered that our geodesic dome didn't turn out?" A lot raised their hands. Then someone muttered under their breath, "EPIC FAIL." I knew it was totally an epic fail but it was recoverable. I then asked who was willing to start all over again. There was one person...the person who said that we needed to do it again. I made the executive decision that I would sit on the floor with that one student and start rolling paper with them. I couldn't believe it...all of these students and only ONE is going to see this through? I kept looking around and was a little surprised at the people who gave up. We rolled for awhile and then one more person came...and then one more after that. The bell rang for lunch recess and me and three other kids continued into lunch. We finished all the poles and measuring and were ready for a rebuild.
So, at 3pm, I rallied the students together and said, "What didn't work the first time when we tried to build it?" One student said that we needed absolutely EVERY student in our class to help support the structure or it would fall over and some were not helping. Everyone agreed that every single person needed to help. So, we went forward with the build. We had far surpassed math objectives...the focus was on teamwork, communicating and grit. There were some speed bumps (to be expected)...but this time we built it in half the time and it worked. Huge cheers followed.
Everyone left and I was sitting in my classroom at the end of the day and I was thinking about how the geodesic dome took the entire day. (On and off). It was exhausting and yet so rewarding to see kids fail, retry, and all comeback together. We have a needs wall that has Power, Freedom, Fun, and Love and Belonging on it. Everyone did a survey at the beginning of the year to see which need was their highest need. And as I was looking at it everything clicked...the majority of people in my class have a very high fun need. I looked at that list and they were all the people that gave up after it collapsed. I quickly looked at who was on the power part of the chart...it was the one kid who I sat on the floor with by myself to roll the papers. The two other people that joined us to stay in for recess were on the Love and Belonging part of the chart. The students that were on the freedom part of the chart were the ones who were the last to join the rebuild but came with some insight. I hadn't looked at our needs wall in a long time, but it had the answers in it the entire time.
Everyone in my class had carried each other through the steps using their highest need. I had always thought of the needs chart as a student's own personal need but in this instance, they had each used their need to carry the entire class through this project. The power people took on fixing the poles because they needed to prove that they could do it. And the fun people hyped everyone up during the build so people were excited to see the final product. And the Love and Belonging people joined the Power people to finish rolling all 65 of those poles because they couldn't see us do it alone. And the Freedom people came in at the last minute to help us think about how we could make it better the second time around and make different choices during the build. We really did need everyone to build this structure because they each brought their strengths to this project.
It's amazing what you can learn from some paper and a little bit of duct tape.
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