“Mr Wilson, my saw won’t cut!”
I was somewhat shocked when I was met with this last year from one of my pupils. At the point of this happening the pupil was holding the saw against the cutting block with the wood underneath it, running it back and forth…the other hand was busy ellaborating the story of what she had been up to the night before! This is going to be my next hurdle I thought and straight away set about changing up my classroom.
Sitting down that night with the technology experiences and outcomes in front of me was an interesting starting point. In the first level many of the experiences I could inbed in the room without too much time and expence: I brought the beebots down from the shelf, the hand tools and wood blocks where given a specialist area (with appropriate safety equipment!) and my PC/SMART Board was given specific task cards. When the pupils walked in the next day there was very evident excitement from the boys in my class and my heart fluttered a little as I saw a world of opportunity open up. They all ran to their free-choice bases before starting work for a look, and then went back to work like troopers to get done so they could get back to them.
However, when I took the time to go around the room to see what we had I felt a bit of a mixed reaction. Although the class had “engaged” with the learning opportunities they hadn’t developed anything into any great depth or detail- the beebot was moving forward but then being picked up and moved back to the start. This was not what I had wanted. How can I develop skills as well as creativity into these contexts…this hurdle may indeed require a little higher jump to clear!
What I wish I had done was take time to sit down with the class and ask them what way we could develop this and take it forward but that I suppose is the power of hind-sight. I will remember that for next time! I was hoping for creativity but had not provided anywhere near as much stimulus as I could have and could have done more to lead them through formulating a plan for what they were doing.
Instead I went about organising more cross-curricular tasks involving the technology, and thinking through problem solving opportunities. This was a huge success straight away. Here are some of the ideas we tried were:
using the beebot to find as many paths through the woods to get the Gradma’s house (yes- it was dressed like red riding hood).
working with a partner to build a shaduf that was as close to 20cm tall as possible (we were studying Egypt).
making a pyramid den for us to fit inside.
using plaster of paris to recreate sections of wall (possibly more art than technology but it was a wonderfully messy activity!)
creating models using K-Nex, Lego and polydron- this is ongoing as it proved very popular.
At the end of last term the pupils were asked in their PLP’s which subjects they enjoyed and a greater number selected technology. I don’t know whether this was down to the tasks but they certainly helped!
I was wondering if any of you guys out there had other activities for early years/ first stage learners that you have had success with? I would love to continue building on this now and would welcome any suggestions.