Monday, July 13, 2015

Different Paces at LMMSS3

My summer school students are a terrific bunch of kids. Even though it's a small class, we still have a diverse range of abilities, interests, and talents. What I'm noticing the most this year is the huge differences in how quickly students complete jobs. This has nothing to do with rushing ahead or with struggling with a task. We only have four weeks, a.k.a. 19 days, (and report cards are due on Day 13) so we cram a lot of learning and a lot of activities into our brief time together. I don't want the work to be onerous, so I ensure that there's plenty of time for students to complete assignments and projects. However, I have some who have just finished their first project (creating a bed for their Webkinz pet) last Friday (at the expense of some of their other tasks). On the other end of the spectrum, I have students who, not only have completed all projects, they've re-done them to improve their results AND created new inventions. Thank goodness for the Creation Quadrant, but even with this self-directed, hands-on building centre, some of those speedy workers were eager for my attention and another challenge.

Our Work Completion chart keeps them organized & honest (photo taken Day 3)

A student built, revised & improved this car as well as his required boat & bed!

I decided to offer an exclusive task, available only to the students who had completed all the assigned work and had already built at least one new, not-assigned device using all stages of the Engineering Design Process. The task is for the students to create some armor for themselves, using only one type of adhesive and one type of material. The protected participants will then take water guns outside and engage in a water fight for a specific time and will then determine which armor did the best job of keeping the wearer dry. I debated with myself long and hard about whether or not I should tell the other students about this opportunity the others had. I'm still uncertain if I should let the other students see the results of the "Extra Challenge". I don't want students to feel bad about working at their own pace. I don't want students to hurry through their assignments so they can have a chance to do what the others are doing. On the other hand, might I be creating a two-tiered system? Should all discussions be public and not secretive or private? To solve my dilemma, I may take one of my common approaches: ask my colleagues and ask the students themselves. Let's see what they say.

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