Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Greek Mythology and Nerdvana

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Last week, we began our final projects for the Greek Mythology unit. It all began with determining groups. This time, I decided to try new tactic. It wouldn't be random, nor would it be kids picking their friends. Instead, I gathered data based on individual strengths, challenges, and perceptions. Using the Four Corners approach (where each corner of my room has a different label: Strongly Agree, Agree, Disagree, Strongly Disagree), I had students use their feet to respond to a series of statements. They included:

  • I consider myself a strong writer.
  • People would say that I have a flair for the dramatic.
  • Often, I am complimented on my drawing or artistic skills.
  • I enjoy working with my hands.
  • I never give up easily, even when it’s something I don’t want to do.
  • I could teach a class on how to use iMovie.
  • I’m not afraid to read stories out loud and voice different characters.
  • I’m flexible and open-minded when others have ideas.
  • In school, people look to me to make decisions.

Students met in the corner that most corresponded to their current disposition and discussed why they were there. Then, they recorded their choice on a Google Form for me to use later. It was a great opportunity for me to get to know them a little better, and it really helped to determine which kids would benefit from one another in each group.

After they were grouped, students were charged with the task of recreating a myth not studied in class using either ThingLink, stop motion, a vintage radio show, or a Common Craft video. They spent two class periods in my classroom planning, storyboarding, scripting, and creating props for one of the following stories: Theseus and the Minotaur, Daedalus and Icarus, Sisyphus, Phaethon, and Tantalus. Starting today, they headed down to Nerdvana to bring their tales to life. The engagement and excitement has been unmatched! Not only that, but I've been impressed with the way the groups have effectively and efficiently worked together. 

The whole experience has reinforced the importance of this special space in our school. Students have an amazing opportunity to roll up their sleeves, work with their hands and brains, and get creative. In many ways, it reminds me of the shop classes I took in high school. I have many positive memories of auto mechanics (we had two lifts in our school!), wood shop, and even home economics. Experiences like I had and those that our students have in Nerdvana not only make us more well-rounded, but help us to find our passions. I look forward to the future of USM's Makerspace as it grows and evolves to meet our students' needs.

By Monday, all groups should be finished with the work in the Makerspace. Stay tuned for links to their work!

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