Yesterday, and the day before, I wrestled with a great deal of frustration surrounding the final science inquiry session with our students. Because we had spent several sessions giving students the chance to mess around, and because I also believe that writing and literature should be an important component of any lesson, I wanted our last session to be a wrap up and share out style of lesson.
We had spent nearly 3/4 of the sessions just building airplanes and testing them. Over, and over, and over. Though we had notebooks, we had spent no time really setting up a system of recording that was organized, so much of what had been written was all over the place.
For our last session, I had the idea of having students write down individual things they learned and wanted everyone to know on post-it notes, and pasting them onto an airplane cutout. They had several weeks of experiments, 7 different pages in their notebooks where they had taken notes, a KWL chart, and their prior knowledge to draw from. After a few minutes of this, they would pair up and pretend to be the Wright Brothers. This would give them a chance to tell the class all about their fantastic airplane experiments and what they learned.
My lesson was struck down, as I was told that the kids didn’t like to write (of course they didn’t, we had not provided them with enough books, no purpose for their exploration, and just gave them a handout to fill in!) and should experiment again to create a final airplane. So that’s what we did, again.
My frustration, and the reason I am analyzing this is because I look at my lesson, and the one that was ultimately decided on and I question not only if mine would have worked (I still think they would have enjoyed it), but also how the two compare when it comes to constructivism. Some would say that because the experiments were hands on, they are “more inquiry” or “more constructivist” but didn’t we learn that a lesson can fall under those categories while still having structure and purpose?
I don’t really have a wrap-up for this post, but I needed to take a minute to examine what the options were, and if perhaps I was wrong in my beliefs. Having done that, I still hold firm in the lesson I proposed and wrote, and think that it could have been a very engaging way to wrap up our time together while providing evidence that something was learned. Maybe I am misunderstanding how this philosophy works, but somehow, I think not.