This week with my littles, we read the book Snoozefest and then built beds for our own little Snuggleford Cuddlebuns! This was the first time we used the Construction Engineering Building Blocks and the kids were so intrigued! They found different ways to attach the pieces, use the screwdriver, and had creative solutions to the challenge of building a bed. Many of them wanted to build the bed with wheels so that he could move around Snoozefest quicker (because sloths are so slow!). They had a blast working with these tools and were asking if we could use them again next week (usually they want to build with something different from week to week) - a sure sign that they were into engineering this week!
This week in Y5/T1, we read the story, Mervin the Sloth is About to do the Best Thing in the World. My students know I love sloths and always comment on my phone case as it has a sloth on it - so why not bring them into my sloth world?! After reading the story, I introduced them to augmented reality. I used one of the downloadable sheets from Quiver Vision and put an image of a sloth and "The Best Thing in the World" on it. On the back side, I had the same Quiver Vision sheet and just had "The Best Thing in the World" on it. I had them color the sloth side first and then we learned how to scan our papers. They were so amazed at the husky that appeared with their picture on a frame! I knew this would blow their minds, so then I told them I wanted to see one of their original pieces of artwork on the back - I wanted them to draw what the best thing in the world was for them. They worked hard on their drawings and then working with one another showing how to scan their pictures and how to move around to change the perspective of their creation. Some kiddos even figured out how to use the camera to take a picture to change what was displayed on the easel. So glad I had Guided Access turned on so I knew they figured out something new within the app!
After they were done with their drawings, I had some Creation Cubes set up at the carpet area and asked them to create whatever they wanted, but it had to be the best thing in the world. This really let me have a peek into their world and see them build things that were interesting to them. We had Power Rangers, Transformers, giraffes, puppet shows, and so much more!
One thing I have been wanting to do for a while with the 4th grade classes I regularly work with is a Breakout EDU game. I was a bit hesitant to introduce a game with the boxes and locks as I anticipated there being a lot of playing around with them and not a whole lot of clue solving taking place. I know there are many ways to manage this, but at the end of the day, we know our students best and need to adapt lessons and activities to their needs. As I really wanted to focus on the content, I thought I would try something that I had seen some teachers on Instagram do and try the "Crack the Code" approach. With this, it is very similar to a Breakout EDU game (and pretty much any Breakout EDU game could be adapted to this style), but does not actually use any physical boxes or locks.
I created a game for introducing basic Earth Day concepts, basic math review, as well as my love for sloths. I really wanted the students to focus on the critical thinking and problem solving aspect as they persevered through difficult tasks. Each of the six groups started on Task 1 and as they completed a task, they moved their group sloth from the bottom of the tree to the top. This allowed me to easily see where each group was with a quick glance at the board and check in with groups who might be struggling a little. I also intentionally did not incorporate technology into this game as I wanted to eliminate as many potential distractions as I introduced this type of game.
After starting with this approach, feel confident that the students would be successful in participating in a regular Breakout EDU game. I felt it was necessary to scaffold the game structure, so that I was not setting groups up for frustration and confusion. Also, to be honest, this was less work (short of writing an original game) on the setup end of things for a teacher. I simply had to make sure there were enough copies of each clue for the number of groups that I had as well as the necessary materials for solving (scrap paper, dry erase markers, black lights, etc.).
This was the "Learner Profile" that I created for this activity. My district is working towards making the 5Cs outside of content part of how we assess our students, so I am trying to make sure I have ways of measuring the activities I am doing with students. In full disclosure, I made this after I had done the game with students because I wanted to do some observation of the students as they were working. I have done Breakout EDU games countless times before, but I hadn't sat down and put into words how I would show a growth progression for their participation in the game. These Learner Profile rubrics were created based on the book, Becoming Brilliant and the EdLeader21 4C Rubrics. I tried to make them so that they could be applied to any Breakout EDU/Crack the Code games for any grade level (as I do games for many grade levels).
I also made a student self-assessment version. These are both works in progress (and let's be honest, are probably about 20 revisions away from calling it "done"!), but help me when I am watching students complete the games to see how they are growing or developing in some of the other "C" skills outside of the content.
NOTE: I do not always do a reward for students with Breakout EDU games (I am a firm believer in high-fives as rewards!), but I saw the Trolli sour sloths when I was at the store and I just couldn't resist!
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