Time constraints sometimes cause us to short-change the rich post-build activities: presentation, Q&A, discussion, and design analysis, but don’t do it! Taking the time to let students discuss and analyze their designs is absolutely crucial to developing skills and making meaning of the whole process.
In this video, I’ll take you through the steps I like to take immediately following the build phase! If you prefer reading to watching, you’ll find the transcription below the video.
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Hi. I’m Kerry, from Feel Good Teaching, and today I want to talk about what I like to do right after you call “time” on the build phase for your STEM Challenges. This is a question I’ve been getting more and more lately, what exactly it should look like. We all know that time flies so quickly in our classrooms, so it can be really easy to shortchange these post-build activities, but I urge you to resist. The post-build activities are crucial for getting all the goodness out of your STEM Challenges. So, today I just wanted to give you a quick peek into what I like to do.
Immediately after the build phase is over, I like the students to do a quick gallery walk. So, I line them up, single file, no matter what grade I’ve taught. I have them put their arms behind their backs, and sort of clasped at the elbows, so they don’t accidentally touch something they shouldn’t. And we just walk around, silently, to see what all the different designs look like. This takes a minute or less.
And the other thing that I’m doing is I’m checking the clock to see how much time do I have before I need to move on to the next subject, or, before the bell rings. Based on that, I know how much time I can afford to give every group as they’re sharing out about their design. And, typically, what I’m hoping I have time for is two to three minutes per group. If the designs are portable, then I’ll have groups bring them up to the front of the class as they’re presenting. If they’re not, then we just travel as a class around to each design.
The first thing I do is set the timer on my phone for one minute, and we let the group sort of present out, just briefly either demonstrate, or tell what they have done, what’s still left to do, what they would want to try next. Once they’ve shared out, then we have a few minutes for Q & A. At the beginning of the year, I sort of model the types of questions that I’m hoping that the students will pick up on, and ask in the future … things like asking where they’ve met certain criteria, or, constraints, where certain ideas came from, or what they were trying to accomplish, as well as asking about any unique features of the design. And of course, we open up this opportunity for the whole class. And I have each member of the presenting group select a student to ask a question that they will, then, answer. This ensures that everybody gets a chance to speak about their design. And, if we still have time left within that two to three minutes per group, I’ll let them repeat their rounds of Q & A.
Now, as I said in the beginning, I sort of model the types of questions that I’d like to hear. It doesn’t take very long before I can pull back, and simply let the students in the class ask and answer the questions. Occasionally, there’s something that I’d really like answered that didn’t get covered in the Q & A, and of course, I’ll interject that at the last minute before we move to the next group. But, for the most part, the students are completely in control of this process. I’m really little more than a timekeeper, and an observer at this point. I do use this opportunity to, sort of, keep notes for myself about the progress, and the designs themselves.
After each group has had two to three minutes to present, this is when I have the students go back and do their “Record and Reflect” design analysis handouts individually. I find, especially for the introverts, having this sort of middle period, where they can have some quiet introspection, really helps them dive deep into thinking about, and analyzing their designs. Occasionally, if we’re short on time, I might even assign those handouts as homework.
The last step to close out the first iteration of the challenge is to come back into your groups, or even whole class, for further discussion. While having the students do their individual reflection and analysis prior to the whole class or group discussion is my preferred approach, occasionally, I will interchange those. And the reason for that is introverts typically respond well to that approach. Extroverts sometimes prefer to have that discussion with their peers, to sort of flesh out their thoughts, before they go back and think about it on their own. And it’s not even necessarily an introvert versus extrovert, but more of a learning style, and how people really absorb information.
In the next couple of weeks, I will post a video about that in-group, or whole class discussion. If you have any burning questions about that, make sure you reach out to me in the comments, social media, or even via email.
So, that’s my post-build routine. I’d love to hear more about yours. You can share in the comments, or reach out on social media. The perfect place is my brand-new Facebook group. I’ll link it below, and we can continue the discussion there. Until then, I hope your week is packed with feel-good teaching moments. I’ll see you soon.