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Teachers, parents, educators: Where do you stumble? Answered

Hello Instructables!

I currently run a small business in which company teachers travel to local elementary schools and teach project based engineering.

For us, it's second nature. But I recently learned that it's not always so easy to implement project-based learning in the home or at school.

What are you challenges in this arena? Is it getting the right materials? Finding good instruction? Making something scalable to a 30-student classroom? Let me know so I can learn how to better help the community :)




2 years ago

Hi, I don't know if this thread is still going after a year but I have some ideas. I've been teaching handtool woodshop full time to k-8 (5 to 14 years old) for over 30 years. I have hundreds of tricks and techniques and invent more on the spot daily. Here are several ideas about the problems below;

1--with Leggo you have a wonderful opportunity to give the kids free reign to be creative and forget the curriculum. The kids have been in school all day long with adults telling them what to do so they need a break. They will actually learn much more trying and inventing things on their own through trial and error which is the main way humans learn. Modern brain research (MBR) has proven that the traditional school model of students listening to an "expert" teach them is an extremely inefficient (boring) way to learn. MBR has proven that all people learn (download to long term memory) when they are actively and emotionally attached to the subject matter--for the most part this means students must find things that they are interested in to work on and cannot be effectively directed by a one size fits all curriculum.

After tool safety is demonstrated and we discuss it and all buy in with a vote on things like not waving any tools around dangerously and a polite calm vote that usually goes to consequences like 'if someone does do a dangerous thing with a tool we (I) will ask them respectfully to please put the tool down until they promise us all that they will be careful. They want to use the tools and comply well 99% of the time. One leader will have to test the system--do not destroy their leadership with a demeaning rebuke but simply employ the above voted on consequence with complete respect calmly but show that you mean it. Please remember, I'm not just talking ideas here = 30+ years experience with over 10,000 students of all types in a complete handtool woodshop with several dozen kids designing and building everyday.

2--It is a problem when you don't know names. I sometimes use name tags even if I have the kids make them with masking tape and sharpies (neat and clear) Other times I have the kids write their name on all their project pieces and a quick glance at their workspace can tell me who it is or if they approach me with a question I can flip over their piece in hand and see their name. But with the scissors scissors waving I would have had the above lesson and vote and if things were really out of hand i would stop everything, call everyone over, request a minute of silence while I talk calmly--in extreme cases I might explain that I am there by choice and am happy to help them work carefully if they want and otherwise I will go home--only use this now and then but works every time wether or not it is completely true.

Above all, be organized enough to have fun yourself!

thanks for reviving the thread. Still relevant.

These days, sometimes it is 10,000 people at a makerfaire. Tryin to guess what could go wrong.


3 years ago

I got roped into leading 6 teams of 6 each K - 3 in an after school Lego Club. I have no background in engineering and am having a really hard time developing curriculum. What do I teach first? What are good ways to scale learning to this wide gap in ages where so much maturation occurs? The K are telling stories while the 3rd graders are so ready to build bridges. I'm still trying to figure out how to explain simple machines since I take it for granted that this is what it is. I would love some more direction on how to do that.

Each of the students got a pair of scissors from the bin. On the other side of the classroom, a girl started waving the scissors in another kid's face menacingly. The room was pretty loud, and i had not learned names yet. So i couldnt call out "_mary! stop that!"

Taking the time to learn names is worth it, even if some of the curriculum is skipped.

Also, dont hand out dangerous stuff untill class has shownwillingness to sit still, quiet + calm for a full minute. Use a stopwatch.

If you meet the class infrequently, or it's a one-off, invest in a decent whistle.

Let the class know that the whistle means "freeze, somebody is in trouble, and it might be you!". If you meet the class more often, the whistle becomes a useful tool for lowering noise levels or focussing the class on you instead of their own separate activities.

Works for me.

Well, that's an unhelpful series of responses.

Maybe most readers are not elementary school technology teachers?

Project-based learning doesn't happen in the UK, thanks to the restrictions of the National Curriculum & examination targets.

That may have something to do with it. It could just be that the forums aren't the best place to solicit feedback in general. 127 views over a month and a half is rough.