Week Three Reflections

This past week at work was a bit different from my first weeks. I worked Monday through Thursday doing the same build twice each day at different schools with different groups of kids. Each group of kids built their own Ferris Wheel after talking a little bit about the first one built.

A post card image of the first Ferris Wheel. It reads: “We have been away from home 2 months tomorrow night. It seems 2 years. This Ferris wheel was at the World’s fair in Chicago 1892. Alice & Taylor

A post card image of the first Ferris Wheel.

Teaching About the Ferris Wheel

I was working with Mrs. J again so we split up teaching roles. I talked about the story, and she went over parts and procedures. On each occasion save one, I asked students if they had ever ridden a Ferris Wheel and what they knew about the very first Ferris Wheel. There were a couple of groups with older students who knew the inventor’s name and that the wheel was named after him. Some groups even knew the when and why of its creation. My favorite answer to why it’s called a Ferris Wheel was some variation of “It’s a wheel that you find in a fair.” It was impressive to see what kids knew and who were likely to raise their hands. However, I most enjoyed treating the story like a read-aloud. It grabbed their attention and got the campers ready to build their very own wheel. If I do this build in the future, I may create a little story book with the information and just do a read-aloud.

Watching Mrs. J

When it came to explaining the various parts and procedures, Mrs. J followed the same type of pattern but switched it up depending on the age of the group as well as their familiarity with our program. She went over the names of various parts, explained what the colors in the instructions meant, talked about waiting for or helping your partner, and how to get our attention or a part. With some groups she explained the difference between friction and non-friction tech pins, and I think it was a missed opportunity for not repeating ourselves. In the groups that didn’t talk about the difference, I had to let builders know over and over again that they needed to change out the pin they had used for a different one. I think if I follow my say, see, do idea of teaching step one it would make all the difference. Talking about the parts and the colors and the different types of pins would have occurred naturally while students made progress on their build. Step one can also cover counting studs instead of holes, spacing on the base plate, and other types of counting or spacing. It covers two other important procedures— waiting on your partner and pulling parts before building pieces.

Ideas Worth Keeping

I really enjoy working with Mrs. J and getting to know her. I also plan on adopting a couple of her ideas. One of which is how students get our attention, which I think I’ve written about before. Students can either raise their hand for help or put their hand on their head for a part. As much as we try to stay organized, pieces tend to travel, break, or go missing. If a kiddo has a hand on the head, then we can help them quickly and move on. Another idea I like is calling the part list a “shopping list.” It’s simple and cute, but I think it will help reinforce the fact that it’s the first step in each new step of the build process.

Conclusion & Feedback

This particular situation, which I believe we call a “field trip,” doesn’t leave much time for classroom management procedures like I’ve written about before. But, it doesn’t mean you throw everything out the window. There is still room to teach procedures and set expectations. This is something I struggled with last semester and will continue to work on. I didn’t think about it at the time, but I’m glad to have had that opportunity to practice.

What do you think about read-alouds versus discussion? When do you use which? Do you have a preference? Do your students? How about Say, See, Do Teaching? Have you ever tried it? Do you model often? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below!


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I think read alongs is probably the best way. You have many different ages to work with so it would be difficult to discussion. You would be prompting the group to participate that would take up time. With reading you have a little more control. Just enthusiasm and expression can tell the story.

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