Posted in Education, Sixth Grade, Teaching

What’s the Best Method for Grouping Students?

In high school, when I was assigned a group project, I was always able to choose my group.  As one of the more motivated students in my classes, the weaker students tended to gravitate towards me so that I would do the work so that they could get the good grade.  Being the perfectionist I was, that outcome always happened.  The groups were almost always the same from class to class and grade to grade.  The athletic students grouped together, the outliers hooked up, and then there was my group.  I never had other group experiences.  Why not?  While allowing students choice and engagement, is working with your friends always the best option?

Today in STEM class, we began our mini unit on Geology.  The first activity involved working with a partner to research various geological processes that have shaped Earth over time.  The students then have to create a model of the three processes they researched using materials with which we provide them.  As we have tried various grouping techniques over the course of the year, we decided to make random partnerships.  So, we pulled popsicle sticks to assign partners.  While we had no control over which stick we pulled when, almost every group seemed to all work out well, which is interesting considering the students were paired with someone they didn’t normally work with.  The randomness in this instance helped.  Did the pairs work out so well because they weren’t assigned, necessarily?  Or was it that the students just happened to be working with a peer with whom they clicked?  What caused the positive result?

If we had assigned pairs or had the students choose pairs, would things have gone differently?  Would that one group that struggled to work well today, been different and thus more successful?  Would the students have had more buy in and engagement?  What might have happened?  While our students seem to really enjoy group work, we do wonder if there is a magical formula for organizing groups.  Is one way better than another?

We’ve tried small groups of four chosen at random and assigned.  The random groups seemed to be more productive and focused, perhaps, because they felt a bit of ownership due to the fact that they were not “assigned” by the teacher.  We’ve also done pair work before as well.  We’ve had students select their partners, which can be both good and bad depending on the relationship.  We’ve also given students the choice to work with a partner or independently.  This has made some students feel disrespected or not liked because the person they wanted to work with wanted to work alone.  Is that a bad thing?  We’ve also had larger groups of eight students.  Those seemed to work well even though they were assigned.  We’ve even tried grouping students based on leadership qualities, focus ability, work ethic, and diversity.  While we haven’t collected data to support our claims, one method of creating groups doesn’t seem to work better than another.  It depends on the project, day, and individual students.  Sixth graders tend to be very emotional creatures.  The slightest thing can set them off.  Varying the grouping structure does seem to help though.  It’s not so much about how the students are grouped, but that they have the option to work with their peers to socially solve problems and work collectively.

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Posted in Education, Humanities, Teaching

Is There Only One Effective Way to Teach Literature?

In the sixth grade classroom, we employ the workshop model of literacy instruction.  This method of reading and writing instruction fosters choice and engagement within the students while also allowing for differentiation and the ability for 1-on-1 instruction.  We’ve had much success with this model over the years.  By the end of the year, all of our students who were reluctant readers at the start of the year become voracious consumers of books in all forms.  However, in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades at my school, the English classes utilize a three-to-four-book reading curriculum.  They read the “best works of literature.”  In this model, they only read three to four books in an academic year.  Our students read at least 8-10 books in a year.  Plus, in the other grades, they all read the same book regardless of engagement or reading ability level.  While this model of reading instruction does a disservice to our students, we realize that those teachers will not change and so we need to prepare our students for this model as well.

So, at this time each year, we do read one novel altogether as a class: The dramatic play 12 Angry Men by Reginald Rose.  We assign roles to each of our students and read the text aloud together as a class.  We discuss the book, it’s historical content, and other elements of literature.  We also bring in public speaking and acting skills as well.  The students are graded on their ability to effectively read aloud a text.  This happens to be one of the highlights of the year for our sixth graders again and again.  They enjoy reading this short play aloud because they all play a part in its execution, and there are a few curse words used which make them giggle.  Not only does this play allow us to prepare the students for their future English classes, but it allows us to bring in some historical context, apply various reading strategies we’ve practiced throughout the year, practice public speaking and reading aloud, and discussing literature on a figurative level.  Plus, the students love it.  Is it the novelty of reading one book altogether aloud that they enjoy?  Is it that the play is short and only takes two weeks to get through?  Do they like reading the play because they don’t have assigned reading homework or reading assessments based on it?  Or do they love this activity because we chose a piece of literature that is engaging and relevant?  Whatever the reasons may be, we strike gold each year with this novel.  The boys enjoy reading it and begin to feel what English class in the seventh grade will be like.  While the books they will read next year are much longer and not as interesting, they will at least understand how to stay focused on a common text.

Today in class, the students read 12 Angry Men aloud.  It was so much fun.  The students read their parts and we discussed components of the case throughout the period.  The boys got into their parts and read with emotion and emphasis.  Although a few students weren’t always paying close attention to their lines, everyone read their part when they needed to.  The students were enthralled and focused throughout the 80 minute class today because they were excited to learn what happens next.  So, while Reading Workshop is our preferred method of reading instruction in the sixth grade, we also realize that we do need to prepare our students for their future English classes and so we do cover one great work of literature over the course of the year.  However, whatever model of reading instruction teachers utilize in their English or Humanities classes, the choice should always come down to student engagement and relevance.  If the students are not interested in what they are reading, then genuine learning and a love of reading will not take place.  Is that what we want for our students?

Posted in Education, Teaching

Preparation Makes ALL The Difference

In yesterday’s post I questioned the purpose of providing students with time to prepare in class prior to a big assessment or event such as a debate.  I wondered if because my students were so unfocused, it was a waste of time.  I worried that I didn’t properly scaffold and support my students during this period.  I wondered how prepared they would be for the big class debate.  Are preparation periods necessary or should the students make use of their free time to prepare?

After observing today’s epic class debate on wind power, I realized that preparation makes all the difference.  Because my students had time to rehearse, practice, and work out any kinks regarding their group’s arguments yesterday in class, they were focused and ready to go for the big dance today.  They executed a debate better than most high school debates I’ve seen.  They were prepared, poised, and spoke like true professionals.  Their arguments were strong, supported, and relevant.  The Pro Group spoke about how wind power saves money, utilizes a free renewable resource, takes up less space than other energy sources, is efficient, and is cost effective.  The Con Group explained how wind power is expensive, kills wildlife and occasionally people, and is not compassionate.  Wow!  They blew me away with how mature they were in class today.  The four faculty judges we invited in today were also amazed at how articulate and detailed their arguments were.  It couldn’t have gone much better than this.  It’s moments like these that make me proud to say I am a sixth grade teacher.  Awesomesauce!

Today’s debate would not have been as phenomenal had they not had a chance to relax and prepare for the big debate yesterday.  Most of the students were nervous and a bit scared for the debate and so they needed time to blow off steam and make choices which seemed off task.  They needed to mentally prepare for today’s show.  While I questioned the effectiveness of yesterday’s work period, I now realize how crucial to the success of today’s debate it was.  The students need a chance to be emotional, rehearse, practice, and then relax prior to a big event like a class debate or test.  Following the debate today, they did have the Wind Unit Final Exam.  They scored better on today’s assessment than they have on any other unit test all year.  Was it because of yesterday’s practice session?  I believe it was.  Just remember, what looks like goofing off or distractible behavior can sometimes just be the students mentally processing and preparing for the greatness to come.  Kids can be so funny like that.

Posted in Education, Teaching

Are Flexible Preparation Periods Necessary?

Last week, I did a dry run of the presentation I will be giving at the NH Science Teachers Association’s annual Conference in April to the Science Department at my school.  I wanted to receive some feedback so that I would have time to revise the presentation if needed.  My colleagues were very kind and insightful.  They asked some good questions that I had not thought about when conceiving the presentation.  I was grateful for the chance to practice and rehearse my presentation before the big show in April.

Like me, I wanted my students to have one final day to prepare for tomorrow’s big debate in STEM class regarding wind power.  While the students finished and finalized their speeches last week, I wanted to be sure they had one flexible, extra period to rehearse their speeches aloud, receive feedback from their peers, work out any kinks in their argument, discuss dress code, and finalize their speaking order.  All of these steps were discussed at the start of class and also listed online on our class Haiku page.  The optimist in me wanted to believe that the students would know exactly what to do because they needed to run through their speeches and be sure everything was ready to go for tomorrow.  However, that’s not quite what happened.

When the students began working, the Con group started rehearsing immediately.  They went into the hallway where it was quiet and ran through their speeches one at a time.  Although they offered each other a bit of feedback, mostly nothing was said after each person spoke.  While they sounded prepared and were emphasizing their main points, I wondered how effectively they were rehearsing.  So, I gave them the grading rubric the judges will be using for tomorrow’s debate and suggested they each use it to critique each other and provide feedback.  This seemed to focus them a bit and they were able to then offer words of wisdom to their peers on how they could improve for the big dance.  The other group, took much longer and many more reminders before they began actually working.  The Pro group just kind of milled around the back of the classroom holding their speeches.  They weren’t really doing anything other than trying to look like they were doing something.  I spoke to their facilitator who was focused on revising his speech.  This didn’t help at first.  I then reminded the other group members of the task at hand.  This didn’t help either.  It wasn’t until about 15 minutes into the period that they actually started rehearsing and working effectively.  They needed much guidance to get started.  I needed to provide their facilitator with the grading rubric to offer feedback to his group members.  Even once they started rehearsing, some group members were distracted and unfocused.  Once they ran through their speeches, they generally stopped working.  While the group’s facilitator did work with some group members on revising speeches and rehearsing aloud, three group members just walked around the classroom doing nothing.  Were they thinking or mentally preparing?  No, they were searching for lacrosse gloves online.  I then said to that group, “If any of you would like to practice your speech with me to receive feedback, please let me know.”  This seemed to help.  Three group members sought me out for help.  I was able to provide beneficial feedback to them so that they feel more prepared and rehearsed for tomorrow’s debate.

While I thought that students understood what rehearse and prepare meant, I realized that much support and help needed to be given in order for them to actually start rehearsing and preparing.  They didn’t know how to do it.  At this age, most students are still very egotistical and think they are done or ready to go when in fact they are not.  They need teachers to remind them of how to check over their work and prepare for the next big assessment.  Although these prep times are needed for students to prepare and work through their problems, they need to be very structured.  I realized today that when I provide my students with another preparation period like this, I will need to be very clear with the instructions.  I can’t expect that my students know how to do everything.  I need to help guide them.  Preparation and practice are only useful when done correctly.  Next time, I will better guide their rehearsal period so that it is more useful to them.

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Is There Purpose in Stating the Purpose of an Activity?

Students like to know why adults are asking or making them do things.  My son frequently asks, “Why do I have to do that?”  Students, like my son, want to be sure that they are not “wasting” their time on menial or useless tasks.  “Why should I read that book if I’m just going to have to read it again in high school?” they often ask.  Not only do our students want to know the whys and purpose of what we ask them to do in the classroom, but they also want to be sure the purpose makes sense to them and their future.  Why should they have to learn how to solve a complicated algebra problem using a formula they will never need to use again?  School needs to serve a greater purpose for our students.  Students want and need school to be purposeful.

Yesterday in my Humanities class, the students read about some current events before discussing them in a Socratic style discussion.  My co-teacher and I split the students into two small groups and provided them with a guiding question: How does the news impact local and global communities?  Before my group began the discussion, I reviewed the focus and what they were being graded on.  I explained to them the purpose of the assignment: “We added in a guiding question to this week’s Socratic discussion because in the seventh, eighth, and ninth grades, you will be participating in numerous Socratic discussions that are focused on a guiding question.  Practicing the skill of staying on topic today, will help prepare you for your future.”  They seemed to understand this.  While this was their first attempt at a Socratic discussion using a guided question, the discussion was far from perfect.  However, the students still managed to do a fantastic job keeping the conversation moving and discussing the news and current events on a high level.  They shared their thoughts and opinions on various news stories.  Several students were able to contribute to the discussion in a meaningful manner, always revisiting the guided question.  I was impressed.  I thought the boys did a fine job.

During the break between periods, I talked to my co-teacher about how her group went.  She was not pleased with what she had observed.  She said, “The students were unfocused and not saying a whole lot.  They didn’t focus on the guided question at all.  One student spoke too much and another student literally said nothing.”  After showing her empathy, I then shared my experience with her.  She then explained how she had not started the discussion with a review of the graded objective and purpose of the activity.  I asked her, “If you had told the students why they were doing this activity, would the discussion have been more productive?”  She was curious.  When students know what is expected of them and why, they generally perform very well as long as they are engaged.  When students are confused, unsure of the purpose of an activity or assignment, or not interested in what they are learning, no good comes of it.  Genuine learning comes from the students understanding why they are doing what we are asking of them.

Students need to understand the purpose behind school or they will easily slip through the cracks due to apathy.  When the purpose of a lesson or activity makes sense and is relevant to the students, great growth and understanding will take place within the students.  It’s up to us as their teachers to be sure they know and understand the hows and whys of everything we do in the classroom.

Posted in Education, Humanities, Teaching

Is Reading Aloud Beneficial to our Students?

“Reading aloud is for little kids,” I’ve heard a some educators say.  “Students need to be able to read independently without having to be read aloud to.  Comprehension comes from independent reading.”  While this argument seems to be rooted in truth, it is in fact completely false.  Research proves that students learn to read more fluently when they hear their teacher correctly and appropriately read aloud text.  Students need modelling to learn a new skill.  We can’t expect our students to learn how to accurately pronounce and read words if they haven’t heard them spoken aloud correctly.  Reading aloud also models effective reading practices for our students.  If they see and hear us as adults reading, they may also be more apt to want to read.  Text engagement can also be fostered from reading aloud to students.  If they hear the story read aloud, they may be able to better visualize it mentally.  The ability to discuss a text aloud with students while reading is an easy and effective way to formatively assess students regarding their understanding of the text.  It also provides opportunities to highlight important literary elements in a text.  Students gain reading and comprehension skills practice from being read aloud to.  When interviewed about it, students noted how much they enjoyed being read aloud to as a student at any level.

In the sixth grade, we read aloud to our students in Humanities class regularly.  For each unit, we use a book or text that aligns with our guiding questions.  We are currently reading the novel Witness by Karen Hesse about a small community in Vermont dealing with racial and ethnic issues in the 1920s.  The story is told through the poetic perspectives of various characters.  While it is difficult to keep all the characters straight, the students enjoy listening to the story and discussing the big ideas within its pages.

Today we engaged in a great discussion regarding the use of powerful words used to negatively describe different groups of people.  We wondered why they used such emotive language during the 1920s.  The students were engaged in the text as they also practiced using a reading strategy we introduced last week: Making Predictions.  The students used their Writing Notebooks to record their predictions as we read.  While our read aloud served many purposes today, all of them helped our students grow as readers.

While we often think of reading aloud as only beneficial to younger elementary-aged students, it is helpful for all students.  It helps foster creativity and emotional stimulation within students.  If we want to effectively help our students grow and develop as readers,  we need to read aloud to them.  Studies show that students stop reading or become apathetic about it in middle school.  So, let’s make reading cool and awesome again.  Let’s show students how much fun reading can be so that they want to be lifelong readers.

Posted in Education, Teaching

Empowering Students

As an educator, I’ve often struggled with the idea of empowering students academically.  While I want to provide students with options and choices regarding their work and the objectives, I worry that some students will take the easy way out or procrastinate and not complete the task until right before the deadline.  Is that a bad thing?  The idea behind empowering students is trust.  I need to trust that my students will make the “right” choice.  What is right for them may not be right for me, but if they are able to demonstrate their understanding of the knowledge or skill effectively, isn’t that okay?  Why do I fear turning over the reigns of control to my students so much?  Is my need to control situations so overwhelming that I can’t then give that control to anyone else?  If that’s the case, then I need to reevaluate the way I approach situations.  It should never be about control but about what’s best for the situation.

Today in Humanities class, our students worked on their self-selected presentations regarding their I-Search projects.  Some of the students chose to create a video to showcase their learning while others want to make a poster or puppet show.  Is one vehicle better than another?  No, it’s about engagement and student choice.  We want the students to enjoy putting their projects together.  It should be a fun process for them and so we want them to own their choice.

The students made great use of their time in class today.  The boys are having fun making videos and learning about how iMovie works.  Other students are figuring out how to best organize an interesting and creative poster.  One student had chosen to create a video to highlight his learning, but then changed to something else when he saw a peer utilizing a different digital application.  Knowing this student, my initial thought was, Is he choosing to use Minecraft because he thinks it will be fun and easy?  So, to verify my thoughts, I had a chat with him in class today.  I told him what my concerns with his change of project were and asked him, “How are you going to use Minecraft to explain what you learned about your topic?”  At first, he didn’t have a response.  Later in the period, when I talked with him, he said, “I’m going to create the Noyes Academy building and then make a Screencast video to show the school and its destruction.  I’ll also tell about the history of the school too.”  Awesome!  So, he got it.  It just took him more time to process his thoughts and solidify his ideas.  Although I was worried about him using Minecraft effectively to showcase his learning, I now trust that he knows what he wants to do and will do it to the best of his ability.  I now believe that he will effectively utilize Minecraft to accomplish the task at hand.

So, while students will sometimes make poor choices, they will also make many great choices.  I need to trust in my boys.  While they may not always stay focused in class and make effective use of their work periods, when they own their choices and are in charge of their learning, awesomeness will come about.  I need to empower my students so that learning is genuine and relevant.  I want my students to be excited to come to school because they are doing something they love and enjoy.

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Why Do Teacher Observations Still Stress Me Out?

“Never will I name a child,” I often said during my final month as a student teacher, “Devon.”

My second placement as a student teacher was a disaster.  On my second day in the classroom, a young girl came up to me and said, “Mr. Holt, I hate you.”

My response to her was, “Sorry to hear that Devon, but I am excited to get to know you this month.”  It was downhill from there.  No matter what I tried in the classroom, Devon and her peers sabotaged every good lesson with interruptions or ridiculous questions that I couldn’t possibly know the answer to.  It was a challenging month.  During that time I was observed by my advising teacher on several occasions.  These observations were rocky at best.  Despite the good feedback I gained from the post observation meetings, I struggled to stay on task during the observations.  I stumbled over my words and left off key parts of the lesson because I was so nervous.  I was worried so much about messing up that I caused my own demise.  However, I did manage to get through the month with minor bruises to my ego and focus as an educator.

Flash forward to my first year teaching second grade.  As a new teacher at the school, I was observed regularly by my mentor teacher and principal.  While I had a class of angels as students, I was still quite stressed out come observation days.  I tripped over words, forgot what was next in the lesson, and sweat buckets.  I was fine and focused every other day, but when a colleague was coming into observe or watch me, I got nervous and scared.  What if I messed up?  What if something horrible happened?  Would I get fired?  While nothing I did ever would have gotten me fired, I was still never myself when being observed.  To this day, teacher observations make me clammy and nervous.  Why?  Fear of the unknown?  I’d like to think of myself as an effective educator.  So, I truly have nothing to worry about, but still I do worry.

Today, a colleague came to observe my STEM class.  Not for a formal observation, but to learn from me.  She wanted to watch an effective teacher in action.  She was coming to me for help.  I should have been flattered, but instead I was worried and unable to concentrate the entire time she was in my classroom.  What if I said the wrong thing?  What if a student started shouting out and melting down in class?  Then she would report me to the headmaster and I’d lose my job.  These are the crazy ideas running amok in my head as this brave teacher is watching me to learn how to be a better teacher.  Piece of advice #1: Don’t stress out about teacher observations.

While the class went off without any hitches, I was still scared until she left the classroom.  As the students got to work, she asked me questions about the Wind Power Debate Project the students began working on in class today.  She wanted to know what we had done prior to this project to help the students gain an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of wind power.  She was curious, in a non-confrontational or stressful manner.  I provided her with an overview of the unit.  She was impressed and complimented me on my ability to craft a quality unit.  Then she asked about other things in the classroom that she liked and wanted to utilize in her classroom.  While I should have been happy, I was thinking to myself, When is she going to leave?  Why do I create this unnecessary stress within myself?  Why don’t I look at these observations as opportunities for growth and development?  I drone on and on to my colleagues about wanting more feedback on my teaching, and so, why do I struggle with being observed?  Perhaps it is my low self-esteem.  I’ve never thought very highly of myself.  Maybe I’m just setting myself up for failure to avoid the inevitable firing.  Why can’t I just accept the fact that I need to be observed to receive feedback and grow professionally?  Why is it that teacher observations still stress me out after 14 years of classroom experience?

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It Should Always Be About the Skills and Standards

A student in my advisory group shared this frustration with me today, “I lost five points on a quiz because I left out a period in one of my sentence responses.”  What?  I was outraged, but I bit my tongue because his teacher is a fellow faculty member.  If the focus of the quiz was on reading comprehension, why was this student being dinged for punctuation?  Shouldn’t students only lose points when they answer a question inaccurately?  Doesn’t the focus need to be on the skills and standards?  If students lose points for proofreading and editing errors or timeliness when the focus is really on the written words or content, what are we teaching our students?  Students are learning to be afraid of turning in work for fear of losing points.  We then end up creating a culture of poor performing students because they either stop caring and just turn in work because they have no idea how the teacher is grading or they spend countless hours revising and perfecting their work at the cost of their health and well being.  As teachers, we need to be helping our students and not hurting them.  The students need to know up front on what standard or skill the assignment is being graded.  Then, we need to only grade their work on what we told them we would be assessing.  If the objective isn’t about meeting deadlines, student work must not be negatively impacted if they turn their work in late.  Teachers need to rethink grading and assessment so that we are fostering a culture of care and betterment in a safe and trusting environment.

This afternoon during advisory time, I met with a sixth grade student to review his understanding of weather and the graded objectives.  During the unit, this international student struggled to even come close to meeting the graded standards.  The language barrier proved too much for him to bear.  As he had never learned the content in his native language, he had no idea what air masses air and how wind is created.  So, three weeks after completing the unit, I decided to open a dialogue with him to check for his understanding of the weather material.  I asked him a few basic questions and probed deeply.  While he still didn’t have the vocabulary mastered, his understanding of the big ideas and concepts were accurate.  He knows how wind is formed and what causes global warming despite referring to a volcano as a fire mountain.  He gets it.  So, I regraded him regarding the weather objectives.  He was able to move his F to a D because of this conversation.  While he will continue to struggle in STEM class because of the language differences and lack of exposure, he will not fail for the term and be at risk for failing for the year.  I also provided him with some strategies, moving forward.  I suggested that over March Break and the summer, he read about and learn the Life Science content he will see in the seventh grade.  This way, if he understands the ideas in his native language, he will at least have a foundation, a place to start.

If I graded my students randomly and did not focus on the objectives and individual growth, then this student would most definitely still be failing and probably have given up hope of ever understanding or passing the class.  Our students need to feel cared for, respected, trusted, and supported.  When this happens, relationships and connections form.  Then we can help guide our students to the well of understanding.  In order to matriculate to the seventh grade, my students don’t need to remember where every period goes, how to spell every vocabulary word, or turn in their work early or on time regularly.  Instead, my students need to know how to organize their ideas or work, utilize various computer applications, solve problems, ask questions, extract main ideas from texts, and work together with their peers to accomplish a task.  These are the skills that will allow my sixth graders to be effective and successful seventh graders.  Plus, they won’t be balls of stress worrying about losing points because they turned in an assignment five minutes late or with a missing period.

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The STEM Process: Teaching Students to Overcome Obstacles

Not to toot my own horn, but it does feel good when things go as planned and I am right.  Now, bare in mind that things rarely happen the way I forsee them.  And so, when the execution matches the plan, I do get quite giddy.

In yesterday’s blog post I talked about the idea of perseverance and how to effectively teach it.  I hypothesized that it needs to be taught and assessed for our students to grow and develop as global citizens.  While I’d like to say that I proved this theory correct, I haven’t, yet.  Sure, I have data that supports it, but that’s not why I’m so happy today.

I’m happy because I suggested that while my students struggled during yesterday’s STEM class because they faced failure and challenges, it is all part of the process of perseverance.  Students need to fail, fix their mistakes, process the issue, and retry.  They failed and ran out of time to complete the other steps in the process.  I said, That’s all part of the process.  Grit happens in a meticulous manner.  Learning happens through mistakes and failure.  So, while I was a bit frustrated following yesterday’s STEM class, I also realized that my students needed to be frustrated to bring about the awesomeness that happened in class today.

After prefacing the class with a synopsis of yesterday’s blog entry and how failure is part of the process of perseverance, the students got right to work.  The group that couldn’t get a generator working yesterday because they had cut all of their wires, had a working turbine by the end of class today.  The group that was trying different turbine designs, tested both today.  Another group that couldn’t quite figure out how to measure the efficiency of their wind turbine yesterday, used the energy sensor and variable load tools to figure out how efficient their design truly is.  The groups approached today with different perspectives and a renewed sense of vigor.  They wanted to persevere and solve their problems.  The positive energy floating about the classroom today was contagious.  Every group managed to solve at least one of the problems they faced yesterday.  They overcame obstacles with zeal and delight.  They took risks and found success.  Today was an awesome day in STEM class because the students persevered and solved problems after yesterday’s class that was plagued with struggle and apathy.

So, I was right.  My students needed a difficult day in order to bring about what we saw happen today.  Failure breeds success.  The students saw and felt that today.  Debriefing today’s class prior to lunch was fruitful.  The students felt proud and a sense of true accomplishment when the literal and figurative light bulbs went on.  The STEM process of perseverance was alive and well as our students continued solving problems, erecting efficient wind turbines.