Friday, May 20, 2016

Bringing Ideas to Life in Social Studies

In Social Studies the students spent some time learning about Early Societies (e.g. Ancient Chinese, Greeks, Egyptians, etc). As a whole class, we learned about the Six Indigenous Nations and how they lived. In particular, we examined such things as their family life, dress, food, housing, transportation, technology, and art. After we worked together to learn about the Six Nations, the students were given the opportunity to focus in on an Early Society of interest. They researched their chosen society, created a Google Slides presentation, presented it to the class, and compared their chosen society to at least two other societies that were researched. They also shared a 3D printed object and explained how it assisted with their learning and reasons for its creation.

Together, we created a Slides template of the minimum requirements and then students started to work independently to gather information, make sense of it, and incorporate it into their presentation. The students were also provided with the opportunity to design and print an artifact connected to their learning. The idea was to give the students one more way to demonstrate their learning by using the 3D printer. Many students took advantage of the opportunity to create an artifact - many used the 3D technology but some decided to use cardboard and plasticine. Nevertheless, the majority of the kids were excited and motivated to learn, design, and create. 

As I have come to learn over the span of this school year, the 3D printed thoughts and ideas that have been brought to life are only 1 piece of the learning puzzle. They are proud of the physical representations of their learning. They hold them, manipulate them, and pass them around - they are symbols of their hard work and new learning. I love seeing the excitement on their faces but the best part for me is listening to them as they talk about their artifacts. THAT is where the rubber meets the road. Sure, it's great to see that they successfully took their abstract thoughts and brought them to life using technology and a design process, but when they start to talk about what their artifacts represent, I get a direct route to their their thinking, the connections they make/made, the way they apply what they have learned, and the process they followed to arrive to the end product. There isn't too much prodding on my part, I just ask a question or two and they do the rest of the work. 

Below are photos of some of the cool creations that have been printed and discussed. 

Ancient Chinese food prepared and placed on a platter. Great discussion about Chinese food and how it differs from what we eat today.

Ancient Egypt: the Greek God Anubis who is associated with mummification and the afterlife. Designing this object proved to be difficult for the student so she found a design on the internet and then customized it and printed it.

Medieval Times: Bow, arrows, and bucket for arrows. This artifact was created around the ideas of technology, security, and hunting for food. 

Medieval Times: a great castle that would house royalty and other important people. Protection and architecture were the main themes to come from this artifact. 

Ancient Greece: a vase that is also 'art'. Lots of talk about arts and culture here.

Ancient Greece: a structure that is stereotypical of Ancient Greek architecture.    

Ancient Egypt: a 3D printed camel that aided in talks about transportation, animals, and culture. 

Ancient Greece: Medusa and the stories that go along with her.
With June right around the corner, it will be interesting to see what direction the students take next with respect to the 3D technology in our classroom. It continues to be a lot of fun and a wonderful learning journey. Just last week, a new student joined our class community. As with most new people to our class, she was surprised to see the printer and wondered how it worked. The students had no problem explaining it to her and how we are using it for our learning. One of the students took the time to print her a flexible bracelet so she could see how it works and to have her very own artifact to take home and use to explain to her family. It was a great reminder of the opportunity we have at our disposal this school year. It even led to a powerful classroom meeting about making the most of opportunities that come our way and the idea that we have a lot to be thankful for. 

Thanks for reading. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. You can also connect with me via email and on Twitter.