Tonight was a night for connecting and building bridges. In my class, we were discussing Maria Montessori’s theory of development. Mary Beth Hertz and Mike Ritzius, members of my PLN, joined our discussion. Marybeth was able to offer my students some first-hand knowledge about a Montessori school she attended when she was younger. Mike talked about his innovative high school program that is project-based and child-centered. I did not even know MaryBeth and Mike until a few months ago. Twitter was the bridge that brought us together.
After our discussion, in order to demonstrate what a constructivist or child-centered lesson would look like in the classroom, my students worked in groups to construct bridges out of newspaper, tape, and rubber bands. They were given one criteria, the bridge had to hold a 20 oz. bottle of water. Before they began building, they were asked to create a rubric for their bridge. Each group created a rubric based on criteria of their own choosing. Then they worked out a plan to build and construct the bridge. After they completed the bridge, they scored their own bridge with their own rubric. Then they conducted a gallery walk, each grading all three bridges with their individual rubrics. This step allowed them to see the subjectivity of grades. Some had added criteria that the other groups had not even considered. They had a great time, taking complete ownership of their creations. They named their bridges and embellished them with billboards and silly signs.
Many times we send our teachers into the classroom with a strong dose of theory and no understanding of the practical applications of that theory. It was my intention to provide my students with an experience that would give them a better understanding of the steps involved in creating a constructivist lesson for their students. I hope I was able to build a bridge between theory and practice for them tonight.