It all started after watching a TED Talk from Debbie Sterling. In her talk, she shared her struggle of being taken seriously in the field of engineering. A field dominated by men. Time and time again she was met with the belief that engineering is for men. With a Stanford degree under her belt (which was not so easy . . .since she was female, you know), she wanted to build toys. Not just any toys. But engineering toys for girls. (Think Legos) After lots and lots of time, refinement, and test sessions with girls, she finally hit a home run. Enter, Goldiblox. Goldiblox is the character she created that loves to read and loves to build. It was a hit! The initial release of the games sold 20,000.
Another idea that I couldn't shake was the "Innovator's Mindset." I want to be an innovator. I want my students to be innovators. This was it. The perfect opportunity for us to be innovators together. Me, for even daring to step outside my comfort zone. The students, for creating a game or toy of their very own. From scratch. From conceptualization and creation, to implementation. Check out the sketchnote below, drawn by Sylvia Duckworth, inspired by the work of George Couros.
Students created design teams of three members. Each member developed their own original game or toy. They pitched their design to their group then decided on a final group game or toy. Many of the games and toys were a combination of ideas. For two weeks, students worked on their projects. During the process, all of the 4 Cs (collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity) were evident to an immense degree. Students also wrote a direction's sheet to go with their game (incorporating writing).
The big reveal came during Toy Fest. Lucky for us, it happened to fall on Halloween. What fun! Dressed in costumes, our class set up their games in the quad. The third grade classes were invited to come play the games. All of the students had so much fun, both 6th graders and 3rd graders alike. During Toy Fest, students manned their games, modeled how to play, and at times even had to modify the game as needed. As the teacher, I thought their thinking was finished. But, no. Toy Fest, with actual kids playing with the games, added another level of thought. Now they were thinking about how to make the games even more successful. And they did.
Take a peak of our Toy Fest. Look at their faces. That's learning come to life!
One proud teacher,