Teacher: All right, Zoe, what's up?
Zoe: So I want to make sure these chemicals are safe.
Teacher: So you're going to make your own acid.
Mark: Our elective Thinkering Studio enhances students' levels of engagement and motivates them to learn, in an intrinsic way, rather than an extrinsic way.
Teacher: I want to be there when you do it, because I've never made hydrochloric acid.
Mark: We are constantly refining our approach to maximize student learning, and one of the ways we can do that is by maximizing their ability to choose. Thinkering studio is a program that students in fifth through eighth grade are able to select as an elective. It starts with, what are you interested in?
Student: I'm doing photography.
Student: I'm making, like a track to put a marble down.
Student: I'm drawing graphic novel characters.
Student: I'm learning how to play the ukulele.
Jordy: The focus of Thinkering Studio is kids as lifelong learners. When they leave here, are they able to teach themselves what they want to learn?
Zoe: Thinkering studio is kind of class where you get to choose whatever projects you want to do. It's learning what you want to learn and at your own pace.
Jordy: They come up with a project idea. They look at a template that has a series of questions they have to answer that help them plan what they want to do. What's the overall challenge? What do they expect to learn? How will they evaluate the success of their project? Who or what can they go to when they get stuck?
Student: We need help putting pictures and videos onto the--
Student: On the computer.
Mark: Students manage themselves through that process. The teacher facilitates it through artful questioning.
Jordy: Who's going to help you if you get stuck?
That puts the onus back on them to figure it out themselves.
Student: I've been having issues figuring out what's wrong with this thing.
Jordy: So you're making your own jumpers now.
Sometimes they need help to get there.
You might even be able to take it a step further.
So I point them to a resource, another student, another teacher, a book, a website.
This is your third week where you are putting reflections onto the journal.
I also have their weekly journals, where I can see what they'd planned to get done and their reflections on what they're getting done.
Student: Whenever we fold our paper, it doesn't go as well as planned.
Nate: Our reflection is telling what was not going according to plan, and also, if you made a mistake, you try to come up with a way to redo it more creatively.
Student: So in my project, I'm learning Turkish.
Zoe: Every other week, we get together in peer critique groups. One person presents the project for about three minutes.
Student: I made flip pages with Turkish phrases, and I'm making ones with adjectives right now.
Zoe: The other people give critiques.
When you start learning more and more words, you have to keep going back to the beginning ones.
Zoe: Even though you're learning harder stuff, you also got to remember the basics.
Zoe: We also sometimes help each other, like if someone needs help filming something.
Adam: Just put a few drops of it in.
Jordy: Part of the project may seem easy for them, but there may be a second part that's not as easy, and that's where I may see their learning going on.
Adam: This was DIY tie-dye color milk magic trick.
Jordy: The student doing the DIY is mostly following a recipe when he does that, but the sharing of that project is the growth area for him. He was borrowing another student to figure out how to get his voiceovers into this. He was borrowing the same student later, to figure out how to cut parts of the video out that he didn't need. He's got to work on the YouTube channel, and so he's learning about video making, communicating, and then how to get that shared to a wider audience.
Adam: Hopefully I will be able to get some kind of social media to sort of broadcast and say, "Hey, new video uploaded today." I love connecting with people. It's a really great thing.
Mark: All of a sudden, you've opened the ceiling to what kids think they're able to do and they surprise us sometimes.
Jordy: That's cool.
I want them to be that self directed learner.
So that would be how you're going to share it.
So they can do whatever it is that they're interested in.
Student: Ah, here it is.
Jordy: And create what they want to create.
Adam: And boom, look at that.