Real-World Problem Solving: Finding Solutions Through Projects (Transcript)
Karen Gilpin: By showing them that what we're doing in the classroom is affecting their community and helping their community, they see its value, and so they're willing to buy-in, even if the academics get a little hard, they're willing to work a little harder.
Dana McCauley: Any problem isn't really a problem, it's an opportunity. Right? It's an opportunity to learn something. They may not be the hero that rides in and solves the problem completely, but they get a piece of it. They can be part of the solutions.
Jacob: This could be right over there.
Dana McCauley: You know, with our agriculture program, in tying in the chores that they have to do, they live that every day.
Jacob: We're actually building playgrounds for the animals, because we've found that they have been trying to jump over the fence.
Carrie Hordubay: The kids really started to think, "[sigh] They're kind of bored, why are they acting this way? Why do they keep getting out?"
Kevin: They hardly have anything to play with, and sometimes they'll get on the watering containers.
Dana McCauley: The one rain barrel, when it got knocked over, the goats started jumping over it. So like, "Well, huh, they like that. What else could we make?" So that's when we came up with the idea of, "Maybe they need some playground equipment."
Carrie Hordubay: Ladders here, slides here. Let's see what we can design. Kind of tie our engineering piece in and problem solving.
Jacob: We had to draw our own design, and it had to be from everybody's idea.
Kevin: We're trying to build the model like we have it on paper, but like in 3D.
Sarah Deacon: And they're going to build this model, and then they're going to get to see the actual thing built.
Jacob: Professionals will pick the best one to be put inside the barnyard.
Carrie Hordubay: I had them tell me what materials they thought they needed.
Sarah Deacon: So they're already collecting stuff. Do we have popsicle sticks?
Carrie Hordubay: We have popsicle sticks. Glue?
Sarah Deacon: Mm hm. I'm curious to see what they're going to do with the peanut butter. The other thing that we might want to provide them is a model animal, so that they can get this to scale.
This is how we're going to scale our model. If you are making something for the goats or sheep to play on, this should probably fit on it.
Students: [talking excitedly]
Sarah Deacon: When it's something where they know it's gonna be out there in the schoolyard, they're totally engaged with it. Because there's also a sense of pride, like I helped do that. I mean, they're going to have this cool product at the end, but they're-- hopefully will also remember, "We built models, we worked as a team."
Student: Well, I don't think they would need a feeder on there.
Sarah Deacon: "I got to use a saw, I learned how to use a measuring tape. You know, I know what a 90-degree angle looks like because it's over there on that playground for the goats, and I see it every day I'm outside."
You can use some of these.
Karen Gilpin: Well, one of the standards for first grade is that students are aware of the things around them.
It's wiggling to get the skin off.
Karen Gilpin: We have been tagging butterflies for several years. And then in the spring, we didn't see many butterflies around here. So we've talked to park rangers, they have seen that this area was low in milkweed.
Caroline Blizzard: We talked about, you know, what's happening with the milkweed habitat loss, and their milling patterns, the climate shifting, all of that that's playing in. And they really understood it!
You guys are going to help us this year by helping to plant their favorite plant.
Caroline Blizzard: Milkweed! Why do they need milkweed?
Students: [overlapping answers]
Student: To lay their babies.
Caroline Blizzard: They lay their eggs. Give me five! All right!
Karen Gilpin: We've read both informational text on butterfly migration, fictional text, social studies. We have tracked butterfly migration on a map. All kinds of things. Math, when we put the milkweed here in the ground today.
Caroline Blizzard: All right! You guys tell me which one is three-quarters.
Student: This one.
Caroline Blizzard: All right, so just about like this, all right? And then you're going to lay a seed right on top of that.
Caroline Blizzard: Can you find one? Here, spread them out, there you go.
Caroline Blizzard: They really understand that it's not about just what's happening at Crellin, or even in Garrett County, you know, you can ask them, "Do the tornadoes in Texas right now matter?" And a second-grader will tell you, "Yes, because that's where the Monarchs currently are."
Good job. You need some seeds?
I think they're starting to feel like the things they think matter, the things that they do matter. Even when I'm eight. Even when I'm nine.
Sarah Deacon: Because they're so invested in it, and really engaged in the process, it really cements it. It's something that they'll remember.
Carrie Hordubay: Yeah, connections to their outside world only make learning more meaningful and more purposeful, and more lasting.
Karen Gilpin: We're teaching them to be people, important people, who can do anything they want to do.