Which enrichment program sounds better?
This month we’re designing Rube Goldberg machines, making pointillism self-portraits, writing a haiku, and creating our own mazes!
This month we’re investigating how small changes can have huge effects. To do that, we’ll be designing Rube Goldberg machines, making pointillism self-portraits, writing a haiku, and creating our own mazes!
Notice that, while the “activities” are exactly the same, in the second option the students are pursuing an interesting thought. We’re connecting everything with an abstract, big idea rather than just, well, doing a bunch of random stuff.
Enrichment is not merely about doing fun things. It should never be just a project-of-the-week. It must be about getting students thinking in new and interesting ways.
As teachers we must, you know, teach! Not just lead activities.
Ask Some Juicy Questions
Sure, I can have my students make a Rube Goldberg machine, but I also need to ask high-level questions about Rube Goldberg machines
- Looking at these three Rube Goldberg machines, create two different ways to rank them (ie, “most complex” or “most beautiful” or whatever you can think of). Explain the reasons for your rankings.
- In what ways are these machines’ complexity a good thing? How are they a bad thing? (Later…) Overall, would you say they are good or bad?
- Connect each Rube Goldberg machine to a character from our reading program (or beyond!). Which character would most-appreciate each machine?
- Which machine do you think best exemplifies our big idea “small changes can have huge effects”? Explain the hardest part of this choice.
Aren’t you dying to hear your students responses!? (Here’s more advice on using specific criteria to prompt higher-levels of thinking.)
It’s all too easy to leap over all of the lower and middle levels of Bloom’s and start at “create.” But so much higher-level thinking depends on students being able to Analyze.
So, don’t just have students “create board games“. Make sure they analyze existing board games. Categorize. Compare and contrast. Have them note the pros and cons of the designers’ choices. No one can create a great game unless they’ve thought seriously about existing board games!