Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Plan

I blogged about the template I'm using.  Most of the activities we have done have focused on a particular piece. We did two quick activities focusing on making a plan.  Before sending students outside, they had to submit their plan for peer review.  If another group could read their plan and understand what was going to be done, then I signed off on it.

Day 1: How Far?

Question:  How far is it from the first tree to the last tree (ie. point A to point B)?

Rules: You can take a pencil, paper and clipboard outside with you.  Nothing else.  


Different groups were able to tell me the distance from one tree to the other using units like:
  • Jose's feet

  • Jasmines (not her feet, but her)

  • Clipboards

  • Brandon's longest stride
A few groups made adjustments to their plans once they got outside and saw how tedious it would be to try to walk a heel-to-toe straight line.  We had quite a few groups decide to measure the distance from the first tree to the second and then just multiply.  This led to a couple of really good conversations that went something like this:

Student: "Mr. Cox, we are going to measure from the first to the second then multiply by the number of spaces."

Me: "Will that work?"

"Yeah. Because the spaces are the same."

"How can you be sure? "

"Because look at them..."

"Yeah, I want them to be the same too.  That'd be really helpful, huh?"

Now they have dilemma: do they go and measure the distance between each tree or just measure the entire distance from the first to the last?  (wait, that's the same thing...which makes it a doublemma) 

Oh, you want my help?  Lemme show you how Google Earth can help you out here. 

Day 2:  How high?

Question: Come up with two different methods for finding the height of the building.  

Rules: Don't climb up there. 

Some of the methods:
  • Ask Chuck.  (Turns out Chuck, our custodian, had a copy of the elevations.)

  • Take a picture of Cameron next to the building and see how many Camerons to the top. 

  • All kinds of crazy uses of a meter stick. 

  • Count how many bricks in a foot and then count the total bricks.  (3 bricks and spaces = 1 foot.)
"Ask Chuck" allowed us to discuss the importance of trustworthy sources of information.  And Chuck is awesome.  He'd throw out all kinds of crazy numbers and see if kids would bite.


  • A well thought out plan makes jobs easier 

  • Sometimes we need to adjust our plans

  • Assumptions need to be investigated

  • We can use some tools in ways we've never imagined (eg. cell phone camera, Google Earth)

  • Some sources aren't trustworthy


Fawn Nguyen said...

I love this, David. Both days. Awesome. Thank you.

David Cox said...

Glad to share.

cheesemonkeysf said...

I love the integration of the peer review step in this process. Would you say more about how you assessed the success (or failure) of this peer review step?

Thank you again for sharing this process.

- Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)