Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Great Assignment of All Time!

If you want to see how kids think, sometime try giving out an assignment that has no answer. For example, in a few days, I will be having fifth graders decide who was/is "the greatest jazz musician of all time." Think you know the answer??? Not so fast.

Try doing a web search. You might get any number of different results, depending on which search engine you use. The students will be on fire to get the 'right answer,' but the trick is that there isn't a right answer. Then, as the teacher, you go through and have student build a list of criteria that could be useful.

What I do is start out by asking who is the best kid in the class. They come up with a list that might include: looks, grades, money, etc. Then, we brainstorm a list that uses that as a guide. They learn, for example, that looks are subjective and don't make good criteria.

I think, most importantly, the student learns how to break apart an assignment and along with some higher order thinking, come up with a solution that is well-reasoned.

This year, I am hoping to get some schools other places in the world to do the same activity and then Skype video conference between the two classes and compare findings. If you might be interested, email me! My class meets from 1:05-1:35 central time.


Kobus van Wyk said...

Once again, excellent thoughts. Promotes thinking and helps learners to get their value system right.

mindelei said...

That sounds like so much fun! I can't wait to collaborate once I get my own classroom. :)

murcha said...

Great idea. We would like to be involved but our time zones are no good with yours for skype. Anyway, if we could work asynchronously would be good. May be we could record our answers using tokbox or something.

loonyhiker said...

What a great idea! Other questions for higher grades would be: How to solve the energy crisis; How to solve the global warming problem; How to solve a local/national/world issue.

TJ Shay said...

Thanks for commenting Kobus and Mindelei!

Murcha, yes, let's do it! I played your grade two's for my third graders today.... In a song, we have the word "Austrian" and they always sing, "Australian." I showed them the difference on Google Earth...Then I thought of the cute grade 2's. You have my email, so let's figure out a way to share!!! Maybe VoiceThread....

Pat, LOVE the way you think!