Creating this RWL project was an overall success in my book. Having students take ownership and pride in their work, creating new collaborative opportunities, and seeing creativity in my class were all a result of RWL.
My real-world learning (RWL) project was a collaboration between my 8th grade Advanced Robotics class, and Kory Graham’s (@korytellers) 2nd grade Innovations class. For this project, the 8th graders were tasked with designing working mechanical toys for their clients, the 2nd graders. As I described in a previous post, the students in both classes used Padlet as a communication portal to begin the project. My 8th grade students asked questions to the 2nd graders. This question phase is something I would try to improve next time. I think the questions asked by the 8th graders may have been too broad, so some did not get the specifics they wanted/needed to make the best toys possible. After the interview questions, my class started designing custom toys that incorporated simple mechanisms.
At first, it seemed a little challenging with how Kory and I were going to have the students share their finished toys with each other. Padlet, again, was huge help. I also had my students create short videos explaining the toys and mechanisms to the 2nd graders. Kory then recorded her class’s reactions to the toys. But we felt it was important for the 2nd and 8th graders to meet face to face at least at the end of this project. So, although our two class times were different, we were fortunate enough to have the 2nd graders’ other teacher, Mrs. Erdmann OK having the 8th graders and I visit their classroom one morning.
This was what I think the project needed and fit in really well with our timeline. The 2nd graders had already had a chance to evaluate the toys, so when the 8th graders met them, it was a sharing time.
If I were giving advice to someone thinking about doing a project similar to this, I would say go for it! I think the key that really made this a RWL opportunity was that my students got to see how it might be working with others outside of their classroom. And that they have deadlines, that you sometimes don’t get a chance to go back and re-do or extend. Working with real “clients” was a very valuable lesson. In the end, I believe students in both classes will remember the learning experience as a positive one.
Finally I wanted to share the feedback that I received from my students.