Three months ago most teachers had never heard the phrases “remote learning” or “distance learning.” If they did, they surely didn’t know what it entailed. Whether they did or not, in most cases they only had 48 hours to not only know what it is, but figure out how to do it. Adding to the stress is figuring out how to assess students when they have the internet at their fingertips (not to mention out of your sight) and you have one big learning curve for even the most experienced educator.
Luckily educators can still rely on project based learning to help with assessments. If you go the digital making route, tools such as Google Slides and Sites can do the job as easily as they can in the classroom. But what about physical projects? What can be done when we can’t responsibly ask students to leave their houses in a pandemic to get materials and supplies.
The answer is simple: use what you got! This is a great opportunity for students to problem solve and be creative. Asking students to use what they already have laying around the house is not only resourceful, but requires them to use their critical thinking skills. It puts their creative minds on hyperdrive, making them look at objects in another way by using them as elements in their projects. Whether you teach Science, English, History, or Math, you can assign 3D diagrams or models for students to make and then share through pictures for grading.
So how does this work? Students will first need to design their diagram on paper. Next, they will transfer the design onto a sturdy base. This could be cardboard or thick card stock. Then, they will go on a hunt around their house looking for materials that can be used to represent something on the diagram.
Let's say the teacher assigns the class to make a diagram of the water cycle, each student will first research it then find a sturdy base to build their 3D diagram on. Luckily, someone received a package from Amazon, so he or she will cut out a piece about 8.5 by 11 inches. Then, after working out the design on paper, the student transfers it onto the cardboard. After that, the hunt for material is on! As students go from room to room, they are looking for things they can use to glue onto the board and build their 3D diagram.
The example below is that of the Water Cycle.
1. Find a sturdy base. In this case the cardboard backing from a graph paper pad did nicely.
2. Gather materials. All the materials for the clouds, mountain, trees, water, and sun were found around the house. The materials were then cut, manipulated, and glued to a piece of blue construction paper that was attached to the cardboard backing.
3. Text. Finally all the titles were added using a sharpie pen.
The materials that were used were: a cupcake liner, post-it notes, crumpled brown paper, real leaves, and a cosmetic cotton pad. Every students 3D diagram or model will look different of course, but that's the point.
Below is a pdf that students can take with them on their "safari hunt" to help them search for materials. Happy Hunting!