Saturday, September 5, 2009

Marshmallow Project

My class this year is truly a challenge I would never have wished for. But, they are finally beginning to settle in, they are beginning to follow the rules and we are starting to get more and more accomplished. As always, I have those few that are so good, so well behaved, smart and patient with the remainder of the class. I know they will not always be so patient so I work really hard to get all the procedures in place and down pat as soon as possible so I don't lose that group to boredom and repetition. Usually this takes just a few days. With this group it has taken two weeks. As I was beginning to think they would never settle in, they did. It isn't all smooth sailing, but it is getting better.

Yesterday I we did the Marshmallow Project. I use this project to foster team work and cooperation. It also is a good tool to tell me how they will manage science experiments in the near future. I did not have much hope for this group because they have such a hard time following directions and they are so social. There are many in this class that are immature for their age and that doesn't help.

The rules for the Marshmallow Project are simple. Use your tooth picks and mini-marshmallows to build a structure. No talking at all.



They worked in small groups of four.


They had about eight minutes to complete the structure. They would have had 15 minutes but they wasted a lot of time while I was passing out materials and trying to get them organized.


Like I said, I did not think they could handle a project like this. I knew someone would talk. But no one did.


This girl started laughing so hard that I did have to ask her to sit in the hall. She is my giggler!


They surprised me. They really surprised me! They were 100% silent and I saw teamwork I could not imagine coming from this group. I saw kids working together and cooperating that can bare stand sitting next to each other.


They were proud of themselves and their work. I praised them to the moon and back.
It was a wonderful ending to a really difficult week. I like that...

11 comments:

Kathy said...

What a neat project. I might suggest that to my son that is a 3rd grade teacher out in Telluride. He has a tough class this year as well. How did you group the kids and were there any other rules besides no talking? :)

Joan said...

The only rules is that they could only use the marshmallows and toothpicks to build the structure. They could use pencil and paper to communicate. I grouped them by who they were sitting next to. I was firm with my groups, no switching around. Amazingly, it worked!

Joep said...

What an excellent idea this is. Being a teacher of art I see opportunities not only for fostering group cooperation. I like the aesthetic quality of the products as well. I'm definitely going to use the task, although I will have to replace the marshmallows somehow, those sweets are not available in The Netherlands in that size.

Christie said...

That is a really great idea!! I think I might have to try it with my class too and with my Destination Imaganiation coaches. I'm sure they can use it to help promote teamwork with their teams. What was their consequence if they were caught talking?

Joan said...

Joep ~ a small soft candy, like a gumdrop, would work well.

Christie ~ the consequence for talking was removal of their materials, and heads on their desks while everyone else completed the task.

a corgi said...

that sounds like a good project! I can't imagine that age group being quiet for those 8 minutes; that would be hard especially working together

it is a difficult age group you work with; hormones starting with some, others still immature, etc. Glad to hear it is settling down a bit

betty

Christie said...

Hey Joan, I think both of your blogs are amazing so I have "splashed" them both with an award. You can check it out at http://kingbrayden.blogspot.com/2009/09/look-what-i-got.html

Hannah said...

By the way, I'm the one who told her about that project. We did it in science in 7th grade. It was really fun!

Joan said...

Go to bed Hannah!

Amy said...

Cool! It looks fun and educational!

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