Chapter 3 Summary by Melanie Ness
Chapter 3 explores thinking and the evidence of thinking. Observation of a child’s making and
tinkering gives clues about what a child is thinking and how they think. Making helps students
learn as they gain knowledge through their own experiences using their current knowledge as a
spring board for learning. This differs from the more traditional school trend of transference of
knowledge and the practice of learning a linear set of procedures or steps.
Several design models from the real world were presented. The use of computers and
technology has helped to minimize the risk of making mistakes which gives freedom to learners
to tinker, explore, and make mistakes without the risk of making dangerous or costly mistakes.
Design models that are cyclical in nature lend themselves well to making. They allow for
iteration and improvement throughout the design process. These models also allow learners to
jump right into making instead of spending valuable time planning. I liked the TMI (Think, Make
Improve) model as it simplifies the process and gives a list of actions that can be used at each
stage. This model will work well in the middle school math enrichment program at my school
and I plan to post it in my classroom this coming year.
Tinkering allows learners to incorporate the arts into their learning in a very natural way. The
addition of art to STEM activities, rebranded as STEAM, allows for more varied results and more
personalization of a product or design. The educational movement is towards students learning
independently via the computer and the ability to reach out beyond the traditional classroom
community. This allows learners to gain knowledge and expand opportunities for collaboration
that were previously unavailable.
Chapter 4 Summary by Melanie Ness
Chapter 4 focuses on the elements of a good project. The classroom experience referred to as
project/problem-based learning or inquiry learning centers around a well-designed prompt. The
eight elements of a good project were given: purpose and relevance, time, complexity,
intensity, connection, access, shareability, and novelty. The reader was cautioned to be sure
that a project is substantial as opposed to monumental.
A good prompt should be brief (should fit on a post-it note), should be ambiguous enough to
allow the learners to express themselves and to respond in their own unique way. The project
or product produced in response to the prompt should not be assessed for formal grade. Peer
review or editing can take the place of a grade. When a learner is provided a prompt that is
thoughtful and in addition is provided with appropriate time, materials, and support, the results
should be remarkable. The reader is reminded to keep thing fresh and interesting in the
classroom by looking for something different than usual, such as which machine is slowest, can
something pull rather than push, etc.
Just when I was beginning to think that this all sounds great, but what about all of the standards
we are expected meet, the book addresses this issue. Teachers can meet standards and help
children make sense of the world through interesting work as long as they are knowledgeable
on their curriculum and standards, can be flexible, organized, and resourceful. I do believe that
continued professional development in this area would go a long way towards helping teachers
work toward this educational transition to raise standards and create enduring projects.
Finally, teachers should be providing the guidance to help students to make memories that will
stay with them through a lifetime. Students will remember the projects and hands on
experience, not worksheets and standardized testing.
"If every child were to be given access to a computer, computers would be cheap enough for every child to be given access to a computer."
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