Upper El (Mr. D): Endings, Obstacles, and Questions


This week, in the afternoon, we worked toward completing our stories, met a new challenge in engineering, and took some further steps on our Science Fair project.


ENDINGS

Last week, for writing stories, we spoke about how great stories leave breadcrumbs throughout to signal and foreshadow where the story might end. Mystery is great, but if we have no idea where the story is heading, we might lose interest in why it's essential to read on.

We listed out ways to leave breadcrumbs and the different kinds of hints we can drop—from the immediate foreshadowing of a stormy night to prophecies. Then, we discussed how we could use those hints as misdirection and a tool to create surprise.

Then, changing up our writing assignment, I provided students with a three-sentence story ending. They could change the character name, but their goal was to plan a story that ends with those three sentences, dropping breadcrumbs along the way. Of course, no matter the ending, every story I've read is so different and interesting.


(that is two pages of hand-written story outlining right there!)


OBSTACLES

On Tuesday this week, I introduced the obstacle for our engineering project. As a reminder, their task is to get a ping-pong ball from point A to point B, two feet away. They can't touch the ball once they place it in position, and they need a mechanism to set their ball in motion. Their creations are amazing. So, now, it's my job to mess things up a bit! They may yell at me, but they love it : )

Between points A and B, there is now a chair and a piece of cardboard. They can go around it, above it, or between the slats of the chair if they want. I've been enjoying watching them problem solve and re-design parts of their initial creation. There have been great examples of teamwork, some lessons on working together better, and just a lot of fun and impressive thought along the way.

Next week, we'll put their designs to the test and see who can get their ping-pong ball to our target. I'm pretty sure they're all going to rock this!


QUESTIONS

We also spent some time this week progressing on our Science Fair projects. We started with creating a sheet of interests—interests in science and other areas as well. Anything goes. Then, we began narrowing down these interests into potential projects by asking questions. What questions do you have about plants? About space? Football?

We explored how we can even turn Football into a science experiment, or at least a scientific exploration! Is the Football shape the best shape for the game? If so, why? Our only limitations come with what materials we have available to us. At the moment, experiments involving our interest in wolves will have to wait... But, cats, we can do something there!

The next step, which some students have jumped ahead to, is to narrow down those questions even further into a testable scientific experiment. Some good ideas are coming out already, and I think our Science Fair will be amazing!


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