Student-created design cycle. Groups were given a blank organizer and the words ‘create’, ‘plan’, ‘evaluate’, and ‘investigate’ and asked to construct the design cycle.

My understanding of co-construction has expanded – particularly how we c0-construct success criteria. Normally this would have been done by students looking at various samples of work (both process and product), and looking for a common understanding of what made some samples stand above others. For this grade six unit, ‘Human understanding of energy is evolving and impacts living things,’ students instead co-constructed design criteria. By using the central idea and lines of inquiry, students came up with a list of criteria that all creations must adhere to in order to be successful. It turned out to be a good learning opportunity in terms of careful interpretation of the central idea. Many students read into the statements and thought they were making value judgements where there were none – by definition, a central idea is supposed to be free from value statements (although that’s a discussion for another time). By closely examining the central idea through discussion, students were able to arrive at this list of design criteria:

You must create something (real or virtual) that:

  • makes use of energy
  • impacts living things
  • solves a real world problem

We are busy wrapping up the unit this week, and it’s interesting to see the impact the creation of these criteria had on student designs. It’s allowed for open-ended projects, but given enough focus that students have real choice and agency.

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