As we approach the full implementation of Common Core and the Next Gen Science standards the classroom has become a far more busy and chaotic place. Lots of learning with lots of mess and noise.
My curriculum is all designed around a grid system where students need to accumulate a certain number of points via various assignments and projects.
My first grid is learning the basics: like vocabulary, concepts, ideas, laws, formulas, etc. There are even choices within each choice [ridiculous!]. Most of these assignments involve writing, reading, watching videos, or using a digital media to create a learning tool [ex flashcards, vocabulary game…]
My second grid is where the students apply what they learned via grid #1 and any offline/in class learning to USE their knowledge to create or complete something. RAFT is indispensable for these types of activities. For our forces and motion unit the students utilized four different RAFT kits in addition to all my weird RAFT supplies.
So picture a classroom of 22 high school students all in the middle of doing DIFFERENT projects and amongst all this creativity you have two students building some giant ramp out of plastic tubing and an absurd amount of masking tape. No matter what my other students were working on everyone stopped “Hey, what assignment is that? Can we do that one too?”
There seems to be some undeniable pleasure in sending an innocent marble hurling down a steep incline and through a maze of friction, hills, and spirals. The RAFT supplies were perfect for creating the marble death traps as well as the bonus challenges like loops, or spirals. The students think it is all fun and games but in the end they are able to explain where the laws of motion came into play, why having a high friction starting hill was not an advantage even if it was a steep one, and how a spiral or loop actually increases the marbles speed through the coaster.
Cynthia Lipsig, Teacher and RAFT Fellow