Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Marshmallow Challenge!

I am well on my way into my first semester of grad school.  I know I still have a long journey ahead of me, but I feel it is important to take a moment and reflect.  I would first like to reflect on an activity that I completed at one my of my classes with Dr. John Nash.

It was the marshmallow challenge!
  And, YES, it is as exciting as it sounds!  If you haven't heard of this marshmallow challenge, I encourage you to read a little about it here.  Or, if you have six extra minutes, watch this TED Talk video. You will love it...

So, now that you are a little familiar with this challenge, you could probably imagine the excitement when this challenge is given.  Now, keep in mind, I first did this challenge with a room full of educators.  I was gung-ho to win the challenge and have the tallest structure in the room.  I am embarrassed to even show you the picture of my final product.  My team of four failed.  At the end of our 18 minutes, we has a pile of broken spaghetti, string, and bits of tape scattered around.  Something that amazed me; however, I never touched the marshmallow.  Let me repeat that, I NEVER TOUCHED THE MARSHMALLOW!  Not once, not even for a second.  I was so focused on building a structure, I took little consideration for what I was building the structure for.

I learned something important from this realization, however.  Every project has a marshmallow or the goal for the project.  Let us take our schools for example.  The students would be the marshmallow.  What do we often do?  We build schools without focusing on the marshmallow; without taking a closer look to the needs of the student.  What if we started with the marshmallow?

Let us bring technology into the picture.  Students need to be supported for digital age learning.  I feel like we often move around "string and tape" to teach these learners, but what we should really be doing is starting with the marshmallow and the end in mind.

With my epic fail of the marshmallow challenge, of course, I had to see how my students would do.  I am constantly encouraging them to think outside the box and be innovative, but would they be here?
Well, why don't I just show you!
Almost instantly, the students were picking up and investigating the marshmallow.  I was just proud of them for starting with the end in mind!
There was collaboration, problem solving, frustration, and encouragement throughout the whole 18 minutes.  It was like MAGIC as the room came alive!

Here are some final structures...

In the end, it was an excellent team building activity that encouraged students to think outside the box and be innovative with their designs. I highly encourage you to try this in your classroom and I would love to hear how it goes!

As I reflect back to my grad school classes, I see myself growing both intellectually and personally as I prepare myself to be a school technology leader.  I now have more awareness of the Web 2.0 tools available to me.  Here is a list of some good ones to try if you are curious.  I also have a passion to make my future school a place where technology is used to enhance learning.  I made a video commercial outlining my technology vision.  I'd love to share it with you now...

Click here to watch!

As always, thanks for letting me continue to share my journey with you!


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