This week we talked to Ms. Kim, one of the organizers of the outreach that brings the kids for us to tutor. She conveyed to us that she wanted us to do 15 minutes of math each outreach, in addition to our normal engineering or computer lesson. This was our saving grace during this outreach because our lesson did not last the whole time as we expected. They did pretty well on math at the end of outreach, but next time we’re going to try it out with math at the beginning.
We did paper airplanes, which actually worked and the kids were engaged, but it was hard to teach them while they were making the planes. A way to remedy this would be to have a mini lesson before we actually do the project portion in order to establish a purpose of the lesson.
Each outreach is a learning expercience and we hope to write some of the things we’ve learned on this blog, but also on a handbook so all the volunteers can be on the same page when teaching. Stay tuned for the release of that handbook and our next blog post!
There was no craziness during this outreach, but it still could be chalked up to ultimately be a failure. When prompted, the children said they learned nothing. It was partly because of poor choice of lesson, but also because we must do a better job of telegraphing our intentions to the children. A possible remedy for this would be to have objectives before we go into outreach, and post those objectives on a whiteboard so the kids know what they should be getting out of outreach. Also exit surveys of the children to see what they have learned would be a invaluable tool to see what needs to be changed.
The lesson took less time than initially expected, which contributed to the fact that the kids had time to fool around a little bit. There was little to no structure to the lesson, kids were shown how to make a catapult, but only a few made them, the rest worked on a target, or socialized with the volunteers. Although socializing with volunteers is not a bad thing, it is a sign that we should have more actively engaging content for the kids to work on. More structured curriculum would be beneficial to both the volunteers and the kids.
The activity this week was building towers with straws and tape. It was posed to the kids as a challenge against each other to build the tallest tower. They initially started out with teams of 2-3 with their friends, but eventually merged into 2 big teams, one at each table set up.
They were incredibly engaged, and when it was time to end, they wanted to continue the activity. However, when the activity was over, the competitive spirit overcame the kids and they began to sabotage each other’s towers by shaking the table to try to knock it down.
A potential solution to this would be to physically separate the teams so they can’t see each other’s work. Another solution would be to have individual challenges. It would have them try to accomplish a task, but the only competition would be against the challenge, not against the peers. This would perhaps allow kids to help each other out, increasing cooperation, productivity, and learning.