Don't forget to enter the "Giving YOU the good stuff" (from Prang) fine-line marker giveaway by this coming Thursday, October 31st, at midnight HERE in the comments section. This isn't sponsored by Prang and is something that I just wanted to do because I like the Prang products so much after using them.
Remember: You don't have to tweet anything or follow me on any social networking conduits.
Just answer the question in the blog posting HERE in the corresponding comments section and I will pick a winner randomly and announce it on Friday, November 1st! Good luck to you in winning it the prize!
Seriously though. For me, "back pocket" project ideas are those that add in plenty of learning but also allow for just as much fun just for the pure fun of it. They are also good for those times when scheduling is tight and doesn't allow for longer running projects OR for when you need a "filler" but you don't want to use fluffy filler because... well... why just fill time, y'know?
Last year at the tail end of the year, I did two "back pocket" ideas that were a huge hit. This one actually was inspired by the fact that I was slightly annoyed with the fact that a paper airplane craze got kicked off among the students and they would be flying across the room at any given time and most of them were not even that well designed enough for them to fly even part way across the room! I was constantly saying to the students that if they were going to endeavor to throw paper airplanes, they should at least design and make them well enough that they could actually fly right! All of this got me thinking that perhaps I could take my personal irritation of poorly designed (and made) paper airplanes and allow for a real teachable moment.
I gave the students one solid week to research paper airplane designs, make small prototypes for testing (and they did this in the class) and then make giant ones out of poster board that was the same proportions of the prototypes and then we would have a giant fly off in the athletics field house on the turf field. The winner from each class got a gift card from Chipotle (that I provided). They also had to do some sort of visual design on the airplane in order for it to look physically appealing and this too was something where a winner was determined from a 2-man judging panel of which voluntary colleagues of mine who were willing to give me a little of their planning periods.
I must say, the students took this week long endeavor VERY seriously. They were watching crazy amounts of youtube videos and some were even attempting to calculate ways to ensure their airplanes would fly longer distances!!! I was SO proud of them and the way they were really investing themselves and not hesitating to connect what they were doing in art with other content areas like math and science! And you should have seen some of the impressive visual design of some of the planes. Check out these incredible ones.
|It might be hard to tell but the design on this one was on the underside so you could see it as it flew!|
|This one was VERY impressive. They used toilet paper rolls to make cannons on the sides!|
The fly off was pretty exciting and the way it worked out was kind of surprising and some of the students that expected to win actually didn't have that much of a chance compared to the real winners. I started all of the kids from one line and then they all threw their planes in the same direction and the winner in each "heat" (until we got to one final winner) was the plane that traveled the farthest distance from the starting line. They were allowed to do a few practice throws with their planes before the final fly off and that was helpful for them to figure out the way to throw their planes in order to gain the most distance that they could.
|The indoor turf field is used mostly for practice purposes and it's rented out often by outside groups.|
Two of my colleagues are shown here doing the judging of the visual design of the planes and they really are quite hilarious guys and had some awesome commentary and reasoning for which planes were picked to win the prize for "prettiest" (if you will).
I had no plans on doing this project idea even two weeks before it happened but I must say that it was one of the most successful and memorable project endeavors of my whole last year. I will definitely be keeping it around and I might even do it every year because it really was that much fun to do!