So in an attempt to broaden the use of the 3D printers in my room, beyond that of my Maker-themed ELA class, I thought I’d leverage the curiosity for the devices as an incentive for my additional classes. That way, my other ELA classes get to begin learning how to design while my Maker-ELA class gets to learn how to check for design quality and to manage the workflow of multiple outside “orders.” Let’s face it, all the kids seem to want to use the printers or design for them, so why not tap into that enthusiasm?
During the first quarter, my students had all created superheroes and written science-fiction origin stories. From there, they created leagues that will, in December, go on to pitch a solution for a global problem to a mock “United Nations” made up of other students. (This unit is featured in my PBL for ELA and History book found here.)
Anyway, this year, I figured they could design superhero league badges using Tinkercad and the 3D printers. But first, they had to earn it.
That’s where the Internet Research Game came in.
First, I announced what the stakes were. The excitement at the prospect of designing and printing badges is awesome. See below.
(Note: Yes, I let them eat in class. Yes, I let them sit wherever they want, and they can move during class.)
Then, I introduced them to search engines other than your standard, run-of-the-mill Google search. I showed them the following:
We analyzed the differences between the engines and noted how one might use Instagrok for one kind of search and Google Junior for another.
Then, for the course of a week, I asked them to sit in their leagues and I asked them a suspenseful question a day, each of increasing difficulty that had to be answered to win the league points towards printing privileges. I purposely designed the questions to have multiple clauses and phrases, and I never repeated the question if they missed something. That meant the students had to rely on each other and confer with each other to learn the part of the question that they may have missed. Of course, the main reason I did all of this was to also introduce these readers to books in a different way. Games lure them in; but the information they gain is what gets them to the library to see what all the fuss is about.
In case you should want to give this a shot, here are some of my questions and their answers:
What author is known as the 1st professional writer, is named for a Shakespearean character, was an orphan, married his 13-year-old cousin, and died a mysterious death? (Ans: Edgar Allen Poe)
What author’s mom was a famous woman’s right’s activist who died just two days after the baby’s birth, was once challenged to write the best horror story, married a man whose 1st wife was discovered dead in a lake, finished her most famous book at 19 but published it anonymously, and had 4 children, only 1 of whom survived? (Ans: Mary Shelly)
This author’s career began in England. Inspired by authors such as Edgar Allen Poe & JRR Tolkien, this author went on to win the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and his horror book that won the British Science Fiction Award, the Hugo, is considered by many to be too frightening for children. He has over 1.5 million followers on Twitter and his 2008 young adult paranormal horror novel won the Newbery Medal. What is the name of his children’s comic book that was adapted into an opera by the Scottish National Theater in 2006? (Ans: The Wolves in the Walls)
This author was a book designer and his works specialize in cyberpunk. He is a lover of math and cryptography who also writes under the name Stephen Bury. He is currently a futurist and comes from a family of engineers and scientists. His first breakthrough novel was published in 1992. What was the name of his novel published in 1995? (Ans: The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Girl’s Illustrated Primer)
Winner of the 2008 Red House Children’s Book Award, three books of his outstanding series each won senior Irish Book Awards in 2009, 2010, and 2013. One of the books in the series was voted Irish Book of the decade. In this paranormal thriller fantasy detective mystery series, there are 13 published books, only 4 of which are available in the U.S. Which is the “taken name” of the main female protagonist, a teenage girl, who learns the fine arts of butt-kicking and sorcery while solving crimes alongside her dapper, but dead, companion? (Ans: Valkyrie Cain)
Winner of the Carnegie Medal for the Library Association, this author’s first book in his award-winning trilogy was named one of the Top 10 Books from a panel and the public named the 1st book in the series the all-time “Carnegie of Carnegies” in 2007. Born in Norwich, England, this author also supported the 2014 Let Books Be Books campaign to stop children’s books being labeled for boys or for girls. In 2012, he curated 50 Grimms classic fairy tales for Penguin Classics. Who narrates the audio book for his award-winning trilogy? (Ans: Philip Pullman)
In the end, the kids had fun, learned something new about search engines, and also, hopefully, became curious about some new books and authors they didn’t know about before. Oh, yeah, and they designed some amazing Superhero League badges.
How are you luring kids into your content area?