you're reading...
School Stories

The failing, not the succeeding

Last time I shared out the fun we had spinning a wheel. Now we (in a small PBL group that meets twice weekly) are spinning our wheels trying to make a counter/sensor that will tally the spins of a particularly sick skateboard wheel.

Here’s a short list of our failures so far:

Copper tape tabs

Copper tape and paper clips

Copper tape and masking tape

Copper tape brush

We could use some help with design. If you or your children and/or students can help us out, please chime in on this shared doc, which more or less lists the materials available to us. Thanks to Mike Thornton for the crowd-sourced learning example.

I really enjoy this tailored inquiry work using the stuff around us – both the stuff in our lives and the stuff in our classroom. Given that this is a small project with a mix of analog and digital resources, I’m curious about what the Coöp community thinks of such work, but I’m also curious about what educators in general make of it. Are we shaking our heads? Cross-walking this to standards? To Marzano? Where are we (big We and little we) right now as pedagogues?

What is the purpose of technology in schools? In education? In public education and its administration? What is the role of inquiry? When do you think inquiry is okay or permissible? For whom? What about design, engineering, and math with skateboard wheels?

Is this “good” teaching and learning despite “bad” policy? “Bad” teaching and learning despite “good” policy? Neither? Both? Maybe? Good for some? I know there’s not a lot of sample to code or analyze here, but I’m curious, as ever, about our beliefs and our belief in them.

What’s the difference between what we accept or profess as believable and what we actually believe? Between what we wish and what we enact? In those spaces, how do we move?

I think growth and learning are in those spaces. I wonder, as ever, if I am there, too – if I am doing enough to enact what I wish for my kids, profession, and school. What am I making?

Spin a skateboard wheel; see where it stops. Does it say that we’re failing or succeeding?

About Chad Sansing

I teach for the users. Opinions are mine; content is ours.


5 thoughts on “The failing, not the succeeding

  1. When do you think inquiry is okay or permissible? ALWAYS
    For whom? EVERYONE

    Posted by sprite | October 21, 2012, 9:06 pm
  2. Chad, Lots of questions here. What are your students learning from this kind of playing and experimenting? You?

    I’m with Sprite above.


    Posted by Kirsten | October 22, 2012, 8:55 am
    • There are lots of bits of learning buzzing around us – how can we complete a circuit with a moving part? What works? What is the best way? To whom can we go to for help? What’s been done before? What can we calculate from this? What can we estimate? How can we get more accurate and precise? How much perseverance can problem-solving take? What important learning can we uncover in school by approaching it through our own stuff?

      I think most starkly we are becoming confident that we can move towards finding answers by finding out what isn’t the answer, which is a process and an approach and a set of habits rather than a memorized or rote selection.

      I’ll ask my kids, as well, and chime back in later –


      Posted by Chad Sansing | October 22, 2012, 1:48 pm
      • A fascinating set of questions, and a terrific project. Completing a circuit (closing a circuit), if done mechanically, involves friction — is a lesson to be learned on this issue? Optical measurement? I’ll bet you could get the entire school involved, even the music department (if you have one) because the nature of harmonics that vibrations give off may evidence a physical design problems. Economics — when does one reach the point of diminishing returns in connection with R&D? Terrific stuff — the universe from a truck!


        Posted by Brent Snavely | October 22, 2012, 3:07 pm

Join the Conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 4,103 other followers

Comments are subject to moderation.

%d bloggers like this: