“Any fool can know. The point is to understand” – Albert Einstein
How many skills or lessons have you taught this year that you wish you could have just taught via osmosis? How many lessons or facts have you flown through that you ask students to repeat and regurgitate in preparation for state testing?
I get it. It takes time to really teach something. While reviewing place value and decimals today, I saw my kids don’t understand that skill. I failed at that skill, and I need to reteach. I want them to understand everything I teach, and that is why I use iPads and creative apps to help them perform at the highest levels of understanding. Time restraints and access to materials force teachers into a corner and we are back to square one: teach, repeat, regurgitate. I knew when I taught area and perimeter my lesson could have been like that, but what if it didn’t have to be?
Often, fourth graders do not have a concrete understanding of area and perimeter (especially when it comes to your “low performing kids”). They haven’t ever built anything and applied this knowledge, so how are they supposed to understand it? That is where Blockify, an app that is inspiring kindergarten classes in my school, comes into play.
One may think this is just a simple app that allow kids to “play”, like Mindcraft, but like one of my ten year olds so adequately put it, “Blockify is like Mindcraft, and my dad likes Mindcraft because it can be educational.” You go girl! I am so happy to have parents with that mind set in my classroom.
Well, Blockify is educational, especially when you apply understanding of area and perimeter to this app. Blockify is an app that allows students to create 3D buildings from scratch, or they can challenge themselves to build a structure that is already outlined. Have I mentioned that once a child creates a building, they can print it on a 3D printer?!?!?!
To apply their understanding of area and perimeter, students created buildings in Blockify, exported images into Explain Everything, and explained the difference of area and perimeter (see rubric below). Some students that made good use of their time created a room in Room Planner, but I will save that story for another day.
Now, I can listen to my students explain the difference between area and perimeter by using their own language. I know they understand this skill because they have created something and have explained it well, and if some didn’t? They will be in a small group next week.
Today is the day to teach understanding.