Active learners are building bridges in a Studio 6 classroom at Breckenridge Elementary School in Wahpenton, MN. The class is a continuation of the experience students had last year in Studio 5, an active learning shared classroom space which is co-taught by sixth grade teachers Emma Bellmore and Michelle Monson. Students work independently and in groups throughout the day.
Their current project is to build bridges.
“Our driving question is, how can we as engineers build the strongest bridge?” explained Bellmore. “They have a variety of different tasks building up to this – which types are better than others, which are stronger? There are different types of bridges for specific areas in the U.S. They’re building one for here in this county.”
Students collaborate with each other and communicate ideas to determine what bridge design is best for their group. Since it is a double class, having 44 students involved in active learning can be a challenge, but it is solved with effective classroom management.
“Since this is still new to us, we are constantly adapting our teaching styles as we figure out what works best in this large of a classroom. The benefits certainly outweigh the challenges, which is why the school district wanted to continue project based learning in sixth grade,” Monson said. “The students are so engaged in the learning process. The ideas and solutions that they bring to the classroom everyday continues to amaze me.”