This past Friday, I had the pleasure of visiting multiple classrooms as the students worked through the process of the marshmallow challenge. I saw our high school students, as well as our grade 4 Spanish Immersion students working through the challenge, speaking only in Spanish. I observed first-grade students who were thrilled with their successes. One student yelled, "Look at the satellite I created!" Another 1st-grader exclaimed: "I made one that stood up. Look here!" as he pointed me in the direction of the cutest 1 inch high tower, which he was so proud to create.
In another classroom, 4th grade students used white boards to draw out their designs in advance and almost every group in that class was successful. In the art classroom, students crafted secure structures with technical pizazz. In the business classrooms, the students really pondered, discussed, and worried about their plan for awhile, some losing time; however, in a second-grade classroom the students dove right in with excitement and without constrained thinking.
What I saw throughout the challenge was:
Once the activity has ended, some of the biggest take-aways from the activity were the emphasis on the interactions that took place during the team activity, as well as reflecting on what went well and what could be done better next time. For it is in the biggest failures, that the biggest growth can occur.
Take the essence of the marshmallow challenge and apply the same principles to a learning activity in an upcoming lesson.
Questions to Consider
What could be a collaborative problem they could work on that has limited time and resources? What types of processing questions could you develop for them to reflect on later on how they interacted with one another and what they would change?