I finally decided that the maze project will be completed on Friday and made more time for the project today, tomorrow, and Friday.
It was a circus-like event in the classroom as existing teams, newly formed teams, and individuals continued to craft and test their simple machine mazes. It wasn't always peaceful as some teams had arguments during the process and a few made a few not-so-positive choices. I got a exasperated too when the creative chaos turned to cacophony.
At one point, a small group shared their finished design--it was spectacular. They were literally dancing and calling out with joy. That's when I called the principal down to take a look. The children were delighted that he was coming and rushed around putting finishing touches on their mazes in progress. Once he arrived, you could here the children calling, "Come see mine!," "See me," and "Look at this." To the students' delight, he managed to take a look at everyone's displays.
After that it was time for clean-up. In thinking about the day, I realized that these projects take on an upside down bell-shaped curve movement. First there's the excitement to get started and all the big ideas, then there's the energized effort, after that there comes a big dip--the "We'll never get there stage," and then the movement starts getting better again as student make adjustments and decisions related to the final design. I must say I don't like the low point, but I can't imagine a creative project without one.
Tomorrow and the next day there will be some more refinement and decoration too. Mazes will get names and I'll take a photo of each one. Next week I'll make some time for student reflections, and then children will have the chance to take them home or throw them away.
Then no more big projects like this until after the tests are done sometime in mid May. As I wrote earlier these big projects and tests are not a match especially in a rom the size of my classroom. Onward.