This summer I am teaching Novel Engineering for an Enrichment class within my district. We are using the books Muncha Muncha Muncha, Cat in the Hat, and Snowy Day. We are using nursery Rhymes like Jack and Jill and London Bridge. We are also using movie clips, cartoons video games, and short scenes. I know that isn’t Novel Engineering, but it is still fun to see them watch their favorite movie character and solve a problem for them. They see problems, hear problems, come up with solutions, create a design, and then solve, fail harder then solve again. I am four weeks into the program right now and it is pretty easy and fluid. Although, the first week was not so easy nor fluid.
I am teaching First Grade, Kindergarten, Second Grade, Third Grade, and Fourth Grade. They all love it, but most students have not even seen or heard of Novel Engineering. They didn’t know what an Engineer did or why they are important. They didn’t want to get creative and solve the problems nor fail and learn from our failures. They wanted it right and perfect the first time and wanted it to work. It was a lot of frustration. A lot of “I quit.” A lot of prepping, a lot of motivating, and a lot of learning. It was a lot of I not WE. It was a lot of I don’t need help and I don’t want to.
Around the second week students were learning that it is okay to fail as long as you fix the problem that made you fail. Then try again. That was a hard concept-trying again. Eventually, they learned how to fail harder and learn from it! It was amazing! Eventually and every once in a while you would hear, “That’s okay, try again!” The environment was starting to change.
The third week rolled around and let me tell you, that was a fun week. I heard a lot of”Awesome, fail harder” from kids. I also started to see collaboration, teamwork, and fluid movements of help throughout the room. The room was shifting from I to We and it was incredible. Teachers were saying that their classroom environment has changed, their mentality has changed in all subjects, and they were learning to work hard to succeed rather than get it right the first time. This was amazing. It was teaching them to solve problems, think outside the box, and help one another succeed. It was awesome.
I am currently in the fourth week. It is very student driven. I am the guide on the side. Students see errors and failures as learning. Given, we have our moments, but overall they love it. One student even said, “Failing means to learn, as long as you fix the mistake!”It was awesome, and I loved it so much.
I love seeing kids collaborate, work together, and succeed because it benefits themselves, their peers, and the classroom as a whole. It sets them up for success and multiple learning opportunities. I love it and I think all should try it!