- Housing could be looked at in terms of the history of architecture from different countries, climates, and/or cultures around the world.
- Students could watch films like Garbage Warrior to learn about modern, environmentally friendly building methods. This film also brings up the problem of strict building codes limiting innovation.
- Students could analyze the role of government in establishing building standards and codes and influencing building policy through laws and incentives. They could look at the advantages of quality control vs. the disadvantage of limiting innovation.
- Students could study how the environment effects the shelter needs of humans in different climates. For example they could learn how and why Inuits chose to make igloos and Mongolians make yurts.
- Students could learn about recycled homes or innovative urban designs like this Chinese egg.
- Students could learn about differences in impact between single family homes and multi family complexes and even communes.
- Students could look at children’s bedrooms around the world to compare differences in living standards.
- Students could learn about the millions of people who have no “home” but live in shelters, shanty towns, refugee camps, or even in garbage dumps.
- Students could learn how toxic or carcinogenic materials have been used in construction.
- Students could go on local field trips to view historic and/or modern architecture. Students could visit “green” buildings.
- Students could watch this TED talk about how the differences in engineering in Haiti and Chile led to contrasting results from the recent earthquakes.
- Students could interview architects, construction workers, and engineers in person or through Skype.
- Students could learn about differences between LEED, Green Built, zero energy, and passive home designs. They could analyze how much of these programs are political and how much of them are actually environmentally responsible.
- Students could analyze statistics about how humans live across the globe. Then they could create an infograph about how the choice of materials effects human health and the environment.
- Students could research the dwellings of indigenous people and compare them. Students could have debates whether modern or indigenous dwellings are better for human life and the environment.
- Students could perform energy audits of their own homes figuring out the volume and square footage of their homes and finding cost/ square foot to heat and cool their homes.
- Students might study an important architect such as Frank Lloyd Wright or a branch of design such as feng shuai.
With all of the talk on #edchat this past week about differentiated learning, one tweet stuck with me about having students create their own rubrics. Off the cuff I had students create the rubric for the podcasts we are making about our Balsa tower project.
Then I had one student write down our requirements on the board:
- 45 points total
- must have a written script before you are allowed to record
- podcast should be 2-4 minutes in length (-5points/ 15 seconds off)
- Introduce yourselves with first names only. (2 points)
- Explain the project-what were the requirements/goals. (5 points)
- Explain how you made your tower and your design ideas. (5 points)
- Tell about your results-weight of tower, sand, and efficiency (5 points)
- Explain what you learned. (5 points)
- Creativity and making it interesting (8 points)
- Cooperation (15 points)
- Music is extra credit-5 points
This is my polished version. I added the total points and points for each item. I also required them to have a written script, creativity, and cooperation. So the rubric was not totally created by the students 🙂
Matt Townsley, who always gives me great pushback, asked me on twitter:
“Also in the spirit of reporting learning, how many of your podcast points are based on process/requirements vs. learning/content?”
My response is that 20 points are for the learning/content of the podcast and 10 points are for style (intro. plus creativity). The cooperation points are for effort and are primarily to make sure that both partners are doing their fair share of the podcast. So a little less than half of the points are for learning/ content from this perspective.
But this is a technology class and learning how to make a podcast is also a learning objective for me. The students have already received a grade of 140 possible points on the Balsa Project itself for things like research, drawings, construction, and how much sand their tower held before breaking. Therefore the purpose of the podcast is two-fold: to report their learning from the Balsa Tower project and to learn how to make a podcast. So in my opinion all of the points represent learning/content.
Finally I do not believe that true assessment of student learning can always be measured. Some of my top students tried some experimental designs. They looked cooler than the rest of the class’s towers and were voted by almost every member of the class as most likely to be the champion. Ultimately they were failures as designs and broke under the weight of the bucket with no sand.
These students definitely learned about design from their failure, probably more than the rest of the class even though their grade may not reflect it.