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Starting Slow with Routines: Tinkering in the First 6 Weeks

Starting Slow with Routines: Tinkering in the First 6 Weeks

During the first 6 weeks of school, students at all grade levels have learned and practiced routines in the Tinkering classroom. These routines are the basis for consistency in the classroom so students know what to expect and what is expected.  They are a guide for students; entering the room, moving to the group meeting space, knowing when to turn off voices and listen, talking about the activity as a group, doing one’s best and following the rules, stopping work when it’s time to clean up, and returning to meeting space for a closing reflection.  Through the structure of routines and rules, students are able to explore activities with greater freedom and feel they are in a safe and supportive classroom as they experience challenges and share discoveries.

Over the past weeks, while practicing routines, the students have been playing around with dominos. Each week, a new element or constraint was added to the activity as a way to move from open ended explorations to goal oriented challenges. This variation within the simple framework provided opportunities to observe student's interactions with classmates and see their struggles and successes.

The 4 / 5 students have shown unyielding creativity, flexibility and joy playing with dominos over these first weeks of school. With each class, a new element or guideline was introduced to the activity, to which the students responded with clever solutions and interesting designs.  And, as they encountered difficulties along the way, students shared their developing knowledge with one another helping them find success in their work.  

Week 1 - Exploring Dominos

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Week 2 & 3 - Dominos with groups and spreading out in the classroom

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Week 4 - Dominos with teams creating sections of a single domino track

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First page of the PDF file: sept23-1


Week 5 - Falling Domino Towers - a tower with a vulnerable part that consistently falls down when tested in a domino track - working on trial and error and observing details 

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Week 6 - This week, students will watch slow motion video of their tests to notice details and try to implement lessons learned from the previous class with the goal of making a single domino track that incorporates towers, and runs completely in one attempt.

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