Edward and Isobel develop a method

Part of the way through a learning session, dedicated to maths, my attention was drawn to the far upper corner of the Zone where I could see Edward sitting on the floor whilst Isabel jumped around him. As I approached I could see that Edward was doing his best to hold two 30cm rulers, one on top of the other, in order to measure the height of Isabel’s jump. Their attempts to do this mid-air failed and it was not long before they had appropriated the white wall behind them in their attempts to accurately measure the height of their jumps, on earth. The task they had selected involved calculating the height of their jumps, on the moon.

The image below was taken a little after one of their teachers had approached to inquire about their method. He too had seen bodies-in-motion and had approached, reserving judgement, to ascertain the level of their engagement with the task. He questioned them on the relationship between the weight of the jumper and the height of their jump, which lead to predictions about the height of his jump on the moon, considering his weight on earth. Predictions made their teacher morphed from questioner to participant, jumping, adding his data to the set and, after a brief discussion, moving on.

1) The original two rulers discarded after many attempts, 2) A white board marker used to mark height jumped on the stationary surface of the wall, 3) The list to the left (orange inset) and the table to the right (green inset), 4) Edward’s laptop with task card, web link and calculator application open.

Whilst this image does not capture the movement and the small group of others who joined in, this was a deeply social moment of learning. In which these students navigated a task they had self-selected from their online class space, through their physical environment in which they had freedom to move and select tools, within a community where both their peers and their teachers were comfortable with the process of learning by doing.

What emerged was a simple process that was performed a number of times. A subject would jump, a mark would be made on the wall, the distance from the floor to the mark would be measured and read out loud. After a verbal echo the measurement would be converted to moon height using a calculator app open on one of their laptops, which also displayed the task outline and a web page illustrating the method for doing this. The converted weight was then verbally relayed to the writer who would add it to either the list or the table on the wall.

All of this took place in less than 30 minutes, and as the learning session drew to a close and the evidence of their work remained on the wall, and not in their workbooks or on their laptops – resolution came in the form of a photograph of the wall.

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