Monday, September 21, 2009

The Secret Cubby House

Looking for something new and fun to do with the 5/6 class I had this last 6 weeks, I built a unit around designing a cubby house (also I'm informed, known as a Wendy house).

My intention was that the project should be predominantly math based, and that I would build more in complexity over time. Each student would need to design a cubby of their choice.

Everything was trundling along nicely, when I noticed something interesting. Each cubby had a story. Most were subtle, but many had annotations or possessions included in the design that suggested an occupant, that often wasn't necessarily the designer.

As the complexity in the project increased over the weeks ... first a cross section, then a list of materials ... those with a narrative proceeded a little faster than those based purely on design.

It reinforced something I have seen time and time again.

A project that offers the framework for a narrative, regardless of the subject, can develop a strong momentum in the classroom. Story is a powerful motivator, and can fuel engagement.

The question that I didn't have answered, is how the project results may have differed if I had directed the narrative for the cubby project. For example, if I'd instructed the class to build a cubby for a particular occupant.

It might have been a motivating factor, and who lived inside it was a consideration that we all agreed was important as the project progressed. In the same way however, that I've witnessed story starters squash creative responses in students engaged in creative writing ... I suspect too much direction in the narrative may well have dampened enthusiasm.

Students have their own stories to tell, in each project, in each assignment. It can be a powerful motivator ... and math sheets or forced creative instructions don't allow for that expression.


Shelley said...

What is a cubby house?

The Digital Narrative said...


Also known as a Wendy House