Public Discussion

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 09:04 a.m.

    The notion of using literary texts to seed engineering challenges really is novel. I’m curious how the approach has played out in the classroom, particularly in the middle grades, where instruction tends to be departmentalized. How have middle grades teachers taken up the approach?

  • Icon for: Chris Rogers

    Chris Rogers

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2015 | 10:04 p.m.

    Most of our work to date has been in the elementary classroom – so this is not an issue. It would be cool to somehow merge this with a maker space to find a physical location to allow students to work across classrooms (NGSS might help here).

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 09:16 a.m.

    Thanks, Chris. The fit seems especially good for self-contained classrooms, but also needed in secondary grades where instruction becomes increasingly silo-ed.

  • Icon for: Elissa Milto

    Elissa Milto

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 11:09 a.m.

    Although we have not been in many middle school classrooms, we have been in a few. In one case, NE was included in a history class that had access to a maker space. The students read about Ancient Egypt and then were tasked with having to make something that would make life better for those that built the pyramids.

    In another school, it was included in a literature class. The teacher had a wonderful structure in place for reading groups and the NE task was the culminating activity. The teacher said that she felt that the students really got to understand the characters and put themselves in their place and felt that the structures they built were evidence of their understanding of the book.

  • Icon for: Elissa Milto

    Elissa Milto

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 11:09 a.m.

    Although we have not been in many middle school classrooms, we have been in a few. In one case, NE was included in a history class that had access to a maker space. The students read about Ancient Egypt and then were tasked with having to make something that would make life better for those that built the pyramids.

    In another school, it was included in a literature class. The teacher had a wonderful structure in place for reading groups and the NE task was the culminating activity. The teacher said that she felt that the students really got to understand the characters and put themselves in their place and felt that the structures they built were evidence of their understanding of the book.

  • Icon for: Elissa Milto

    Elissa Milto

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 11:09 a.m.

    Although we have not been in many middle school classrooms, we have been in a few. In one case, NE was included in a history class that had access to a maker space. The students read about Ancient Egypt and then were tasked with having to make something that would make life better for those that built the pyramids.

    In another school, it was included in a literature class. The teacher had a wonderful structure in place for reading groups and the NE task was the culminating activity. The teacher said that she felt that the students really got to understand the characters and put themselves in their place and felt that the structures they built were evidence of their understanding of the book.

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 07:57 p.m.

    Thank you for these windows into middle school classrooms, Elissa. The history class example is especially vivid.

  • Icon for: Davida Fischman

    Davida Fischman

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 01:33 p.m.

    What an engaging integration of content areas! Is the intent that this be used as after-school enrichment, or that it be incorporated into the school day?

    It seems that this type of project also lends itself to parent involvement, since it utilizes a wide range of skills and knowledge. Have you involved parents at all?

  • Icon for: Chris Rogers

    Chris Rogers

    Co-Presenter
    May 11, 2015 | 10:02 p.m.

    We have been extending what is already happening in the classroom to include engineering – so all within the school day. Parent involvement varies from class to class – but what is cool is teacher involvement – as they are already confident in the literacy part.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 11, 2015 | 01:35 p.m.

    A unique concept. I am curious to know what challenges you may have encountered with English Language Learners in regards to this project and was there consideration of doing follow up studies on how English Language Learners were impacted by this approach in teaching engineering concepts? I think the project is great and looking forward really learning about it.

  • Icon for: Elissa Milto

    Elissa Milto

    Co-Presenter
    May 12, 2015 | 11:04 a.m.

    We have not worked with a large number of English Language Learnings on this project, but I can comment on the ones that have been involved. As a beginning Novel Engineering activity, we suggest to teachers that they pick a book with many pictures and little text, such as A Snowy Day. Since pictures are such a large part of this, it is easy for them to access it. With longer books, teachers need to employ similar strategies as they would use when reading with ELL students. One of the reading strategies of NE and strong reading instruction is for teacher to read aloud to students and have discussions along the way. This allows for discussion of vocabulary as well as concepts. For the building/engineering portion of the activity, ELL students do not seem to be at a disadvantage to other students. In fact, not only with ELL students, but also with students that do not traditionally do well in classrooms, the building gives them a change to excel and have their ideas come to life outside of the reading and writing that often is more difficult for them.

    We have not discussed exploring ELL students specifically in a follow-up study.

  • Icon for: Arthur Lopez

    Arthur Lopez

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 11:20 a.m.

    Thank you for the reply Elissa; I really appreciate it!

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 12, 2015 | 04:53 p.m.

    Very neat idea. What do you know about making it work? I’ve seen engineering projects become arts and crafts and not really contribute to learning.

    Also, are you making a library of successful implementations of Novel Engineering in classrooms? I think a set of videos with other resources attached would be good even if you don’t know guidelines for actually making it work yet. (Yes, I continue to be a case-based reasoner and assume others are also. ;-)) I am thinking about the cases including (1) the book or text the kids are drawing on, (2) what the teacher asked them to do and the support provided, (3) the teacher’s intention, i.e., what he/she wanted the kids to learn and/or experience, and (4) a representative set of student projects, and attached to each one, the teacher’s (or somebody’s else’s) annotation about what that student or group of students took away from the activity.

  • Icon for: Chris Rogers

    Chris Rogers

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 06:15 a.m.

    We are starting to – also fans of case-based reasoning. The balance of separating tinkering/crafts with engineering (design informed by science) is one that we are grappling with – and any suggestions would be good.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 10:32 a.m.

    Ha!! (to “also fans of case-based reasoning”) Let’s talk. I think the idea of a case library is relevant. Do you remember the talk I gave at CEEO five years ago about creative reasoning? I showed a case library that we used with our hovercraft project; I’m thinking something modeled after that.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 10:34 a.m.

    Meredith, meet those working on the Through my Window project; it is also focusing on engineering and literacy together with each other. Project number 475 in the videohall: resourcecenters2015.videohall.com/posters/475.

    I am also putting a note on their site.

    Janet

  • Icon for: Elissa Milto

    Elissa Milto

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 10:48 a.m.

    Janet,

    Responding to your comment about engineering vs. arts and crafts, we’ve seen the most success when teachers are clear with students about the expectations of the functionality of the project, such as, “whatever you make must work with the materials you have available to you and time you have in this classroom” or by asking students how they will know it will work and then pushing back when they are not able to describe how it will function.

    Also in the first project, students come to understand that they are working toward a functional device so by the second activity, most students are working on functional designs.

  • Icon for: Janet Kolodner

    Janet Kolodner

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 10:57 a.m.

    Glad to hear it; that was also the case in all of our work. There was some magic that happened, in addition, when we added the case library I suggested above. It was right before I left GA Tech, so I never followed up; perhaps we can talk about this after my move to Boston during the summer; I think it is worth following up on.

  • Icon for: Elissa Milto

    Elissa Milto

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2015 | 11:30 a.m.

    Janet,
    Glad the rumor is true and you are moving back to Boston. I’d love to meet and talk more about this. For us, the case studies serve a few purposes such as research and dissemination. We are playing around with different formats for each purpose and audience, but video is an important part of both. Looking forward to talking!

  • Small default profile

    Jeff Govoni

    Guest
    May 13, 2015 | 05:26 p.m.

    This is my third year doing Novel Engineering in my classroom (4th and 5th graders). The student engagement you garner from the engineering (building) part makes Novel Engineering immediately useful as a tool for literacy. It adds a powerful layer of authenticity to student discussions about the story. It’s no longer just fun to discuss a story; students feel invested both in their own plans to solve the character’s problem as well as their classmate’s plans. This is because they care about the character and that character has now become their client.
    I totally agree with Elissa’s statement (above) that explicit expectations about the functionality of the product are important if you want students to create functional prototypes. In my experiences it’s very important that students understand the prototype should function. At the elementary level they like to rely on “magic” literally when they encounter a snag in their plans. This is understandable considering all the magic they read about in fairy tales etc. I have a “no magic” clause in all of my Novel Engineering units. :) This approach greatly enhances the feedback discussions about whether or not the product actually can solve the problem. Therefore, significant amounts of iteration results for each group. Which in turn creates more rounds of rich literacy discussion. It takes practice to do Novel Engineering well (and I’m not there yet), but the journey has created plenty of worthwhile literacy moments in my classrooms.

  • Icon for: Sean Smith

    Sean Smith

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2015 | 07:56 p.m.

    Jeff, thank you for sharing this vivid image from your classroom. I’m really curious about how your use of the strategy has evolved over the three years. What’s changed? Are there aspects that have become more or less automatic for you? Have new conundrums of use emerged? What advice would you give to a new user? Thanks again.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.

  1. Merredith Portsmore
  2. http://ceeo.tufts.edu/people/portsmore.htm
  3. Associate Director
  4. Integrating Engineering and LIteracy
  5. http://novelengineering.org
  6. Tufts University, Tufts Center Engr Ed & Outreach
  1. Ethan Danahy
  2. http://www.ceeo.tufts.edu/people/index.htm
  3. Research Assistant Professor, Computer Science & Director of Engineering Research, CEEO
  4. Integrating Engineering and LIteracy
  5. http://novelengineering.org
  6. Tufts University, Tufts Center Engr Ed & Outreach
  1. David Hammer
  2. http://dhammer.phy.tufts.edu/home/index.html
  3. Professor, Education & Physics
  4. Integrating Engineering and LIteracy
  5. http://novelengineering.org
  6. Tufts University, Tufts Center Engr Ed & Outreach
  1. Elissa Milto
  2. http://www.ceeo.tufts.edu/people/milto.htm
  3. Director of Outreach
  4. Integrating Engineering and LIteracy
  5. http://novelengineering.org
  6. Tufts Center Engr Ed & Outreach
  1. Chris Rogers
  2. http://engineering.tufts.edu/me/people/rogers/
  3. Professor, Mechanical Engineering
  4. Integrating Engineering and LIteracy
  5. http://novelengineering.org
  6. Tufts University, Tufts Center Engr Ed & Outreach
  1. Jessica Watkins
  2. http://www.ceeo.tufts.edu/people/watkins.htm
  3. Research Assistant Faculty, Department of Education
  4. Integrating Engineering and LIteracy
  5. http://novelengineering.org
  6. Tufts University, Tufts Center Engr Ed & Outreach

Novel Engineering - An Integrated Approach to Teaching Engineering and Literacy
NSF Award #: DRL-1020243

Inspired by kids and grounded in research, Novel Engineering is an innovative approach to integrate engineering and literacy in elementary and middle school.

Students use classroom literature—stories, novels, and expository texts- as basis for engineering design challenges to:

-Identify engineering problems
-Impose constraints by using details from the text
-Design functional, realistic solutions for characters
-Engage in the Engineering Design Process while reinforcing their literacy skills

With strong connects to Common Core and NGSS, Novel Engineering provides a package of resources through workshops and online materials that help teachers easily integrate Novel Engineering projects into their existing classroom. Resources are dynamic and focus on supporting student thinking and teacher responsiveness.

Find out about upcoming workshops and more at novelengineering.org