Erica facilitated an engineering contest with her 5th grade students. The challenge was to construct an aircraft that could remain aloft on its own for 20-30 seconds.
It was a difficult task, and many groups felt frustrated after several days of designing, constructing, and failing. She asked students to open their notebooks and complete the sentence: “Our projects would be working better if only…”
After some writing time, students shared their wishes with the class. For instance, "Our projects would be working better if only we had better communication in our group." Or, "Our projects would be working better if only we had more space to launch our designs."
Erica implemented as many of their “if only’s” as she could into the next class session. Students felt relieved after this chance to reflect on their process, and ready to start anew. Erica was glad to have some concrete suggestions, straight from the students, for how to move their process forward.