Classroom Connection: Playdough in the Diploma

Oct 3, 2012 by     1 Comment     Posted under: Classroom

Who would have ever thought “playdough” would make a come back in a year 13 IB Geography class? I certainly wasn’t expecting it.

The students are currently working on a unit on “Urban Environments” and have been exploring a range of different development models which look at how cities expand. As you might guess there are a number of different models and theories behind urban development but at times it is difficult for students to grasp how these models work in the real world.

So to help students see how these models work in practice they have been looking at the development of Bangkok. Bangkok is a huge place and doesn’t perfectly fit one theoretical model. This is where the playdough comes in. Students were ask to use playdough to create a model of how Bangkok has developed. To do this task they were given a variety of colours of playdough, a paper plate (for the base), and a range of maps of Bangkok.

Listening to the discussions that were going on whilst they were working on the models it was easy to see that not only were the students engaged (they loved the chance to make learning “dirty”) but they were focused on the content they were working with. The models they created ranged in a design quality but all the models demonstrated a detailed knowledge of urban development in Bangkok. So the activity wasn’t only fun but the students fully grasped the concept they had been presented with.

This activity has made me re-think the importance of concrete, hands-on activities in classrooms.  Why are there so few hands on activities in secondary school classrooms?

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