This week’s underlying theme has been teaching my students to think like Goldilocks. It began with racket skills, students were instructed to experiment with different combinations of racket and balls until they had the “just right” combination. We defined this as not too easy and not too difficult. A good measure for my students in this exercise was if they couldn’t complete more than 5 ups (volley to self) their choices were too difficult. If they could easily complete more than 10 ups, too easy. The students had many choices of rackets, balloons of varying inflation, beach balls of various sizes, foam balls, whiffle balls, and badminton birdies. They then worked volleying with a partner making the same equipment determination. Finally groups moved to volleying over a net. Making equipment choices isn’t new to my students but my defining it as thinking like Goldilocks was new.
Later this week my fifth graders were playing a warmup game we call Pinball. Foam balls are scattered throughout playing area and all but three students begin the game with a bowling pin placed within the basketball boundary. The object of the game is to defend your pin while trying to knock other’s pins down. When a student has their pin knocked down, they run it over to one of the three students waiting in line. I vary the skill between underhand rolling, throwing and dribbling with feet. Typically my students will form alliances where one student will guard a couple pins, the others will go out and knock pins down. I had one student group who were dominating the activity. I instigated a rule where they couldn’t place their pin within ten feet of another pin, but they were still able to work together to dominate.
I love that my students work together but didn’t want them to dominate. So I pulled aside my two students who were leading the domination. I reminded them of Goldilocks. We talked about how the game at this point was probably too easy. They had found a way to strategize to win, which in itself is a good skill. But then I challenged them to think like Goldilocks. How could they make the game more challenging and then again super challenging. By moving away from their alliance, into more vulnerable areas in the playing space, they would have to be better defenders. I was thrilled when they took the challenge!
I knew they “got it” when in a later activity one of the students asked if they could modify the next activity to make it more challenging!