Hands-on lesson enhances creativity and collaboration skills of McAuliffe fourth-graders
Posted on 12/05/2018
Picture of five students seated on floor around a replica of Jamestown made of Keva PlanksBenjamin Franklin is famous for saying, “Tell me and I forget; teach me and I remember; involve me and I learn.” That’s a popular saying, and one that inspired McAuliffe Elementary Library Media Specialist Janelle Jampole and Fourth-Grade Teacher Megan Ruffino to teach a lesson in Virginia history using Keva Planks. A little larger than jenga blocks, Keva Planks are uniform in size and weight, which aids in engineering lessons and structures that students can create.

SPARK, the education foundation for Prince William County Public Schools, provided the funds for the Keva Plank kits, which include instructions and challenges for students to complete. Jampole wrote the grant proposal.

“We use hands-on learning to increase imagination and creativity,” said Ruffino. “Our students need to be building, manipulating, organizing, communicating, and working together towards a common goal to gain skills in complex problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, coordinating with others, and decision-making.”

Ruffino’s students worked in teams during library time to create a replica of the settlement of Jamestown. Students also studied text, watched videos, and completed other learning activities for the Virginia Studies project.

Ruffino used the Keva Planks to show her students the thinking and planning that settlers had to do to construct the settlement. The students had to interpret drawings of the fort and make decisions on what, when, and where to build components on the library floor. Once completed, they were required to report on what they had learned and imagine what decisions the settlers might have made.

“I really enjoyed watching the students work together to try to build the Jamestown fort,” said Jampole. “They were very focused on creating the fort in the same style and shape as the original. They were given a limited number of planks so, like the original settlers, they had to manage their resources wisely.”

“It was wonderful seeing children working together in small groups to problem-solve,” said McAuliffe Principal Janice Herritt.