This, from ateacherswonderings, is rather impressive.
how do you teach an abstract concept such as “system” to 2nd graders?
Simple: I divided the class in three groups and gave each group something different: a toy car, a pen and a puzzle. The trick that the kids didn’t know…was that each was missing a piece! They tried to assemble the pen (hey, but the spring was missing!), the toy car (oh no, a wheel is not there!) and the tree-puzzle (again, part of it was missing). The kids thought, argued, rearranged…”Cri, we can’t finish it!!”
So we sat down and discussed . Their conclusions: – a system is made of interconnected parts (yes, Ioana said that magic word!) – if a part is missing the entire system will not work (Elenis formulated it exactly that way!)
Some will ask, “So what? No big deal. How do you know they UNDERSTOOD the concept at a deeper level?” Well, I asked students to prove they understood it. How? By asking them to actually give an example, illustrate a system that is familiar to them and then share with us.
What systems did they draw and illustrate? Lots! From the anatomy of a bunny (heart, bones, lungs etc) to complex machines, buildings, laptops, musical instruments, plants. All included parts of the system and each student explained HOW it worked and how they were connected.
It’s the beginning of a wonderful exploration of cities. I’m not a huge fan of textbooks but this makes me think that textbooks should be replaced with case-studies for teachers.