Summary for Days 1–3

This begins Sharon's second year of implementation of the Toy Car module. As she had done during the first year, she introduces the activity by holding up a toy car and asking students to imagine all the different ways they can make it move. First she asks them to share their thinking with a neighbor; then, after a whole class discussion, she asks them to work in groups and draw pictures of their ideas. Some of the students then share their ideas in front of the whole class. Since she began this module very near the beginning of the school year, she wants to begin establishing expectations (classroom norms) for how the kids are to interact with her and with each other. For example, she will want them to be willing to share their ideas publically, to try to be clear when expressing the ideas, to listen carefully and with respect when others are talking, to ask meaningful questions, and to support their ideas with reasons. We can see examples of her talking to students about these expectations in many of the following video clips.

Day 1

At the beginning of the first day of this module, Sharon asks the class, "How could you get a toy car to move?" The question elicits excitement and many raised hands. Seeing that they have lots of ideas, Sharon asks them to turn to a partner and discuss with each other how to get a toy car to move.

Video Clip 1 (Day 1)

After discussing some ideas with each other, the students share their ideas in a whole-class discussion. We see a diverse range of ideas, including putting the car at the top of a hill; putting a car at the top of a slide and push it down; throw a rock at the back of the car to make it move; push the car harder ('do more gravity') to make it move faster; shoot the car with a rubber band; and push it back and forth with your hand.

Video Clip 2 (Day 1)

Some things to notice: (click to expand)

After the whole-class discussion about how to get a toy car to move, Sharon asks them to break up into groups and draw their ideas on large pieces of paper. This helps the students become more specific about their ideas, and the concrete drawing provides a context for having a discussion about them (either with Sharon or with other students).

Video Clip 3 (Day 1)

As the kids are working at the tables Sharon rotates around to each group to hear their ideas. In the following clip, she talks with Teresa. Teresa has two ideas: to push the car down the stairs and to place two chairs seat-to-seat and release the car from the top of one chair.

Destinay & Maribel's track
Teresa explaining her idea to Sharon

Video Clip 4 (Day 1)

Then Sharon talks with Destiny and Maribel. Destiny's idea is to make a swirly track with magnets on the bottom that will keep the car on the track (since the car also has magnets underneath), and then blow on the car to make it move. Sharon questions them both about their ideas to try and understand them as best as possible. Maribel suggests that you don't need to blow on the car; you can just push it.

Video Clip 5 (Day 1)

Some things to notice: (click to expand)

Then Sharon asks further questions about using magnets. Maribel explains why she doesn't think the magnets will work.

Destinay & Maribel's track
Destiny & Maribel's Final Drawing

Video Clip 6 (Day 1)

Sharon then spends time with Jimmy and Isaac. They have developed a track system with hills, loops, fire, water, and sharks. Sharon asks specific questions about various features of their diagram. After Isaac first describes the track system, Sharon then asks Jimmy if he thinks this will work. Jimmy says he doesn't think so, explains why, and then Isaac and Jimmy make appropriate modifications to their design.

Jimmy & Isaac's diagram
Jimmy & Isaac's Final Drawing

Video Clip 7 (Day 1)


Day 2

On Day 2, three groups of students present their ideas. The first two ideas are roller coasters, which have ramps, loops, and jumps. Jimmy and Isaac's idea is a traditional roller coaster, and they have an interesting discussion about whether or not the car will make it around the loop or across the jump, and whether it will have enough speed to zoom through the fire without getting burned. (See Jimmy and Isaac's final drawing above.) Jennifer's idea is a roller coaster with water flowing on the surface of it to help the car move (see her drawing to the right). There is discussion about whether or not the water would be beneficial or detrimental to making the car move, and whether the water will cause the car to fall off the top of the loop. Destinay & Maribel's track
Jennifer's Drawing

Video Clip 1 (Day 2)

Some things to notice: (click to expand)

After the groups have presented, Sharon then asks students to choose one of the three ideas and write changes, improvements, or additions to those ideas in their notebooks.

Video Clip 2 (Day 2)


Day 3

The next day, Sharon starts by asking the class to come up with a list of ideas that they've discussed already for how to make a toy car move. They begin to make a list of ideas on one side of the smart board and a list of questions about the ideas on the other side. After a few ideas, Sharon says that she wants everyone to get a chance for their ideas to be heard, and she asks them if anyone has a new idea to present. Maribel shares her idea of putting two chairs together to form a pseudo-skateboard ramp, and then push the car from the top of one chair.

Maribel's drawing
Maribel's Diagram

The car could go down the back of one chair, go across the seats of both chairs, and then come back up the back of the second chair. The rest of the students share their thoughts on the plausibility of the idea, and they begin predicting how many times the car will go back and forth between the chairs and why. Sharon keeps track of their ideas on the smart board. Some students think the car will keep going back and forth for a long time, some students think that the car will eventually stop, and some students think that the car won't even be able to make it back up the second chair. They get into a discussion about what makes a difference to the movement of the car here. Isaac thinks that the car will go slower and slower each time because, at the beginning, the car was pushed, but each time it goes up and then down the back of the chair, it is not being pushed, and will, therefore, keep losing speed. Alexis mentions that the type of car makes a difference in the movement. A small car will be able to make it up the steep incline of the second chair, but a large car will hit the second chair like running into a wall.

Video Clip 1 (Day 3)

Jamir thinks that whether or not the car makes it down and back up the chairs depends on how fast the car is going. He says that if the car is not going fast, it is not strong enough to get back up to the top. Sharon picks up on his use of the word 'strong' and asks the class if they understand what he means by 'strong.' One student says that 'strong' means that the car is strong, like a Jeep that is made to go up steep hills. Jamir says that was not what he meant. He says that the strength of the car does not depend on what type of car it is, but how fast it is going. They discuss whether or not the car's speed can help the car to avoid the holes in the back of the chairs. A few of the students try to explain what they think Jamir means when he says 'the car is not strong enough.' Kyleigh says it is like a runner trying to get to the top of a hill--if the runner is strong, he will make it to the top, and if the runner is weak, he will not make it.

Video Clip 2 (Day 3)

They move onto a few more ideas, including shooting the car with a rubber band (slingshot-type device), pushing the car with a rope tied to a truck, and a track with magnets.