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Castle Construction through Project based Learning in Grade 3/4

The students in Grades 3 and 4 have been on a journey of inquiry and discovery these last few months, delving into a variety of topics via a collaborative inquiry/project based dynamic. They have learned as much about themselves and what they are capable of as they have about the topics themselves. One of the major comprehensive units of study has focused on Medieval Times, with the students building castles in Investigative Research, completing a novel study during literacy, and writing their own creative stories.

While observing and working with the students on their projects, an observer can see how the students tell the story of this process they go through, via their conversations and problem solving. Here are some snippets and ‘observation of process’ and thought within the Medieval Studies Project. Some of the student comments and explanations are in quotations:

The students created a guard castle away from the main castle – “This will be the first line of defence for the castle.”

The students explained that they designed a two storey castle – from a visual perspective, rather than for a specific purpose.  They had built a tall tower in the centre, and felt aesthetically it would not look right if it were only one storey.  Two students designed the drawbridge, and two others cut out the door.  One student decided it should close from the outside.  “If there is the enemy, we have a catapult, and we will go outside and shut the door.  The catapult will protect us.”

One student sourced the materials in this group, another began taping, “To stabilise things”.  Another student was the ideas person, while another was the tape expert. All seemed to work in harmony. “We compromised, agreed, and then checked with each other to make the final design of the front part of the castle. We spent a lot of time on the battlements, to make sure they were just right.”

“We drew a design and planned everything out on the cardboard.  We drew a square, put towers and the drawing is underneath. We learned that planning was important, but it wasn’t always easy to compromise.”

As you can see in their comments, the students themselves constructed the learning paradigm and drove forth the ideas about medieval life in a concrete way in the Investigative Research Project. Student interpretations, their thoughts and their vision of Medieval Society take center stage within a project like this, and the journey will continue in the New Year as they add new layers to what they have already achieved. The project will continue to grow, evolve, change, and become more complex as the students learn even more about Medieval Times.Inquiring Minds looks forward to sharing further details on the project work unfolding with Grades 3 and 4 through their novel study of ‘A Castle in the Attic’ in an upcoming blog post.

We welcome your feedback.


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