Metaphors and Marshmallows

Today’s foray into the world of teenagers was much more successful than yesterday. And we did actual WRITING!!!

As we are on block schedule, I had new kids today, So, again, we begin with the rules and regulations. A boring 15 minutes in which I feel like we could record the reactions of the students and input it into the Ben Stein scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. “Bueller… Bueller…Bueller.”

But then, the fun began! We did the Marshmallow Challenge! I gave them 20 minutes instead of 18, but otherwise, we followed the instructions pretty close. Groups of 4 (ish), 20 sticks of uncooked spaghetti, a yard of dental floss (string is expensive, a cheap thing of dental floss is less than a dollar and has 100 yards), a yard of tape, a pair of scissors, and a marshmallow. They had 20 minutes to build a free standing structure that could support the marshmallow.

It was pretty interesting! I had a group of cheaters in my last class who thought they could take the string and hang the marshmallow from the ceiling and then build the spaghetti tower up to the marshmallow in order to win. Cute idea, and a great loophole, but not allowed.

The winning tower was 24 inches tall. Not bad for a bunch of teenagers that rarely try… I was impressed by the amount of students who were willing to participate. Students that usually don’t do anything actually tried, for the most part. I did have a student or two that just sat there, but most of them actually tried!

And then we spent the last 30(ish) minutes of class writing a short essay explaining (and thus an expository essay by state of Texas testing standards) how the Marshmallow Challenge can be a metaphor for real life. The essay will be a base line for me to determine where this new group of kiddos needs help with their writing skills. It also engages their higher order thinking skills in order to make the necessary comparison.

We did brainstorm ideas to get the juices flowing (this is the second day back from a 2 week vacation after all), and I was impressed with some of the responses: The Marshmallow Challenge, like life, teaches us that we have to make do with what we have. The MC, like life, is all about building things. In life, like in the MC, you have to communicate in order to be effective. All strong starting points for a short essay.

I can’t wait to read them and see how they did! It’s good to feel like a teacher again, instead of a babysitter! I’ll post pics tomorrow, once I’ve had time to blur some faces (not trying to get fired by posting anything illegally).

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2 thoughts on “Metaphors and Marshmallows

    • Be my guest! If I could change one thing, I would have included a printed copy of the instructions on a note-card inside the sack with the supplies. I lost some time with certain groups because they wanted to argue the rules (like the cheaters who wanted to hang their marshmallow from the ceiling).

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