The next phase of the unit was thrilling for every child. They each designed a model skyscraper. Each step in the design process required that they master different skills. They became proficient using Appleworks Draw as they created page-sized units of window patterns. Elementary concepts of proportion became meaningful as they designed the overall skyscraper in the scale of 1 inch = 10 feet. When filling out building permit applications they learned how government regulates building practices. The two teachers acted as Building Inspectors who kept designs practical and made sure they conformed "to code."
With designs in hand, children made windows and constructed cardboard models with pine skeletons. The problems that needed to be solved were absorbing. They learned advanced applications of measurement and were schooled in the appropriate use of tools and materials. They discovered the necessity of sequential planning and were exhilarated as the skyscrapers began to take form around them.
Students helped and encouraged one another. Cooperation came to mean much more than being civil. The benefits of mutual aid were on exhibit everywhere. Two heads were often better than one, and four hands better than two. Although the teachers always seemed to be busy when the inevitable construction difficulties arose, the children found each other to be helpful resources.
The finished skyscrapers were arranged as a city in the display area of the school. Construction paper roads connected them. Matchbox cars, helicopter pads, sculptures, roof-top gardens and pools were added by the most ambitious designers. Our model city was a source of both group and individual pride. (For a more complete description of the building process, see the SimCity pages on the Erving web site at www.fi.edu/fellows/fellow3/apr99/simcity2000/index.html.)
Return to Voices from the Field