Sidewalk economics.

Author:Mulholland, Sean E.
  1. "Can We Go Outside?"

    Not a semester goes by without at least one student asking: "Can we go outside today?" This is one reason why we have designed a quick and easy way to answer students' requests with an affirmative YES! The exercise requires a small amount of planning and preparation, but results in a learning experience that encourages teamwork and enhances retention (Emerson and Taylor 2004). Moreover, this flexible kinesthetic assignment can be designed for a wide range of students and types of learning. For introductory classes, where the goal is basic, less complex learning, the exercise can focus on the foundational levels of Bloom's revised taxonomy of learning: remembering, understanding, and applying (Bloom 1956; Anderson et al. 2000). For more advanced students, the exercise can be organized so that students move through or build on these lower, less complex levels of Bloom's revised taxonomy of learning so that students can engage with higher, more complex forms of learning: evaluating and creating (Bloom 1956; Anderson et al. 2000).

  2. Items Needed

    To carry out this exercise, you will need just four or five items.

    1. Sidewalk chalk in a variety of colors. These thick and sturdy chalk pieces are easy to find at craft stores and are usually available during the summer at most big box stores. They often go on sale just before the beginning of the fall semester. We recommend having at least two pieces of chalk per student.

    2. A canvas. For these assignments, a sidewalk or other paved surface works well. Scope out a location beforehand. If you have any physically disabled students, make sure access does not require the use of stairs. Students will also appreciate locations that have some shade and a bench or wall that they can sit on. Be sure to give each group a space that is at least 6 feet by 8 feet, or 48 square feet.

    3. An electronic copy of the students' artwork. One option is to bring your own camera or smartphone. Alternatively, you can require the students to take photographs with their smartphones. They can then email the photograph to the instructor or upload it to an online drop box.

    4. For students who have physical limitations, you will want to bring paper and pen so that they can help draft the creation. Or, if you plan to use this exercise often, you can purchase a telescopic extension arm that holds chalk.

    5. A set of questions prepared ahead of time. You can simply use a traditional quiz and assign each group one question. III.

  3. Process

    Arrive to the classroom early. Place the container of sidewalk chalk out of view. Write, "Can we go outside today?" on the board and leave the room. Return to the classroom just before the class is scheduled to begin. Turn to the board as if you plan to outline that day's topics. Pause. Then ask: "Would you like to go outside?" (They will.) Then say, "Okay, let's go."

    Lead the students to the sidewalk or paved area nearby. Have the students form a single line facing you. Ask the students to count off to the number of groups that you intend to create. Instructors should plan to have three to four students per group. After the class has counted off, ask each group to come forward one at a time. Allow each group member to select two pieces of chalk and hand them either a specific question or a set of questions. Assign the first group question number one, assign group two question number two, and so forth. (1) Direct each group to an area on the sidewalk to ensure that each group has enough space to depict their answer. Instruct each group to label their design with their group number and the initials of each group member.

    Suggest that they draft their design on a sheet of paper before they begin drawing on the sidewalk, so that they can discuss their possible creation with their fellow group members. This will allow the group to come to a consensus before they draw their final design on the sidewalk.

  4. Example Assignment

    We have used a...

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