With a limited number of materials and a mission at hand, Mr. Walter led our 4th graders through an exercise that strengthened their critical thinking skills and stretched their creative problem-solving abilities!
The students separated into groups and were given the mission to build a very tall tower that could support their lookout. The students were given a limited number of materials such as a marker for the lookout, and cups for tower building, and then had to work as a team to create a tower that could stand on its own and support the lookout under shaky conditions.
This Mind Mission that our 4th-graders most recently completed was called Safe Spaniards. The students learned about how the Spanish established 26 missions across Texas during the 1600s and 1700s. During this time Spain sought to strengthen the control of its colonies in Texas while the clergy and many of the lay people of the Roman Catholic faith sought to convert the Native Americans to Christianity. The missions that Spain established introduced the Spanish language and culture to the Native Americans. The missions also educated the Native Americans in language, trade, and farming skills. With their towers in mind, students learned that the protection offered by the mission walls and Spain’s military was one of the great appeals of the mission for Native Americans and settlers.
Mind Mission lessons encourage students to interact with history as they learn it. Through in-depth, hands-on engagement with content material, students are developing a deep and lasting understanding of learning objectives. Every Mind Missions lesson follows the same inquiry-based framework with each step designed to help students develop essential 21st-century competencies in critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity. During mission challenges, students gain confidence in creating, listening, and speaking as they process information and conceptualize in groups.
Perhaps one of our favorite aspects of the Mind Mission challenges, aside from the fun we have while learning, is that as our students use creative problem-solving strategies, they develop a growth mindset when working with peers to generate unique solutions. Ultimately this results in confident, competent citizens!