## Update 5/10/2022: For more End-Of-Year Activities, visit this post.

One of the things I wanted to try this year was to ask my students to do hexagonal thinking as they reflected over what they had learned.  Since my 4th graders had already done some hexagonal thinking this year, I thought they might like to experiment with this activity.

First, they visited our class blog where I have been posting pictures from throughout the year.  I showed them how to filter the categories to find all of the blog posts from their class.  Then they chose pictures that were meaningful to them and saved them to their home drives.

After choosing 4-5 pictures, the students signed in to my account on Canva, and created their own blank “A4” projects.  Once the project opened, they were directed to use the search window to find a hexagon frame.  In Canva, frames have a cloud and blue sky in them.

What I like about frames is that you can drag pictures into them, and they will take the shape of the frame without overlapping.

After the students added a hexagon frame, they resized it and copied it so several could fit on one page.  Once their frames were arranged, they uploaded their pictures and set them in the frames.  Then they used text designs to explain the connections between pictures that shared sides.

You can see a couple of examples below.  They would probably make more sense if you had been in my class this year, but this gives you the general idea.

This went better than my last visual hexagon activity, but I think I will improve it next year by giving a few more guidelines for the “connector” texts so the students will try to find unique parallels that aren’t readily apparent.

For more ideas for end-of-the-year activities, here is a recent post I published.

## Visual Hexagons

When I last posted about Hexagonal Learning, I mentioned an article I had seen about using Visual Hexagons, which I was eager to try.  So, as my 4th grade students are beginning a unit on mathematical masterpieces, I thought I would use Visual Hexagons to introduce the topic.

Not my best decision ever.

Here’s what I did wrong:

• I put together a bunch of images that most of the students could not identify.  This made it difficult for them to figure out how they were connected.
• I forgot to put a guiding question on the paper.
• Some of the connections were a bit too abstract.  (I had a picture of a yellow spiral, which I was hoping they would see as a “Golden Spiral,” and that they would relate that to spirals in nature such as the ones on the pinecone picture I included.)
• Some of the pictures were unrecognizable – such as the aforementioned pinecone which appeared to most of the students to be an orderly collection of rocks or fish scales.

Did I do anything right?  It depends on what you define as “right.”  And what you define as me doing…

• I used Canva to make my Visual Hexagons, which made it very simple to pull pictures into the hexagon-shaped image holders.
• I accidentally printed to the color printer. But that looked better anyway.  So I printed out 4 more.
• Once the activity got started, I noticed the students were struggling, so I quickly pulled up a backup plan that is a video on Discovery Streaming about nature, math, and beauty.
• I was trying to decide at what point I should show the video when two men from the district came into the room to replace my wifi – which meant the students couldn’t research on their iPads anymore.
• I showed the video (effectively damming the stream of students who were now lining up to ask to go to the restroom – a clear sign of a lesson gone awry), which explained nearly all of the pictures and how they related.

As regular readers may note, I generally share things that have worked well in my classroom on this blog, so you can try using those activities as well.  However, I fear that may have given some of you a distorted version of what goes on when I teach.  I have plenty of epic fails.  I like to share the failures that have some sort of potential as long as you avoid all of the pitfalls I seem to have discovered.

Basically, if you learned from reading this that you should always have a backup plan even when you are really excited about a lesson that you are positive will be engaging, I figure my work is done.

But you knew that already, right?

## Please Allow Me to Reiterate

I was feeling pretty clever.

As most of you know, that is never a good sign.

My creative, engaging activity for the day turned out to be one of those lessons that makes a teacher ask the dreaded question, “Should I continue this fiasco or give up and find a video?”

The concept was simple: I wanted to use the idea of Hexagonal Learning with my 3rd graders so they could synthesize what they had learned from our systems thinking book, Billibonk and the Big Itch.  One of the online tools for hexagonal thinking is called Think Link.  This reminded me, of course, of ThingLink.  And I thought, “They can make ThingLinks of their Think Links!”

Technically, the students didn’t use Think Link, though.  Instead I used the Hexagons Generator from ClassTools to print out the hexagons with words that related to the book. The students worked in groups to connect their hexagons in deep and meaningful ways that they could explain in detail using an interactive ThingLink.

Well, that was the plan.

The students quickly arranged their hexagons.  Then they took pictures of the groups and started making their ThingLinks.  They liked the idea of using video to explain each node that connected 2 or 3 hexagons, and started to get creative – using newscaster and professor voices.

Then they started to get a bit silly.

Plus I realized that their connections weren’t exactly deep and meaningful.  And some of them didn’t make any sense at all.

And then 2 groups accidentally lost 45 minutes of work on their iPads.

And the third group finished theirs, but ThingLink stubbornly refused to save it – grimly offering that I could “retry” or “delete” each time I attempted to upload it, but making absolutely no effort to offer the preferred third option, “Start this day over with a little less smugness and a little more planning.”

I looked at my giggly group of grade schoolers and took a deep breath.  Despite having to start their projects over, they were all quite cheerful.  And, the truth was that I had learned a lot from listening to their recordings – a lot that I needed to discuss with them to ensure they understood the text better.

We gathered in a circle and reflected on the day.  We clarified lessons learned.

And we decided to try it all again next week.

Earlier in the day, I had talked about “iterative”  with some of the teachers in the lounge.  We  agreed that it seemed to be quite the education buzzword these days, and I looked it up to make sure I was using it correctly.

This was the first definition I found. (Google’s version)