Implementation of “A paper plane parade” (SOI- GR-295)

Author: Paraskevi Belogia, Teacher of English

School/Organization: 16th Primary School of Larissa, Greece

The scenario A paper plane parade (EN-CUR-609) created by Alina Marilena Buduleanu provides students with the chance to explore the fascinating flying machines that have revolutionised human travel through the skies. By immersing themselves in this engaging activity, students have the chance to take on the role of aerospace engineers, investigating the science behind airplane flight and constructing their own paper planes that fly through the air. 

By participating in this hands-on activity, students deepen their understanding of the principles of aviation and gain valuable insights into the mechanics of flight. Additionally, the process of designing and constructing their own paper planes not only stimulates their imagination, but also fosters their creativity, innovation, and problem-solving skills.

The implementation context

Incorporating STEAM Education into English Language Learning

I teach English at the 16th Primary School of Larissa, Greece, and I applied the Paper Plane Parade scenario to an 11 to 12-year-old group of 22 students. We were studying a quite difficult unit for their level in our English books titled: “The History of the Aeroplane” with really demanding vocabulary for their age and level related to the subject of aeroplanes and flight. The unit also had strong cross-curricular connections with Science as they had to learn and understand the four forces of movement and their role in flying a plane. I must admit that these concepts are also quite challenging for me to explain, as I do not have the necessary knowledge and expertise. So, the unit was demanding not only for my students but also for me. My students had been consistently complaining about the complex vocabulary in the specific unit. They found it difficult to connect with the material, and despite my best efforts, I had been struggling to help them see how this knowledge would be useful to them. But my excitement grew when I came across the Paper Plane Parade scenario while browsing the Teaching with Europeana blog, as it was a wonderful chance to make the material more accessible and enjoyable for all of us. I saw this as an opportunity to introduce a fun, creative, and rewarding learning experience to my students while also teaching them about the principles of flight in a more engaging way.

The narrative

A Creative and Engaging Learning Process

Introducing the Topic of Flight

Efficient planning was key to finishing the scenario in just one teaching hour. I prepared a PowerPoint presentation to guide me through all the activities, which saved a lot of time. I began by asking my students how humans fly, and then introduced them to the platform to search for relevant images. At this point, I have to say that I had to change most of the pictures suggested in the learning scenario with new ones, as most of the suggested links didn’t work. I then showed my students how to use the platform to search for relevant images, and how to use the search filters appropriately to find pictures that they have the right to use. They loved the process and found more pictures of means of transport that fly.

Blending Science and English

We then blended Science and English by watching the “How do airplanes fly?” video and simultaneously working on an activity in their books. Students learnt the parts of the plane and the four forces of movement in an easy way. At that point, I loved the comment of one of my students who said: “Mrs. Evi, I feel a bit confused, are we having a Science or an English lesson?” and I was happy to answer that we are doing Science through English because that’s what we were really doing! At that moment, I realised how seamlessly we were blending two subjects together and how much my students were learning without even realising it. 

Paper Airplane Building: From Failure to Success

The most creative part of the scenario was paper plane building. I asked my students to build paper planes using only an A4 sheet and their imagination. After their initial designs failed to fly far, I showed them the tutorial video and gave them 10 minutes to improve their designs. The second time around, their planes flew fast, far, and reached the target. They were thrilled and I captured the moment with a photo.

Introducing Constructive Feedback to Students 

Before the exit questionnaire, I asked students to give feedback on what went wrong during the first attempt and how they improved during the second. I used this opportunity to introduce them to constructive feedback and showed them “The story of Austin’s butterfly” video on it. My students were able to understand what constructive feedback is and how honest comments from their classmates and teachers can help them improve.

Learning outcomes

Engaging Students with STEM: A Short Scenario that Made a Big Impact

Upon collecting exit questionnaires from the students, it became evident that they had achieved a great deal in just one hour and had thoroughly enjoyed the entire process. Observing the impact that a brief scenario with creative activities had on my teaching practice was highly rewarding.

The students developed and improved their critical thinking skills, building on their ability to recognise and name different flying machines, identify the design of the airplane during different periods, name the parts of an airplane, and understand how an airplane flies. They also learnt how to build a paper plane that could fly and give constructive feedback to their peers. The specific activity enabled students to exercise their creativity, take information and conclusions from their analysis of a problem and use them to create their own products. They also engaged in constructive dialogues and listened to each other’s feedback, focused on constructive criticism, suggestions, and opinions. 

The scenario encouraged students to observe, discover new information and develop solutions to real-life problems, such as what a plane needs to fly. The students felt motivated and engaged in a learning-by-doing activity of making and testing paper planes, which allowed them to celebrate their success and feel confident in themselves. 

For teachers who are interested in implementing a scenario like this, my advice is to step out of your comfort zone and try something new! You don’t have to be a Science teacher to engage your students in hands-on, problem-solving activities like building paper airplanes. Embrace the opportunity to try something different and see where it takes you and your students. Remember, learning doesn’t have to be tedious or stressful. By incorporating fun and interactive activities like building paper airplanes, you can make learning an enjoyable experience for everyone. So go ahead, give it a try!

Outcomes for the educator

Lessons Learnt from the Paper Plane Parade Scenario and Beyond.

After successfully implementing the Paper Plane Parade scenario, I was inspired to search for other creative ideas to integrate into my English lessons. The possibilities in the platform and in the  Teaching with Europeana blog were endless, and my excitement grew as I discovered new material to share with colleagues and fellow teachers. Witnessing the enthusiasm and progress of my students was truly rewarding, and I couldn’t help but reflect on how much my previous classes had missed out on without this type of hands-on, interactive learning.Using search filters in Teaching with Europeana blog allowed me to discover a wealth of exceptional teaching ideas that I could incorporate into my classroom. The paper plane parade scenario was a valuable lesson that reminded me the significance of hands-on activities that can be both enjoyable and informative. Moreover, constructive feedback is essential for students to grow and improve continuously. Integrating STEM and English can also aid students in recognising the connections between various subjects and their practical applications in the real world. This can result in increased motivation, engagement, and curiosity, not only in STEM but also in language learning. Therefore, don’t hesitate to experiment and try out innovative approaches that combine STEM and English in your lessons! Going forward, I am committed to following this path as much as possible in my teaching practice.

Did you find this story of implementation interesting? Why don’t you read about the related learning scenario? A paper plane parade created by Alina Marilena Buduleanu

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Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the Rijksmuseum.

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