Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Origami - Learning So Much More Than Paper Folding

Have you ever used origami in your classroom?  I have been amazed at the lessons my students have learned!  So much more than just paper folding!

This year, we have been blessed to have a mom of one of my students come in to teach origami.  If it were not for her, my class would not be learning origami because I am definitely not blessed with the talent of being able to intricately fold paper.

She and I have both joked about how we could "justify" the origami lessons - the students are learning about symmetry, angles, following directions, etc.  But, truthfully, the students and I have learned some important life lessons.

I have always been blessed to be "book smart".  School was easy to me and I have easily scored in the top 10% of just about every standardized test I have ever taken.  However, back in high school when I took the ASVAB, I scored at least two standard deviations below the lowest possible score on the spatial reasoning section ( well, not seriously, but I was definitely in the bottom ten percent).  Origami lessons are the time when I REALLY identify with my struggling learners! I have to have the directions repeated OVER and OVER again.  Often another student has to take my project to re-do the errant folds I have made.  They love being able to teach the teacher.

But, I am not the only one with this experience.  Most of my higher students have learned that they also struggle.  But... just like me they persevere!  They try it again and again until they get it.

My struggling learners have also learned what it feels like to be GOOD at something!  Many of these students are naturals at hands on learning.  Some of them don't even need to hear the directions, they just know how to do it!

The origami lessons have even inspired my students to become teachers!  A few of my boys have been reading the Origami Yoda series and taught us all how to make Origami Yodas!

And... even though I struggled and needed after school tutoring - I FINALLY made my own spinners!

 Updated: Since this post was originally written a few years ago, I obviously no longer have this parent coming into my classroom.  Luckily for me, and for you, I just found these amazing videos that teach kids how to make origami animals. You can find them at Art for Kids Hub. They also have lots of other great art projects as well! I can't wait to try them with my students this year!

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