Buzz of Excitement


It’s been taking me some time to get the motivation to do my COETAIL work lately. I moved up to fourth grade this year from second grade, and I have been busy learning the new curriculum and helping a new teammate adjust. Although I put off doing this assignment for a week, I was excited when I finally started planning my learning activity. It reminded me that I have been too focused on learning the curriculum, and I haven’t spent enough time being creative. This was a great assignment to get my mind thinking outside of the text.

Thinking Routines

Before I planned out my learning activity I wanted to familiarize myself with Thinking Routines, so I explored Project Zero’s Thinking Routine Toolbox. Thinking Routines promote the development of thinking through guided, easy to learn steps.  Many of the routines are ones I commonly use but didn’t necessarily use the terminology. I like Project Zero’s structured approach to developing inquiry. I also like how one Thinking Routine can be used in multiple ways across disciplines.

As I explored, I had an idea in mind for a learning activity connected to a math activity that involved triangles and art. The See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine seemed to fit well with how I wanted my students to collaborate.

I used this Thinking Routine to get my students to look closely at each other’s finished products. Image from

Learning Activity

Since I am about to begin a new math unit on Geometry, I thought it would be fun to Flip the Classroom a bit and expose students to the three types of triangles using these triangles: Equilateral, Isosceles, and Scalene Triangles video and the Math is Fun website on triangles. Students have already been exposed to the types of angles: right, obtuse, and acute. With the knowledge students gained from these resources combined with what they already knew about angles, they were ready to complete their learning activity: Classifying Triangles: Tri-Mi Activity.

Design Process

The students’ task was to design a piece of triangle art using Google Drawing, the tools in Google Slides, or paper and rulers. Students could choose the platform. Many students had not used Google Drawing or shapes to design a piece of art on Google Docs.

The only constraint was that the entire picture is created out of triangles. The rest of the directions are listed below:

Students were then shown the image below as an example.

This activity allowed them to explore a new platform and troubleshoot together, which ended up creating quite a buzz in the classroom.

Unexpected Collaboration

Much to my surprise, students were able to collaborate much more than I had expected. Because many of them had not created in Google Drawing or even used shapes and lines in Google Slides to create a picture, there was a lot of exploration and questions as students got started.

This buzz of excitement reminded me of the article More Talking in Class, Please. Often times the use of technology can limit student discussion, but there are ways in which technology can encourage it. In my activity, students were using a new tool, which encouraged them to talk. Students offered each other ideas, tips, and troubleshoot problems together.

Some students even paused what they were doing to show the class a helpful trick. It was fun to see how the students figured out the nuisances of creating such small triangles without a mouse too. It was a good fine motor skills exercise too!


After students finished their Triangle Artwork, they uploaded it to the SeeSaw Activity I created. This allowed students to see each others work as well as comment using the See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine to push their thinking.

One student used triangles to create a robin. She labeled her triangles, added a description, and a caption.

When students had a chance to look at others’ drawings on Seesaw, there was a lot of excitement and positive reactions. Students had questions about the design techniques of their classmates. They wanted to know how to do some of the things their classmates did too. So by having students comment on the artwork, it not only allowed them to share their work, but it got students talking, asking questions, and working together to teach each other new design skills.

Here are some of the comments: (*for some reason, I am having issues uploading a screenshot. It keeps saying the system is busy or the file is too large. Any ideas on how I can get around this issue?)

Comment 1

Comment 2

Deeper Understanding

Overall, I believe students have a deeper understanding of the different types of triangles. This knowledge of triangles going into our math unit will make identifying triangles much easier. Students will already have the background knowledge from the video as well as visual artwork to help them see what these triangles look like in the world around them.

They will also be able to use the See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine in other activities now. I’ll be trying others out as well!  I love how they promote critical thinking with guided, easy to follow steps.

This activity has sparked my creativity again and I look forward to keeping that buzz going in my classroom.

Using new learning tools and allowing students to explore together, helps promote a buzz of excitement in the classroom amongst students. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels


ISTE Standards for Students 

4.b. Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.

6.a. Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

6.d. – Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Author: Andrea Goodrich

I am an international educator working in Hanoi, Vietnam. I have been working overseas for the past 13 years. I started my career in a bilingual school in Guayama, Puerto Rico as a fifth and sixth-grade reading teacher. Then I moved to Guayaquil, Ecuador, and taught fourth grade for two years. While living in Ecuador, I met my husband and we moved to Seoul, South Korea together. In Seoul, I taught fifth grade for two years and then moved into a literacy specialist role. We are now teaching in Hanoi, Vietnam with our two Korean rescue dogs.

4 thoughts on “Buzz of Excitement”

  1. Hi Andrea.
    First of all, I really like your blog’s new theme, its color scheme, and how the apparent simplicity highlights the content: why on earth did I forgot the importance of section headers??!! Great you did! (thanks for helping me see what my own site lacks).
    About the topic of this article, you explain so well the lesson you planned for your new 4th-grade class (congratulation for skipping a year! lol) that I felt I was part of the entire process. By combining math, art, and technology and blending it all with collaboration among your students for a better understanding and learning experience, you achieved the goal that was intended and it will help a lot of readers to have such a clear example of what collaboration in the classroom can look like.
    NB: One thing I noticed: the links you provide open on top of your own website instead of opening in a new tab (and it is a shame to “loose” your page if one doesn’t think of right-clicking to do this manually). After checking, I couldn’t find the option anymore either, although I was using it in the Spring… If you find out how to add this option again, I would love to hear from you as Google wasn’t my friend this time.

    1. Hi Christel,

      I was able to fix the tabs. Thanks for pointing that out. If you click on the setting wheel once you put the link, you can select the option to open the tab in a new link.

      I hope that helps,

  2. Hi Andrea!

    Thank you for sharing the See, Think, Wonder visible thinking routine. There are so many to choose from on the site that it’s helpful when other educators share one that they tried and that works for them.

    I should definitely try this routine with my students when they start a new unit or start a new topic in a unit to help build curiosity and to get them asking questions. I could also get students to use it as a feedback tool.

    I like using the 3 2 1 Bridge routine , it helps students recognize growth between their initial ideas and final ideas while learning about a topic or idea.

    When I hit a wall or I realize I’m not enjoying what I’m teaching or the activities, I also try something new or different. Trying out thinking routines adds to creative thought and critical thinking in the classroom and helps me out of my blahs.

    Good luck with the excitement buzz!

    1. Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for your comment. I checked out the 3,2,1, Bridge Routine. That is another great one to use! This would be good for my new Social Studies Unit. Maybe I’ll give it a try this week when I launch the unit.

      Thanks for sharing!

Comments are closed.