Solving Real World Problems in Grade 2

27 Dec 2019


By Steve Katz, Originally posted on the Panther Post

“My headphones are broken!”

“So are mine.”

ISKL’s Elementary School Grade 2 teacher, Alex Lancia had heard these words too many times. The tub where his second graders store their headphones was resulting in many being broken. He decided to do something about it. He asked his students to try to solve the problem of where to put their headphones so they won’t get broken. 

I went into the class with our brand new maker cart, and Alex took them through the ISKL Innovation Cycle, our version of the design thinking process, to develop ideas and design prototypes for a headphone storage solution. The students got to work drawing out a variety of ideas about how to store their headphones. Once the designs were reviewed by the teachers, students got the materials and tools they needed from the maker cart and began building their prototypes out of cardboard and other materials. At the end of class students shared their prototypes and explained the thinking behind them.

Later that week I was back in the class to review the designs and help the class decide on one solution we would actually build. There were several viable ideas, and the class eventually came to a consensus on one. The students worked through centers in rotation, with Alex leading groups focused on measurement and the math involved in the creation of the headphone holders. I stationed the maker cart outside, and when students came to me they sanded the reclaimed wood for their project using a power sander and sanding blocks, and also filled the holes with wood putty. 

We are now finishing the sanding and have started using the drill to make holes in the wood. We are hoping to get the project painted next week, and installed soon after. The students are having a good time and enjoying the activity so far. Jason shared, “I like that this teaches me about math,” and Anna told me that her favorite part is the sanding.

The move to ISKL’s state-of-the-art Ampang Hilir campus brought our students many great new opportunities for learning. We have a wonderful makerspace that expands the number of possibilities for the students to connect to the curriculum and the Student Learning Results. The makerspace has been such a big hit that we needed to expand. I saw some maker carts at another school and thought that they would get a lot of use here. A maker cart is ideal when a class wants to do a project, but doesn’t need the entire makerspace to do it. So I applied for an ISKL Inspiration Fund grant and it was accepted. This project is the first time either of the carts has been used, and the lesson has been a big success so far. 

Stay tuned to see the solution to the headphone storage challenge. 

About Alex Lanica

Alex Lancia is a Grade 2 teacher at The International School of Kuala Lumpur and holds a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction, an inquiry mindset, and a passion to integrate technology in the classroom. His instructional beliefs are centered around active learning, with students using critical thinking and reflection as crucial components of their learning journey, and the inquiry cycle as a mental framework to discover and uncover.

To see more of what Alex Lancia does in class check out his blog and follow him on Twitter @mralexEC

About Steve Katz

Steve Katz is the Elementary School Technology Coordinator at The International School of Kuala Lumpur, and loves working with students of all ages. During his career he has been called upon to teach a variety of different subjects, and has enjoyed his various roles such as director of educational technology, professional development coordinator, and a university professor. Steve is an Apple Distinguished Educator, ISTE CAP Trainer, authorized Google Education Trainer, and Apple Professional Development Specialist, and he presents technology integration workshops regularly. You can check out what Steve has been working on at and follow him on Twitter @stevekatz