Week One of STEAM STORIES - Little Pencil

Welcome to my blog series on STEAM STORIES.
Week 1 of a 28 week series on how to combine STEAM and ELA in the classroom
This week we started off the whole lesson series.  This curriculum is designed to be used all year.  It's ideal for a Grade 2 curriculum in Canada which is more aligned with a 1st Grade curriculum in the USA.  But, as teachers we can be flexible and adapt it to fit most 6 - 7 year olds.  In this blog series I will go over the adaptations that I made each week this year in order to meet the needs of my class.  Every class is a bit different and so every class will do this curriculum slightly differently.  This curriculum is designed to allow flexibility.  You can follow it closely if that fits your criteria, or you can change, adapt, and/or modify it to suit your needs.
This year, my class meets up with their buddy class of Grade 5's on Friday afternoon.  I have 4 kids who are non-readers this year.  So the first level of the little books are too difficult for them, even though they are in Grade 2.  So, I decided that I would allow for some flexibility in this and so on the Friday the week before, the kids sat down and read the books by themselves first, and 5 minutes later, met up with their buddies and read their copy to their buddies.  

Week One is called Little Pencil.  The books are DRA levels 6, 12, and 18.  My kids are divided into 4 reading groups who are currently reading at a level 0, 8-10, 16-20, and 24 and above.
So here's how I paired them up with the books.  I did not assign them as guided reading books, so their reading groups are not mentioned.  I gave level 0 the first book (DRA 6) knowing it was too difficult for them, but making sure that their buddies would help them.  They actually got their books earlier in the day on Friday and as a group, we read the whole book through once.  (basically I read it out-loud and they following with their finger.) to build their confidence.
I gave level 8's the first book which was a DRA 6 and the level 10's the DRA 12 book.  Then I gave the level 16's the remaining DRA 12's and the 20's a DRA 18.  The 24's and above got the DRA 18 as well.
Remember that my ultimate goal this week is to set up the routine and keep the kids happy.  I am not worrying about whether or not they are getting reading instruction just yet.
So Friday they read their book with their buddies.
Here's a photo of my dayplan for week one.  I like to plan out my week ahead of time.
So I have circled in green all of the lessons from STEAM STORIES, and I circled in yellow, when they read the story from next week to their buddies.
Last week I sent home the letter requesting materials for the kids to use when they create.  I will show how I store these in an upcoming blog post.
Here's a breakdown of how the week went.
Monday am:  I introduced the new vocabulary. This week we simply went over each card and photo.  I talked about how the photos matched the word.  This should help them when they complete the worksheet and need to illustrate the definition of each word.

Then I gave the children the worksheets to complete.  My non-readers filled in the easier worksheet and the rest of the class did the other worksheet.

Monday pm:  I used the projector to present the problem and then the challenge.  I read aloud a copy of  the highest DRA level little book.  I believe that by re-reading the book multiple times it helps all readers.  The lower readers get more exposure to the words, and the higher readers deepen their comprehension with each read.  As a class we recorded some ideas on the whiteboard of possible solutions to the problem.

Then I sent the children to their desks to fill in the challenge worksheet.   Most of them did not take very much time to fill in this worksheet.  But I think the more often they do this process, the more they will understand it.  So for today I did not worry about whether or not their drawings made any sense.   

This page, once I checked it, was put into their STEAM Journals.

Tuesday am:  Today as one part of the ELA lesson we filled in the word bubble worksheet where the kids write down what they think Little Pencil is saying.  This class absolutely loved this lesson.  

I also did a small guided reading group with the lowest readers, and then asked them to read their book to one of the strongest readers in the class.  I then read with my 2nd lowest group in a guided reading circle, and discussed some of the meaning of the book with them.  I focused on how was Little Pencil feeling on each page.

Because the kids loved this activity so much, I decided to make a Class Book with all their pages.  Check back and I will add a photo of the book soon.    The kids love to read the class book and see what all of the other children have added to their pages.  I use the presentation folders with the clear pockets inside for Class Books.  And I reuse them every year.  We are on year 4 with most of them and I bought them at the dollar store originally.  

Wednesday am:  So today we worked on another comprehension strategy.  The kids chose their favorite part of the story, and filled in an activity worksheet about it.


With this worksheet, I wanted to make sure the children were learning the routine, so I didn't fuss over their spelling.  I did a method I call "erase and trace".  The kids write out their best work, and sound out the words they don't know.  I correct with a flair pen, and then they erase their work and trace mine.  I also correct punctuation using this method.   The kids like it because they are less likely to get stuck on how to spell certain words and they can focus on getting their ideas down on paper.  So they actually write more.

Wednesday pm:   This afternoon we actually created structures to solve the problem.  This week was a pencil case to hold all the crayons.  I gave them the criteria and wrote it on the board.  The case needed to hold 24 crayons and I put out a box of crayons for them to use to estimate the size they needed.  They also had the chance to look at their planning from their STEAM Journal, but most of them did not look at it (just as I suspected).

They worked at it for over an hour.  Some kids only took 30 minutes or so, but some took much longer.  They were totally engaged in what they were doing and there was a lot of discussion about the challenge.  Everyone was on task, which I loved!  I cannot post pictures of my students so I am unable to show you exactly what was going on, but it was great.

Thursday am:   Today they all re-read their story and did a worksheet on the story sequence.

This is a copy of my answer key.  We went over the 4 steps orally so the kids had an idea of what we were doing.  This was the first time we did this activity, so again, I was focused on the kids learning the routine, and not terribly worried about the kids understanding the activity.  My non-readers were able to ask for help and copy out of the book if they wanted.

Thursday pm:    This afternoon we tested our creations.  Each child came to the front of the room and explained which materials they used to build their creation.  Then they explained how their pencil box worked.   Finally I helped them put 24 crayons into the box to see if they succeeded in meeting the challenge.  The kids who did not were given a chance to revise their creation and test it again.  If it still didn't work I asked them what they would change if they were to do it again.  I was really interested in their explanations of their thinking.  I took down a few notes on each child for my assessment.  

Friday am:   Today we wrote out the worksheet from yesterday as a paragraph.  The kids wrote it and drew a picture.  I then checked over their spelling, grammar and punctuation and we followed the same technique of "erase and trace".    They then colored in their picture.  They did such a good job, that I also included their pages in the class book.

Friday pm:  Today we read the next week's book to our buddies (Little Red Apple).  

Later in the afternoon we did a self-evaluation for their pencil case creation.  I love how some of the kids drew a detailed picture and labelled it.

 So there you have it!  That's week one.  My hope for next week is that the children will start to learn more strategies from these activities which will help them with their Reading, Writing, Self-Reflection, and STEM skills.  Come back next week for a run-down on Week 2 Little Red Apple.

Thanks for stopping by today!

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