So this is Christmas,
And what have you done?
These lyrics from a popular Christmas song always make me pause as a teacher and a person and think, “What have I done?” To answer this question in December of 2019, I can say that rebranding my classroom as a STREAM Studio this year has allowed a fresh perspective to invade my teacher heart. I have provided numerous opportunities to create, collaborate, communicate and critically think in Grades K-5 at the new whiteboard tables with flexible seating. Using the Book Creator app on iPads to document the engineering design process is one of my most favorite times of the day with my first graders!
Here is a description of how I have framed my lessons using the STREAM acronym with pictures!
S – Self Directed Learners are planning a trap made from popsicle sticks and binder clips to catch the Gingerbread Person who has run away.
T – Technology use of Book Creator app on iPads, Thinkers who have to collaborate to build a group trap while combining ideas, Tinkering with binder clips and popsicle sticks to generate a solution is a challenge!
R- Reading versions of “The Gingerbread Man” but deciding that we should trap the Gingerbread person so it won’t get eaten by a Fox then we will take him or her back home.
E – Engineering Design Process to plan, build and test out our designs
A – Artistic representations of a Gingerbread person including decorating it with ideas from a glyph, Adaptability when needing to make adjustments to the design and incorporate ideas from collaborative teammates
M – Maker mindset is developing as students make design using simple materials
My design challenge question is “Can you create a trap that can catch and hold one Gingerbread person?” I provide plastic Gingerbread people on sticks that I bought at Michaels and plush Gingerbread people who smell like Gingerbread that I bought at CVS. I have each child get an iPad with Book Creator app, choose a partner, get a bag of popsicle sticks and binder clips then pick up a Gingerbread person.
They begin by drawing their trap idea in Book Creator, show it to a partner then decide how they will combine drawings to build the actual Gingerbread trap out of the materials! Next, they test it out to see if their trap works and take a picture of it in a Book Creator. Finally, they write about “How to Catch A Gingerbread Person” in Book Creator, change font and text size to make the sentences special!
I have asked our art teacher to have students make Gingerbread people and decorate them with a glyph. For ex., put One stripe on the leg if you have a sister or two stripes if you have a brother. Put various color buttons to represent the month that you were born in, etc.
Since I don’t have time to always read an entire book to the class and do the design challenge, I asked our Media Center teacher to read various versions of “The Gingerbread Man” to students.
I also think that students learn to use sequence words like first, next, then and last when typing about how to catch a Gingerbread person. I have an example on an anchor chart to provide writing support!