Monthly Archives: November 2018


I am thrilled to share projects done with my first graders based on the acronym of STREAM. You are probably familiar with STEM but the addition of the R and A put a new twist on STEM. Instead of just Science, Technology, Engineering and Math the R adds in the component of Reading while the A brings in Art!

Here are some of my favorite pictures where students built artistic representations of the Statue of Liberty and used Legos to recreate famous landmarks mentioned in “Iggy Peck, Architect” by Andrea Beatty.

I recently recorded a podcast to describe this first grade STREAM project and asked my teacher colleagues on my Special Area team to join me in sharing how they planned lessons with a STREAM focus. I have decided to share the podcast script below but first included an Animoto video of pictures from the project and shared a Google Slide Presentation too which I shared with first graders to prepare them for their Maker Day! The podcast will be shared at this website during the first week in December:

Here is the specific link to the Podcast.

Animoto Video of The Statue of Liberty project

Google Slide Presentation on The Statue of Liberty Maker Projects

I think that when we can provide students with the opportunity to construct their understanding of the world in a playful and supportive environment, we are leaning into their strengths and building positive relationships with them. They are learning how to be flexible and adaptable when they consider the ideas of peers while building with Legos or foam blocks. When they have to design a structure on a blueprint by painting it, they are using spatial knowledge and thinking deeply about design. As they sing, they are building neural pathways to connect the history of the Statue of Liberty with the Maker Days when they designed their own Statue of Liberty out of Play Doh, made foil or pipe cleaner sculptures or created unique crowns like the ones that the Statue of Liberty wears. My students have begun to be willing to accept a challenge and view mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow as they have been a part of the various STREAM projects. I love that they developed as effective communicators, self directed learners and academic risk takers who build on the ideas of others.

Script for STREAM Podcast by Lisa Maples and the Connect Team at Elon Park Elementary School:


Welcome to this week’s CMS Personalized Digital Learning Teacher Voice Podcast, Season Three, episode 15. My name is Lisa Maples and today we are going to talk about an effective strategy to frame lesson planning using the acronym of STREAM. I am going to share how I have expanded the STEM acronym to include an R and an A to create a new acronym of STREAM. The podcast will also include our Special Area team describing lessons that integrate STREAM.

Podcast SCRIPT​​:

I am the Technology Teacher and teach one thousand one hundred children in grades K-5 each week. I enjoy infusing technology into my lessons, but I have now started planning lessons through the STREAM lens. STREAM is an acronym which has expanded from the original STEM acronym which means Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. STREAM has been used to identify lessons that are built around Science, Technology, Reading​​, Engineering, ​Art​​ and Math. The R and the A are inserted into STEM to make STEM embrace Reading and Art.

In my expanded definition of STREAM, I have layered in our Learner Profiles as a part of Personalized Digital Learning in CMS.

In my lessons, the S stands for Science or Social Studies and Self Directed Learners.

The T stands for Technology and Thinkers.

The R stands for Reading, Research and Reflection.

The E stands for Engineering and Effective Communication.

The A stands for Art, Adaptability and Academic Risk Takers. The M stands for Math, Movement and Music.

You might be wondering how I orchestrated a STREAM unit.

Well, this year, in October, I reached out to first grade teachers and asked them what ELA Standards that they would be working on. We had a discussion and they sent me their nine week planning guide. I saw that they were focused on reading nonfiction, informational text. I decided that I could support their efforts by having students read and learn about famous landmarks in the world using the PBS Learning Media website. I also knew that in Andrea Beatty’s amazing picture book called “Iggy Peck, Architect”, that Iggy built a lot of famous landmarks. I asked our Media Center Teacher, Ms. Buncum, if she would share “Iggy Peck, Architect” with our first graders during their Media Center time while I shared information about famous landmarks with them during Technology Class.

I am now thinking that you would appreciate me sharing specifically what was planned to go along with each letter of STREAM so here’s how it worked:

The S in STREAM refers to Social Studies or Science but specifically in this unit, it was connected to a Social Studies idea. As I mentioned earlier, we used the book, “Iggy Peck, Architect” by Andrea Beatty, as our inspiration. In this book, Iggy builds many different landmarks around the world such as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, The Eiffel Tower, the St. Louis Arch and the Great Sphinx. I had students listen to information about some of the landmarks. My students found the country of their landmark on tiny globes to give them an idea of where they live compared to where the landmark is located.

The T in STREAM occurred when students created Technology Projects using an iPad app called Pic Collage. They also listened to articles found at on iPads which they accessed by scanning a QR code to learn more about them and then built the landmarks out of Legos. In the N.C. Standard Course of Study, in the Writing Anchor Standard 1.4, it states this: “With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools and resources to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.” My students were able to collaborate and publish a digital writing piece that encorporated what they had learned using the Pic Collage app.

The R in STREAM occurred when students Read and Researched The Statue of Liberty, a famous American Landmark. In the N.C. Standard Course of Study, the Reading Informational Text Standard 1.2 says that students will, “Identify the main topic and retell key details of a text.” Getting students to identify and retell key details is easier said than done! But, I did this with students while using digital text using http://www.pbslearningmedia.​org about the Statue of Liberty.

In my opinion, the R that means Reading in STREAM can be considered anything related to Literacy such as Listening, Speaking and Writing. The N.C. Standard Course of Study Anchor Standard 1.5 of Speaking and Listening says that “Students will add drawings or other visual displays to descriptions when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.” I had them draw the Statue of Liberty in the Pic Collage app and type the information that they learned which was captured on our Brace Map Anchor Chart.

The Writing Anchor Standard 1.2 from the N.C. Standard Course of Study says, “Students will write informative/explanatory texts in which they name a topic, supply some facts about the topic, and provide closure.” They were able to develop informative Pic Collage presentations about their Research of the Statue of Liberty.

The E in STREAM stands for Engineering and occurred when students built famous landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower out of Legos and built bridges. In​ ​​my Connect Class in Technology on a Maker Day, they chose one of the famous landmarks that Iggy Peck had built and recreated it out of Legos. They practiced being collaborators and creatively thinking. We have a focus on the CMS Personalized Digital Learning Learner Profiles of being Creative Thinkers and Collaborators so this activity allowed students to consider the thoughts and ideas of a partner. It also gave them the chance to be kids and create with LEGOS which was so much fun!

The A in STREAM stands for Art and Adaptability. On another Maker Day in my class​, students artistically represented The Statue of Liberty as they used materials like green playdoh, green and gold pipe cleaners, foil, foam spheres and paper plates. They became young architects of the Statue of Liberty! Once they had created their model of the Statue of Liberty, they took a picture of it with the iPad and inserted it into an app called Pic Collage. They typed the facts from a Brace Map that I had made into their project too.

It is my privilege to get to teach with an amazing Special Area Team. I would like to share now how my colleagues and I planned with the STREAM lens.

We call our Specials “Connect” because our special areas connect to each child’s experience as a learner. I have invited the other Connect teachers to share how we have collaborated on projects with first graders that integrated STREAM across the curriculum.

In “Iggy Peck, Architect”, Iggy designs a suspension bridge to help his class get off an island using their shoestrings, sticks, socks, etc. Ms. Buncum, our Media Center Teacher, had kids participate in an Engineering Challenge by building bridges.

Ms. Buncum, tell them about the bridge building project:

Ms. Buncum​​: I gave them a graphic organizer to plan their own bridges. I then had them use 30 colorful popsicle sticks and 10 large binder clips to actually bring their designs to life. They were able to place their bridges on top of red plastic cups. They had a great time designing. She will share their responses and her reflection of this activity.

Ms. Pylant​​, is our Art Teacher. Ms. Pylant, tell us how you were involved in “A” or Art part of this STREAM project.

She will talk about having kids create Blueprints of a structure on blue construction paper where they made a grid with white crayons. They dipped small strips of cardboard into white paint then stamped the paint on to the blue print. She required them to design it so that the structure had support under it. She will share her reflections and what went well and what she might change for next year.

LISA:​​ The “M” in STREAM in our case stands for Movement and Music.

Mr. Cunningham is our P.E. Teacher who has children collaborate through movement to build amazing structures.

Mr. Cunningham, tell us how you were involved in this project:

He will talk about the Imagination Station Playground in the gym. He had purchased enormous foam pieces which children use to build a variety of structures after being given building challenges. By giving the children building challenges, it gave them a way to have hands on practice with designing a structure, collaborating, communicating and critically thinking. They were active and got to touch each piece to make their vision come to life.

Ms. Proctor is our Music Teacher.

Ms. Proctor,​​ share how you built on what students had learned about the Statue of Liberty through Music:

She will share how that she built on the research that I had done with students on the Statue of Liberty and taught them a song about it. They were able to solidify important facts about the Statue’s history such as it being given to the USA as a gift by France. They were able to locate France and see where it is in relation to the New York Harbor area where the Statue of Liberty is located. They made a global connection between France and the location of the Statue of Liberty in New York City by learning the song. She has them closely read the lyrics to deepen comprehension of the text and then develop their musical sense by having them sing to a beat and enjoy music. They discussed more complex vocabulary like “immigrants” and how the Statue of Liberty was a symbol of freedom.

Lisa: ​ ​Thank you all for sharing how you were a part of this exciting chapter with first graders!

Our focus is on developing the whole child while empowering them to take ownership of their learning. The STREAM themed activities helped children apply information in productive ways to help them construct new and deeper understandings of the world.

If you would like to get started with planning a STREAM project, first identify standards that you want to address and Learner Profiles to highlight such as being a “Collaborator”. Locate a picture book to share with students or a resource which can be referred to during the process. In our case, it was “Iggy Peck, Architect”, but you could use any text. In our case, the Special Area teachers decided to have children build bridges, paint a structure, make a model of the Statue of Liberty, sing a song about the history of The Statue of Liberty and creatively collaborate to build Imagination Station structures. The support of the Special Area team was critical to the success of this STREAM project, but you could start with just your class. Plan with your STREAM lenses on and you will probably discover an idea to collaborate on with another colleague. You can plan a Maker Day with a variety of craft materials like popsicle sticks, binder clips, paper plates, pipe cleaners, Play Doh and Legos, but start with what materials that you have. I love the book “Iggy Peck, Architect” so all of these ideas were inspired from that book.

We know students engage more when they are connected to creative thinking and learning at a deeper level. I hope that you have been inspired by how the STREAM lens has shaped our thinking and planning for our students.


Thank you for listening to CMS Teacher Voice this week, we look forward to learning more

with you next week.