Gently Down the S.T.R.E.A.M. - Using Research and Making to Inspire Innovation and Creativity! Guest post by Barbara Johnson, Library Media Specialist at Jack Jackter Intermediate School.
School Libraries Work! (2016) by Scholastic, I read it right after my trip to AASL in Columbus, OH in November. IT FIRED ME UP! You can find it here if you haven't read it yet:
http://www.scholastic.com/SLW2016/index.htm. I was already excited to share, collaborate and inspire from my experience in Ohio. I came home ready to put the kids in charge, empower them, and let them drive! BUT, then I saw the data Scholastic had gathered, it was astounding, “75% [of students] have no idea how to locate articles and resources they need for their research. 60% don’t verify the accuracy or reliability of the information they find. [and] 44% do not know how to integrate knowledge from different sources.”(2)
Well, there were my Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) for the year! But how do I do this if I am supposed to let the kids drive? Enter the STREAM, the evolution of adding research (reading) and arts to the STEM program: https://www.impactoneducation.org/programs-for-students/s-t-r-e-a-m/. With this program, I could design student centered research projects, connecting them to both Science and Social Studies curricular topics, but then hand over the reigns of the project to the students. I created materials (graphic organizers) to guide the students to better research techniques (scholarly sources, accurate information, and MLA citations), I curated digital tools (BrainPop/Gizmo/Tinker-Ball) to create an engaging introduction, and then started collecting recycled materials to stock up the Makerspace students would be using to create.
Did I mention my kids are aged 8-10? Grades 3-5. So, when I looked at their SCIENCE curriculum, Grade 5 was getting ready to study Sound and Light, Grade 4: Properties of Liquids, and Grade 3: Simple Machines. PERFECT! Our district adopted the Stripling Model of Inquiry about 5 years ago because it seemed to connect to all grade levels with it’s W.I.C(S).E.R acronym. Wonder, Investigate, Construct/Synthesize, Express and Reflect is prominently displayed on the wall in each library, and taught in grades K-2. By the time the kids come to me, they are familiar with both terms and process. I can concentrate on the resources. The librarians of Colchester do this with fixed library lessons, now called Information Literacy. We collaborate with a Technology Specialist (which I used to be) and the other building Specialists (Music, Art and PE) to integrate and achieve STREAM. We are also fortunate to share the class schedule with the Tech Specialist so that we both have fixed classes, Genius Blocks, Collaborative Blocks and planning.
Building the Grade 5 lesson with my team, we considered:
CONNECT: Students were challenged with a mystery tune (Twinkle, Twinkle..but shhh, don’t let it get out) They were provided a table of materials, water, and an iPad. Materials included: glasses, cans, cups, pencils, pens, and paper. They were given a graphic organizer to plan out their strategy, and also record what happened. Off they went! So engaged, and PRODUCTIVE! Small groups worked together to figure out the tune, recreate it with the materials, and then document their work with the iPad, photo or video. (42 minutes or one class period)
WONDER: Students explore an interactive game on BrainPop Jr., and a quick video about sound. With their background knowledge filled in, students were given a graphic organizer to record the instrument they were curious about, and their findings. I made sure to include a place for a citation, and annotation (remember we want kids to use scholarly resources and cite them!) (42 minutes or one class period)
INVESTIGATE: students explore digital, print, and video resources. MUCH OF MY TIME is spent guiding students to understand the importance of using J.U.N.K (okay I made this up):
SYNTHESIZE/CONSTRUCT: Time to put together the pieces! Figuratively in this step. Students use their findings to sketch, plan or design a way to replicate the instrument they have just studied. I gave my students some choices here too! Students can go low-tech with pencil and paper, mid-tech with a Google Drawing, or high-tech with TinkerCad (3D design and printing)
Students created a sketch, used text boxes to describe what they were using and how the pieces and parts helped to make and/or change the instruments sound (remember those essential questions?) (42 minutes or one class period)
EXPRESS: LET THE FUN BEGIN! Student brought in recycled materials the thought they would need to build their instrument. There are no rules here but one, CAN’T BUY ANYTHING! We let them have the run of the library space here, just monitoring for kids who needed help. I did bring in my “big girl scissors”, hammer and hot glue sticks. I just got to walk around, poking holes in stuff or cutting plastic bottles in half. SO MUCH FUN to just let the time develop into what it will. The hardest part for kids, stopping. We had a bit of clean-up so we would stop after about 35 minutes of building. They were so upset, would have loved a 90 minute block, just to let them go...but 42 minutes it is! (84 minutes or two class periods)
REFLECTION: This is both for the students and me. Did they learn anything? Students are equipped with their instrument, their graphic organizers and their sketches. They are given a rubric for the project, and asked to self-evaluate. The rubric asks them to evaluate the quality of their findings, and their involvement. I use their work, their self-evaluation, and some video, to fill out the rubric myself and come up with a “grade” 1,2,3 or 4, which is what we use on our report cards (rubric is aligned to this scale)
Time to find another topic!
SCHOOL LIBRARIES WORK! A Compendium of Research Supporting the Effectiveness of School Libraries. New York: Scholastic, 2016. PDF.
"STREAM." Impact on Education. Boulder Valley Schools, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2016.
Twelve years ago, I left teaching 7th grade English to become a school library media specialist. I often miss having a class of "my own" students who understand my procedures and expectations. Being a middle school librarian with an open, flexible schedule I see 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students of all ability levels in their content area and special area subjects. I have taught in three different districts, but one thing is for sure...middle school students need reminders to mind their manners. To help our students prepare for their future we must not only teach them the academics, but also help them to become active, respectful participants in society.
Today I posted a sign at our circulation counter to remind my students about ways they can "mind their manners." Out in the "real world," I remind them, that it's not always what they know but how they act and what they say. Sometimes children are oblivious to how their behavior impacts other people's perceptions of them. Other children don't have appropriate role models for them to emulate. Already I see a change in students who now know how to relate to others with this gentle reminder.
Developing good manners is a life skill, I have created given signs for the offices of my administrators, the nurse, the guidance counselor, and the dean. I even posted them in the cafeteria. It takes a village to raise a child!
Kristina A. Holzweiss
Ed Tech School Librarian