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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.
As I reflect on how my library program has evolved over the years, I must take a moment to thank visionary Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose. When I began creating the makerspace in my library two years ago, the only supplies that I had were yoghurt containers, cardboard, and bottle caps that I had saved over the summer. Now my students have access to iPads, Chromebooks, Dash and Dot, MiP, Ozobots, Osmo, a 3D printer, a drone, duct tape, a Cricut vinyl cutter, and supplies to transform trash into treasure. With your help I have also been able to transform our makerspace into a fun, inviting place for kids not only to learn, but to express themselves and to make friends. Here are some pictures of people who have visited our makerspace over the past two years:
I was so excited to have the chance to meet Katie Vallas at the DonorsChoose office in NYC. Having a tour of the office and meeting these wonderful people behind the scenes was a dream come true for me.
My husband says that I have an addiction. I am beginning to agree with him! Mike came to the MakerFaire in DC last month with my "Partner in SLIME" Gina, and her daughter Hannah. He was there to make balloon car racers, water bottle confetti poppers, duct tape flower pens, and (my favorite!) soda can jewelry. He couldn't believe how popular our table was. And we were mostly using recycled materials!
Well, just recently Mike posted this YouTube video link on my Facebook page. Now I'm REALLY hooked! I take the tabs off of soda cans to use for jewelry. Then I use a can opener to take the top off, leaving a smooth edge. So amazing and simple. I think Mike has created a monster.
So, what am I doing this summer? Gathering recycled materials that I can use in my library makerspace and for our upcoming SLIME (Students of Long Island Maker Expo). Even my 6 and 5 year old sons are saving their water bottles from their summer camp snack. What are the things that I collect? Here are some:
While I was still at the ISTE conference in Philly, I took some downtime in the hotel to cruise through the Craigslist "Free" postings. When I returned home I was able to snag three boxes (about 300!) samples of picture frame corners. Just the corners. And none of them match. I have a variety of styles and colors to choose from. What will my students create with them? I have no idea, but I had to have them! Sure you can find the perfect craft on Pinterest or in a magazine article and then search for the materials. But I won't have to find 300 picture frame corners when I need them because, yes, I will need them.
A few months ago, I asked the manager at Home Depot for a box of paint stirrers. They went from my cart, to the already packed trunk of my SUV, to the library workroom of my middle school library. Today, I found this in the June/July 2015 issue of Make: magazine. Just perfect! Check out other comics at http://www.howtoons.com.
Remember as you enjoy spending time with friends and family at your barbeque, as you wait in line for two hours to ride that new roller coaster at the amusement park, and as you spend a romantic weekend at a BnB and antiquing, you just may come across someone else's trash that can become your treasure.
For more inspiration, check out Michelle Hlubinka's article for Make entitled "The Hunt for Junk": http://makezine.com/2013/08/22/the-hunt-for-junk/
Kristina A. Holzweiss
Ed Tech School Librarian