Post Author: Pam Moeai, Educational Technology Team Leader
Reading and Sequencing Scaffolds – Building a Leprechaun Trap
I recently had the opportunity to visit with Stacey Tanner and her first graders at Hillside Elementary. Stacey is a veteran teacher that continually likes to push the envelope in order to make instruction authentic, effective, and fun! I was able to watch her in action with a “Build a Leprechaun Trap” project, which included pieces of writing, listening, and sequencing activities. I was very impressed with her ease of using critical and creative thinking skills with her students, as exemplified in this seasonally timely activity.
This activity began with a story about leprechauns, traps, and the steps required in order for the students to be successful trap builders and to catch those spry sprites. This simple introduction served its purpose well in getting her students intrigued about the possibilities.
The students didn’t know, at first, that they would be building traps. But, they were beginning to suspect that would be the case due to all of the building materials situated on the floor before them. I was very impressed with the directions given by Stacey and the steps for getting the supplies they needed for the trap building. Everything was organized, including the number of how many items from each pile could initially be taken. Projects require a lot of planning and foresight into anything and everything that could go wrong. Stacey was extremely proficient and professional at this and what I witnessed her students doing was nothing short of amazing. No helter skelter here! I truly believe that “littles” should rule the world!
Most interesting to observe was how seamlessly and naturally the students fell into real learning….not just fun and games as one may expect. The students were presented with a sequencing chart, which is very similar to a story map. Before any building could begin, the students had to visualize what they wanted the result to look like. Each student drew eight pictures depicting their trap and the process of how the leprechaun would be caught. Once that was completed and checked by an adult, the classroom was transformed into a construction zone.
The students knew exactly what to do thanks to Stacey’s preparation, and their excitement was palpable. They were definitely up for the challenge. The scaffolds and preparation led to successful trap building, and any leprechauns in the vicinity of Hillside Elementary should be aware of these first graders’ crafty skills…or else!
What happens next? Eventually, the students will begin the actual writing process and turn their pictures into words using the Voice Typing Tool found in Google Docs. This way, the students can look at the pictures they’ve drawn and turn them into words that they can see and edit. I thought this was genius! What a great way to take away the fear of writing and replace it with storytelling – something that kids just innately love to do.
As we all know, a project like this does not begin without some collaborative planning. Keith Reidford, Hillside’s STS (School Technology Specialist) was more than happy to team up with Stacey in preparation for this event. When asked what kind of planning went into a project like this, Keith related to me that he and Stacey had been working collaboratively… building conceptual knowledge with the students, and relying on the core curriculum and content that drive these kinds of experiences. Stacey and Keith have been working on writing with the students using scaffolding strategies that help solidify the skills necessary for these “firsties” to be successful. What a fun way to instruct! What an engaging way to learn! I am sure this lesson and activity will be something these kiddos will not easily forget. Way to go, Ms.Tanner!