Recently, my amazing co-teaching partner in 2nd grade, Quincey Williamson, and I presented “The Big Picture and Small Details of Incorporating STEM Ideas in Your Elementary Classroom”. The main take away from our presentation was simply this:
Story is a great way toward incorporating STEM into your classroom!
Fictional Stories, Historical Stories, Science Phenomena Stories, News Stories, Your Story, Your Students’ Stories, etc.!
To illustrate this point we used the book, Too Many Carrots by Katy Hudson, but we didn’t use it in the traditional way. We didn’t read the whole story, we stopped as soon as we came to the main character’s problem (around page 4). Rabbit had too many carrots, that he didn’t have a place to sleep.
We paused the story there and asked the teachers’…What are some possible solutions to Rabbit’s problem? We did this by providing them some independent think time (with drawing paper), followed by some table sharing and listening.
Next we challenged them to collaboratively think of idea #5 (if in a group of 4), based on all the solution ideas shared. We really stressed, like we do with our students, to think of a collaborative idea, rather than going (or voting) on an already shared solution. This allows for more opportunities for language use, through negotiation and brainstorming, creativity, and for honoring the individual contributions of each group member (my favorite part!). 🙂
But…we added an extension to this collaborative session and some constraints. Each group was also asked to construct their model, using a bag of $1 store materials + some blocks-like materials, AND to do so while making sure their model included some key components: Rabbit, 100 carrots (cut orange pipe cleaners), and 1/4-1/2 piece of construction paper to represent Rabbit’s available area. Note: This component makes this idea easy to modify based on grade level needs.
Additionally, each group was given an iPad to document PROGRESS and to later select a platform/app to help them communicate their process to solution. Here are some of the creations!
Quincey and I were WOWED by their solutions and how they communicated those solutions. So many ideas we never would have thought of alone! We learned so much from their models, and their selected platform/app. Many groups selected Popplet, which we have used before, but never to communicate process. It was an Aha! moment for us. 🙂 After the gallery walk I read the rest of the story so they can hear another solution, Rabbit’s solution, which was actually several attempts at finding a solution with the help of his friends.
There were many faces of delight, surprise, and a new type of self-to-text connection, since they were able to journey with Rabbit and be part of the problem solving team.
Afterwards, we gave them some more independent think time to jot down possible extensions, new ideas, connections, etc., which they shared whole group. We wrapped up the session by challenging them to think of their own STEM prompt by providing groups 3-4 picture books (ones I have featured on this site), along with Newela articles and stories found in their grade level reader. They shared these group generated STEM Story Prompts to the whole group, table by table.
Our presentation was a blast and really conveyed our goal: Story is a great way toward incorporating STEM into your classroom! Fictional Stories, Historical Stories, Science Phenomena Stories, News Stories, Your Story, Your Students’ Stories, etc.!
I hope this post sparks some ideas for your own STEM Story prompt. 🙂
- The books I provided the tables came from ones I received from a grant. You can access many of those titles HERE and HERE. You can also access them on my “Science Topic Book List” tab.
- The inspiration of this story pausing idea came from research from Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, which I have featured on my website. You can access that research and post HERE.
- The handout we provided teachers that reviews our key features can be found HERE.