How do you celebrate the end of the school year with your students? I personally like to use this time to celebrate the many successes my students have achieved through the year. This year we broke a record with our state testing pass rate in 4th grade! My students met both of their progress goals for the year, and there are countless measures of social growth we could celebrate together. It was a great year! Maybe it wasn’t the easiest year I’ve had teaching. There were definitely moments that required a break and a change in mindset, but my students and I got past those moments just like any “family” would. It was a year to celebrate.
The 4th grade team that I work with enjoys a field trip with our students at the end of the year to celebrate academic success and hard work. This year we took our students to a movie and then a picnic at the city park. This trip has become a tradition for us. It’s always a great day. What I enjoy most about this day is the fact that I get to just enjoy spending time with my students and their parents. Its a moment that we get to share outside of school that strengthens the relationships we’ve worked so hard to forge throughout the year.
In the classroom for the last two weeks I decided to change how I usually celebrate this time of year with my students. I usually do a writing project, like a memory book. However, I wanted to continue using the skills and working toward the reading goals we’d set at the beginning of the year. I wanted to have a chance to have fun and enjoy learning. I decided I wanted to integrate STEAM and reading. Our first project was to make a penguin fly. My students researched penguins and flight. We read and took notes about flying machines. The objective was to use the research to create their own flying machine that would allow a “penguin” to fly. My real objective was for my students to understand the purpose of our hard work; that is reading to learn. It was so much fun. My students have never been so engaged in their research. We had reflective discussions about their projects and why they were successful or not, based on their research. It worked out so well that I decided to do it again. Our second project was bottle flipping. The students had to research the science that made the flip successful. They used their research to find the right bottle, the right technique, and the right water level. They experimented using those findings. Once they were successful, we extended the research on Youtube, searching and viewing trick shots. My students designed their own trick shots on Scratch from code.org and then we began practicing those shots. Wow! I had two students who were able to flip their water bottles up onto the back of the basketball rim by the end of the week. Again, we had so much fun! And you know, my students learned that reading is done for a purpose. When they weren’t successful, they went back to find more information, and they did it on their own without me having to tell them to do so. Isn’t that what we do as adults? Isn’t that the purpose of learning to read? I’m calling this Reading Research-based STEAM idea a success. We enjoyed working together in a way that we don’t get a lot of chances to throughout the year and my students enjoyed learning.
My Reading Research-based STEAM task journal on Google Slides will be available soon at Mrs Gentry’s Class on Teachers Pay Teachers. The lesson plans for the two above mentioned projects will also be available.