Saturday, May 3, 2014

An important part of the ECE building study was the examination of the lassic fairy tale "The Three Little Pigs."  This story was a perfect lead in to our essential questions What are the Features of Buildings? What are Buildings made of?  What makes them strong? and What happens inside buildings? During the course of the study, we read six different versions of the "Three Little Pigs."  Each version had its own variations, changing the characters, the setting, and/or the ending.  The common thread in the books was the importance of working hard and building the right kind of house.

Over the course of the 6 week study, we read each of the stories at least once.  One of our daily activities is a shared writing/discussion.  Several of these large groups were dedicated to shared writing and discussion of the three little pigs, including a chart comparing the stories, and discussions about materials used to build houses.  , Additionally, the children wrote their own page for the story, which was mostly a writing assessment.  During the final week of the building study, The children did the C.S.I. thinking routine.  Leslie and I both decided that we wanted to jump in and try doing C.S.I. with our students.  It was the first time for both of us.  Leslie developed a template using a larger format for our emerging writers.  The template dedicated an entire page to each part of the routine.  To introduce the routine to the students, I modeled doing a C.S.I. for another story that we had read multiple times, "The Gingerbread Man."  The part of C.S.I. that I was most anxious about was how to explain the difference between a symbol and an image to 3 and 4 year-olds. For my Gingerbread Man demonstration, I chose the color brown.  All the students understood that brown represented the color of gingerbread.  I then showed several examples of symbols, e.g. a heart for love, a peace sign, a broken heart for sadness.  My older students were able to come up with their own symbols, like a tear for sadness, and a happy face for happiness.  Once I felt like the students had some understanding of what a symbol is, we brainstormed to figure out a symbol for the gingerbread man.  We determined that we wanted a symbol for deliciousness, which was represented as a plate of cookies.  For the image, I explained to the children that it should be a picture that shows the most important action of the story and we settled on the gingerbread man running.  Once we had collectively done the C.S.I. for "The Gingerbread Man," it was the children's turn.  The first attempt with my 3 year-old class was a complete disaster.  The modeling was too long and most of the students could not sit any more.  The few that were focused enough to try, quickly showed me that the routine needed some tweaking for these very young learners.  For the color I got, "I want blue because Elsa's blue," and "I want purple because it's my favorite color."  At this point I gave up and we moved on.  I tried it again with the 4 year-old class.  The older students were much more engaged from the start.  Since this was their first time doing C.S.I., we did it as a "whole" group activity, but there were 3 adults (me, my para, and a special education service provider) available to give individual attention where needed.  I started by giving each child the "color" page.  Most of the children immediately chose pink as their color.  One student wanted blue.  When I asked him why, he said, "because I like it." I sat with him for a few minutes asking questions like, "why does blue remind you of the three little pigs?" Eventually, he came around to the idea behind the exercise and chose brown, "because the wolf is brown"  For the symbol, we brainstormed to determine the big idea of the story.  I was thrilled when a couple children stated that the big idea of the story is "you have to work hard."  Most of the students drew a brick or a brick house for their symbol.  For the image most of the children drew a pig, one drew the three houses, and one drew the wolf.   One student, who was working with the special ed teacher drew a hand for her symbol.  I thought this was brilliant, but I believe she got a huge amount of support from the sped teacher and it was not a genuine product of her thinking. 

For a first shot, I was pleased with the results.  I learned a lot from doing this thinking routine with the students.  First of all, I need to break the process down, especially for the younger students.  The routine may be something that is done over days, rather than in one shot.  I also believe this routine is one that needs to be started early, so that the students become more accustomed with process of turning their understandings into a visual.  Finally, along the lines of slowing down, and giving more time, I believe the image portion of the routine needs to be a separate exercise for the young students.  I think if the image aspect of the routine had been done on a different day, I could have gotten the students to add more details and make the image more encompassing of an aspect of the story.  In other words, I think that the students' images could have represented deeper thinking if they had not already been sitting and drawing for an extended time.  So, my biggest take away is that while this is a great routine for young students who can't write, I need to adjust it with my students' stamina in mind. 

I am very excited to start the year with this experience of using thinking routines that can be woven into my plans throughout the year.

1 comment:

  1. Gail,
    You really hit upon the one thing I, too, am working on: slowing down. I love that you're trying STW in ECE. I've learned that even for my kids, every step must be thoroughly modeled and explained and (usually) done in chunks! Re; your difficulty with symbols: what about comparing to math symbols, +, - and =?. I like that you broke the CSI up into different pages. The quality of the presentation of formats to children definitely effects the work you get out of them. Keep trying it, keep tweaking it!