tinker with text
Literacy-Based Maker Education
Let’s look at fairy tales to see how we can tinker with text in a primary classroom.
Create a text set which is centered around a certain title or theme. You should have at least 30-50 books in your set. Make sure that you have a variety of readability levels as well as fiction and non-fiction titles. In this example, lets’ say that we are building our work around “The Three Little Pigs.” Fill your reading bins with different versions of this fairy tale; add fractured fairy tales, comics, and wordless picture books; and include non-fiction books about pigs, farm animals, wolves, forest habitats, and construction. Then – read, read, read. Do read-alouds, shared reading, think-pair-share, and book talks. Teach reading strategy lessons throughout. Use sections of these books to teach mini-lessons to small groups about decoding. Allow the students to talk about their learning or favorite part of a story and record it using the Do-Ink, Flipgrid, or ChatterPix apps. You could attach a QR code to the books with the recording to promote it to other students. Create a playlist of YouTube videos about pigs and wolves along with readings of related stories; add this to your Google Classroom.
Next, give your students a task challenge. (You could make several design challenge cards and let them choose but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll limit it to one for this example. This is called a “guided” challenge. All students do the same challenge but will go about it in different ways.)
Have the children draw blueprints and label, write a supply list to be given to the hardware and lumber store (you), and let them research construction. Provide the materials in tinker trays, tinker tins, or tinker tubs. This way there are built-in constraints on the amount of materials that are used. This is design thinking and makerspace, not a craft. Students are encouraged to create their house in any way they decide rather than following a teacher’s instructions or exemplar.
Use this experiential learning time to teach reading and writing skills. Not a full-blown lesson, just morsels dropped here and there. (i.e. Hmm, how can we make that word (nals) say “nails?” Is a vowel missing?) Provide lots of time for the children to build their houses. Then, test them. Use a fan or a blow dryer to “huff and puff, and blow the house down!” If the house falls down, go back to the drawing board. Think, talk, write, and plan for the rebuild.
Students will share their learning by talking about their house with other students and writing about their learning using apps such as WriteReader, Book Creator, or Google Slides. After they have written, they can read it to someone else or read each other’s writing.
Do you see how the reading, writing, and making act as differentiated springboards for the next and then loop back? Weaving one into the other while students move at their own pace and within their own ability level? This is tinkering with text!
*Note: My initial idea for this came from http://momgineer.blogspot.ca/ However, I have tweaked it in various ways to make it my own, as all good teachers do. There are some examples of this on Pinterest too but they either include worksheets or are craft oriented, which is not student-centred learning. You will find ways to reiterate this in your classroom too. Have fun!
Vicki Den Ouden is an Elementary Reading Intervention Teacher from BC, Canada. She loves to dream, learn, teach, and create.