Thursday, May 7, 2009


While working on a curriculum review team this past summer, a colleague and I were responsible for taking a piece of that curriculum and showing some creative teaching ideas that could apply to it. It was requested that some of these ideas could apply to other areas at all elementary grade levels as well. Hmmm . . . that doesn’t seem like a big assignment at all (note my sarcasm!).

But my colleague had an idea we could use, and together we were able to “flesh it out” a little more.
Something he had done in the past was a small assignment that he called Sketch-A-Story. He had used this as a means to involve his students as he did storytelling for Bible. First, he had his students fold an 8 ½ x11 page in half and then half again, making four boxes. These boxes would provide room for 4 sketches or pictures. Then he gave his students the following instructions: “After I (the teacher) have read (or told) a section of the story, you need to do a “sketch” (a quick pencil drawing) about what you have heard. I will do this four times. Each time I stop, you will make one sketch in each block.” He would allow the students to finish and perfect their pictures later, as well as giving them time to write a sentence describing the action in the picture they drew.

So we put our heads together on this. . .

Here is an example of this "new" page:
This page was created for a Bible assignment. Below is a close-up on one of the boxes and title area. (Oh, the bliss we will experience when I figure out how to add files and documents. . .)And here are some steps (few and brief--add your own or mix it up or change it all together to make the idea work for you!) to follow when using this page:

Teacher Prep:
1. Copy enough pages for your class. (unfortunately at this point, you are going to have to make one of your own. . .)
2. Pre-read the story you are going to tell. Split it into four parts (four main actions or four things you want your students to remember from the story).
3. If you are an over-achiever, you can make an example!

In Class:
1. Distribute pages. Have students write their names and the story title on the page.
2. Instruct students that they will be listening to a story. At four points in your story-telling, you will stop. At that time they will be required to sketch a picture in the box. (The first time you stop, sketch a picture in box #1, the second time you stop, sketch a picture in box #2, etc.). The picture has to show the most important parts or events that occurred in your reading. Once you have stopped for about 2 minutes, you will go on to read or tell the next part of the story. It is okay that the students are not complete because they w ill have time after the entire story is done to complete each box. Students MUST stop their sketching when you move on to read the next section.
3. Go ahead and do it. Read section #1, then pause for two minutes allowing students time to sketch. Then move on to the next section, repeating these steps.
4. When each section of the story is read and sketched, allow students time to go back and do two things. First, students should finish their pictures. They can add colour, detail, out outlines to their sketches. Second, students should write a sentence about what each of their pictures is about. (This step can also be done after each sketching opportunity—Step #3).
5. After the pictures and sentences are done, you may want students to write a Story Summary Statement or a sentence telling you about The Big Idea in the story they heard.
6. The last step is to edit their work and hand it in.

Teacher Review:
* When reviewing this assignment, you might want to look for the following things: First, did the picture sketched in each box have to do with what was told or what the story was about at that time? Do the sentences correspond with the story selection at that time? Is your student able to pick up on the main idea or the most important part of the story selection? Did your student add colour, details and outlines? Is there evidence of “editing” if needed (or required)?

Possibility of integration? I think there are many ways to integrate this kind of assignment into various subject areas . . . and various grade levels. The “hand-out” might not look identical, the steps or directions might look very similar. For example, if you are teaching a new math concept that includes 3 or 4 steps, talk about how to do each step, and then require students to write down each step. This might be a good way to check if or where any misunderstandings took place when teaching a new or more difficult concept. It would also serve as reminders or notes to which the students could go back to if they need a refresher on a concept being used.
At lower grade levels, this could be used as a report. If the teacher is reading a book or teaching on a topic, these four boxes could report what the student learned. For example, say the teacher was talking about Polar Bears. One box could be all about what the student heard/remembered about the food a polar bear eats, one box for the place it lives, one box for the appearance, and one box for other interesting facts.
See? There are a few uses to this nifty little paper!

Have you used this idea or a similar one to it in your teaching or tutoring? Feel free to drop me a line!

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