The SCEF Educator Innovation Fund enables teachers to bring to life projects of all sizes. But even the projects funded with small grants can have a big impact on students. When Ms. Flanagan’s White Oaks kindergarten class became obsessed with reading I Spy books she seized the opportunity to turn interest into a project based learning challenge: to create a classroom I Spy book written, designed and published by the students.
Working in groups of four, students began brainstorming a list of rhyming words in a word family (yay, tray, clay, play). They practiced dictionary spelling and decided as a team which words they wanted to use on their designated page of the book. Next they worked together to draft complete sentences that would link all of the items together, such as: “I spy a red bottle cap, a log that has sap, 2 mousetraps, a United States map and a tooth gap.” Like true authors, they wrote, revised and edited their writing for publication. Students also took the lead on the design process to create and photograph the set for their page. They collected all the concrete materials that would be found on their page of items to “spy,” hidden among other objects. When the set was finished students participated in photographing it with a classroom ipad. And finally, all the pages were printed and assembled into a book.
The six-week project culminated with Ms. Flanagan’s class proudly reading their 20-page I Spy book to kindergarten students in other classrooms. Ms. Flanagan reflected that by the end of the project her students were able to more deeply understand of the process involved in creating a book, having experienced first-hand the work of an author, photographer and publisher. The SCEF Educator Innovation Fund’s grant of $200 covered the cost of the supplies needed to make the book. This small grant, however, helped Ms. Flanagan launch a unit that had a lasting impression on her students, giving them the opportunity to take ownership of a big project. It reinforced for Ms. Flanagan and many others that appropriate high-quality work can be accomplished by even the youngest students in the district, beginning in kindergarten.
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