Monday, January 23, 2017

Flat Second Graders

This year, our Diocese has been focusing on utilizing anchor texts to drive our Language Arts instruction. We've been attempting to dig deep, expand our students' comprehension, and make stronger connections between varying levels and genres of text.

My Teacher Model
One of the anchor texts that second grade focused on this year was "Flat Stanley's Original Adventure" by Jeff Brown. Now there are many people who absolutely love this book! I am not typically one of them. I, overall, find the themes in it to be a tad boring and lacking in depth. However, I still read it every single year. What it lacks in depth, it makes up for in its ability to inspire struggling readers to pick up a brand new series with confidence.

Student example
This was the first year however, that I did not read the story in passing, but rather delved deeper into it. We compared Stanley's experience of being shipped to that of the title characher, May, in the book, "Mailing May" by Michael O. Tunnel. We looked at how our world is geographically laid out. We practiced understanding and creating maps of our own, while reading, "Me on a Map" by Joan Sweeney and "Mapping Penny's World" by Loreen Leedy. Also, we reflected on Stanley's kindness to those around him, and discussed how everyone in the world deserves to be teated with such kindness, regardless of their differences. We then used it as opportunity to think about some of the other places in the world Stanley might visit througout the remaining books in the series.

It was remarkable to me that when a simple story was paired properly with other texts, it suddenly became exceptionally more meaningfully. You can see what I mean by looking at the projects below.

We ended our text set by applying what we'd learned and had been working on into a summative project. As you probably noticed, my Flat Stanley project is a bit different than the typical Flat Stanley project that you might have seen on Pinterest. We didn't send anything in the mail, nor did we connect with other classrooms around the country.

Instead, students went to the school library and picked out a nonfiction book in their reading range about a place of their choosing. They used nonfiction text features to explore the book, and they read to find the main idea in each paragraph. Finally, they wrote a postcard, pretending that their flat-selves were visiting that particular location. The students compiled an image they drew of their flat-selves, interesting facts, and the front and back of postcards into a fun collage that they later presented to the class.

We called it the Flat Second Grader Project! I love how they turned out! I definitely enjoyed my first experience with anchor texts!