When integrating literacy and STEAM, students are given an opportunity to comprehend the text through exploration and hands-on learning. Often times, students struggle with comprehending and analyzing when reading. However, STEAM lessons are an impactful way for students to dive deep into the details of the text. Stories are transformed into magical learning experiences because STEAM helps bring the story alive. Using information from the text, students apply STEAM skills to create items, characters, places, and scenes.
The Chocolate Pilot Parachutes
In honor of Veteran’s Day, during the month of November, my classes read stories about a famous pilot named Gail Halvorsen. Gail was a pilot during the Berlin Airlift who became famous for dropping candy out of his plane to the children of West Berlin. This act of kindness earned him the nickname the Chocolate Pilot. After reading the stories, my class and I discuss how using parachutes made it possible for the Chocolate Pilot to drop the candy from so high. Students use details from the text to create their own parachutes that are sturdy enough to drop candy from the windows of our school.
If you have never tried integrating literacy and STEAM before, first try picking a text that you connect with and/or enjoy teaching. The text does not have to be about a STEAM related topic, but it should have enough descriptive details for students to work with. Read the text over a few times and decide what you would like your STEAM focus to be. Is there an action in a scene that stands out? Is there an object that can be built or a working-model created? Is there a well-described character that students can build a statue of? Once you have your lesson’s STEAM focus, decide what materials will be made available to students and how long they will have to work on their projects. Pre-planning materials and deadlines helps students to stay focused.
When planning the lesson make sure to leave time for a wrap-up reflection. The reflection is an integral aspect of the lesson because it circles students back to the reason for their creation and reconnects them to the story.
Describe. Ask students to describe and explain their creations.
Compare. Have students answer, “How did your creations compare to the details in the story?”
Recall. Tell students to recall details from the text that assisted them in building their creations.
Need text ideas? Read these for STEAM inspiration: