For Halloween 2016 and 2017, I did a version of Halloween Wars (a Food Network show) with my two classes of gifted elementary learners. I am sharing this lesson through my blog post as it reinforces how I approach lesson planning and teaching.
Principles that drive my instructional approach. regardless of theme, include:
- Instructional challenges are hands-on and naturally engaging for learners.
- There is a game-like atmosphere. There are elements of play, leveling up, and a sense of mastery or achievement during the instructional activities.
- The challenges are designed to be novel and create excitement and joy for learners.
- There is a healthy competition where the kids have to compete against one another.
- Learners don’t need to be graded about their performances as built-in consequences are natural.
- There is a natural building of social emotional skills – tolerance for frustration, expression of needs, working as a team.
- Lessons are interdisciplinary (like life) where multiple, cross-curricular content areas are integrated into the instructional activities.
These have been further discussed in A Model of Good Teaching?
Halloween Wars Lesson
For this Halloween Wars lesson, the goals included the following:
- To work in a small group to create a Halloween scene using food items, cooked goods, LED lights, and miscellaneous materials.
- To work as a small group to craft a story about their scene.
- To introduce and reinforce ideas, concepts, and skills associated with maker education, STEM, and STEM.
Standards addressed during this lesson included:
- Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work. (National Core Arts Standards)
- Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal; and assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member. (21st Century Skills)
- Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements. (CCSS.Math)
- Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences. (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.5.3)
- Publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences. (ISTE NETS for Students)
Time Frame: 3 to 4 hours
- Learners were introduced to the lesson through the following presentation –
- Learners were split into groups of 3 or 4 members. In their small groups, they worked together on a shared Google doc to compose their story. The story was displayed on the Smartboard and read aloud. One member made editing changes to grammar and spelling based on suggestions by their classmates. (This strategy is further discussed in Teaching Grammar in Context.) Here is one student group’s example:
- They were then shown their materials and asked to sketch their designs.
- In their small groups, learners needed to work together cooperatively to make their display scenes using the materials provided.
- Learners made sugar cookies using a recipe projected on the Smartboard. They were asked to cut the recipe in half reinforcing math skills.
- LED lights, which learners connected to coin batteries, were placed in decorated ping-pong balls and their carved pumpkin.
- Microbits were programming to add a title to their scenes.
. . . and some final displays:
- Their final task for Halloween Wars was to write a blog post on their Kidblogs that reflect on their processes. I worked with individual students to help them edit their work.