March 8, 2015
Tonight I’m finishing up gathering supplies for the first day of what is always my most challenging, and most satisfying, school visit of the my teaching-artist season. I have been visiting schools in the Adirondacks for many years, but I have spent the most time in this one particular school. I get to work with nine grade levels, pre-K through 7th grade. I need to create nine completely different projects, which will go from beginning to completion over six days, spread out through the month of March.
In the interest of finishing up the details, and getting to bed (last night, daylight savings time kicked in, so getting up tomorrow morning will be a challenge) I am going to list the nine projects for the nine grade levels, then I’m going to try to write about them over the course of the month.
PreK: the teachers asked that we do a project with the students’ names. We’ll thread beads and cover weight papers on to shoelace-tipped yarn, write a letter on one side of the card, and a picture which starts with that letter on the back. See photo above,
Kindergarten: Accordion Book with pockets, a variation of structure in the picture below.
First Grade: A folding triptych about Alaska and an animal that lives in Alaska. Will include a pop-up, a pocket to hold research papers, and a poetry page. We’ll color the sky with Northern Lights.
Second Grade: A book that folds up like a valise, that has pockets within for a “passport,” a folding map, postcards, a boarding ticket, and little books with information about a country that the student is studying.
Third Grade: We’ll make a journal for the students to use however they want.
Fourth Grade: This is the class that will be making a Zero to One Fractions book that I’ve been writing about
Fifth Grade: I still have some planning to do on this project, but it will likely be a social studies based project made from units of an Origami Base, which opens and closes in a dynamic way.
Sixth Grade: This group will use tabloid size papers, folded in half, and bound, in four separate sections, with large rubber bands. The students will use these with their English teacher, between now and the end of the year, as a memory catcher.
Seventh Grade: We’ll fold down and trim a large, 35″ x 23 ” paper into an 8.75″ x 5.75″ pamphlet, which students will sew, glue in to a hinge piece, add soft covers, and decorate. The book will go with them to their English class, for content to be added between now and the end of the school year.
I keep everything organized ( I hope) in a notebook that I can make in about five minutes, that looks like this.
Hopefully I will be posting all of these projects. But now it’s time to wrap things up for the night.
March 27, 2012
Here’s the rest of what I started in my last post about this book with the narrow accordion spine. What I like about combining this structure with fractions is that it makes a concrete (ok, paper) connection between the relationship of different “families” of fractions to each other. For instance, just by looking at the pages when the book is expanded, as it is in the photo above, it’s clear that two-fifths is bigger than one-fourth, and 2/2 is the same as 3/3.
After making the accordion spine in the last post, there’s actually one more step, because I needed not four, but five accordion folds.
To make the fifth accordion pleat the students folded one of the edges to the closest crease, pressed down the fold then turned the paper over and brought the crease up to the master fold. Done.
Now the covers go on….
…and the pages go in. After a conversation with my wise special ed friend teacher, Melanie, I decided to label the left side of the pages with part of the fraction that each slice of paper singularly represents.
Students cut the papers to their appropriate sizes (on the lines that were printed onto the papers). This step, to my surprise, didn’t take long and went quite smoothly. There was the occasional leaking out of glue that made some pages stick a bit to each other, but that was easily fixed.
The students labeled the right, exposed edge of the fractions book, with the fractions written sequentially.
Now it’s time to decorate the cover, using 2 inch squares to cut into fraction pieces.
And decorated they did.
The only thing left to do, if they choose, is to write on the blank parts of the pages, perhaps adding in math facts.
A big thank you to the teachers who trusted me when I said, hey, we can do a fractions book…I’m sure they had no idea what I was talking about. And it worked out so well! Everyone was happy.
March 24, 2012
If you know something bookmaking you know how useful it can be for the spine of a book be narrow accordion folds, as pages can be tipped (glued) on to or sewn into the accordion. The big thing that I didn’t know about this structure was if I could do it with 75 3rd graders in one day. The motivation behind doing this was to make a book that could expand, as accordions do, to reveal pages of fractions which could help students understand the relationship between different sets of fractions.
The photo above shows the finished product, but that’s getting ahead of myself. What I want to show is how we made the folds. In the interest of full disclosure, the following photos are taken of a class of 7 fourth graders making the same book. Working with seven students in class allows me the leisure of taking pictures. When I was working with the third graders (3 classes of 25 students) I had to stay on the move.
I started out by sitting down and talking to the classes about what we would be doing. I wanted to emphasize that even though there were no “hard” to understand steps, all of the folding was just different from what they were used to doing, and it was this difference that would make it seem hard to do. So I asked them to be open to doing something different so that they would be able to be successful.
Having the middle fold in exactly the right place is so crucial to the success of the structure that I handed out the papers to the students with this fold already in place. Therefore the first thing that each student needed to do was to unfold their 16″ x 8″ paper.
Next, one side at a time, the edges are folded to meet up with the middle fold, which henceforth will be called the master fold.
This may not be readily seen and understood, but think slowly. Open the paper flat, then fold one edge over to meet the furthest away crease, flatten. Repeat, starting from the other edge.
Next, open the paper flat again,Noticing that there are four “columns, in defined by folds, in the paper. Refold in half, as in the first step so that the master fold is at the edge of the paper.
Still with me? Now, look at the crease that is closest to the master crease, then curl the paper so that this crease meets the master crease. Press to make a crease (which is unseen, as it is between two layers of paper). Repeat with the next crease below the master crease, then flip the paper over and repeat.
Okay, you’ll end up with something like this. Actually, with my classes, we did one more fold, to make just one more accordion pleat, but I will describe that in my next post.
It’s important to have long edges to glue covers on to.
And, for now, we’re done. The next step will be to add the fractions pages.
March 14, 2011
Last Wednesday, and each Wednesday during this month of March, I will be working on a project with third graders. This is an ambitious project that links the student’s research about various countries with lots of bookmaking. We first make a large folder with pockets, which we refer to as a suitcase, then students make small handmade books in these pockets. These small books will be filled with writing and pictures relevant to the country that each student is studying.
There are SMART Boards in each of these classrooms. This means that when I draw out the instructions for making the books the teachers can click on a “Save” button and save what I have drawn. I often try to erase the drawings before the save because I start off drawing big and end up squeezing in the last steps, which makes for a silly looking set of instructions. But erasing the steps before the students can complete them is silly too.
This past week a light went on in my head: if I draw out what I want the students to know and save it on-line then I can link the SMART Board to my image….not only that, but I can email the links of the appropriate images to teachers before I meet with them. This can facilitate easy retrieval of my tutorial pages, and it can also be stored as a reference, thereby empowering the teachers to re enforce the bookmaking techniques after my residency is over.
Oh, last week we made a simple accordion, like in the drawings above. I then taught a couple of pop-ups to put in the valley folds. That will be what the next handout will be about.
In the meantime, the snow is showing some signs of melting here. Notice that the hand pump is emerging from the snow. We can see our picnic table now. But last week after a thaw, followed by rain, then freezing rain, I had to call and postpone working at a school because my car tires were completely frozen into a 6 inch puddle of ice.