Musings and Strategies From the Teachers Next Door

STEM from Stories!

April and I are so excited to bring together our love of all things STEM with fiction literature! Toward the end of last year, we went searching for lessons or ideas that bridged fiction with STEM. It was really hard to find! In fact, we didn’t find much. It was disheartening to think that problems with which fictional characters are faced would be irrelevant to the children who were engaged in reading the story. If it was irrelevant, why would children begin to think of how such a problem could be solved?

So we began a mission….piquing students’ curiosity about problems with which their favorite characters were faced. When students become curious, they become expert problem solvers. When students own the problem, or can relate to it, they have “bought in” to finding a solution. The very first experience I had with this process was back when we read The Wishing Spell and constructed a map as a means to help the main characters make their way through a foreign land. We found that not only did the students become engaged in creating and engineering a map, they began to comprehend the text! They not only had mapped their way through the Land of Stories, but they mapped their way through the book. They were curious about new words, new concepts, and began to use evidence from the text without even being prompted. You see, when you care about something or someone (fictional or real), you begin to know them and they become a part of your conversation.

This was a HUGE discovery for us! We didn’t have to ask the questions! They asked their own! (If we’re being honest, they were better at posing questions). So April and I have spent most of our free time finding books that will help students of all ages become better problem solvers; from the very young to the very old. Lessons can be adapted to most any age. In many ways, we connect these lessons with the technique with which we teach math. Use the tools that are available to create solutions to what sometimes may be very complex problems.

For the next 24 hours, you can download our Design Brief for The Wishing Spell.  It’s our gift to you.

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