The students in Grades 3 and 4 have been on a journey of inquiry and discovery these last few months, delving into a variety of topics via a collaborative inquiry/project based dynamic. They have learned as much about themselves and what they are capable of as they have about the topics themselves. One of the major comprehensive units of study has focused on Medieval Times, with the students building castles in Investigative Research. Today’s third and final post focuses on their completion of a novel study during literacy, and writing their own creative stories.
This Inquiry into Medieval Life comprised more than just the Investigative Research portion, as the students also tied in aspects of Literacy via novel study and creative story writing. The students read a novel called Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop, a story about a young boy who receives a magical castle from his nanny, and subsequently goes on a fantastic journey back to Medieval times, where he does battle with dragons and evil wizards, all in the hopes of saving his nanny.The students analyzed the story via a collaborative, visual, and interpretive manner, just as they did with their castle projects. Discussing the story together became important in understanding the story and sharing ideas.
The students inquired into the story by breaking it up into its component parts, like plot, setting, problem-solution, and characters, and then creatively re-interpreting these elements on their project boards with their own ideas and analysis.
The students worked together collaboratively for this project, thereby compromising together and solving problems together in a social environment. In this way, they came to understand what the story was about, all the while working at developing important social skills, sequential processing skills, spatial thinking skills, comprehension skills, and reading analytical skills.The finished products are their own unique visions of the novel, as they viewed and interpreted it, and the artwork became very important. Here is one interpretation of the main protagonist, William.In this way then, the students learned how to break down the components of a novel, and then rebuild and reinterpret them in a creative and student centered way. Important analytical and reading comprehension skills were built up and utilized to full effect with this project.The students will now reflect upon the experience and process, and explain why they made the choices they did, and sharing personal reflections about the process and the story.
The first venture into story writing was a Medieval Studies Tie-in as well, with the students creating a story-line in which they travel back to Medieval Times and have a fantastic adventure.The students had to go through many drafts before arriving at their finished good copies, employing the writing process and peer-editing dynamic, thus sharing ideas and offering constructive criticism in a positive way. This is the ‘ethic of excellence’, and their stories had to have an interesting beginning, a well-developed middle, and a strong ending that wrapped things up.Sentence structure was examined and worked on, so that the stories flowed and developed appropriately with content, and so that the students unique ‘voices’ shone through. Students employed all they had learned about the sentence in grammar class, and their writing became stronger with every successive draft. The stories were written in small booklets that allowed for only ‘so much’ story, which made the students think critically about what was important to tell their story. Therefore, student’s decision making and ‘choices’ were important factors in the final product.The students enjoyed working together and sharing their ideas, and in many cases included each other in the plotline, creating many unique and interesting situations. They were able to help each other a great deal via the peer-editing process, and learned how to collaborate and check each other’s work.
Therefore, via Investigative Research, Novel Study, and Story writing, we all went on a journey together to discover what life was like in Medieval Times, by recreating a little piece of it ourselves. The students led the way with their plans, ideas, collaborations, and innovative thinking skills, and of course their imaginations. Now the students will reflect on all they have accomplished, and all they have dreamed.