The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Perfect Square Project, Day One

A few months ago, my wife and I were babysitting for some friends of ours and I happened to notice a book from the library sitting on the floor. It was a fairly simple children’s picture book but, being the teacher and bibliophile that I am, I picked it up and read it. It didn’t take long, but I was very impressed by the wonderful message taught within its pages and asked if I could borrow it to share with some colleagues. I especially wanted to share it with the first grade teacher that I have partnered with for three years now to do buddy reading. She read it and was similarly impressed. And thus a project began to grow.

The book was Perfect Square, written by Michael Hall. It is the story of a simple perfect square of paper that gets cut up, poked full of holes, torn, crumpled, shattered, and seemingly ruined but then transforms into different beautiful works of art, like a water fountain, a mountain, a garden, and a valley. The lesson, for me, is that while we can’t always control what happens to us, we can control how we respond to it. (I am sure there are a myriad of other lessons, too!)

I had initially thought of doing a project that focused on the social and emotional learning aspects of this story, but then one of our art teachers asked if anyone was interested in an arts infusion project. Since I have already done a couple of these, I was excited to see what we could do. The three of us sat down and discussed what we could do. Fortunately, with the advent of the Common Core State Standards, it is really easy to find a learning target that applies to different grade levels. We decided to focus on writing narratives with a beginning, middle, and end, and using technology to tell a story.

Students will work with the reading buddies to manipulate squares of paper to tell a story. Then they will design an animation sequence that will be recorded with our iPads and turned into videos that we can share with others. It is going to be an exciting project that will tie together so many different learning targets. I hope that the students will enjoy our Perfect Square Project as much as their teachers will!

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