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The Flat WSD Students

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Keywords: crosscirricular, penpal, unit project, creative writing, flat stanely, art, movie production
Subject(s): Photography, Reading, Writing, Special Needs, Technology, Social Skills, Art, English/Language Arts, Math
Grades 1 through 5
School: Wisconsin School for the Deaf, Delavan, WI
Planned By: Jennifer VanDerMolen
Original Author: Jennifer VanDerMolen, Delavan
Flat Stanley Unit

First I read the story Flat Stanley “aloud” to the class. The students are asked comprehension questions after each chapter to make sure they understand the story. They are also asked to summarize what happened in the story. This took about 4 days.

When the story is completed, the students then make their own “flat” self. They are traced onto butcher paper (color is their choice) and they are then given about 30 minutes to decorate their flat twin anyway they choose.

Then as a class we brainstorm different ways they may have become flat. We list these on the board. That night for homework they are to go home and brainstorm at least 3 more ideas with mom and dad to add to our list the next day. After we compile a list of ideas of how we became flat, the students pick their favorite and begin creating a story about it.

In my classroom, 2 of my students’ first language is English and 2 of my students’ first language is ASL. Therefore, my students whose first language is English first worked on their written stories, whereas my students whose first language is ASL worked on their ASL version of the story. After their first version was finished, the continued by working on the other version (ASL first then English second or vice versa.) In both languages, the first step the students did was brainstorm about what was going to happen in their stories. We did this as a class in ASL and I wrote down notes so we could remember.

With the ASL stories, we practiced a few times before videotaping. Once the students felt comfortable he or she videotaped their story. Then the whole class watched the story and provided feedback. We started with positive comments first. (I have been modeling this all year and continued to be the first to make comments to model. Also I told my story first and asked the students to provide me with feedback helping to guide their feedback a little). After positive comments, we had “things I wanted to know” or “things that need some improvement” (much like the writing process in English). The students did really well at this. After they received the feedback they practiced their stories more and then videotaped again going through this process once more. Finally they were ready for their final recording, where we went to the ASL specialist’s room to have a more clean/professional looking taping (she has a blue screen). The students then helped edit the movie by adding still pictures, clipping the video, etc. I then went in and added captions to the video. If I was working with older children I would have had them work with the captions.

With the English stories, the two students whose first language is English write out their stories and then shared them with the class. The class asked questions, gave positive feedback, etc. The students then edited their stories again and eventually wrote a finally copy and added pictures. The two students whose first language is ASL are not as comfortable with English so they signed their stories to me. I wrote them down. Then we shared these with the class and the feedback was provided and the made revisions and then a final piece themselves with pictures.

Once the stories were all complete the students began planning their Red Carpet Movie Premiere. I told them it was their responsibility to make sure all the details were covered. We brainstormed things that we would need for a party such as chairs, decorations, a cake, milk, etc. I then found the necessary forms that needed to be filled out to request the room, order a cake, ask our principal for money for decorations, etc. The students then filled these out with my assistance. The students requested money and filled out a fieldtrip form so that we could go purchase the decorations. They had to go to the principal and convince her why they needed the fieldtrip as well as the decorations. They also had to go to our Learning Materials Center person and request the die cuts they wanted for their invitations. They then made all of the invitations and hand delivered them. They also passed out the tickets that are required for admittance into the premiere.

On the day of the movie premiere the students setup the decorations and made sure everything was ready. We had an MC who led the premiere and introduced each of our famous stars from the first grade. The girls wore boas and sunglasses and the boys wore top hats, ties and sunglasses. They had a blast. After the movie was shown, each of the students received an award for their movie. And then we all ate cake. It was a great time.

Once I heard back from the schools, I made a map and labeled the different states, cities and schools that would be participating. I then asked the children to look at the map and write down their top five choices for where they wanted their flat people to be sent. I lucked out because each of their students got their first and second picks (no duplicates). We then talked about addresses and how to label envelopes, however I labeled them myself as I didn’t want to lose any of our flat students.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
This unit touches on pretty much all subjects. It could be easily adjusted to touch other subjects such as music, health and pe
The students follow up with the schools that we send our "flat" people to. They send letters, videos, and other things back and forth. It is a fun pen pal lesson and encourages writing and literacy.
Materials: Batteries, Flash/USB Drives, Camera Bags, Digital SLR, Point and Shoot
Other Items: 1 mac laptop with video editting software, $2000 each, total of $2000.00
1 video camera, $800 each, total of $800.00