As Class 2 students made their way inside Room 32, one astute scholar looked at the smartboard and remarked, “This looks like it’s part of social studies,” despite knowing it was time for Writing Workshop.
“Great observation...come sit on the rug and you’ll find out how it connects!” replied Head Teacher Chelsea Sue. On the board, the words “Statue of Liberty” were written underneath an image of the iconic landmark.
After the girls settled on the rug, Ms. Sue began the lesson by saying, “Writing Workshop is about stories. Why does the word stories sound so familiar?”
After raising her hand, one student said, “We learn all about stories in second grade.”
Indeed, stories of New York City are the cornerstone of Class 2’s social studies curriculum. Throughout the year, the students develop an understanding of how storytelling acts as a valuable and necessary agent in learning. They study the Lenape stories, for example, and interview their parents and guardians during Parents’ Day to learn their personal stories. Today, they would begin to uncover the facts about a familiar facet of NYC – the Statue of Liberty.
“We know all about fiction writing, but today we’re starting our non-fiction unit,” explained Ms. Sue. “To write non-fiction, or true stories, we have to learn about our topic.”
Their teacher then pulled up two images of Lady Liberty. One was a wide-angle shot that showed the statue, its base and the surrounding area. The second was a close-up image that appeared to be the inside of the structure.
“What do you notice?” Ms. Sue prompted. “Turn and talk to share any ideas and questions you may have.” When they regrouped, the girls shared several queries about the images and the statue itself including ‘Is the statue on its own island?’ ‘Why is its platform shaped like a star?’ ‘Whose idea was it to build the Statue of Liberty?’ ‘What is it made out of?’ and ‘What vantage point are we looking at the second photo from?’
Next, the class discussed the difference between open and closed questions, with students stating that closed questions require a one-word answer while open questions encourage more detailed responses.
Fortified with this knowledge, the writers headed to their desks to craft their own open and closed questions about the Statue of Liberty. “These will be the basis of our study. You will all be experts!” Ms. Sue said enthusiastically. She noted, too, that after some research, students will develop a thesis statement for their story and write a multi-paragraph piece about the statue as well as other NYC landmarks, like Grand Central Terminal and the Apollo Theater.
“What punctuation do we use for questions?” Ms. Sue prompted. “And how do we start a question?”
“Question mark and a capital!” the class replied.
Ms. Sue and Associate Teacher Yasmin Hassan circled the room, checking in with students as they worked diligently together at their desks. While conferring with one group, Ms. Sue asked the girls to consider how they could make ‘When did they make the Statue of Liberty?’ into an open question.
“Maybe we could ask what inspired them to make it,” one student suggested.
“Yes! That will lead to more questions and more discoveries.”
To round out the lesson, students watched a read-aloud of a story titled “My Little Golden Book About the Statue of Liberty,” which helped uncover some answers to their pressing questions.
As the clock hit 2:00 p.m., the girls began transitioning to math workshop. The young writers carefully placed their worksheets into their folders, ready to tackle the remainder of this exciting assignment!