Teaching soft skills through STEM & reading online

Author: Adriana Lefter

My name is Adriana Lefter, primary school teacher in School Elena Doamna, Tecuci – Romania and with my 8 years old students we start a great adventure during this online teaching period.

Starting with the text The Lighthouse keeper`s lunch that we read it online in our meetings, using Google Meet, together and in groups, we explored the text and we carried out various activities. It was a good opportunity for students to communicate in their mother tongue, to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts and opinions in writing activities as well as communicating them in a foreign language for interpretations or translation of words and expressions. They did this creating comics about the text using online tools as toonytool or drawings by hand, and they add them all on Google Classroom, the platform that we use in this period.

Students reposted from the point of view of each character, surpassing the states, emotions and impressions. They used videos and were helped by parents who were permanently with us during this period, being learning partners. Children and parents improvised costumes, disguised themselves as the chosen character and it was a creative and original activity.

We also learned about the history of lighthouses, studying them on the geographical map, Google maps, the position of the most famous lighthouses. We also learned how they were built, their height, position, shape of the headlamps and we used a lot of resources from Twinkl. It was the first time students discovered what a radar is, where it is used and how. Together with their parents, the students discovered how an electrical circuit works, what materials are needed and what is the lightning bolt, located at the top of a lighthouse.

While reading the text they discovered what lunch Mr Gringling had, which we wanted to make as healthy as possible. The students had to write different healthy lunch recipes and draw them (to prepare lunch for Mr Gringling). They also found out the weight of different items in their lunch. What is the total weight? We choose two types of sandwich and we made a Venn diagram to show which they liked or did not like, using canva/venn diagrams, also during our online meetings.

It was a very pleasant experience when the students modeled a lighthouse using dough made of flour, salt and water; the house of the lighthouse keeper, the waves and the seagulls. First I prepared the model, I presented it during the meeting, I sent them the recipe, then with the family they played homemade „plasticine”. Parents were very excited about the activity, acknowledging that since they were young children they have not modeled anything. I recommended to use any material found in the house, to use recyclable materials, thus giving them a new use.

Using this model, the students presented their ideas about other solutions they had developed so that the seagulls would not eat Mr Gringling’s lunch. How? Using technology (sound sensor, a small robot to carry the basket) changing habits, inventing new ways to pack the basket, to feed the seagulls so that lunch to reach Mr Gringling.

Thus we acquired new skills, we practiced our creativity, organization, confidence, knowledge of languages, communication, desire to change all using STEM, because STEM is everywhere, STEM means all disciplines together. All these activites are developed together with teachers and students from other 4 countries into in Erasmus KA229 project Soft skills for a better life.