Sunday, November 17, 2013

Using Google Docs

Zack showing off his "bats"
Our district has gone "Google Apps for Education" which means that we are using "all things Google", documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.  With this initiative our school recently received a couple class size sets of "Chrome books."

Well, Room 310 couldn't wait to have a chance to use them!  Students first started by learning the different ways to log in to their Google Accounts.  Using their school usernames and passwords they can easily access their accounts from school and home!

Next students learned how to create a folder where they will place all their digital work.  That folder was shared with me along with any items that get placed in the folder.  Check out this video that Morgan and Shaylyn made showing how easy it is to create and share a folder.

Thanksgiving Dinner by Maggie S.
After that, students learned to create a document.  The first document they created was about their "Scary Stories". (These narratives are a work in progress).  As an added incentive students were allowed to add a "Drawing" to their work.  Using the Drawing app in Google the kids quickly were able to add a complimentary drawing that added to their stories.

This process was repeated again when they formulated their Jack Prelutsky-style Exaggerated Poems about Thanksgiving.   Please check out the examples.  Great poetry & great drawing!

What I love best about using Google documents is that I can give immediate feedback in the form of comments on student work - WHILE they are working.  As they are each writing I can literally "see" what they are doing from my computer and make suggestions, corrections without drawing the attention of other students.  More to come on this later!

Students:  What advice can you give others about using the Document or Drawing apps?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Spooky Writing

There's nothing quite like Halloween to inspire creative writing.  Our class took advantage of this spooky season to generate some narrative stories.

First, the students learned how to "hook their reader" by incorporating "sound" as part of their entertaining beginnings.  Using this haunted house image as inspiration, students quickly brainstormed different sounds that could be associated with this picture.  Various sounds and ideas such as "Squeeaak! The front door slowly opened" or "Creak! The stairs made loud noises as I walked up tot he door" and "Ohhhhh! Ahhh! I heard the moaning of ghosts from inside the home." became the opening sentences of student narratives. 

Sharing the creature
Next on the Narrative Writing Diamond after Entertaining Beginnings is "Elaborative Detail." This technique asks the writer to stop the action and describe in 'detail' a character, setting or object using the 5 senses.  To aid in this process the students first brainstormed the types of creatures which might appear at this house on Halloween.   This would fit nicely with our theme of Halloween.  However, it had to be something more special than just drawing a creature.

In comes Wonderopolis and a quick lesson on Totem Poles.  Students each fashioned a Halloween creature to use as part of their writing project, which would then be placed with their classmates' creatures to create a Halloween Totem Pole. We modeled how to write an Elaborative Detail segment and then students had the opportunity to add to their Spooky stories. 

It was exciting watching students' creatures and stories come to life!  Here is part of Michaela's first draft:  Squeak! A little mouse ran by just as I looked up and saw an old run down house.  As we came closer to the old house the scarier it seemed.  My friend said "You go ring the doorbell while I run!" As I was walking up the steps to the unlevel porch, I yelled to my friend "I think I just saw a ghost in one of the dark windows!" I was about to ring the doorbell, but I spotted a black and dark brown creature staring down at me.  It was the size of three apples put together. The creature had a long, shiny wing and bright, round eyes. 

Students:  What was your favorite part of the writing lesson?

Others:  What creatures can you see in our totem poles?