I created a writers workshop and a literacy board on Pinterest. I think Pinterest is the greatest invention ever!! It is so easy for public school teachers, private school teachers, home school teachers, student teachers, parents, nannies, or kids to share their awesome ideas with each other. I like how you can just look through the education board and find random awesome things, follow other teachers, or search for a specific topic. It is so convenient to have all your great ideas in one place with step by step directions and visuals. Likewise, it is nice if you are unsure of how to do something because you can comment on the post and the person who posted it can help you. This is something you can always look to, delete from if ideas do not work, or add to. I found so many great ideas on Pinterest that I definitely plan to use in my future classroom! I also created boards for math, science, social studies, and organization. I could spend all day on Pinterest! This is by far my favorite digital community!
I created a goodreads account and joined three groups. I joined Teacher’s Book Club, School Librarians and Teachers, and Wild Things: YA Grown-Up. I did not find the groups that useful; however I do think it would be very beneficial to have a group with my future colleagues in which we can share what books we have been reading to our class or what books our students have been reading. We could share teaching ideas, feedback from lessons, our own opinions, or student opinions. Likewise, I could form a group with my students’ parents and suggest books for my students to read and allow parents to suggest books to use in the classroom. While I am not crazy about the groups, I do really like being able to look up any book and see a summary and comments on it. Often times someone has used the book in a classroom or with kids and can provide feedback on that experience. You can also get great ideas for lessons from the comments. It is nice to be able to look up books when I hear them mentioned in classes or text books to see if it is something I would be interested in reading. Goodreads is also a great way to keep a list of books you want to read. It stores all your desires in one place and you can go back and look at the list when you are ready for a new book.
Twitter: I looked at #elemchat every few days and found some really cool links. Some stuff, like pictures of flowers did not really interest me, but some stuff was great! I like how I do not have to follow #elemchat and constantly see the tweets, but I can go look anytime I want to. And I can tweet #elemchat with my own ideas and experiences. These were some of my favorite finds:
I followed Edutopia on Facebook. I did not particularly like all their posts coming up on my news feed. I realized Facebook is something I like to use to stay connected with my friends and family not really to get ideas for education. However, I do follow some of my old teachers and friends who are teachers and it is interesting to see some of the things the post about their students or what they are doing in class. I enjoy following them and make note of good ideas they post.
Social Media as a Tool for Peer Collaboration with Elementary Students: A Teacher Inquiry Project
“While writing may be required from 8:25am until 9:15am in the physical classroom, writing can be taught 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in the virtual classroom.” I have never thought of social media this way, but I think it is an excellent point. Students are constantly writing as they interact in social media; why not use this to our advantage? Digital writing allows a broad audience to have immediate accessibility to students’ writing. It also allows the students who have internet access to work on pieces and comment on peers pieces in their free time at home.
However, there are practical and safety issues to be considered. Such as what tools are safe for kids and do not require email addresses. Also, what tools can easily organize all the students’ work in one place. I thought it was neat that Christopher Working suggested KidBlog.org since we spent some time in class looking at that. I thought it was an awesome tool for digital writing! I agree with him that students need to be taught how to use digital writing (such as putting spaces after periods and how to properly comment on a blog). Digital writing is beginning to play a much larger role in education today, so introducing students early will benefit them.
Technology in Kindergarten
I am not sure what I think about students in Kindergarten using computers. I did not use a computer when I was this age; however the world is much more focused on technology now. My first graders use net-books on a daily basis. I do think it would be good to expose young children to technology, I just think they need a solid understanding of writing with paper and pencil first. I do not want my future children to rely on spell check and neglect handwriting.
Persuasion Through Public Service Announcements
I think using technology to get students interested in persuasive writing is a great idea. The students will still be participating in persuasive writing as their form a script for their commercial. The students were all very excited about this project and put a lot of effort into it.
Digitalis.nwp.org is a great website that has a variety of information about digital writing. There are many articles on a variety of different topics from social justice in media, to technology in Kindergarten, to pod-casts to persuasion through public service announcements. Many of the articles have additional articles, student examples or websites you can visit to learn more on the topic. I think this is a great resource to use when thinking about incorporating a type of digital tool in the classroom.
Response to “Blogging as a Means of Crafting Writing”:
I love the comparison “for children of the 21st century, technology is like oxygen- a necessary component of their life.” This statement is so true. Students today are very tech-savvy and are much more interested when technology is present. I agree that blogs would encourage more participation in the writing process. Students would be able to easily publish their work and share their work with others to receive feedback. I think this would be a great way to encourage student communication. It would also be very easy to organize since you could see all the comments on one page. I like the suggestion of practicing blogging and commenting on paper bags first. I think it is important for the students to know how to properly use a blog before they begin publishing their blogs online. As I have seen in my practicum experience, having an audience really does make a difference in students’ writing. I think knowing that the teacher and other students will be commenting on the blogs will encourage students to do their best. I would definitely like to use blogging for writing instruction in my future classroom!
I actually discovered #commentsforkids in my practicum a few weeks ago. The librarian taught my first grade class a lesson on persuasive writing. He read them a book about taking care of the planet and spending more time outdoors. Then all the students were given a slip of paper to tweet on. They wrote persuasive tweets like “you should not liter, it will make the world ugly” or “you should spend more time outdoors than inside on your computer.” Mr. Plemmons typed the students’ tweets with #commentsforkids. Responses came pretty quickly. Some of the students’ parents responded as well as strangers. The students loved getting responses to their writing!
I think this is a good way to show students that what they write matters and other people are interested in reading their writing. It is also a great way to get feedback from many people on your writing. I commented on a few blogs through #commentsforkids. I cannot wait to see if the students respond to my comments. However, I am a little hesitant to share my students’ names and writing with the whole world. I think this could be controversial and may need to be discussed with the students’ parents.
Some of the blogs I commented on:
Classrooms using digital tools:
This is a website about a teacher/librarian who introduces her students to writing workshop first and then a digital writing workshop. She uses her own life as a digital writer to show the students how they can digitally write. She has many good writing instruction ideas and links to other great blogs.
In this day and age I think the role of digital writing in the classroom is a great thing! Digital writing allows students to easily publish their writing and share it with a huge audience. Technology also offers a variety of ways to display your writing (blogs, gloster, prezi, wordle, tagxedo, etc.) The possibilities are endless!
The multigenre research project sounds very interesting! I know I would prefer to display my research in genres other than the typical research paper. Writing birth certificates, newspaper articles, movie posters, diary entries, etc would be so much more fun! I think many students would prefer this as well. I definitely agree that letting the students pick a topic that is important to them will produce the best quality work. Students will always preform better on tasks that are meaningful to them. That being said, the accountable talk is a great idea. I know I have started projects and quickly gotten bored or frustrated with the lack of available information.The accountable talk is an easy method to make sure you select the best possible topic.The FQI (facts, questions, interpretations) is a great method to use when trying to find the most important details of your research. I think the interpretations part is especially important. Students need to try a variety of different genres and teachers can focus on teaching the ones most commonly chosen. I think doing a multigenre research project would be a great way to cover many topics (how to research, many genres, typical research paper, etc.) I also think students would enjoy this assignment!
I think integrating poetry and social studies is a great idea! It is always nice to kill two birds with one stone, but learning to write poetry may be easier when applying it to something you are currently learning. For example, the line poems allowed the students to try a type of poetry while rethinking about what the have learned about dictators. I agree that it is important to use positive language and point out the things students are doing well. I always worked even harder after my teacher gave me a compliment. I think pictures are great starting points for poetry. Everyone interprets pictures in different ways so you could have several great poems based on one picture. I love the idea of two-voice poetry. I have no experience with these type of poetry but I think it would be great for comparing and contrasting events of war and citizens of different countries. I also think that is a great type of poem to share with the class. Preforming the poem with a partner will make sharing less intimidating. I think integrating poetry with content is a great idea!
I was a little nervous when I saw the word “worksheets.” I think the writing workshop is effective because it gives students a chance to explore and learn in their own way, not through repeated practice on a worksheet. However, I think the kind of worksheets Ray meant are very important. Students need to have copies of things they have learned as a reminder/record of their learning process. I also think keeping track of what you do each day and what you plan to do tomorrow is very beneficial, especially for older students who work more independently. Likewise, I think it would be beneficial to record what you are learning during conferences, in order to remember to apply this learning in your writing pieces. I enjoyed looking at all the sample worksheets the two teachers provided their students. I think they were helpful reminders for the students. I especially liked the “try-its.” I think these would be very fun and challenging for students. I like Ray’s definition of a worksheet as “a piece of paper that is used to help manage or support a writer’s work in the writing workshop.”
When Ray and Laminack began talking about spelling drills, I automatically thought of the days when my mom would make me write every word I missed ten times each every day after school to ensure I made a good score on Friday’s spelling test. As I read Carl and Jason’s stories, I immediately noticed the spelling over everything else. But does it really matter if you spell all the words right if you are not writing what you really want to express? I know I purposely avoided words I did not know how to spell in elementary school. I regret this now. I should not have let the convention control me. “We learn from the company we keep,” is so true. I agree that students should be learning through experience with children’s literature, not constraining guides. There is not one specific path students have to take in order to conquer writing. Students can learn to write and spell through reading and discovering the spelling pattern for themselves. I agree that the method/strategy students used to come up with the spelling of a word is more important than if it is wrong or right. I have seen many of the ten spelling strategies listed in my practicum in a first grade classroom. My students use the word wall as a main source. The chart with the different types of language and ways they can be applied in the classroom is a great resource! Writing is so similar to language and they should be taught in similar ways.
I think the curriculum (strategies, techniques, questions, relationships, and conventions) Ray teaches in the writing workshop are very important. I think I would have enjoyed writing more and would have been a stronger writer if I had learned these in school. I like how Ray showed her students a piece of her own work while teaching them one of her favorite collection strategies. Likewise, she showed them a time where she went back and incorporated a technique into her writing. It is important for students to see that teachers are learning and practicing too. I also like how Ray said that technique lessons were lessons in which “try-its” make the most sense. I have been struggling with when it is appropriate to use “try-its.” I love the question “am I in a rut?” I think this is something to think about. I know I have been guilty of being in a writing rut before. I also loved the comparison between getting your writing read to take out into the world and getting dressed in the morning. This is so true! One of my biggest pet peeves is grammatical mistakes.
“It’s not that we are against lesson planning, it’s just that, well, we have bigger lives than that in a writing workshop (188).” This statement shows how powerful the writing workshop is. Instead of the typical lesson plans, the writing workshop begins with an orchestrating vision. This vision is very important and should lead the entire writing workshop. I think the management aspect of the planning will be the easiest part. I am very organized, so this comes naturally to me. I think planning the units of study and developing curriculum for the units of study will be more difficult at first, but become easier once relationships are formed with the students. I am worried that determining the scope and sequence of the unit of study will be very difficult since there is no logical procession for most units. However, I felt better after reading the questions we should be asking ourselves and the examples Ray provided. I think author and genre studies will be easier to teach because there is a logical procession of lessons. While writing daily lessons plans will be a challenge, it is good to have some sort of idea of how the day will go. It is also important to record what ended up happening in order to reflect on your teaching. Reflecting on our lessons will help us move forward more thoughtfully.
I agree that too much of writing is just retelling events instead of critically thinking about these events and their impact on the world. We should encourage to students to question the world around them instead of just observing it. Too much of student writing is irrelevant, but how could you tell a student this without taking away their freedom to write about what interests them? I am torn on the issue of share time. I think it is a great opportunity for children to get feedback on their work and I know I always liked to hear what my peers were working on. At the same time, I understand and have experienced being embarrassed or scared to share my work with the whole class. I think there needs to be a balance. I want my students to want to share and be proud of their work.
I really enjoyed Mark Hansen’s article. I think it is important to find out what students value and are passionate about before you ask them to write persuasive pieces. Likewise, students are more engaged and produce better pieces of writing when the topic is something they care about, not some generic topic. I think it is a great idea to have students come up with a list of many things they have learned about/care about and then make posters before beginning the writing process. It is also important to stress that thinking about your ideas and rewording them (revising) to fit the message you are trying to get across is very important.
While I was reading this article, I thought of something I am very passionate about. I have been on two mission trips to Guatemala and I am returning to Guatemala for the third time this summer. Every time I visit the city dump, it breaks my heart. People live in this dump. Nothing is done to prevent this.
I took this picture while visiting the city dump in Guatemala City, Guatemala.