This is Day 31 of 31 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge sponsored by www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com. I have discovered writing stamina that I didn’t know I had from blogging for 31 straight days. I thought I would end this month long challenge with writing from five and six year olds that has elevated them to true writers with the super power of stamina! Many of these children could not recognize letters on a keyboard back in September and now can type on an iPad keyboard. If you could have seen the level of engagement with each of my Kindergarten classes during the past two weeks, you would also feel my excitement. Empowering children to communicate with words using digital tools is motivating and not quite the same as composing with paper and pencil. As they would hand me their iPads when it was time for me to leave their classes, I sensed that they wanted a few more minutes to finish their story. Their willingness to continue and their sentences written in an app showed me their writing stamina. Digital Storytelling has been my focus this year in a variety of formats that are documented in my blog for grades Kindergarten through fifth grade.
I have used the Collins Big Cat “It Was A Cold Dark Night” story app with my Kindergarten classes during the last two weeks of March It is a digital book that has interactive features including a narrator who reads aloud the story, a Story Creator component which provides characters, scenes and objects from the story for children to use to recreate and retell the story, a text feature and a recording feature. In a blog post that I wrote in November of 2013, I wrote about the Collins Big Cat “Around the World” app that I used with first graders. They retold the story and developed their own journeys around the world using the scenes, objects, characters and text boxes. Collins Big Cat Book app has many free apps in the App Store. I absolutely love that students can be content creators while using their apps, not just content consumers.
I began my lesson with Kindergarteners by having students do a book walk where they discovered the pictures, settings and characters as I flipped through the pages of my iPad. I reminded them that readers are aware of the setting, characters and events which allow us to understand the story. Next, the narrator of the story read aloud the story “It Was A Cold Dark Night” to students. The main character who is a hedgehog named Ned is looking for a home. He visits many different animals who tell him that he cannot stay in their homes. He finally settles in a pile of leaves where he sleeps. Kindergarteners retold the story by using the retelling components of the app after they listened to the story again on their own iPads.
During the next lesson, I demonstrated how to record the speech of the characters on Post It notes and gave students their own Post It notes for them to write their own speech bubbles. I was impressed with students’ writing of speech bubbles, but even more impressed when they recreated the story scenes on their iPads and typed the word from their Post It notes into the speech bubbles in the app. In some cases, they had two characters speaking in one scene. I have included pictures of their screens below to show you how they actively engaged themselves in writing. These budding writers have opened wide the doors of possibilities for themselves as writers and for me as a teacher of writing with digital tools. I look forward to discovering more and more tools for students to use as they tell the stories of their lives and as they respond to a variety of genres.
As I end my post today, I would like to again thank the organizers of the Slice of Life Month Long Writing Challenge and express my gratitude to the bloggers who took the time to read and/or respond to my blog. I had been posting my once a week blog post on Saturdays prior to the Slice of Life Writing Challenge so having a writing community with which to share my blogs daily will be missed.
I hope that you will follow my blog if you haven’t already. It makes sense to me to write blog posts as you feel inspired to do so, but then again, it also makes sense to me to select a day of the week when your readers know that you will post. Quite honestly, I have not decided if I will continue to post my weekly blog entry on Saturday or choose another day. I almost feel like I will experience a small amount of writer withdrawal to not write daily in my blog, but also know that as the warmer weather approaches, I will need time to experience Spring and my family more and more. I really like celebrating with Ruth Ayres at www.ruthayreswrites.com each Saturday and will probably continue with my Saturday routine, but might begin posting on Tuesday with my Weekly Slice of Life post or post on some other day.
I had never even written a weekly Slice of Life blog post before diving into writing my daily slices during March. Thank you to all who have made me feel comfortable. It is healthy to keep trying new things in life. I am pleased that I have accomplished my month long goal for myself. Blogging my experiences has prompted me to carefully consider each word while also having time to ponder new technology projects, write lesson plans, and carry them out. This has been in many respects like my first year of teaching all over again as I have learned how to teach 1,000 K-5 students in 45 minute blocks every day. It has been a pleasure to share these moments with readers of my blog. I look forward to sharing more in the future on my blog about technology and inspirational topics.
Proverbs 18:20 from The Message:
20 Words satisfy the mind as much as fruit does the stomach; good talk is as gratifying as a good harvest.