Click on the picture to check out my blog post for the National Geographic Education Blog! :)
It's about fostering a connection between the environment through creativity!
Okay sooooo how does this work?
The first week back to school is always a mixture of nerves, and excitement (dare I say "fun") and for those who work in a one to one classroom (one iPad for every child) it also means... updating iPad apps! This is only my second year working in a one to one program, so I am constantly trying to keep up with all of the Apps that are available, not only for teaching, but also for general organization. I'm not gunna lie, it's a lofty task and can be time consuming. Really... "Ain't NOBODY got time for that." My school is really pushing to become as paperless as possible, so it can be tricky with a group of Grade 5's to keep track of which assignments are where, and let Mom and Dad know where too! With this said, SAVE YOURSELF SOME TIME and take a look below! I created a handout for my parents of some of the key iPad "players" to keep them in the loop and thought I would share. The list is below and if you check out my pinterest I try to update my “App Attack” board (horrible name I know) as frequently as I update my student iPads. A lot of these apps are still available on Google Play if you are using an android (no discrimination) so check it out!
EDMODO SAVES YOU FROM ORGANIZATIONAL CHAOS!
It makes sense in a one to one to try to be as paperless as possible, but when deciding how to organize this in a Grade 5 classroom, all I want is a one stop shop for everything. I really hate having assignments here and there, but there is one obvious superhero for solving this dilemma. There are many Apps to highlight here, but Edmodo remains, hands down, my all time favourite classroom organizer, and it is also a website! Sooo if you don't work in a one to one, it is still highly effective. I’ve used it with 9-17 year olds and there is always engagement. It allows communication, organization, even record keeping all in one. Let’s be real, it’s kind of the gift that keeps on giving. It IS the paperless classroom. I love to use it for quizzes, polls, and now I use the folders to organize student handouts. Take a look if you haven’t before, you won’t regret it! AND if you have signed up, I beg you ACTUALLY USE IT! Explore what it can do, it really is the Transformer of educational tools. Check out Edmodo HERE: www.edmodo.com
EDSHELF SAVES MY SANITY!
For the best updates on Apps, websites and technology check out EdShelf! This site is run by “Mike Lee” and if you sign up for the mailing list you will NEVER have to search for an educational App again (this is where the saved sanity comes in). The email updates are filled with all of the information you need to stay up to date with the newest Apps. Honestly, I loathe mailing lists, I hate newsletters, but I NEVER pass up on an EdShelf email! This site was almost shut down from lack of funding and was SO LOVED by educators, a fundraising campaign has it up and running again! Check it out here! https://edshelf.com/
QR CODES SAVE MY FIRST DAY BACK!
I came across an interesting resource from Kristin Kennedy on Teachers Pay Teachers where she used QR codes to make a “Get to Know You” cube. The concept is simple: roll the QR dice, scan the code (using a free App), and it brings you to a question, which you answer about yourself. I used her free printable on the first day and absolutely loved it! The kids were extremely engaged, on task, and actually getting to know one another. It was a COMPLETE success, so I will be working on creating some designs of my own (after I teach myself of course). Check out her resource and her store, and if you are interested in more QR Code activities check out my pinterest board where I’ve collected some! It is a versatile concept that can translate to any subject. Thank you Kristin and check out her store here! http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Kristin-Kennedy
And that's all I got... hope this helped?
Everyone has to teach writing, but as soon as someone tacks on the term "CREATIVE," I think there is an assumption that it is a process students must discover completely on their own or that it is solely subjective. We forget that we can still coach creativity, and assist in the planning process. Yes, students need to tap into their own imaginative well, but isn't it okay to lead them there? So here's my steps to coaching creative writing. By all means, they aren't THE way but they are A way...
READ WITH THEM
Students need to experience creativity in order to tap into their own. It's important to expose kids to creative pieces of writing in order for them to internalize what they like and don't like. What was interesting and what wasn't, and even what kind of story telling they appreciate. Exposure is definitely step one! My new favourite: Awful End By Philip Ardagh! Such great narrating and sarcasm! I love it's Monty Python feel! Check it out HERE!
PRACTICE THROUGH IMITATION
We model most things for students but very few times do we actually model creativity. One way to practice is by allowing students to parody their favourite pieces. Teachers have been using fractured fairy tales for years, and I think it's a fantastic way to let students practice retelling stories through their own creative voices. A colleague of mine introduced me to this amazing website that walks students through the fractured fairy tale by READ WRITE THINK check'r out HERE!
This is an obvious step but it is something that I personally need to practice. Often I find I tell students to brainstorm, they come up with one or two ideas, and pick one that seems right. Maybe we should be teaching to pursue multiple ideas, figure out their details, develop them further and then decide. It's okay to put effort into the brainstorming process.
TAKE TIME TO TEACH THE STORY ELEMENTS
Walking through the setting, characters, conflicts and resolutions of familiar stories helps students see the layout. Putting names to them helps cover curriculum, but more importantly when you categorize these things it gives the students a chance to organize their creative thoughts. They can ask themselves, do I have a conflict? Did I resolve it in the end? This way students are writing with a purpose. It seems silly but if you take the time to review these elements before writing the quality of their pieces is significantly improved.
THE OLD SCHOOL PLOT GRAPH
Now, I have a love hate relationship with plot graphs. My hate is that most stories don't actually fit the traditional plot graph, and I mean most stories that I enjoy. There can be multiple rise and falls in a story, not just one, but for an introduction to creative writing I think plot graphs are a great way to map out a students imagination. Whether a student has no ideas and nowhere to go, or too many ideas and no focus, a plot graph can assist. I usually have students map out their story in a few sentences and let them know it is okay to stray from your plan. The point is to have a direction of some sort to start from. Check out another great source here from READ WRITE THINK PLOT GRAPHS!
SHOW DON'T TELL/ ROUGH DRAFTING
This is my ABSOLUTE favourite thing to teach. Telling stories isn't enough, you need to teach how to SHOW what you envision. The lesson I love to do is with all five senses. Have students test each of their senses: Sight, Taste, Smell, Touch, Hearing and write a description for someone who does not have that sense. I usually do one at a time and make it a game. For sight I pick a scene and have students describe it in their writing. I like to time them to add extra focus. For sound I have them close their eyes and play any sort of music (usually of the meditation variety). For touch, I like to blindfold students and give them something like dough, a plastic egg, bubble wrap etc to figure out. For smell, again blindfold and use something like black liquorice (the grosser the better). Finally, taste, I usually do a sip of pop or carbonated water because you will get some great descriptions of bubbles. You can be creative, and when it's all done, share some of your student examples with the class. Once you've done this exercise have students go through their rough copies and highlight sentences that are telling and make them showing. It works every time!
It's one thing to edit for your students but peer edits and reviews are the way to the creative gold mine! They feed off of each other and their brutal honesty really makes them better writers. They have no problem telling one another where they got lost, or what is unbelievable. It's great interaction and teaches them the benefits of collaborating. You can download my free editing wheel HERE!
It is so important for students to take pride in their work. Producing a final draft worthy of display really completes the entire process. Nothing is more anti-climactic then putting effort into something that goes nowhere. Seriously no one wants to do that and your students sure don't want to either. One of my personal favourite things to do is compile their stories into a class anthology that can be used for parent teacher interviews, the class library or even the school library. It's a great keepsake and is easily done at any staples.
It's not so much about the tips, as it is about the steps to the process. Putting it together and having students take some time with their work can improve their own creative process. Give'r a go!
For more resources check out my Creative Writing Crash Course on Teachers Pay Teachers! CLICK HERE TO CHECK IT OUT!
-Miss B :)
So here's the thing... teachers teach (last time I checked anyway). This is what we do. We instruct, we demonstrate, we model, and we break down the steps to everything. My question is then, why do we expect children to just be thrown into a group and know how to interact?
Group work is something that is learned through practice like anything else. There is no doubt about that, and let's be honest, how many adults do we know who can't work in a group? It's not an easy task. It also isn't an impossible task, and it's time that we as teachers TEACH group work skills.
The best way to do this... Cooperative Learning!
Crash Course in Cooperative Learning:
For those who might not know what this is, the very very basics is working together. It is through group activities that students learn "HOW" to work together, share the work, and communicate at the same time. As teacher, you now have both an academic goal and social goal in mind. This is what we want isn't it? We want our students to work together, and through this style of learning, now they have some direction instead of just sending them to "work it out" with no real skills to do so.
Cooperative Learning Cards:
So here's the most basic of strategies. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to cooperative learning cards from an amazing colleague of mine, and I have been using them ever since.
The concept is simple:
Each student in a group is given a job. This way they have accountability for their part in the group. Each card describes a role and even shows students "how" they might speak. Sounds a bit much at first, and trust me for high school students you will get some serious sarcasm, but teaching students how to speak appropriately is so important for communication. I can't even begin to think about how many times I have worked in groups (even with teachers) who can't communicate OR who speak without thinking. We all know tone and wording changes meaning, and it's time we have students practice accountable talk.
The roles range from practical (Time Keeper, Materials Monitor, and Recorder) all the way to the more social roles (My personal favourite... The Encourager). The cards are to be reused and students should experience new roles each time. After finishing, self-reflections and group reflections are key for students to think about what they can do better and how. Reflections can be painful, and often students will put what they think the teacher wants to hear, but regardless it allows students to pause and for a brief moment consider THEIR role from another's perspective.
You can use this for almost any age group. I personally have used it with 9 year olds all the way to 17 year olds. It keeps students accountable for their actions and their words. It exposes them to new roles that they may not have taken on by simply "working it out," and it keeps them engaged. Substitute teachers, please bring them wherever you go!
If you aren't convinced, try it yourself! There are so many resources out there, and activities which you can introduce to your class. Feel free to check out my cooperative learning cards (like the one above) HERE!