When the idea of digital volunteers was presented at the #gafesummit I attended, I knew that was something I could easily take back to my school. One teacher in third grade really took to the idea. This year Mrs. Westhoff has been using digital volunteers for her students' papers they type in Google.
The first papers they sent out they were nervous for feedback. She sent out an email that identified what the students were working on and then the specifics the people should be editing and revising. These editors have been teachers, administrators, school board members, and community members. It has been great to get different people involved in what our students are doing.
Here is the email she sent out for the last paper they shared...
"Thank you so much for volunteering again to be a Digital Volunteer. My students have been working so very hard on "Animal Reports" and should have received it this morning. A little background: My students brainstormed various animals, chose one, and completed research in four main areas- general animal facts, habitat, interactions, and babies. After the report was written, students then supported their text with appropriate nonfiction text features.
Things to look for / comment on:
- introducing a topic or new information
- nonfiction text features support understanding (and not too many)
- information given are FACTS (not opinions)
- concluding statements
- Grammar: includes but not limited to capitalization, punctuation, use of commas, spelling common words and homophones correctly
- General comments such as areas where the student did well in
You will receive a notification in your inbox notifying that a student shared their document with you. Next, comment away!
If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know at any time. If you could have them done by next Friday, March 11th that would be fabulous! Thank you again for your time and enthusiasm. "
Her class just sent out their papers for this second round of digital volunteers. They asked to have their volunteers look at their papers this time because they like getting the outside feedback. It is important to share work outside the 4 walls of their classroom, so they can see that their work matters.
Think about digital volunteers for your classroom! It took me about 10 minutes to look through and comment on 2 papers - not a big time commitment for such a great experience for students.
A few things I learned about third graders this week that I had maybe not given them enough credit for or that I had forgotten since the 6 years ago that I had taught them -- they are profound and have some deep thoughts.
This week we started working on 6 Word Memoirs. This was a project I had heard about from Twitter, with many of the students being middle school or high school that had created them. I wanted to see how I could adapt it with third grade in the 50 minutes I get with each class once every 6 days.
The first thing I started with was showing them "6 Word Memoirs for kids" in a Google search. We talked about what they observed - 6 words, about a person, funny, inspirational. Then I gave some examples to them and talked to them about what a memoir was. Then I showed them how to create and they were off.
Two sites have been used - Canva and Recite. There is a great difference between these sites, and I am so glad I have used both. I can see the pros and cons to both.
Canva is more intricate with more opportunities for creativity and creation. Users can choose their backgrounds, add images, decorative fonts, and other things that personalize their creation. Recite allows the user to type in their words and then pick from a pre-made background. Canva is terrific if you have a lot of time for create or if you want a very customized project. Recite is great if you really just want some text on an interesting background because you can't add anything else to them. It is also great for differentiation in class. If you have students who would be overwhelmed with Canva, they can get good results with Recite.
Finally, they took the link and put it in a shared Google Sheet next to their name. Then classmates could look at each other's work. Very powerful. I then shared a bunch on Twitter. Check out the bottom for some of the awesome creations from these third graders!
#6wordmemoirs Made with Recite
I truly believe in student voice.
#6wordmemoirs Made with Canva
Welcome to Website Wednesday! This is one of my "oldie but goodie" sites. I have used Scholastic Story Starters for YEARS. I can't wait to share this one with you!
When you go to this site, you are greeted by a page that allows students to choose their genre, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi, or scrambler (random computer choice!). Upon selection, students will go to a page where they can put in their name (encourage first name ONLY) and choose a grade level. This will change the complexity of the writing pieces - letters, lists, story, news article, etc. - and topics. I like to think there is a lot of differentiation that can happen here. I let more experienced writers go higher and more emergent writers go lower.
They then go to the spinner! This is where they will spin for a story. The first box will give the type of writing. I just spun and got "Write a short poem about". The second box is an adjective or description. Mine says, "fierce". Next is the character, and mine is "servant". Lastly is a situation, which mine is "who has the strength of 500 people". My topic would be "Write a short poem about a fierce servant who has the strength of 500 people". If my writer did not want to do a poem, I can press the button under that box to change it. I did this and got..."Write a short legend about...".
Students then decide which paper would be best for this project, notebook paper, letter, newspaper, or postcard. They can choose to include a drawing. Then they get started. Students can save these pieces, but they cannot come back to edit them.
How Can I Use It?
*Free write day - Let them just create!
*After finishing a piece, allow them to do this until everyone is finished.
*Partner writing - This is a great way for students to collaborate on their writing.
*Many times I have them write and give them a chance to share with each other. They like to show these stories off to each other.
*Class collaboration story - Do one together! There is a Teacher's Guide in the right corner.
*When you have a sub, this can be an easy and fun way to still have writing.
What I Have Learned About this Site
HAVE FUN! The kids love this!
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom