Sunday, March 6, 2016

Crafting Decisions #6 of 31

It's a busy month of writing and commenting with the Two Writing Teachers' Slice of Life March Challenge.  Please visit their site to read other slice of life stories and leave a comment or two.

I am cross posting with Margaret Simon's DigiLit Sunday where
other educators are writing about digital literacy.  This week's theme is technique.  




Last week, we had the opportunity to Skype with Kelly Gillis from Apple to talk about iAuthor.  I met Kelly when I was working on  Launching Digital Writing in the Elementary Classroom (a collection of teachers' stories about their own journeys with digital writing).  She had flown in from Cupertino, CA to meet with everyone who was creating an iBook.  I knew right away that I wanted to connect her with my students.



As part of our life science unit, our fifth graders are in the middle of researching information about an environmental issue.  They are taking that information and writing an argumentative piece that will become a chapter in an iBook.  We've read mentors, studied leads and endings, and learned about counter arguments.  They've determined their audience and crafted their thesis statements.  As is always true in a writer's workshop, each writer is in a different place.  Some are still researching while others are drafting their essays.  

Soon, it will be  time to transform that information into an interactive digital book.  (This is one of my favorite parts.) It's time to start looking closely at some digital books to study the writer's craft. As Troy Hicks reminds us in Crafting Digital Writing, digital composers have to think not only as writers, but also as artists, designers, and sound engineers.  


Kelly introduced me to Invertebrates, an iBook written by 8th graders for 8th graders.  We'll be using that as one of our digital book mentors.  We're also fortunate to have a collection of interactive books in our school library.  They too, will become mentors for us.  We'll also be using this great website, Wordless News:  One headline per day, vowel and consonant free (thank you Cathy Mere for this resource).  Websites like Wordless News and Wonderopolis allow students to think about and discuss visual literacy.





Some guiding questions I'll ask my students to think about as they study mentors:  (Thanks to Katie Ray, these are always my foundational guiding questions.)
  • What do you notice?  
  • Why do you think the author chose this craft move?
  • How does this craft move affect you as a reader?
  • How might you try this in your own writing?
The answers to these questions will guide my young writers as they begin to create.  

Finally, Kelly reminded the students of several important factors.
  • Think about your audience.  What do you want your audience to do as a result of reading your writing?
  • Images are vital to your writing.  What kinds of images will you choose?  How will those images enhance the meaning of your writing?
  • Photo galleries allow your reader to interact with your images.  They keep the reader engaged because they are physically touching the images as they scroll through.
  • A glossary (which needs to be done at the end), is very helpful for your reader as they encounter new words and concepts.
  • Get feedback from others.  Being open to feedback and being willing to revise your work will make your writing even stronger.
The next few weeks will be very busy, but I'm so looking forward to the process.  Thanks to the support of our wonderful tech teacher, Kelly Riley and our media specialist, Phyllis Brown, we'll be working through the process together,  helping our students make thoughtful, purposeful decisions as digital writers. 

8 comments:

  1. Julie, I am impressed that your fifth graders are taking on the vocabulary of the secondary students with their research. It is commendable that they are writing arguments with claims, and counterclaims. I look forward to hearing more about their work. I also enjoyed your piece on questioning from Katie Wood Ray. Best of luck with your project.

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  2. This is such exciting work, Julie, and so thoughtfully put together. I'm saving it for our next round of nonfiction work.

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  3. This is such exciting work, Julie, and so thoughtfully put together. I'm saving it for our next round of nonfiction work.

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  4. I am so impressed with this undertaking. You and your team are brave to lead students on this adventure. I look forward to hearing how the products turn out. This is authentic work that the students must be completely dedicated to.

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  5. Do you find the students more engaged with this type of writing. It seems that there are many strengths they can capitalize on.

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  6. Do you find the students more engaged with this type of writing. It seems that there are many strengths they can capitalize on.

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  7. How exciting! I hope you share the finished product. What an engaging project!

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