Monday, July 28, 2014

Fourth Grade Authors, First Grade Audience

by Hayley Sample, 4th Grade Language Arts Teacher, Sendera Ranch Elementary

My 4th grade Sendera Ranch Elementary students had been writing narrative and expository pieces all year. This time was going to be different and we all were excited to integrate technology into the mix. After studying the ins and outs of children's literature and all it has to offer, together we created a Google form survey (see snip below) asking interest questions for each story element ie: characters, plot, problem, solution, sequel etc. We then met up with our first grade buddy. Each 4th grader took their ipad , books they were using to help plan their story and sat with a first grader asking them the questions for what they would like to see in the book that would be written specifically for them. This perked not only the first graders interest but my students interests as well. After we conducted the survey through google forms. We viewed the results and had a class discussion of the importance of having a good balance of what your reader wants and what the author wants when creating a book. 

Next was creating the plot pitch. Students planned out their story making sure to include all the components of the assignment as well as keeping in mind what the survey results showed. Great conversations resulted and many began see the full scope of what needed to be taken into consideration as the author of a book. My students faced this challenging task head on. Students who might typically be unmotivated where thriving. It was amazing to see their creative ideas come alive through the planning and then continue to develop and change throughout the process.

Once they finished their plot pitch, conferenced with a partner, they were ready to meet with met. Each child discussed their plot pitch with me. Once it was “publish ready” I approved the pitch and the budding authors began publishing in book creator on the iPad.

Book creator is a wonderful app that allows for all kinds of possibilities. There is a free and paid version of this app. My campus leadership agreed this was a great investment and bought the paid version for us because it allows an unlimited amount of books to be made on one iPad. The free version only allows one.

Prior to starting this project I made a PowerPoint with specific directions to “get to know the book creator app.” It was prior to reading STAAR.  We used this time to review and also learn the app so when they kids began to type their books they would feel comfortable and allow everyone time to become successful. This was the ultimate lifesaver. The kids were able to review in a fun way and learn a new app they would soon use!

The students typed all of their text for their book into book creator first then added their illustrations. There are many options for illustrating. Several drew on paper and then took a picture and imported them into their book, others brought props from home and took pictures of those and imported them in, some found pictures off the internet for their backgrounds and some drew with the pen feature in the app. Basically the opportunities were endless! During this process kids stayed focused on producing their books. They would ask others opinions, assist each other with drawings or trouble shoot if they couldn't figure something out.

Once their book was “done” they had to partner revise and edit. This process is a natural part of the writers workshop all year long, it resulted in many great conversations and significant improvements to students’ product. 

When the students were ready to publish they uploaded it to Showbie. Showbie is a excellent management app that is like drop box. It is free and you can create folders for each assignment. The kids then upload it into Showbie where it can be graded and left with verbal or written feedback. Through Showbie I would access all of their books to grade using my iPad. Within Showbie I retrieved the book then opened each book in iBooks where is makes it into an actual page turning book (this blew the kids minds). You can also email from Showbie. To continue the interaction and sharing of books, I emailed each book to our first grade friends teacher. Then she had each one of the books on her iPad for the first graders to read.

After 2.5-3 weeks of writing and illustrating our books were ready to be revealed. We made our way down to first grade and shared them. The kids loved their books that were specially made for THEM. Several of my kids dedicated their books to their first grader and this was very special.

After doing this project and sharing about it at assembly the word was out. I then helped third grade teachers learn the app and their students created a book to go with their inventor for their living museum.

This integrated learning experience allowed for such deep collaboration on so many levels. Across the country, district, campus etc. It impacted these young lives and was a tremendous SUCCESS!

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