Day 2 of the Global Education Conference has begun! Yesterday was filled with inspirational speakers and practical tips. I especially enjoyed Tony Wagner‘s ideas about fostering innovation in our students and Rita Oates’ practical tips for connecting with guest speakers who have International perspectives, yet live within our local communities. (If you missed them, I will be posting a link to the #GlobalEd12 session recordings later this week.)
As promised, tonight (or tomorrow morning depending on where in the world you live) at 11:00 PM Eastern Time, U.S, I will be presenting as well. Here’s the scoop!
It’s a Small World: Elementary Global Collaboration Nancye Blair, Education Innovation Specialist & ISTE Emerging Leader
Session Description:With mountains of resources available for Global Collaboration, elementary teachers often spend hours sifting through tools and practices to find the select few that will be successful for young learners. In this high-energy session, attendees learn about powerful web resources and best practices that are perfect for our youngest learners. With ideas for tools like Google Docs, Storybird, Voicethread, ePals, Skype, Flockdraw and more, participants will learn how to find other teachers and classes who are interested in collaborating, how to set-up 21st century learning activities that promote global awareness and real world problem solving, and easily implement these new tools in their classroom. In no time, elementary students can be blogging; digital storytelling; sharing videos, images, knowledge or skills; and even creating websites with other students across the classroom and around the world.
Today guarantees to be another wonderful day of connecting and learning. Once again, the full GlobalEdCon schedule can be found here. And remember, you can follow #GlobalEd12 or me (@EngagingEdu) on Twitter for ongoing updates, tips and highlights as well!
In my eight years of teaching, rarely had I encountered a project that gave students as much ownership and motivation as the Young Writers Program for National Novel Writing Month… Or as lovingly referred to by its participants, NaNoWriMoYWP.
Today commences the 2012 month of novel writing. Students around the world are choosing a personal word count goal and launching on an adventure to tell a long narrative tale by November 30th.
Not only does this project significantly boost the quality of student writing through hours of deliberate practice and give amazing opportunities for powerful writing mini-lessons that students can immediately put into practice, but NaNoWriMoYWP also provides an appropriate learning environment for demonstrating to students the power of setting and working toward a challenging goal. Completing one’s first novel at the age of 8, 12 or 16 is something that belongs wholly to that student and can never be taken away. It represents a lifelong transformation from writing student to author. The message of empowerment is undeniable.
Click to download .pdf version.
So, I encourage you to take join my students, colleagues, friends, writers around the globe and me in taking the NaNoWriMo challenge in 2012. Just because it is November 1, doesn’t mean it is too late to jump in. In fact, I am attaching a .pdf adapted from NaNoWriMo materials that can help you shortcut your planning time, turn your ideas into a true story concept and even connect with other NaNoWriMo-ers. Plus, this month, I will be continuing to share writing resources, tips and student stories to keep your writers engaged and motivated along the way.
So, take the challenge yourself, integrate the program into your reading and writing instruction over the next month, or at least send a Twitter message to the many students on their way to becoming authors!
Let the novel writing begin!
“NaNoWriMo – I am an Author” – Video
Click here to read more about our 2011 NaNoWriMo experience!
With World Read Aloud Day just around the corner, it’s not too late to use your technological resources to enhance your celebration and bring reading to life for your students. Here are seven ways to do just that!
1. Guest Readers & Audiences – Using Skype, iChat, Facetime or other applications, classes can bring in virtual guest readers. Guest readers come in all shapes and sizes. LitWorld and Kate Messner both provided a list of published authors who are willing to Skype with students on WRAD, which you can find at – LitWorld.org/WorldReadAloudDayChats – KateMessner.com/skype-with-an-author-on-world-read-aloud-day-2012 Yet, guest readers can also be students’ parents or grandparents, volunteers from local businesses or organizations, or even students and teachers at other schools. If you would like to connect with other educators who are interested in Skyping for WRAD, visit this wiki created by John Schu and Shannon Miller – ChangeTheWorldStoryByStory.wikispaces.com/Skype+Schedules+and+Projects. By the way, don’t miss out on the opportunity to allow your own students to serve as the Guest Readers for other classes or schools as well!
2. Podcasting – Get your students excited about reading by using voice-recording applications to record themselves reading aloud. Vocaroo.com or the Voice Memos app on various iDevices are simple ways to implement this… or use a more robust program like Audacity, Aviary or Garageband, which would even allow students to add mood music or sound effects to their productions. Play these finished masterpieces for the class or publish them online to share with others!
3. Talking Avatars – Using the voice recording function at Voki.com, students can use their voices to create an avatar that can read aloud to the class. Whether Abraham Lincoln is reading the Gettysburg Address or a cat is reading Carl Sandburg’s famous Fog poem, this activity will delight students of all ages. Bonus: Students can read their own poems and compositions aloud as well! Check out this elementary Voki project by Samantha Lewis that promotes literacy and writing through Dr. Seuss inspired rhyming poems.
4. Voicethread – Voicethread is a dynamic digital media tool that will allow your students to write or record comments. For World Read Aloud Day, create a Voicethread with slides for various figures of speech or genres and allow your students to read aloud to audio or video record examples that they discover in literary works. (Learn more about this tool’s potential at Voicethread.com.)
5. Digital Storytelling – To celebrate both reading and writing, consider allowing the students to create Digital Storybooks using the Web 2.0 application, Little Bird Tales. This application allows students to compose a written piece, draw original illustrations and record themselves reading the book aloud. Best of all, they are easy to share with the class, e-mail to parents or paste on your class website.
6. Puppet Shows or Reader’s Theater – Lights! Camera! Action! Bring reading to life with a little drama! Use your document camera to create live or recorded Read Alouds of Reader’s Theater or other works with engaging images of student-created popsicle stick avatars, finger puppets or other manipulatives. For example, read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar with a large popsicle stick avatar of the caterpillar and real versions of the red apple, two green pears, a cupcake, a single leaf and more.
7. Video Book Reviews – Students can use a webcam, Flipcam or Doc Cam to record a review of a favorite book, including sharing illustrations and reading their favorites passages aloud. Bonus: Upload these video book reviews online and connect their URLs to QR codes (qrcode.kaywa.com) that can be printed and affixed to the cover of the book for other students to watch throughout the school year!
Using Technology, you can easily use your World Read Aloud Day event to ignite a passion for reading in your students and allow it to spread far beyond your classroom walls.
World Read Aloud Day takes place on Wednesday, March 7th. For more ideas, activities resources, visit LitWorld.org/WorldReadAloudDayActivities. You can even download their original picture book, New Day, New Friends, to share with your class!
The countdown has begun… Only nine more days until the 2012 World Read Aloud Day!
Sponsored by LitWorld, World Read Aloud Day is “about taking action to show the world that the right to read and write belongs to all people. World Read Aloud Day motivates children, teens, and adults worldwide to celebrate the power of words, especially those words that are shared from one person to another, and creates a community of readers advocating for every child’s right to a safe education and access to books and technology.” (via LitWorld.org)
So, how can you participate?
First, register your class at LitWorld.org to participate as part of this amazing global event to promote literacy.
Second, plan Read Aloud activities for your class or school, whether students are reading their own writing aloud, inviting a guest reader, or using technology to connect your readers. (Check back for WRAD 2012: Part 2 this week for a great list of class WRAD activities!)
World Read Aloud Day 2012 will be a powerful opportunity to get your students excited about reading… and celebrate their place in the global learning community. So, what are you and your students going to do to participate??
Keep checking back this week for further resources for World Read Aloud Day (3/7)
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Forty-six days ago, I took on a challenge that I did not believe that I could accomplish and that I did not even intend to fight to achieve. That challenge was writing my first novel alongside sixteen of my fourth and fifth grade students as part of National Novel Writing Month. When I first looked into the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Program, I saw it as a unique opportunity to encourage my students to write while participating in a global endeavor. Having a clear beginning and end point, along with the knowledge that other kids were simultaneously writing all over the world was very motivating for my students. That, plus the idea that they would receive a real printed copy of their novel launching them to “real author” status, set the group of us into motion.
When the students sign up for the Young Writers Program, they are given the option to choose a word count goal to work toward. NaNoWriMoYWP recommends various word count goals for each grade level, allowing teachers and students to take on the challenge at a level appropriate for their individual ability, time, and motivation. I shared these recommendations with my students, along with an all day write-a-thon opportunity that we would have at the beginning of the month. Though a couple of students did ask what the minimum they could choose was, most shot for goals beyond recommendations, even when I tried to talk them out of it… even when their parents tried to talk them out of it. And so, they prepared to begin with goals starting at 2,000 words and quickly rising to several at and above 9,000.
What I did not realize when I signed up for the program was that, even though my students were able to set their own word count goals, the automatic word count goal for an adult is 50,000 words. To be honest, I do love to write, but it’s what I love to write that is important at this point. I was a philosophy major. I typically write theory, non-fiction.
50,000 words sounded impossible.
Yet to my students, 50,000 words seemed like just the right kind of challenge that their teacher should take on if they were going to be writing between 2,000 and18,000 words themselves. Whether or not I thought I could do it, these sixteen students believed I could do it. So, I signed up and signed a contract with all of them committing to the goal.
As November started, we wrote. Before school, during school, after school, even meeting at a local restaurant on a Saturday to work on our stories. The kids were excited. Even a handful of students who traditionally dread writing tasks in class excelled in this project, surpassing their goal by hundreds or thousands of words.
In eight years of teaching, there is no project in which I have participated that compared to the way this one promoted:
Task commitment and anti-procrastination measures,
Encouragement between peers,
Self-motivation outside of class, and
Two-way inspiration and shared energy between teacher and students.
Five days before the challenge was to end, I will admit that I had only written 23,000 words, not even 50% of where I needed to be. To be honest, I was ready to quit. Not quit writing, but quit trying to reach the goal. Sure, I would write more, but looking at the unbelievable workload still ahead of me, it was seemingly impossible to reach the 50,000 word goal.
But then something happened. As I was working on my computer, I checked the NaNoWriMo website. Throughout the month, the students and I had been posting updated word counts. Even though it was the last Saturday of Thanksgiving break, their numbers were going up. Going way up. Some were even starting to surpass their goals. Seeing this growth in my students, seeing them posting updated word counts even during Thanksgiving break, and seeing them rise to this incredible challenge changed me.
I was inspired. I was not just inspired to write; I was inspired to finish by November 30th. Over the next four days, I wrote day and night, even with a full teaching schedule… and completed 27,000 words. At 7:46pm on November 30th, I wrote my fifty thousandth word.
I never could have written this novel without watching them write theirs. Never would have finished this challenge if I hadn’t watched them fight for each and every word. They were a true inspiration.
So, on the second to last day, when I walked into the lunchroom and my fifth graders were asking for my “number”… and I shared 40,000, not nearly where I should have been at this point in the month, I was rather surprised when one of the students who had already completed nearly all of her 9,000 word goal looked up at me with the biggest smile on her face, saying “You are so inspiring!” Me? The one who had nearly given up with less than half of my novel done just four days before the deadline?
Yet, they continued to surprise me. Later that afternoon, a student who had finished a week early came by my classroom “just to check on me.” And on December 1st, when I showed up with donuts and supplies to show them that I was proud of them, it was those same students who came running into my classroom to tell me that they were proud of me.
My students are now more empathetic, more genuinely interested in each other. They are significantly better writers and significantly more confident in their abilities than any score on a standardized test could have possibly achieved. And where a five paragraph essay had once seemed daunting work, now sitting and writing a thousand words sounds like child’s play to these incredible students.
And the added bonus? Watching this group of kids write novels was infectious. What started out as a class project spread to two other whole classes… and, on the second to last day, to four other 4th graders who committed to reaching a 400 word goal in just one day. The school librarian is even thinking about ways to promote reading the works of these motivated students once we have copies in the library. Copies in the library? Wow.
So, NaNoWriMo, you have changed our lives for the better and taught us that we are capable of achieving much more that we could have possibly imagined. And you turned us into a family in the process. Thank you.
To find out more about the National Novel Writing Month Young Writers Program, visit ywp.nanowrimo.org.
Welcome to Engaging Education, a collection of resources and ideas that aim to engage our students and help them reach their full potential... as well as engage us as educators in the principles behind what we do every day. I hope you find them helpful, thought-provoking, and time-saving.
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