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Find more celebration posts at Ruth's blog.

Find more celebration posts at Ruth’s blog.

I missed the Saturday Celebration post, so I am double-dipping today.

I want to celebrate good old-fashioned snail mail.  This week I received the invitation to my daughter’s wedding (coming up very soon on Oct. 1st), a #clmooc postcard from Karen Fasimpaur (she tells me she lived and taught in Tanzania?!), and a poetry exchange card from Joy Acey (make that 2 cards from Joy: the heart and the zebras.)

I celebrate the connections I have made through this blogging adventure that encourages me daily.

snail mailzebra card

 


Today is #DigiLitSunday.  I tweeted out the topic of #motivation.  This year is my tenth year teaching young gifted students.  I have redefined my role of teacher from someone who imparts knowledge to someone who motivates learning.  My students are way smarter than I am when it comes to a measurement of intelligence.  I am ineffective if I stand before them and tell them what to do.  It just doesn’t work.

I have learned the art of motivation.  And technology has been right beside me.  I love Animoto for its immediate access to cool designs and background music for video production.  I turned to Animoto this week to motivate my students to explore Wonders on Wonderopolis and to practice creating a thesis statement.

My students were motivated by choice as well.  Many of them find interest areas through their reading.  I Survived has become a favorite series.  Andrew wanted to know more about tsunamis after reading I Survived the Japanese Tsunami.  He watched videos, read a Wonderopolis post, and then branched out to search further questions.

 

Kaiden was inspired to learn about club foot from the book The War that Saved my Life.  

Some students were motivated by watching each other’s videos.  Jacob decided to research earthquakes after seeing Andrew’s video about tsunamis.  (Andrew and Jacob attend different schools, but they keep in touch on our Kidblog site.)

 

Motivation can come from me, the teacher, from other students, or from books, and even from conversations.  I went to Tanzania, Africa this summer and was chatting with Lynzee about the giraffes I saw.  She wanted to know why giraffes have such long necks. Wonderopolis answered her question.  Here is her video.

Obviously, I had a hard time choosing which video to share with you.  Another cool aspect of teaching with choice and technology is the variety of projects that are produced.  My students can now learn from each other as we post each video on our Kidblog site.

Please share your motivating #DigiLitSunday posts here.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

At NCTE 2015 a few weeks ago, I attended a session titled “The Power of Passion-Driven Research” including Laurel Snyder, Deb Perryman, Jen Vincent, Kate Messner, LeUyen Pham, and Laura Purdie Salas. Before the conference, I told my students which authors I would likely see, so they could write a letter to their favorite author. My new first grader, Lynzee, wrote to Kate Messner because she had read both Ranger in Time books, Oregon Trail and Rome.

During her response, Kate mentioned Lynzee’s letter. Lynzee wrote, “Your books changed my life. Before I read them, I didn’t know anything about the Oregon trail or Rome!”

Kate’s enthusiasm for Lynzee’s letter touched me. All I had done was put the books into Lynzee’s hands. What power lies in that!

I came back to my students with a renewed enthusiasm for research. One thing I know about gifted kids is they can become hyper-focused on one topic of interest. For Erin, it’s narwhals. She loves fantasy and unicorns, so of course, narwhals, too. She wants to raise money to send to the World Wildlife Fund to get an “Adopt a Narwhal” kit.

For Lani, she can’t get enough of Anne Frank and the Holocaust. And the range of interests are wide. Vannisa is fascinated by sleep. Emily wants to know everything about Pompeii.

This week I talked to my students about writing their own nonfiction book about their passions. We are calling them “Passion Projects.” Using Nancy Bo Flood’s book Water Runs through this Book as a model, we discussed text features. We created a rubric. And now they are on their way to making books of their own.

water-runs-cover

Some of my students are adding the element of poetry to their projects as Nancy did in her book. Here is Kaiden’s sad poem about elephants.

Shiny Ivory
made into piano keys
Some are lucky and get recovery.
Others get the key to death just lying there
flies swarming around them as they drift away.

–Kaiden

I don’t know if this project will change my students’ lives, but I do know that when you go deep into a subject, you remember. I have loved Maine (never been there) all my life because of a project I did in fourth grade. Passions matter. And when we allow our students to follow their passions, great things can happen. Or great books can be written. We’ll see.

If you are writing today about digital literacy, please link up.

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