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Posts Tagged ‘Skype’

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Each student has a chance to ask a question.

Each student has a chance to ask a question.

Laura Shovan and Janet Sumner Johnson are on tour as “Sweet Sixteens,” debut children’s authors of 2016.  I love any opportunity to connect my students with authors, so when I heard they had some openings, I jumped at the chance.

To prepare my students for this visit, I have been reading aloud an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy) of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary.    We are getting to know Hannah, Sloane, Sydney, Kate, George, and other students in the fifth grade at Emerson.  The school board plans to sell the school for demolition and a new grocery store.  Under the guidance of Ms. Hill, who must be a wonderfully kind teacher, the students protest and use poetry to get their voices heard. Laura Shovan creates a compelling story with her intricate knowledge of each character carefully depicted in the craft of poetry.

With Laura was Janet Sumner Johnson, author of the The Last Great Adventure of the PB&J Society.  We had time to read only one chapter of this book before our visit, but Janet packs so much into that first chapter that my kids were full of questions.  Janet said that she wrote the first version of the book 15 years ago.  It’s been through lots of revisions.  My students enjoyed learning about how Janet got her idea for the PB&J Society.

Janet and Laura on the Promethean Board

Janet and Laura on the Promethean Board

As an aspiring author myself, I took a special interest in what these wonderful women had to say about their writing and publishing experiences.  Laura showed us her huge binder full of tabs in which she kept every draft of every poem for every character.  I was amazed!

Both authors connected with the kids and were respectful of each and every question, even the silly ones like “Do you know about narwhals?”  Kaiden loved being the first to notice that the homeless girl in Laura’s book had the last name Holmes.  I believe that there are many more clever details in these two books.  They come out in April.  Get ready to add them to your classroom library.

 

Sharing the love of reading and narwhals on St. Patrick's Day.

Sharing the love of reading and narwhals on St. Patrick’s Day.

 

 

Discover. Play. Build.

Ruth Ayres invites us the celebrate each week. Click over to her site Discover. Play. Build. to read more celebrations.

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Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for March Slice of Life Challenge.

For World Read Aloud, I followed a link to a page of authors volunteering to read aloud to students by Skype. I selected Nikki Loftin to contact because I had read Wish Girl over the summer and loved it. All set…until…I checked the calendar. World Read Aloud Day was set for February 24th which was a WOW day. We do a project with our gifted 6th graders and meet once a month. No problem, said Nikki. We rescheduled for Friday, February 26th.

Then Monday last week, my students informed me the state Beta convention was happening on Thursday and Friday, and they would be out. Quick email to Nikki. No problem, said Nikki. We rescheduled for Monday, Feb. 20th.

I thought all would be well, but when it comes to technology, one never knows. On the morning announcements, “Teachers, the internet will be shut down today.” What? You’ve got to be kidding me. In a panic, I called the school board office. Transferred to tech department, no answer. I resorted to email, hoping someone was out there listening. He was. The tech director came into my classroom. He promised to hold off disconnecting my classroom until 10:30.

Scrambling off a triumphant email to Nikki, we were all set.

Skype with Nikki Loftin

The visit was a complete delight. Not only is Nikki personable and engaging, she also loves narwhals. Let me explain. My student, Erin, has a borderline obsession with narwhals. She wanted to ask Nikki if she liked narwhals. Against my better judgement, I let her ask the question.

Nikki unicorn

This is where Nikki won all our hearts. She started reciting the words to the narwhal song. And then she turned around and came back as a unicorn. Look closely at the image and you can see Erin’s amazement.

Authors are my heroes. I’ve said this before, and I haven’t been proven wrong yet. They bring a love of story, an enthusiasm for writing, and love narwhals, too.

Nikki Loftin Tweet

I’ve ordered Nikki’s other two books because my students can’t wait to read them. And it’s the least I could do for her for being so accommodating and entertaining. When we came back to school on Tuesday, Nikki had left a Skype video (since we had been so rudely disconnected at exactly 10:30) to tell us how much she enjoyed meeting us. What a thrill!

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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

skyping with spark kids

Technology allows us, invites us even, to collaborate more and more. No longer am I a lonely teacher behind closed doors of a classroom. Through my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter and Facebook, I have met colleagues. Teachers are doing the every day thing in innovative ways. Months ago, Leigh Anne Eck tweeted me about helping with her high ability camp. She was teaching poetry. I Skyped with a group of 2nd and 3rd graders this week. What fun! I didn’t have to care at all about the boy who wiggled all around in his seat and started drumming with his pencil. That’s my kind of teaching. I was on screen far away in my own living room.

Leigh Anne shared the student work and her thoughts about the collaboration on her site A Day in the Life.

The haiku lesson itself was a collaboration because I used another colleague’s poetry project. Linda Baie blogs at Teacher Dance. We’ve never met face to face, but every week we are in contact through our blog posts. She’s one of my top commenters. Her poetry project in April was to write a haiku each day. She catalogued them on her site.

I am encouraged by this collaboration to look for ways to use Skype more in my class during the year. We’ve had author visits. These are great, but what about connecting with other teachers and students? We could Skype a whole hour lesson and share our writing together across the miles.

This next school year, I will have two 6th grade girls at two different schools. I am wondering how I can use collaboration to make their world bigger and more meaningful. Through Kidblogs, we could create a site just for them. If you know you will have high ability sixth graders next year, maybe we could collaborate on a book or writing prompt. Let me know in the comments.

In what ways are you collaborating using technology? What ways do you plan to collaborate? Link up your blog post and/or tweet out your response to #digilitchallenge and @MargaretGSimon.

For the next month, DigiLit Sunday will be on vacation. Please consider joining CLMOOC.

Sign up for CLMOOC running June 28- August 2, 2015.

Sign up for CLMOOC running June 28- August 2, 2015.

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