In the Words of Teachers

I have a session of Kid2Kid Videoconference Connections finishing up this week and next. The participants have been reflecting on the preparation for their collaborative project. Here are some comments from Shellie Jaques, Watervliet North Elementary, who is doing a project called “Gobbling Up Descriptive Writing.” It’s a spin off of Monster Match, using turkeys, with each student making a turkey and actually mailing the turkeys to the partner class.

Here’s a comment on how the project inspired reluctant writers:

A few of my reluctant writers shocked me with the quality of their writing and enthusiasm for the project.  I think having an audience that goes beyond the building’s walls helps too.  It makes the project seem more important.

And a very detailed description of the preparation. Note the use of the rubric to increase the quality of the writing, and the classroom management tips.

All 23 students in my Lang. Arts class are still working on their descriptive drafts they started last Friday.  They made their turkeys last week and they look great.  I’m very impressed with their creativity.  After seeing the dry, boring rough drafts written last week I decided to make a rubric that includes many writing skills we have learned so far this year and grammar skills we are currently practicing.  I am pleased that the “My turkey has . . . ” papers are no longer in existence.  Instead we have some “Wanted Turkey” posters, missing turkey stories, etc.  Much more interesting.

Everyone will be on camera when reading his/her own paragraph.  When the partner class is reading their descriptions, my class will take turns guessing the turkey that matches the description read.  My students are seated in 8 groups of 3, so each group will have about 3 different turns guessing.  This will keep more people actively listening and limit the temptation to blurt out an answer. The group will reach a consensus and each person in the group will have a turn to be the group spokesperson.

The participants have been reading Wesley Fryer’s Tech4Learning article, “the future of collaborative videoconferencing”. Several participants picked out his comment that teachers see this as “fluff”.

If it’s tied tightly to the curriculum, and research based instructional strategies, is it fluff?! Shellie’s project doesn’t sound like fluff to me. What do you think?!

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