Digital Learning Day 2014

Happy Digital Learning Day 2014!  Today I celebrated with my 2nd grade students.  For National Day on Writing, I had discussed the idea of upstanders and bystanders with my students.  We wrote about it, and I had mentioned this in one of my previous blogs.  I believe I even tweeted something out on Twitter a while back.  That’s when I heard from Jayne Marlink (@JMarlinkCWP), Executive Director of the California Writing Project.  She mentioned that one of the components of Digital Learning Day was going to be “Upstanders, Not Bystanders:  A Digital Call To Write and Call to Action.”  I loved this idea because I could connect it back to what my students did for National Day on Writing.

I was excited to participate in Digital Learning Day, but the closer it got, the more I realized it was going to be harder than I thought.  I do not have technology in my classroom where every kid could have access to it.  Many schools have iPad carts or have instituted a Bring Your Own Device policy.  However, my school did not have any of those things in place.  We have one computer in each classroom, a computer lab, and a mini-lab in each building that consists of 12 computers.  These computers are in a common area in the building we call a mall.  The computers in this mini-lab have to be shared between eight classrooms.  My school is also in the middle of MAPS testing, so the computer lab was closed so classes could take the test.  It was a dilemma, how was I going to give my students the chance to get their hands on technology during Digital Learning Day?

I woke up this morning and realized that I had reserved six of the mall computers for small group activity.  I usually meet with small reading groups and have students work independently in centers.  The computers make up one of my center activities on Wednesdays.  I decided I would read the book, Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon, by Patty Lovell.  It is a fun story about a young girl who doesn’t let a bully get her down.  She even gets the bully to be a friend by just being herself.

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After reading the book, I had my students write in their journal about the importance of being an upstander.  Then, they wrote a promise about how they would be an upstander themselves.  As students finished writing, they were able to go to the mall computers and type what they wrote on their blog to share with others.  Since I only had six computers available, I had the other students draw posters encouraging others to be upstanders while they were waiting for a computer to open up.  Here are a few of my favorite posters.

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It worked pretty well.  In fact, the 4th grade teacher across the mall commented on how quietly my students were working.  We were having a fun time while we were doing our work.  I got to walk around and take pictures of my students drawing and blogging.

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The best thing is that I learned something new on Digital Learning Day.  I downloaded the app Animoto on my iPad and learned how to make short videos.  I was able to share the videos of my students participating in Digital Learning Day.

I was pretty proud of myself.  I figured out a way for this day to work even though I do not have access to a lot of technology.  I was able to make do with what I have.  I was happy to be a participant in this day of digital learning and not be a bystander.  I think my students had a wonderful time, and I did, too.

Celebrating National Day on Writing with Students

As I posted yesterday, National Day on Writing was on Sunday, October 20th.  I decided to celebrate with my students today.  We spent the majority of our morning writing.  We started off the day in the computer lab writing stories.

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When we returned to the classroom, we compared upstanders to bystanders.  Earlier in the year, I had read the book, The Recess Queen, by Alexis O’Neill.  My students were able to understand the difference between upstanders and bystanders.  So, I read the book, The Juice Box Bully, by Bob Sornson and Maria Dismondy.  It’s a great story about how students help a new student acclimate to the class.  They all make a promise to be helpful and respectful even when someone is making poor choices.  My students wrote letters to the bully of the story giving him tips and advice on how to make the correct choices.  I was happy that my writing was also tied in to our Red Ribbon Week celebration.  During Red Ribbon Week we focus on having good character.  Here’s a picture of my students writing their letters.

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Finally, my students participated in a chalk talk protocol.  It’s funny because we don’t use chalk and we don’t talk during this activity. Earlier in the day, I had a parent helper hang up ten pieces of chart paper that had a problem in the middle of it.

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My students were able to write solutions to the problems on the chart paper.  They were also able to comment on other students’ comments.  My students completed this activity without any talking.  We definitely used writing to connect with each other.  After the activity, I debriefed with my students.  They said they enjoyed this protocol.  Everyone had a chance to share their ideas in a nonthreatening way.  I will definitely do this activity again.

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All in all I would say this was a very enjoyable National Day on Writing.  I can’t wait for next year!  However, I am going to remember to write to connect all year long.  🙂