A Digital “Pen Pal” Twist

Our 2nd grade teacher came to me to talk about ways she could do a pen pal type project digitally.  She wanted to cover some of her standards relating to communities and also make some contact with another class outside of our school.

We brainstormed some ideas and I shared the idea out to one of my Voxer groups.  Barb Gilman responded not only with a great idea but also a contact to work with.

Here’s the project:

After a lesson on letter writing, 2nd graders from my school hand wrote letters asking questions about community.  Once the teachers reviewed their letters and helped them revise, they were sent to me to record.  I recorded them reading their letters and took a photo of the letter.  Both items were placed together in VoiceThread.  We sent that VoiceThread to a 2nd grade class in another state that will then respond to their questions with audio comments.

Here is how the first part of the project turned out:

https://voicethread.com/app/player/?threadId=6555315

The other class sent us Tellagamis that they embedded into a Kidblog post.  Our students will then respond through the blog to those letters.

Here is the other classes blog posts:

http://kidblog.org/SSS2nd/tag/my-community/

By doing it this way, we covered many standards relating to community and letter writing, but we also worked in some speaking skills and formed a collaboration with another school that will hopefully continue on.

Change the World? We’re Writing a Book in One Day!

Notice to classrooms around the world, we are inviting you to join us as we write a book in one day.  That’s right….One Day!

Our 5th and 6th grade English class will spend the day on May 6, 2015 writing, writing, and more writing.  We will give the students the title of the book at 8:15 am EST and they will have to submit a publishable book by 2:45 pm EST.  The students will brainstorm what they want to write about, divide up the tasks, and write, revise, write, revise until the book is complete.

We want other classes to join us on the same day at roughly the same time (we understand if different time zones need to adjust).  Each class will write their own book, but with the same title.  The title of our book will be Change the World? Volume 1.  Each class that joins us in the project would be subsequent volumes.  So, the second class that joins would be Change the World? Volume 2 and the third Change the World? Volume 3 and so forth.  At the end, we plan to use Amazon’s Createspace Self-Publishing to print copies of the book.  We will only sell the book at the cost to print.  We will also provide free .pdf versions of each book to be available for download.  We’ll be writing our book in English, but that doesn’t mean you have to.

This is the first year we are doing this, so we are developing the process as we go.  All classes that join us will need to be able to share their book via Google Drive.  All grade levels are welcome. Throughout the day, we’d love to connect with other classes through Google Hangouts and talk about our progress or share resources.  We hope by the end our students learn skills in writing and editing, collaborating, preserving, but most importantly, how they can change the world.

If you’d like to join us on this project, email me here or comment on this post.  I hope you and your students can join us on May 6th as we Change the World?

Update (2/12): Right now, we have committed: Volume 1: Allison Fisher’s 5th/6th Grade Class from Little Flower Catholic School in Indianapolis, Indiana, Volume 2: Steve Auslander’s 5th Grade Class from Allisonville Elementary in Indianapolis, Indiana, Volume 3: Amie Trahan’s 8th Grade Class from Vanderbilt Catholic High School in Houma, Louisiana, and Volume 4: Nicole Carter’s 8th Grade Class from Neil Armstrong Middle School in Forest Grove, Oregon.

Update (2/16):  We have two more classes!  Volume 5: Beth Moore’s 5th Grade Class from Sacred Heart Elementary School in Fowler, Indiana and Volume 6: Sarah Landis’s Class from Pleasanton Unified School District in Pleasanton, California.

Update (3/8): Volume 7 is Ellen Smith’s 4th graders from Glenbrook Elementary in Streamwood, IL.  And, I think we’re very close to getting our first international participants!