Upon returning to my classroom the next day, we had a writing assignment that would allow my first graders the chance to practice adding descriptions to their writing. The original plan was to work on adding descriptions to student created make believe characters.
My class has been piloting a class set of LearnPad tablets. It just so happened to be a beautiful day outside. We decided to scrap the original plan of make believe characters and apply the Out My Window project to our lesson. Why not create a project where students were able to write about a personal connection while still practicing adding descriptions.
Students took their tablets outside and snapped a picture of their favorite piece of recess equipment. Once everyone had an image, we returned to the class to begin our descriptive writing. My students used the Aviary photo editing app on their LearnPads to annotate over the top of their image.
Typically we spend the week brainstorming, drafting, editing, and revising before publishing a final piece. Along the way there are lots of students that need support and pushed to complete the assignment. I was amazed at what my first graders were able to do with this project. The only guidance I gave them was to add descriptions about the following: 1) What you do on your image, 2) What you hear, and 3) How it makes you feel.
Students were totally engaged throughout this process and not one student needed assistance with brainstorming what to write. I am always blown away with the power of a PLN. I attended a great session with two tech leaders that I had talked with more on Twitter than in person. I was able to take their ideas and apply it to my own classroom. Providing my students with a task that provided a personal connection alleviated a lot of the struggles typically experienced with early writers.
Below are some of the final results that my students were able to produce in a short amount of time. Their final products were published to their blogs. A great reminder how important it is to given student choices and provide authentic opportunities to apply common core skills.