Sunday, November 29, 2009

Miracles, Milestones and Magical Moments

Click on the picture to see my family blog!

I can honestly say that I am REALLY enjoying my digital writing project thus far! I am working on creating a family website that my family and friends can access to see the 'happenings' of the Davis household. When I started it, pretty much right after our first day of class, I sent the link out to family/friends that I thought would be interested. (That was a little nerve racking...I know that it is by no means formal writing, but it is putting your self out there!) Initially I got a few notes/emails from people saying "good job" or "thanks for sharing" but to be completely honest, I really did not think too many people were paying attention. None the less, I keep adding things and enjoying the creativity that comes with it!

This past week, my husband, son and I had 3 Thanksgivings to attend. I was very surprised at how many family members commented to me about the blog! More were paying attention than I had imagined, or even hoped for! None of them have created accounts and show up as followers on my page, but they all bookmarked it and check in every now and then to see if I added new things! I love it!

I have done a lot of picture adding, and refection on what the pictures show. I have even added a video that I a pretty proud of! My next step is going to be to create a video/slide show with photo story. I took tons of pics over our 3-day Thanksgiving adventure between MN and WI and thought I could use all them to make a show. I downloaded the program, but now can't seem to find it on my computer. I will get it though. I am hoping that will be done by this weekend. We will see though! I am also very excited to add items from the information given to us by our guest speaker the last time we met. (,, I have looked at all of these and think they will be great ways to add to the blog with more pictures but in a different creative way!

In regards to my writing, I decided to add more than just my writing and reflections. As a mom, and a teacher, I love ggod quotes. Whenever I come across one, whether it is inspirational as a mom or a teacher, I write them down and put them somewhere that I can see them. I am going to add favotire quotes (from my family or from a different source) to my blog as well. I am also a collector of poems. I think that these will add another interesting piece to my blog.

Overall, I am loving this project! My only wish is that I had more time to work on it each week. I would love to be able to add daily or weekly posts. It is a way for me to reflect back and enjoy some of those family moments amid all our crazy schedules and hectic days!

Here is a link to my site: Miracles, Milestones and Magical Moments: The Davis Family Website

Saturday, November 21, 2009

And The Award Goes To...

I think that reading my own writing is one of the hardest parts with writing. I am my worst critic, but at the same time, I find it VERY hard to recognize the flaws or "areas that need improvement" in it. Just looking back at my professional blogging over these past months, I can see that it is hard for me to get outside the box. I have a tenancy to take each prompt or guiding questions so literally and answer them in a way that almost seems formulaic to me. Most of my blogs follow the same pattern; reflect on the question in relation to my classroom, discuss how I can or can't use it, and then find an example or resource. Blah..blah...boring.

I really enjoy reading other peoples blogs and seeing how they took the guiding question and brought it to another place. Maria's blog is a perfect example for that. I know that we are supposed to choose a blog that encompasses voice, thoughtfulness and multimedia components and she is amazing at this. Maybe it is because I usually sit next to her in class and hear her voice all the time, but when I read her blog, it is like she is talking to me. Her creativeness and ability to link one things to another is very engaging and entertaining! I am a little biased in that I can honestly say that I have spent most of my time interacting with blogs from teachers in my curriculum group, but I do believe she is the best.

As for myself...the hard part begins! Lets just put this out there from the start. I do not feel that any of my professional blogs are stellar. I find it much easier to blog about things that touch me, such as family experiences, than professional things, that most of the time I am nervous to write what I really want to write for fear that it will viewed by someone who interprets it in a negative way. But here is my attempt.

1. --Professionalism
I chose this post because I feel like I really thought about article and reflected on how I could see myself in it. As teachers, we need to admit our fears about taking on new things. This will only help us to "jump in" and conquer the new adventures before us.

2. --Creativity
My blog posting on my voice thread experience wins for this! Not because I feel that it is all that great, but because I impressed myself with how fun and easy it was to create a voice thread. I was absent that day in class and thought for sure I was going to be struggling to figure it out and I was happy to be wrong.

3. --Design
This was hard. Design is an area that in my professional blog I am not sure that I even touched. I am working more on this in my digital writing project than in my professional blog. But, since I have to chose one, I went with this. It is not an amazing designed post, but more a great resource that I found for designing blogs. Does that count?? I think that my blog page would be my design choice. Even though it was my professional blog, I added family pics, a favorite quote and a few other touches that made it my own. :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


I am admitting up front that I am a little stumped on tonight's (or this weeks post). I usually look at what we are asked to write about over the weekend, do some research, spin in my head what I am thinking I want to write about and then write on Tuesday night when Kash goes to bed...and although I am a MAJOR creature of routine and habit, that is not what happened this week.

In my defense, although not an excuse, I have spent the last hour and a half working on my digital writing project, my family blog. No lie. I am really enjoying it. When I can steal that few extra hours in the day to retreat to the basement, and work on the computer, I find myself being drawn to my family blog. I have been called a momerazzi, as I take TONS of pictures, and I love sorting through them, uploading them and then writing about the stories that go with them. You will have to forgive me that I am not drawn to thinking about Wikis...I am trying though.

Shall I get on with it??
One of the things that continues to show up in my blog postings and links is resources (and examples) of each of the media we are learning used in other classrooms and schools. Teaching first and second grade, I struggle to find ways to connect this to my own classroom. Blah, blah, have heard this all from me before.

Anyway, here is a link to examples of how elementary school teachers are using wikis. Although not really focusing on collaborative writing, I thought this first and second grade teacher used the wiki in a very interesting an clever way! Although I am not sure that I would do the same, I will share it with my first grade math class.

Side Bar Note
As I have been sorting through the lists of educational wikis that are out there, it amazes me how many teachers put in their description "Just trying this out" of "This is an experiment." It is if they are all nervous to put themselves out there. This is irrelevant to what I am supposed to be writing about, I just noticed it and wondered if anyone else had noticed it as well.

On to what I am supposed to be writing about...Collaborative Wiki writing.
I think that in a first and second grade classroom it would be interesting to do a collaborative writing wiki with another first and second grade class. Although it would be amazing to do one internationally, or just with a class from another state, it could be as simple as class in a different town. For first and second graders, the town they live in seems like their entire world. I have a friend who teaches first grade in Burnsville for example. Her and I could create a wiki together that both of our classes could interact with. We could post letters back and forth to each other, talking about who we are, what our school is like, information about out town, etc. We could make it private so that no one else could see and post pictures as well. It could be an ongoing thing throughout the year...tied to our regular writing workshop. Kids could pick their favorite pieces of writing to post and know that other kids (whom they have never met before and most likely never will) will be reading it. I looked around and did not find any examples of this, but it was an idea that I started spinning during my own writer's workshop today. (Although to be honest, I was originally thinking more of a shared blog.)

Anyway, that is my thoughts on collaborative wiki writing in my primary classroom. I am off to head back to my family blog now...I am psyched that I figured out how to add video!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Consider Me Inspired!

I feel like although I have had many great experiences in this class, I personally struggled to find inspiration in how I was going to apply these amazing new ideas to my classroom. It seemed like with each new experience, voice thread, blogging, and ning (online role-play),in the back of my mind I kept thinking "first and second graders can't do this!" Well, I was wrong.

I was looking for links for my last post and came across this site. It is from a school in Georgetown, Kentucky and it completely flattened my pessimistic attitude. There are amazing examples of digital storytelling done by first and second graders. Watching the great work these kids have done inspires me to want to do this with my kids! The project called "What is love?" by a first grade class is heart warming. The project titled "Are you proud to be an American?" is also done by a first grader! Again, amazing. I want to know what software they used. It seems like a voice thread of some sort, but it is different. Does anyone know?

In my Writer's Workshop we have sharing time. It always seems to be the same kids who want to share and the same kids who don't. Using a program like this, would allow kids to compose a piece, use their voice to share and present it to the class in a way that would be less stressful. Students would need to think about who their audience would be and could come up with topics that are meaningful to them. I have students in the past who do not like to illustrate their work. Using digital storytelling would allow them to bring in photographs and other images. This could eliminate the frustration of adding drawings. On the flip side of that, I have also had many struggling writers. I often find them spending hours on these elaborate illustrations, filled with so many details, but no words to tell the story. Using digital storytelling, they could show their images and tell the story instead of stressing about getting it down on paper.

I would be very interested in seeing where my kids would take this...I think that I would be surprised at what their interests would be.

"True Adventures of Students Writing Online"

Reading this article, I found myself imagining myself in the teacher's role, holding this type of digital writing workshop with my 27 eager kids and I could almost hear the voices of the kids who would play the roles of Kevin, Krystal and Mario. It is funny to read these types of teacher experiences and know that you could pinpoint exactly what kiddos are in your own class that would have these same attitudes, comments and mentalities in this situation.

When thinking about what direction I wanted to take this post in, I was/am confused. Although it is a very interesting article, filled with what sounds like a great project/supplement to the Writer's Workshop, I am just not sure how to reflect on it. I hold a Writer's Workshop in my first and second grade classroom three days a week, and each day I am inspired by the amazing ideas that stem from these little people. They work hard to use their best handwriting, place the capital letters at the beginning of each sentence (and for some write a complete sentence), assign the correct punctuation, all the while expressing their most important 'small moments' that they have experienced in their 6-7 years of life. For many of them it is a celebration to see that they have written any words down, and for others, there are pages and pages filled with colorful words and detailed illustrations.

When I think about taking my kids into a digital Writing Workshop, my initial instinct tells me "We are not ready for that!" But what makes me even more uneasy is that little voice in the back of my mind that is telling me that my kids can do this and that it is MY fear that is standing in the way! Being a relatively new teacher (7 years), I have prided myself as being someone who will try anything new and take on any challenge. So why am I so apprehensive to try this? I know that my kids are whizzes on the computer. They pick up skills and master different software light years faster than I do. The technology piece is not my fear. I know that it would be a way to engage them in writing better than I can do with my colored folders and different kinds of writing paper!

My worry is that I will not know how to manage it all. How do I keep track of what 27 kids are working on? How do I make sure they are writing and not just playing on the computer? How do I track all of their work, find a way to share it with parents and all the while assure the parents that this is safe? Is there a right time to start this? What if my developing first grade writers move to a digital workshop and do not learn to write the old fashioned way, on a good old piece of paper with a pencil?! But in reality, this is where the future is taking us. Am I doing them a disservice by not making sure that I expose them to this digital world? After all, although it is ever changing, it is not going away.

These are the questions that I have left lingering after I read this article. I do not have the answers to any of them, but am determined to find them. My quest for answers will either come from my own personal experience or through continued research on what other teachers have done. We will see what happens... I am seriously thinking about heading down the 'digital workshop' road in the spring. I have always felt that they best way to conquer fear is to jump in.

These are just a few quotes that I took from the article. They are just a few of the ideas that made me stop, think and apply to my own kiddos.

"...struggling readers who are focused on correct spelling and grammar often spend less time focused on gaining meaning from the texts they read and write."

"Many teachers I have talked with hold to the notion that young children and their writing are egocentric and that they don't consider their audience until after they get the chance to share their work with others."

"Children's writing is not made socially sensitive by the response of others; it is itself, a social act, a way of interacting with each other."

I found this great site from a school in Georgetown, Kentucky. It is examples of first and second grade digital story telling projects.

This is an inspirational page. A first grade teacher who created a blog and uses it to post her kiddos writing. I would be interested in contacting her and talking about the work she has done. I wonder if the kids are writing on paper and she is posting their writing, if they are writing on-ling and then posting...or just how she has it set up. It is really interesting to read about what the kids wrote about blogging. She has them explain what blogging means, what they liked about it and a short reflection on their blogging for the year.