Classrooms of today look nothing like they did when I was a student. Computers still had the big floppy disk and I was only permitted to use them after finishing all my work in Algebra class, which rarely happened.
I spent a lot of time sitting in rows, completing worksheets, and having minimal discussion with peers on challenging literature.
As a student, I struggled to understand a lot of what I was reading because reading was a weakness of mine. I wish my teachers had collaborative projects and turn-and-talk moments to get a better understanding of what I was reading.
It took me until my time at Bethany College to have professors who pushed students to discuss literature and express opinions, which planted the seed of love for reading and writing.
In my middle school classroom, I vow to give my #PocomokeScholars learning opportunities which challenge them to express their viewpoint on a topic. In addition, I want them to be able to view a topic through multiple lens — challenging their thinking is imperative to their success — because I want them to think for themselves.
I want them to discuss literature.
I want them to agree and disagree with peers and teachers.
I want them to express their opinions.
But it gets challenging with the same students who they have been in school with since Pre-K. Therefore, it was necessary to take a chance with a global classroom approach — to look for a different mode of getting students to devour reading and writing. Furthermore, it challenges students to go from surface readers to deep readers.
Collaborating Across the Country
Collaborating with peers via Flip Grid was the ticket during our recent work with the novel Orbiting Jupiter, which was done in conjunction with the Global Read Aloud project. This was an opportunity to read the same novel as other classrooms of students who were around the same age as my students. Over the course of six-weeks there was a reading schedule and numerous online opportunities (i.e., Edmodo, Twitter, Skype, Padlet, Google Hangout, Facebook, etc.) for students to collaborate.
The weeks leading up to the beginning of the project, I connected with multiple educators who wanted a different, authentic collaborating opportunity for students. Exchanging e-mails and mashing our schedules together, we decided to write letters from one character to another with a focus on staying in the voice of the character. We focused on point of view and attributes of the text which were necessary to keep passion behind that particular character alive.
Once students wrote their piece, it was recorded via Flip Grid. At that time, students from two different schools — one in California and one in Iowa. We developed a common rubric and offered feedback to improve each student’s work.
“My kids are so excited to check and see if they have any feedback, and they feel super special when they do!” one of my counterparts stated in one of our email correspondences. It was powerful getting feedback from other students. I would encourage anyone wanting to see their students to become deep readers, take a risk and join the Global Read Aloud challenge next year or teach Orbiting Jupiter to a class.
One collaborative classroom: https://flipgrid.com/cee8ef
My classroom: https://flipgrid.com/f1562de5
Other collaborative projects (found via Twitter):
- Blackout Poetry Examples via @WendyGassaway
- Pallet Example via @hcarp_cms
- Theme Creations via @SpartaStingers
- Word Clusters via @AaronNDeas
- Character Iceberg via @hcarp_cms — which I continue to use in my classroom with other stories