Monday, October 28, 2013

Book Study & a FREEBIE

I recently purchased and fell in love with the scholastic book, Nightsong by Ari Berk. That little Chiro is the cutest little bat! This book reminds me so much of Stellaluna....and I knew it'd be perfect for a mini-book study, so I went ahead and made one with lots of cross-curricular activities. I am excited to use it with my students throughout this week.

It is currently FREE to the first 3 people to leave a comment on my facebook page for Sweet Life of Teaching. Hurry----there's only 1 taker so far! You can grab it by clicking on the photo below from TPT!

I've also committed to keeping my students writing---even during the crazy holiday week. I'm offering up a little FREEBIE for your students to write about their Halloween costume. An alternative is provided for those who do not participate in Halloween! There is a lot of writing and drawing space on the back of this file.

Happy Halloween with your students! 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Digital Storytelling & Publishing----it's the cool thing to do!

I am so proud of several of my students this week for learning how to write and publish digital stories. I am continually amazed at the quality of work that they produce when given a venue to explore and create. They have the freedom to take their learning to new heights, in the direction they choose---and they typically produce more than I could ask for! I simply introduced them to story, gave them log-in information, showed them a thing or two about adding pages to a story, and how to drag and drop pictures. I am pretty sure I could have just let them log in and they could have figured it out without any of my little tidbits! So after my little intro., I walked away to tend to some other students and let the group of storybirds dive into the world of digital story-making and publishing.

What I got in return was more than I could ever have imagined from 6-7 year olds. Not only did they choose to work on their stories over the course of the week, they created lengthy stories, intertwined characters, started new stories and begged me to show them how to publish their stories. Publish is a word we love in my classroom! We publish things all the time. I tell them that digital publishing is a quick way to share your writing and thoughts with the whole world! They know the blue publish button on & the blue publish button on to be the key to sharing their work with a wide audience---but mostly intended for their family, friends, teacher, and principal.

I loved their excitement about from the moment they logged in. I could see the gears turning. They would sit for a long time.....typing, dragging/dropping pictures, backspacing, searching for periods, wondering how to get capital letters in there, and even going back to edit a 'completed' story because they found errors when they read it out loud! One student even heard me conferencing with another storybird writer about their closing sentence. I thought the story was going to go on, but it ended so suddenly and there was nothing to give me a clue the story had come to and end. Not only did that writer go back and fix that, the student that overheard us later informed me that she stopped at the end of her story to think of a good "wrap up" sentence before she published it! Seriously?! Is this really happening in the first marking period of first grade? It really, really is! I couldn't make this stuff up! Here are a couple videos of students presenting their story. 

When we are working with paper/pencil, we are working on so many mechanics just to make it legible and intelligible. We are always working on: putting spaces between your words, using the handwriting lines as a guide to size your letters correctly and form your letters properly, start with a capital, end with a period, know where your sentence ends, etc. Not to say that we don't work on this in the digital world----but it's much easier! I can stroll by a student and point out where to find the period on the keyboard, how to hit shift 1 to get an exclamation, how to hold the shift key for a capital letter, etc. It takes 2 seconds and a quick backspace versus lots of erasing and re-writing.  Not to say that we don't have some errors with capital letters, ending marks, etc. with digital printing, but it's a quicker, different type of fix-up as the students learn and grow as writers. I love writing----and writing on paper/pencil won't be a lost art in my classroom, but we are a digital world, and we are embracing that, too! There will always be a balance, an intended audience, and meaningful, purposeful writing.

So before I unleash the links to the wonderful stories my students have created, let me also tell you that the publishing doesn't stop here. offers real hard copies of the books! I plan on using my box tops money (THANK YOU to our wonderful PTO that give us our cash back!) to purchase the PDF copy so students can print and assemble their book here at school. For a nicer copy, there are options and sizes for hard/soft cover books. Parents can visit their child's account for more information and to load up their shopping cart! are the works of he(art)!