Monday, November 30, 2015

Connecting, Collaborating & Creating in a Winter Wonderland

Sometimes the stars align in such a way that you're left thanking every single last lucky one of them. My students and I have been lucky enough to have this experience recently. Little did I know that a simple Twitter invite would set my students and I off on an amazing Winter Wonderland adventure of connecting, collaborating, and creating! 

It all started when the amazing Shannon Miller sent me a message on Twitter wondering if my Titan Hill students and I would be interested in participating in a "little" project she was putting together called Winter Around the World . The whole project was inspired by a Cantata Learning book called Winter: The Coldest Season of All and was meant to bring together students from around the world to share stories, artwork, music and poems celebrating winter in a collaborative eBook.

When Shannon asks, it's a no-brainer! You know it's good stuff. However, as if being asked by Shannon to join in a project with her weren't enough, the added incentive to join this project was the opportunity to collaborate and publish that it presented for my students. One of my school's goals (and one of my own as well) has been to increase collaboration and publication of student work as a means of engaging students with authentic tasks and providing authentic audiences. 

This project was so absolutely perfect!

As soon as I read a little bit more about the project, I immediately thought of the fabulous Kasey Bell, whose amazing work had previously brought my students such activities as last spring's Collaborative Magnet Poetry and this fall's Halloween Magnetic Poetry. I was hoping she'd be on board with what I had in mind . . .

What ensued was pure awesomeness.

It started with a Twitter Exchange . . .

Which led to a Skype session where the stars aligned . . . And a plan was formed!

Kasey was on board with creating a Winter Poetry Template. My Titan Hill 5th graders were asked to help brainstorm a list of words that Kasey could use to create her interactive Winter Poem! I shared the Winter Around the World project idea with them and asked for their help. They were totally on board!

Following Shannon's suggestion, I had my students generate a list of winter-themed words using Padlet (which I had linked for them via my 5th grade library Google Classroom). Each class generated a list, which I then pulled words to share with Kasey. They loved generating their list of words, especially knowing that the list they were helping to create would have a greater audience. And, of course, I shared our journey with both Shannon and Kasey via Twitter and Periscope!

We then submitted the list of words to Kasey for her to work her magic.

In the meantime, I had shared the book Winter: The Coldest Season of All with several of my other classes, particularly four of my 2nd grade classes, as part of our celebration of National Picture Book Month. And another amazing opportunity arose for my Titan Hill students to connect and collaborate . . . This time by Skyping with the author/composer and illustrator of the Winter book. The students thought it was so cool to hear Lisa Bell and Emily Brooks talk about their journey to creating this particular book!

Shortly after the Skype session, Kasey shared with us the Winter Magnet Poetry template she'd created for us using Google Slides! My 4th and 5th grade students were so excited to get started creating! During their library specials, they used Kasey's poetry template to create their own winter poems. As an added bonus, we were able to explore more deeply how to use and create within Google Slides, a commonly used presentation tool for our school.

Here's an few example poems we submitted:

Not to be left out, one of my amazing 2nd grade teachers, Nancy Walker, and her students created a song inspired by the book entitled "We WIN in Winter." Our district's amazing Technology Integration Specialist, Josh Allen, filmed her students in front of a green screen and created an amazing music video showcasing the song their created!

Here's the complete music video:

Needless to say, it's been quite the Winter Whirlwind over the past month! What amazing opportunities for my students to connect, collaborate and create! I'm absolutely grateful to both Shannon and Kasey for letting my students and I tag along on this amazing winter adventure! 

And the best part of all of this . . . It's not too late for your students to join in the Winter fun! To make your own copy of Kasey's Winter Magnet Poetry, click here! To find out more information or to join in the Winter Around the World project, click here!