I’m so excited about the project that two 2nd grade classes are working on right now. Mrs. Ramseyer and Mrs. Wright’s classes are connecting with Shannon Miller’s 2nd grade students in Van Meter, Iowa. Right now, our 2nd graders are working on opinion writing. The idea for this project started there, but it has grown into so much more through email and face-to-face conversations with the teachers and tweets, emails, and Google Docs with Shannon Miller.
Yesterday, the 2 second grade classes came to the library to kickoff the project. We looked at Google Earth and mapped the distance from our school to Van Meter Elementary in Van Meter, Iowa. It is 983 miles and would take over 15 hours to drive there. Students were also curious about how long it would take to walk there, so Google Earth showed us it would take about 304 hours! With the approaching snow storm, I’m not sure I want to try that one!
Next we talked about what it means to blog. I showed them the library blog and how it is read by people all around the world. We even looked at the Clustr map showing where our blog readers come from. I was trying to build their understanding of how large your audience is when you publish your writing online.
The students will use Kid Blog to create their blogs. This tool allows you to quickly create multiple accounts through an Excel spreadsheet upload. No email addresses are required. Then, all students have to do is go to the blog, select their name, and type in their password to type their posts. We took a look at this, and you should have heard the excitement when they saw that their names were already on the screen.
Finally, we had the kids brainstorm with a partner what they might write about in a first post. We wanted the focus to be “About Me”. Before we sent them to tables to write, I reminded them of the importance of not including personal information such as full names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. At tables, each student wrote a paper blog post about themselves. Mrs. Wright, Mrs. Ramseyer, and I all walked around and conferenced with students on their posts. We were impressed with how much students were willing to write. I was reminded of the importance of kids having an authentic audience for their work and how motivating that audience can be to even the most reluctant of writers.
Today, we connected via Skype with Shannon and her students. We read the book Same, Same but Different by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw. It was such a perfect book because it pushes the notion that all over the world we do things that are the same but they might look a little different. During our Skype, we paused and let the kids talk about Iowa and Georgia. They stepped up to the camera and asked questions about one another about the weather, activities, and school population. They made several connections to the story. For example, in Iowa it is about to snow a lot. It takes a major snow for them to get out of school. We get snow here in GA, too, but we get out of school if there is just a dusting. Same, same but different! As we blog with one anther, it is our hope to share our favorite books and opinions as well as continue to explore the idea of how connected we are in the world even though things might look and sound a little different. I have a feeling students will continue to say “Same, same but different”.
On Monday and Tuesday, our 2nd graders will type and post their blogs. We will mail our paper versions of our writing to Iowa so that Shannon’s students can practice commenting on them before they actually comment online. She will do the same with her students’ writing so that we can practice commenting, too.
This is going to be a very rich experience for these students, teachers, and librarians!