Shannon Miller and I have been trying to connect our 2nd graders again, but it has been such a challenge to find a time. Today I had a window of time that might work, and Shannon did her very best to make that time work for her students. With just an hour to spare, she got confirmation that the time would work. I quickly called my teachers who were on standby to come. I love the flexibility that these two 2nd grade teachers have with their students when it comes to unique, meaningful learning opportunities. Then, Shannon and I got to work fine tuning what we would do. We emailed, made a Google doc, and ended by Skyping with one another to fine tune the plan and plan other connections too.
Our planning sounded and looked something like this:
Shannon (at 11:00): My teachers can connect today at 12:00. Can yours?
Me (after a quick phone call to 2nd grade): Sure. This will be fun.
Shannon: What should we do during our connection?
Me (after roaming the shelves and thinking): How about doing a list poem? We could use “In My Desk” and write a collaborative poem. I’ll make a Google doc for us to type into.
Shannon: Sounds great. (Opens Google Doc and makes a colorful title for our poem using spell in Flickr)
10 minute Skype session to confirm plan, plan a K connection, and a future 2nd grade connection. (Walking to our next class, carrying our laptops, finishing our chat, and disconnecting)
During our Skype, I read the poem “In My Desk” by Jane Yolen, which can be found in the book Falling Down the Page: A Book of List Poems edited by Georgia Heard. I talked with students in both states about how we’ve probably all cleaned out a backpack, desk, or something else and found something unusual. We each pulled up the Google doc to show students.
Each of us turned down our sound and started getting ideas from our students and adding them to the doc. The room at Barrow was filled with energy as numerous hands shot up to give lines for the poem. The teachers and I helped students think about being more descriptive by adding adjectives and also really thinking about things that might actually make their way into their desks. As we typed, we also saw Shannon typing. This proved to be a great way for students to see how a Google doc could be used effectively. We even stopped to talk about how Shannon and I were not typing in the exact same space and how I did not delete or change any of Shannon’s work (a common problem we’ve seen with students collaborating at our school). This one skill will carry directly back to a Social Studies project our 2nd graders are working on.
While we were typing, Shannon tweeted the link to our doc so that people could begin seeing our poem as it was written. In seconds, we had 48 people viewing the doc, and the kids were beyond ecstatic. Knowing that they were immediately made into published authors with a real audience made them want to keep going. I think they could have made this the longest list poem ever, but we had to stop.
We ended our time by reading our final poem and laughing together at our shared words. This was so much fun. It may have been a lightning-fast collaboration, but it was filled with meaningful, authentic learning experiences for our students that will carry into many other kinds of learning this year and beyond.
By 2nd Grade Students at Barrow Elementary in Athens, GA
and Van Meter Elementary in Van Meter, IA
In our desks you will find…
one big folder
three dirty notebooks
my stuffed puppy
an old crumby lunchbox
two broken pencils
one moldy sock
a tree with a happy family
scraps of paper
one bright striped pencil case
two green and red notebooks
a ripped up paper
my art shirt that has a picture of a puppy on it
old, rotten, bruised banana
a piece of crusty meat
an old broken iPod
a rotten, smooshed up goldfish
a dusty box of crayons
a ripped up dictionary
some broken crayons
a sticky, green, watermelon lollipop
an old tooth that never got taken by the tooth fairy
a chewed up yellow pencil
one pair of blue broken glasses
four wiggly worms that eat rotten apples
an old broken math journal
Godzilla finger puppets
a rusty old necklace
a teared up eraser
an old bag of McDonald’s apples
my football I got for Christmas
a couple of old, smelly shoes
a slimy stuffed animal
a stale chocolate bunny
little dots of paper from my paper punch
an old bouquet of flowers from the playground
mom’s old wig.