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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Common Core Writing Standard 6

Today's topic is technology and writing. College and Career Readiness Anchor Standard for Writing 6 (CCRA.W.6) asks our kids to "use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others."

While the third, fourth, and fifth grade standards are similar to one another, you will notice that students are expected to ramp up their keyboarding skills from year to year.

  • W.3.6 - With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
  • W.4.6 - With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of one page in a single sitting.
  • W.5.6 - With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.

It's apparent that keyboarding has moved down to the elementary level. This year all students at my elementary school started taking weekly computer classes in response to this Common Core standard, and the main focus was getting their keyboarding skills up to snuff. What's available to help kids learn to type? I found a site that lists the 2013 Best Typing for Kids Software Comparisons and Reviews, as well as some online courses (e.g., Keyboarding for Kids by Ellsworth Publishing). Thankfully, there's also some free stuff! Learning Games for Kids.com offers 21 keyboarding games, including Typing Factory and Typing Course. Eleven keyboarding games for kids are available at ABCYa.com.

A variety of sites also offer online publishing for kids. StoryJumperEasy Student PublishingScribblitt are just a few. In general, students create their own storybooks online for free with the option of purchasing professionally bound books for a fee.

What about the part of the standard that reads "as well as to interact and collaborate with others"? Typing on an electronic device seems rather solitary. Or is it? Kids (or digital natives) and adults (digital  immigrants) are now using the Internet to connect and socialize all the time! How can we capitalize on this in the classroom? One way is using Google Apps for Education. Since this is what I use, I will discuss it today. I'm in no way an expert, but maybe my simple projects will help you get started.

My school district issued each of my students a gmail account with a shared suffix. That was the beginning: 24 fourth graders with email accounts. "Look out!" I thought. But it was actually a good thing. They began emailing back and forth about assignments . . . and even studying for tests this way.

The first collaborative project we tried involved Google Docs (or Google Drive). With the help of a technology specialist, I typed their reading questions onto a Google Doc, copied it seven times, and shared each of the eight documents out to three different students. Those students could work on the documents simultaneously, as well as chat on a side board. My favorite application of Google Drive, however, has been the online book club. Here's an example:



Gaudy, I know, but the kids love it! Here are a few other ways we use Google Drive:
  • Post a question like "When will the first snowfall occur this year?" and let everyone respond.
  • Share documents for peer editing.
  • Create shared study guides.
  • Share project instructions (instead of giving verbally).

Google Drive is nice, but my favorite collaborative app is Google Sites. It takes some time to create the site up front, but the shared experience is awesome. Here's one example. For our disease unit, I wanted each student to conduct a brief research project on one disease (CCRA.W.7!) I created a new Google site, chose the Announcements template (which takes on a blog-like format), added one page for each disease (which was assigned to a specific student), and shared it out to my students. This process took less than half an hour.


The whole class headed to the computer lab. I gave them a time limit of 40 minutes, and each student created an entry like this:


The next day students read each other's entries. Because the site was created with the Announcements template, they responded in a blog-like style.


These are just a few examples of the ways we can leverage technology in the classroom. You can see that CCSS Writing Standard 6 is about more than just keyboarding!

How do you use technology in writing in your classroom? I'd love to hear about it (and try some of your ideas in my classroom!)