This is the post I shared on my other blog. I thought you might want to read it…
Earlier this week I clicked on Lee Ann’s blog to make a comment. I noticed she had created a beautiful word cloud! It was made with a site that I hadn’t heard of before, Tagul. This site is amazing. I LOVE it! You can sign in with your google account and SAVE your word clouds. The choice of shapes is broad and you can upload a photo and use that for the shape. I decided to use Tagul in school with my sixth graders.
We had been working in book club books for a couple of weeks. Our reading work consisted of following a character and paying attention to his or her traits. In class, I had the groups gather together, review their notes and the books to help them make a word cloud about their book. The results amazed me! Here are a few of them…
The students worked hard on their word clouds and their creativity shined through in their choices. I decided to share some of their word clouds with the authors of the books that they were reading. They ALL responded! Here’s what they said…
Audience is POWERFUL! Students worked hard on their word clouds with no expectations. The assignment was to create the word cloud and post it on their blog. The authors of the BOOKS they are reading saw their work and responded with such kindness! I can’t wait to share this with my students today.
OK, let me set the scene for you…it’s Friday afternoon, sixth grade, twenty-six restless students sitting in front of me, and a nice day outside the windows…I had to work hard to get through ninety minutes and make them meaningful & productive. Our focus was discussing and working on projects with our books for book clubs. The books we’re working with include:
TouchBlue by Cynthia Lord I Survived by Lauren Tarshis Heat by Mike Lupica A Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthburt Soup Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
One of the projects we attempted was tweeting as the characters of the books. I pulled twitter up on the promethean board and we discussed the why’s and how’s and what’s of twitter. I shared my twitter feed with them. We talked of hashtags and usernames and tweets. A question before they began, “My book takes place in 1917. Can I have them say LOL, even if they didn’t say it then?” I taught them the word that explains that phenomenon: “a chronological inconsistency” is an anachronism…but I allowed it, because it would be fun. Off they went to tweet as the characters from their books. The buzz was alive in the room as the students laughed about what their characters might say. Suddenly, I heard one voice above the others…”Ms. Haseltine, LOOK it’s the author of our book. She’s on twitter NOW!” It was Kirby Larson. She was responding to a tweet from someone else. So, I engaged and told her what we were up to…
@KirbyLarson Working w/6th graders who read HBS! They LOVED it!!! (We are also having Hattie “tweet”!) 🙂 We’d love to hear from you!
It’s funny…as I look at these tweets, I realize her responses are pretty instantaneous…but sitting in class…it felt like forever! The kids were mesmerized. They (and me too) couldn’t believe that we were live tweeting with an author. In real time. In front of them. Right now! We continued to work and finally cleaned up and prepared to go home for the weekend. No response yet about the tweets…yet. I knew she’d respond. Here’s what we got:
@Mhaseltine Love the attitude! Don’t you wish Karl had been free to be that bold out loud?! — Kirby Larson (@KirbyLarson) March 21, 2014
@Mhaseltine Oh, this one makes me teary. Poor Mattie. My daughter still hasn’t forgiven me for that.
My girls will be over the moon excited about her response. Thank you, Kirby Larson! I don’t think you know what a difference you made in a sixth grade classroom in northern Virginia on a Friday afternoon. We will never forget it!
Since I posted this blog post, here’s what has happened…
@Mhaseltine This author’s afternoon was made, too. Love those kids and their imaginations!
The world is changing so fast that sometimes I feel nostalgic for the old days, but life doesn’t go backwards. Embrace the future and by future, I mean technology. We are surrounded by technology and social media is a big part of this. With privileges comes responsibility and we need to practice those in school. I am a huge proponent of utilizing technology with in the classroom! Here’s one example: twitter. I have joined twitter and have been tweeting for a few months now. Since I’ve joined, I’ve communicated with some of our favorite authors: RJ Palacio, Patrick Carman, Raina Telgemeier, Jerry Spinelli, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, Jo Knowles, and Donna Cooner. It’s an amazing opportunity to interact with authors.
Today, I interacted with one of my professional heroes. Let me paint the picture…on Tuesday I was facilitating a graduate course of teachers when one of them came up to me during a break and paid me a HUGE compliment. She compared me to a teacher writer named Donalyn Miller. She has written a wonderful book about teaching and reading…one I’ve read multiple times and recommended to any teacher looking for a good book. I had the good fortune of meeting Donalyn Miller this fall when I attended and presented at a national conference. Well back to today…I told Donalyn Miller about the compliment I received and thanked her for being my inspiration and then…look what happened on twitter: