Fridge Poetry, Storybird.com, and Digital Learning Day 2016

Digital Learning Day 2016 crept up faster than I would have liked this year. In fact, I hadn’t prepared for it because of a lot of other things going on at the time. Don’t get me wrong. I had wanted to, but I hadn’t had much time to get things ready. DLDay 2016 fell on a day that I was at SES.

Digital Learning Day arrives and I had forgotten about it until I looked at my Twitter feed and was blasted with all kinds of posts about what other classrooms in the state and country were doing to promote it. I felt left out, which I had done of my own accord. Immediately, I set about tweaking my lesson plans for the day.

As it was Wednesday, I only had three classes to teach. One was 1st grade, 1 second, and the other 3rd grade. I had recently remembered Storybird.com, though I’m not sure why. I remembered the training on it from October, and the simple way it could be used to create works of poetry. Armed with that knowledge, I focused my lessons in the lower grades on talking about what was going on in a picture and using poetry to convey what was happening. With every class, we created a demo poem together.

For those unfamiliar with Storybird, once a student logs in, they choose the option to “Create” and then must select a piece of artwork to use. They can browse through the lists, or search for something specific. Keywords should be simple and general though. They choose to use the art to create a poem, and then they are given a list of words around their picture to manipulate as desired. The challenge is to use ONLY those words to create a poem. The student can refresh the list of words as much as they wish, but they cannot mix and match words from different lists.

The lessons were hardest for the 1st graders, as I had expected. They weren’t always sure of the words. To try and make the experience easier for them, the first graders all used the same image, and we discussed it in detail before they set to work. This did help, although I still had some who had trouble understanding. I’ll know what to do next time to help them understand more easily if I do this lesson in the future.

As for my 2nd and 3rd graders, they had a much easier time of it. They enjoyed choosing the images, and the hardest part for many of them was using fragments to write instead of complete sentences. Then there were those who took the idea of not having to write in complete sentences to mean that they could string random words together. With a little bit of nudging, we were able to correct most of this.

Here are some examples that students came up with that first day:

Done by a 1st grader

By a 2nd grader

By a 3rd grader

Because I only got to do the lesson with 3 classes, I decided I would continue the next day with my other classes. Since the lesson had been difficult for my 1st graders, I did not do it with kindergarten. However, the lesson was repeated again, this time with students in 1st through 5th grade. I did not change the type of lesson for my 1st through 3rd graders. However, my 4th through 5th graders focused on something different. Instead of writing about things that might be happening in the picture, we talked about emotions and how pictures can make us feel by the way they are drawn or presented.

Students in the 4th and 5th grade classes were asked to choose an emotion and use it to convey a particular emotion. Again, we had done demos as a class, and I showcased some from the previous day that worked very well for the topic at hand. Some students had trouble finding the right kind of image for what they wanted to do, but most were successful.

In the future with this lesson, it would be best to have collaborated with the teacher about poetry in general. If they had had a classroom lesson or two beforehand, it may have helped more with the necessary background knowledge. If collaboration isn’t possible, it would be best to work with poetry a lesson prior to this one. Overall though, I do think it went well, and I was very pleased with the results.

Some examples for day 2:

By a 1st grader

By a 2nd grader

By a 3rd grader

By a 4th grader

By a 5th grader

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