Below, Dena and I happily demonstrate three technologies we've recently imitated in our own INN that we keep to share with our students:
The three brief write-ups below contain teacher-made examples from the INN Dena and I are creating. We are a couple of writing teachers who have resolved to use this technique throughout 2018. I hope these examples inspire not only INN assignments from your students, but I also hope you can translate the idea into stand-alone assignments that can decorate walls and hallways.
Idea #1...Text messages from a researched person/place/thing/idea: Another possible EQ...How can I use texting "voice" and texting abbreviations to summarize and communicate the most important facts about my research topic?
Last year, Dena and I created this camera phone template (It's a Word document) that could be combined with one's own pictures camera phone pictures, printed and trimmed, taped/glued in a writer's notebook, and used as an inspiration for personal writing. You can access our entire Camera Phone Pix lesson write-up by clicking on the provided link. I even made this YouTube video to show how to manipulate your photos within the template.
I taught a new online recertification class to some fellow teachers recently, and I asked the teachers to create and post INN pages to show me they had processed and personally connected to the content of the week of my course. Attempting to be a good teacher, I provided my participants some broad conceptual ideas on which to base their weekly additions to their Interactive Non-fiction Notebooks. I suggested "Technology Tools" as the theme of the week, and the example I showed them was my "Texts from an Earwig" page that I had recently researched and created. I had discovered a surprising amount of earwigs in my vegetable garden as I was preparing it for the winter ahead, you see.
To create the text-ready visual of my topic (an earwig in a camera phone) for my INN page, I used the very template mentioned in the first paragraph of this section of this page and its write-up. I found an image of an earwig with nasty pincers and cropped it to fit inside the template's phone. To create the texts, I used the "insert shape" function in Microsoft Word, choose the box with the arrow coming out of it, and I typed the texts and then printed them. The texts contain facts I learned while researching my topic. In the example texts I share here, you can see I turned my texting earwig into a "quiz show host," and the texts became interactive because there was a hidden answer to share when I present this page to others.
I'm just going to admit up front that I'm not much of a texter. My wife receives 90% of all texts I personally send, and most of them ask, "Are you home yet?" I don't even know enough about texting to write it out as "R U home yet?" I tell you this because my texts aren't very good; they're the texts of a fifty-year-old man who hardly texts. In the hands of a student writer/researcher who really texts, I see a lot of potential for students to personalize their pages with their texting skills. So if you show your students my earwig example to inspire them, please challenge them to make their example much better than mine.
To see my whole page of earwig texts, click the image below, which also comes with my "Tweets from an Aphid" page that is described below this full-page picture.
Click image to see see really large version of notebook page that can be magnified. Forgive my typo or two!
Idea #2...140-Character Tweets from a researched person/place/thing/idea: A possible Essential Question...How does limiting my number of characters change the way I think about composing my ideas into 'Tweets'?
To complete this technology-inspired assignment, you do NOT need to have a Twitter account; neither do your students. To count your characters in a sentence or chunk of text you've typed, you can easily use the "Word Count" feature in Microsoft Word by 1) highlighting the text you want counted, 2) selecting "Review" from the word menu bar up top while you're in Word, 3) selecting the "Word Count" feature, and 4) use the "Characters (with spaces)" number because that's what Twitter would do--it counts your spaces.
On November 7, 2017, Twitter changed its 12.5-year policy and expanded the limit of characters you can use in a Tweet from 140 to 280. You can decide to require whatever number of characters you want for this assignment. You're the teacher, after all, but make sure the writing task feels relevant and authentic to your students when you assign it.
Me? I allow the students only 140 characters per Tweet, but they can add as many #hashtags afterwards that they wish to use. That's become my compromise--Twitter would count your hashtags as extra characters.
For my example at right, I continued with my theme of "Bugs I found in my garden in 2017 that I want the knowledge to deal with in 2018." This time, I researched the aphids that kept going after my roses and some of my other backyard flowers.
If you have Microsoft Word, here is the Tweet template I created and happily share. My full-page example has ten different Tweets because that's what I could fit on the template when I made it, but I can imagine using this idea with learning tasks where one Tweet would be appropriate from each student/group, or five Tweets as part of a book report assignment. Adapt the lesson to fit your purpose and your time-frame.
Differentiation Ideas: When I shared the original two technology tasks as suggested ideas with my own students, I purposely made one task (the Tweets) a bit more challenging than the other (the texts). It simply took more writing skill to create the Tweets than it did to create the texts. I had more restrictions with the Tweet, but I also had the fun addition of adding a clever hashtag. I share this with you because I think it's important--if you're truly differentiating your own instruction--that you have challenges ready for your students who need an extra challenge, just as it's important to have scaffolding ready to go for your students who may need that during writing instruction. If you look at my two-page spread that shows the texts on the left and the Tweets on the right, you see the same objective happening (objective: summarizing research using a technology tool cleverly), but you see I have examples of two different-leveled tasks available to students. I find that an important thing to learn to do as one learns to differentiate.
Including the Interactive Challenge: The most important thing that happens with our INN pages is we eventually present them to each other in small groups. We share AND we actively listen while we share. To encourage more active listening, my students are required to include some sort of interactive element on their final INN page; the interactive element should give the audience members an active listening task. My students use riddles, they make quizzes, and they hide clues on their pages in order to engage their audience when they present what they've learned. I'll say it again: I believe this to be the most important step in the INN learning task, the "publishing" or sharing with an actual audience. To have students plan something interactive for an audience is a great way to boost your students' expectation to a much higher level of Bloom's taxonomy.
For my Tweet page's interactive challenge, I say to my audience, "After I share each Tweet, which will share an interesting fact or two, I'll share the #hashtag I also created, and you need to come up with a #hashtag that you think is just as or is more clever than mine. Ready?" And I start sharing. And my audience asks me questions about my "Tweeted facts." And I clarify what my hashtag means, if necessary. And then we end our discussion about my page with them trying to add to my page because of the interactive challenge I have given them. All in all, my work that I put into my INN page about both earwigs and aphids becomes the inspiration for a discussion among the students with whom I share it.
INN pages increase the student-centered-ness of my classroom. My students are creating pages to purposely share with each other.
Idea #3...Instagram Feed from a researched person/place/thing/idea: A possible Essential Question...How do I ensure I include enough information to properly caption my Instagrams to promote a lively discussion?
One night at dinner, Dena started telling me a story she'd overheard from the other teacher in a history class she was co-teaching. The story was about a bear cub that was adopted by Polish soldiers and who grew up and became a part of the unit of soldiers that had adopted it. The full-grown bear even learned to carry artillery shells and love the taste of a beer as a reward. This is the type of story Dena loves because it includes a tame animal, but she couldn't remember all of the details when I asked her some questions. After she did a little extra research, she shared the whole story with me.
I really don't use Instagram at all. I'm fifty, and I have too many other applications on my phone. That's just how I am. Dena, on the other hand, loves Instagram. We discussed the idea of Wojtek (the name of the Polish bear she'd researched) having his own Instagram feed. I asked her to create it so I could understand Instagram. She was actually excited by the challenge, and I imagine her students will be too when she brings this idea to them in 2018.
She started with Google and found this online template (FYI--this is an off-site link) and we worked together to create the fake Instagram for Wojtek the Soldier Bear. If you click on the image at right, you can see a larger version of this visual Dena created.
If you had Dena's INN page in front of you and you flipped over the Instagram image she has taped into her INN (it's taped on just one side so it can flip open), you will find several summarized facts that directly relate to the visual she crafted. Those facts are seen at left as a thumbnail. Click on the thumbnail to read what words Dena "hid" beneath her Instagram visual.
Interactive Element: At the bottom of her facts (at left), she invites her audience to create an additional #hashtag that would complement or better the #hashtag she had included on the visual.
Ultimately, Dena created four Instagram images from four different stages of Wojtek's life. Beneath each Instagram image, she has "hidden" several interesting facts that go with the picture. Each Instagram image comes with its own #hashtag challenge.
Dena is currently having her students design a different Instagram template than the one she found online in Google slides. She felt the template was a little too large, so check back with us for an possible update to the Instagram Template here at this webpage.
Below, I share Dena's Instagram Visuals as well as the information about Wojtek the Soldier Bear that she wrote up to underneath the visuals.
If your students like the idea of using a current technology tool to inspire writing on a notebook page, I would love to see you post a picture/scan of their writing at this posting link: Better still, if your students invent a new way to uniquely inspire writing in their writer's notebooks, we want to hear about it: firstname.lastname@example.org