As the students in 4th grade create web sites about a region of the United States, they are beginning to realize that what they have been learning about in language arts really means something now. "Are you being respectful to your reader when you don't use proper capitalization and punctuation?" I ask. When they use 3 different shades of green on a green background, I tell them that if I came to their web site, I would click away immediately. "Why?" they ask. "Because it is too hard to read," I say. And they nod and admit that it is true and change it to something more readable.
These same students are now willing to REVISE their work over and over, checking for even the slightest mistake, because they know that their audience is bigger than just one person. What a crucial lesson.
The 4th graders are completing a collaborative project about a Connecticut symbol or important figure. They researched during library time, took their notes back to their classroom to create an expository piece with their teacher, and came back to the library to create podcasts using Garageband. I have watched students rehearse over and over, making changes to their paragraphs until they sound just right, because they know they will have a larger audience. These podcasts will be put into a Prezi and will be posted to the Student Work part of the library website.
Grade 2 students are also hard at work, but this time using iPads. After learning about nonfiction and how the features of nonfiction can help you understand what you are reading, students are creating eBooks using a free app called Scribble Press. Working in pairs, they are photographing and describing different nonfiction features such as headings, indexes, captions, and more. Then a link to their books will be posted on the Student Work section of the library web site. Even developing a title for their book has really made them do some serious thinking. What is this book about? If someone reads your title, what are they going to think the book is about? They are taking their writing very seriously too - they understand that many people will be reading their books and they want to be proud of their work.
It has been fascinating observing these students. They care. A lot. When given an authentic task, they have responded with effort that may not be seen when completing a worksheet. They are very proud of their work and can't wait to see it published.