Padlet, which I use a lot with my students for sharing across classes, recently added an AI Art tool — with a tool name that I don’t really like (“I Can’t Draw”). As you might expect, my sixth graders are quite fascinated by it but I want them to use it to complement their writing and sharing, and not just turn them loose on it.
So, as part of a larger short story unit, I introduced the idea of Golden Lines — a sentence or two or phrasing from their stories that have some importance to the narrative, and then suggested they use the AI Art tool to make art based on their Golden Lines.
They are coming out pretty interesting, I’d say, and a little later in the year, we’ll do some explorations to deconstruct how the tool works and more. For now, it’s another tool for making complimentary art for their writing.
Peace (inked out),
I am teaching The Lightning Thief with my sixth graders and we are at a chapter where Percy Jackson gets his prophecy from the Oracle. I had this idea of finding an online site that could spit out age-appropriate prophecies for my students as an activity. I found nothing and then thought, why not make my own?
I knew the Flippity site had a spinner tool and I knew I wanted at least 50 prophecies so each student in each class could get two different prophecies. But … writing 50 prophecies, myself, in one night? Yikes. Not gonna happen.
Wait … I thought … what about ChatGPT?
Why not make it do the work for me?
I had ChatGPT create 70 different prophecies, age appropriate for sixth graders, popped the phrases into the spinner, and yesterday, it was a huge hit with the students.
I described the spinner as our Digital Oracle, after a lesson on Apollo and the Oracle of Delphi, and the ChatGPT mix of prophecies were fun and interesting, with some having obscure Greek references for my students to wonder about. The mix of fantasy, mythology and positive thinking made for an enlightened time.
Peace (spinning it),
Ranger Scott Gausen of the Springfield Armory National Historic Site visited our classroom for Write Out last week, and along with his engaging personality and vast knowledge of the National Parks System, he has a pretty cool beard. For the Thank You notes, my students drew him with his beard. We’re mailing a package of these to him this week.
Peace (and fun),
We’re in the second week of Write Out and using time in class to be inspired for writing. Yesterday, after watching a Park Ranger Video about writing Haiku poetry, we headed outside and gather some sensory details, and then my students wrote some Haiku poems.
They are doing final versions on note-cards, which we intend to mail off to Ranger Chris at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
Peace (Short but Sweet),
A fun Write Out activity that my students worked on the other day was to gather a leaf while writing outside, and then they created a Leaf Map — using the veins of the leaf and their imagination, they created a map of a place, with the leaf as inspiration for the artwork. Later, we will revisit the maps, and write stories based on the places of the Leaf Maps.
The Leaf Map idea came from a Park Ranger Prompt from the Capitol Reef National Park.
Peace (In All Places),
My students packed up their notebooks and pencils, and found a leaf, and then sat and wrote a story and made a leaf map, all for Write Out. It was a beautiful New England day.
Peace (On The Grass),
I just completed reading aloud Book: My Autobiography by John Agard (illustrations by Neil Packer) to my sixth graders, as we explored the history of books, stories, writing and more through the “eyes” of the narrator — Book. My students enjoy this one, and at the end, I asked them to do some reflecting on the future of books.
The image above captures an interesting data point — nearly all of my students prefer paper bound books as opposed to digital books (I am going to have more of a conversation today with them to suss out a bit why) and their predictions of what books will look like in the future show a mix of possibilities for stories and some fears that paper books will become a thing of the past.
Peace (Inside The Pages),
In my classroom, we’re reading Book: My Autobiography, about the history of stories and books (it’s a fantastic read, by the way) , and the concept of Illuminated Letters allows students create a version of an “illuminated letter” from the Middle Ages with their first initial of their first name. Kids get very creative with this activity!
Peace (Etched In Ink),
I usually end the school year (students ended on Friday and I still have to go in to the building today, thanks to a crazy winter) by having my sixth grade students give me an assessment as a teacher. I provide some guiding questions, and their answers help inform my reflections as a teacher going forward.
It was heartening to see that many of them noticed their own progress as writers and readers this year, and that they were mostly engaged in nearly all of our various activities (even if some they liked more than others).
As a final step, I invited them to leave me comments or anything they wanted me to know or suggestions for me to improve as a teacher.
Two responses stood out for:
I want you to know that you made me feel welcome and made me feel that I could be myself and that you were there if needed. I think you make sure to help everyone and make sure they know you are here for them which shows that you really do care about all your students. Thank you for making ELA so much fun and being such an amazing teacher!!! I’ll miss you!!!!!
I want you to know that you taught me to be a better person. Not only you taught me how to be a better writer but you taught be life lessons and that it is ok to be different. You taught us many different things and I’m so thankful I got to have you as a teacher this year. You are you all-time favorite teacher and you have always been there for me and I know you always will be. I think you were the perfect teacher and don’t need to change anything about your teaching. So thank you for being such an amazing teacher.
It’s a nice way to bring the school year towards closure.
Peace (in Words),
The Start and Finish Line of the “Inishowen 100” scenic Drive flickr photo by Andrew_D_Hurley shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license
The one-word prompt for this morning’s poetry was “habitat” and immediately, the ideas of my students (whom I love, don’t get me wrong, but I am ready to be done with the year) as ‘invasive species’ in their temporarily adopted habitat of school sprung to mind and the poem unfolded.
Their adopted habitat
becomes their hallways
lockers and lunchrooms,
playgrounds and fields
Wandering in search
of connection and friendship,
ideas and mischief,
and always, permission
to be who it is they are
Invasive species, they are,
but always welcomed
as curiosities from the start,
taking seed like vines
inside the labyrinth
of our hearts,
only to arrive at the day
when they become un/uprooted
from the grounds
on which they have covered,
and then gone, disappeared –
seems, then, like fallow fields,
but soon enough, another
crop of adolescent interlopers
suddenly, like clockwork,
Peace (and Endings),