In honor of Digital Learning Day, my students used a variety of multimedia tools to publish pieces that they wrote over the course of the first semester. Students had written in genres such as book talks (inspired by Reading Rainbow clips), how to's, and articles. Until today, we hadn't published our pieces publicly other than posting them in the hallway or on our class wiki.
During our writing block last week we were in publishing mode. Students started out by choosing what pieces they would each publish. We talked about choosing a piece that they are proud of and that they thought would be of interest to an audience/reader.
Once students had chosen their pieces, they had to think specifically about who the audience would be. We talked about how teachers should not be the only audience for students' writing. Authors write for specific audiences. One girl who had written "How to Stay Safe at the Pool" agreed that the K/1 classes would be more of the appropriate age audience for her piece. 4th and 5th graders already knew the rules, she reasoned.
Next, students decided what format they would use to publish. They could videotape their piece, do a live reading/demonstration, project their piece and do a live introduction, or use one of the other digital tools we've used this year such as prezi or glogster. They talked about why certain publishing formats might work better for one piece than for another. One student who had written a how to on "How to Do a Magic Trick" decided that it would be more exciting for his 2nd and 3rd grade audience to see the trick live than on the screen.
Tuesday through Thursday, several students videotaped each other's how to's including props such as live animals or origami paper. Others videotaped their peers' book talks, taping and retaping to read with expression and inflection like the Reading Rainbow kids do. Some students decided that they would present the glogs they had made and wrote notes on 3x5 cards to remember what they planned to say about these online posters. A few students decided to publish articles in Word, formatting with columns and inserting images to make the articles look more professional.
Throughout Digital Learning day, class after class filed into our classroom to see our presentations. The audiences were receptive, praising, oohing, aahing, and laughing at all the right moments. My 4th and 5th grade students were confident and proud to share their work.
After the presentations, as the students wrote about the experience, I was thrilled to hear even the most reluctant writers say that once they knew the specific audience they would present for, they went back to make some changes or revisions. Even students who are not always consistent with homework assignments had obviously spent time practicing and revising at home. I believe that all writers benefit from the motivation of a publication deadline and an authentic audience. As authors, our students need as many opportunities to publish for an authentic audience as we can possibly provide.