Sometimes in the midst of the rush of the holiday season, it’s hard to remember to tell those close to everyone how much they care. Third-graders in Alfredo Rodriguez’s class at H.O. Brittingham Elementary School in Milton spent nearly two weeks before the winter break doing just that.
The first week began with the class reading the book “Thanks,” by Ruth Shannon Ordor. According to Rodriguez, the book is about a young girl who expresses her gratitude to many people around her, especially her parents. “After we read the book, the class began to talk about how they thank their own parents and families,” he said.
Rodriguez then developed a series of writing lessons in which the students brainstormed and wrote about specific reasons they were thankful. Rodriguez based his plans on the national Common Core State Standards in writing and speaking/listening.
This was no ordinary thank you letter lesson, however. The students transformed their ideas into what Rodriguez called “iStories,” using Apple iPads and the application Story Kit. Using a template that he provided, the third-graders went to work on writing specific events from their lives that were examples of why they were thankful for their parents.
Using this technology provided some challenges. Third-grader Kyla Corbin said, “The hardest thing about this project was recording my voice, because you had to read what you had written at the same as you had to record on the iPad. I like taking the pictures and then putting them into my own storybook. Then we had to write about how our family is special to us. I wrote to my mom and sister and dad - they’re special because they help me with my homework.”
For some students, using the iPad to write made the task just a bit easier. Joshua Evans liked using the iPad, he said, “Because with regular writing you had to use a pencil, but on the iPad you could just use your finger. And it was easier to type, too. I wrote thank you for helping me tie a knot and for fun we have together.”
Third-grader Hayden Steelman said, “I like using the iPad instead of just writing, because I could actually take pictures and put them into my writing. I could also write in any color I wanted. I was thankful for my big brother, because he’s fun and he helps me a lot.”
The project ended with a special Thanks celebration, with parents visiting the class to listen to their children’s iPad stories.