Maker Education Meets the Writers’ Workshop
There is a current breath-of-fresh air movement (in my opinion) in some education circles that is known as Maker Education or the DIY Movement. I wrote recent post on this topic, STEAM and Maker Education: Inclusive, Engaging, Self-Differentiating.
The hands-on, interdisciplinary, student-interest driven nature of Maker Education has always been a focus in my classroom environments. Because of the current interest in Maker Education, I wanted to revisit and share a semester long Maker-Enhanced Writers’ Workshop project I did with a group of gifted elementary students a few years ago.
Students began by developing their characters and plot – I am used selected sections from the free downloadable Young Novelist Workbook – http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/workbooks to guide them in this process.
Each learner developed a character using the Young Novelists Workbook to guide the character development. Their characters were further developed through drawing them,
An option for Character Development using a web tool is Scholastic’s Creature Creator – http://www.scholastic.com/underlandchronicles/creaturecreator.htm
Students were asked to group themselves by similarity of their characters. They had to clearly be able to articulate the commonality among their characters. [Interestingly, many of them really attempted to group themselves by similar characters rather than working with their friends, which I expected.] Groups contained two to four writers.
The groups spent several weeks of the Writers’ Workshop developing their story plot using the activities from Young Novelist Workbook – http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/workbooks. I, as the teacher, acted as the sounding board and feedback giver. Representatives from the different working groups would come to me to pitch their stories and would return to their groups to report on the feedback I provided.
In conjunction with their plot development, students created a 3D storyboard setting with “natural” objects. They then “wired” them with PicoCricket to have programmable movement, lights, and sounds.
An online version of the story’s setting can be created using http://www.citycreator.com/ or Minecraft.
Students made eBooks using their story line and plot from in the Young Novelist Workbook, scanned sketches and images of the characters, and the pictures of the 3D setting.
(Note: We used Tikatok. They changed their user agreement and we lost all of the books.)
A theme song was written and recorded for their stories. It was introduced as having them develop a song for their stories like a TV theme song. They used Songsmith http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/redmond/projects/songsmith/. UJAM http://www.ujam.com/ is another option for students to record their own story theme songs.
Here is an example from three 5th graders’ book the Three Islanders:
Reader’s theater scripts were written in a scripting format using a Word program. Students practiced reading their scripts and then created a podcast using a web tool such as http://vocaroo.com/ or https://soundcloud.com/. See ReadWriteThink’s Readers Theatre about the logistics of creating one.