Dear Powhatan Parents,

My search for innovation this month took me Mrs. Yoder’s first grade classroom. When I walked into the room, I was greeted by several students who took my hand and led me to the tables where their iPads were sitting. “I want to share my book with you, Mrs. Scarborough” or “Please come and see the pictures I picked to put into my animal book” were the excited requests that led me into this classroom where technology and writers’ workshop converged.

Beginning with an app called Book Creator, Alyson Yoder embarked on a quest to ignite excitement for writing books about Mexican animals. To start, she brainstormed with the class to create a list of animals about which they wanted to learn. Next, by doing a lot of reading to experience non-fiction literature, the class learned about text features such as glossary, table of contents, headings and captions. After each student chose an animal to research and the text features to include in their book, they were off and running! When their rough drafts were complete, it was time to move on to using the iPads to create their electronic books.

Now the fun really began! Students transferred their stories onto the iPads by using their typing skills. They were amazed how the program helped them to spell the words in their story and lay out the text. Mrs. Yoder even taught them how to take a screen shot! The children were so proud to share their finished stories with me and talk about how they made their choices for the story and why they chose their pictures. It was inspiring to see children helping each other and teaching each other to use all the features of the app. Everyone was engaged, and there was an electric buzz in the air as students shared, listened, and commented on each other’s stories.

What really resonated with me about this activity was the pride each student exhibited for his/her work. Many computer skills were introduced and mastered, but the feeling of creating an electronic book of their very own definitely took the prize for success of this project.

And if you ask Mrs. Yoder what she thought of this activity, a twinkle appears in her eyes as she admits that the students taught her more about this app than she knew when she decided to initiate the project. But after all, everyone learns at Powhatan because “We learn not for school but for life,” especially with innovative projects like this one!

To hear more about this innovative project, tune into a wonderful conversation with Mrs. Yoder in the podcast above.

Keep on Learning,

Sue Scarborough
Head of School