I wanted to find a meaningful project to highlight my first graders’ accomplishments in writing, and since we were studying a Language Arts unit on families, I suggested that the students write about a very familiar topic, relatives. The response and excitement was immediate and overwhelming. My students made an instant connection with the topic. It was a familiar topic, and their interest was evident.
My students were excited to get started and immediately chose a favorite relative. As the students prepared to write first drafts, one asked, “Why can’t we do this with computers?” The chorus of approval from his peers had us all heading for the computer lab. I supported my emerging writers by structuring the project so students created pages that:
As the project progressed, students’ excitement grew! The students began to converse and share ideas with one another instead of coming to me. They were complimenting and encouraging one another. I simply sat back and watched in amazement. I noted that the students were passionate about what they were writing and drawing. Their passion for the project led to even more suggestions and requests, which in turn led to a deeper learning.
We shared the digital stories online and at a classroom event. The expressions and pride on the students’ faces were priceless. One father began to cry when he learned that he was his son’s hero.
My students were connected, excited, motivated, inquisitive, and left first grade with memories that will last a lifetime.
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