Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Our 8th Graders Tell Their Personal Stories With The Help Of Rosen's Teen Health & Wellness

Today we started a new project with all of our 8th graders at Van Meter.

Over the past couple of months JoEllen Wesselmann, the language arts teacher, and I have been brainstorming ideas for the 8th Grade Technology Assessment that we are required to do by the state of Iowa every year.

This year we wanted to do something different....something that would incorporate all of the elements that are required in the assessment and that the young people would love creating.
Over spring break, I had the pleasure of visiting Rosen Publishing in NYC. While I was there, I learned so much more about the amazing resources that they create and provide to our students, teachers and school community. 

I was so intrigued to learn about everything that Teen Health and Wellness has to offer. Teen Health and Wellness is a database that is provided to us through Iowa AEA Online.  My friends at Rosen explained to me how students can write personal stories and create PSA's for a video challenge featured on the site.  The more I learned and explored the site, the more excited I became to implement this wonderful database even more into our school and the curriculum.  

And the first project I thought Teen Health and Wellness would be perfect for....

The 8th Grade Technology Assessment! 
JoEllen and I collaborated and wrote plans for a project that would encompass the elements included in the technology assessment.  Our project would consist of three parts: writing their personal story, creating a digital product of their personal story, and contributing to a collaborative eBook using a Web 2.0 tool called You Are YourWords.  You can find the Van Meter 8th Grade Technology Assessment Google Doc online...please feel free to use it. 
We wrote "Learning Targets" for the project and posted them within our collaborative Google Doc and in JoEllen's classroom.  We also shared the "Learning Targets" on JoEllen's website.  
The day that we introduced the "Personal Story Project", I invited Miriam Gilbert, who is the Director for Rosen Online, to Skype into Van Meter from her home in Boulder, Colorado.  
To start, we asked the students to log into Van Meter's Mackin VIA.  Earlier in the week, I asked Mackin to add Teen and Wellness into our VIA, because I feel it is very important for all our databases provided by the AEA and ones that I purchase to be searchable within Mackin VIA, along with our eBooks. 
Miriam took the students on a tour of Teen Health and Wellness.  It covers topics from nutrition, ADHD, family life and much more.  

The review from School Library Journal states, "Teen Health and Wellness was specifically designed to meet the needs of teenagers in the areas of health, fitness, alcohol, drugs, mental health, family life, and more. When I shared the database with teens, it was immediately obvious that they loved it, but the bonus factor was how much classroom teachers and even health-care providers (nurses and counselors) also liked the content. Because no topic is off-limits and information is provided from a medical viewpoint, students can discretely locate information that they know is accurate and reliable. This groundbreaking database provides so many different avenues for students to learn about health that it should be in every high school library. If your school doesn’t have a subscription to Teen Health and Wellness, find a way to get one!"
Miriam explained the "Personal Story Project" and how to submit a story on the Teen Health and Wellness website.  She also spoke about the process of becoming a published author and the importance of obtaining the required permissions for a student to be published.  
She shared a beautiful story that her son Ben wrote about the sudden death of his father and another one about friendship.  Our students took time to read other personal stories and threw out ideas of their own.    
The Personal Story Project guidelines are included on the site.  JoEllen and I shared these with the students on her website as well.  
The second part of the project is the digital product that they will produce.  Miriam introduced them to the "It's Your Cause" Video Challenge.

In this challenge, students are asked to...
Our students will be using the personal story that they write as the theme of their PSA video.  They will be sharing these with their classmates and globally through their blogs and social networks.  
Miriam will join our 8th graders throughout this project and be another valuable resource for them along the way.  
And as you can see from Alissa's tweet...

our students are excited too!  

I cannot wait to read and see all of their personal stories.  What a wonderful way for their VOICE to be heard.  

You can learn more about Rosen Publishing at and by calling 1-877-381-6649.  

And on Twitter @RosenPublishing and @TeenHealth (Teen Health and Wellness)  

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