Friday, February 22, 2013

One School In Georgia, One School In Iowa....."Same, Same But Different" Too

Today we had a little excitement running through our school with a big snow storm heading our way.  By late morning they announced that we would be dismissing at 1:00pm.  More excitement! 

But it sure didn't compare to the excitement that took place in the library 30 minutes before we went home.  Today was the day we were connecting with our new friends in Athens, Georgia at Barrow Elementary.  This is where all the excitement was!  
This all started when my friend Andy Plemmons, who is the teacher librarian at Barrow Elementary, and I started talking about ways to connect our 2nd graders.  Andy's 2nd graders are working on writing opinion papers which would be a perfect fit for ours too.  Then it turned to sharing their papers with each other and even collaborating together on their papers.  

Andy and I planned on Twitter (see the two screen shots above of our planning using Twitter), in a Google Doc, and through emails.  All of this planning and collaborating soon led to us wanting to get our 2nd graders blogging and sharing their writing with each other on their KidBlogs.  They would be writing more, publishing writing online through their blogs, and sharing the work with others within our school and Andy's as well.  We would also be sharing their blogs globally through our networks, #Comments4Kids, and inviting the world into their writing too.  
The two 2nd grade teachers at Van Meter, Mindy Doggett and Tracy Ferguson, spoke to their students about blogging and what the expectations would be.  In the library, I spoke to them about how blogging is a way to connect them and their writing to others.  I showed them my blog and even my son Hagan's blog as we spoke about what a post was, how you can make comments on blogs, and the way others follow and read blogs.  

When I showed them the Van Meter Library Voice blog, we had a great conversation about writing for an audience.   We even watched the RevolverMap and the little dots pop up all over the globe as readers from around the world visited my blog.   I explained how having a blog with writing published online, made their audience so much bigger than just the people within the walls of our school.  It gives each and every child a global voice.  
For our connection today Andy read the book Same, Same but Different by amazing author and illustrator Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw.  What a perfect book for our connection.  This beautiful story shows readers how even though we might look difference from others around the world, we also do a lot of the same things.  The illustrations in this book are so powerful and when Andy held up the pages up for our little ones to see, they all talked so much about them.  
After Andy read the book, we asked our students if they had any questions for the other students in Iowa and Georgia.  They made wonderful connections to how they were the same and different.  It was so heartwarming to hear what they had to share.
I especially loved when Hagan asked Andy's 2nd graders if they had any snow there in Georgia.  They were able to make connections, predictions, and share something the same and different.  Hagan had fun seeing this picture of him on the board in the Barrow Elementary Library.  

What a powerful connection for a 7-year-old to make!
At the end of the Skype, I thought it would be fun for the teachers to also introduce themselves to each other and the students.  By bringing all of the students and teachers together within these two schools, we are creating a brand new connected classroom.  These relationships are very important to this.

Mrs. Ferguson and Mrs. Doggett said "Hi" to Georgia and....
 Mrs. Ramseyer and Mrs. Wright said "Hi" to all of us in Iowa too.
After the Skype it was really nice seeing these tweets from Georgia....
and sending a few from Iowa too.
Andy posted on the Barrow Media Center blog Same, Same But Different" Making Connections Through Blogging With 2nd Grade too.
So the next step will be to create a "Paper Blog" post.  They will be writing an "About Me" post.  This will be the perfect place to share how they are the same and difference with other children in Iowa and Georgia, even around the world.  
Since our elementary students all have their own Google Drive now, they are going to write one in a Google Doc.  We will then copy them off and they will decorate the post with markers and crayons.  I will send them to Andy's students in Georgia.
Andy's students will make comments on sticky notes and attach them to each and every blog....just like this picture of my 4th graders "paper blogging".    This will not only teach them how to write rich comments, it will also teach them about what is the same and different about their new friends.

Our teachers and students are very excited about this new project.  In fact, the teachers and I have already talked about starting this connection with Andy's school right away in the next school year.

Blogging gives each and every child a global voice.  Connecting and collaborating gives them so much too.  

A reason for thinking.  A reason for creating.  A reason for doing their best.  

Most of all....a reason to be heard.  
Tonight I connected with the Jennifer, the author and illustrator of Same, Same but Different.  She told me about this very cool page on her website that is an interactive behind-the-scenes tour of her book.  

Make sure you check out her book and website... And remember her book is perfect for connections such as the one we had with our new friends in Georgia today.


  1. Fantastic post that I plan to share with teachers! The multiple ways in which all involved used digital tools to extend the reading, writing, communicating, collaborative processes are energizing and exemplary. You explain how all of these literacies were implemented in a step-by-step way, which will surely motivate others to engage in similar activities.

    1. Happy Weekend Judy,

      Thank you so much. :) It was such a fun day and will be a wonderful connection. I am very excited for what is next and how much the kids will learn from this project.