By Brad Currie
Black River Middle School in Chester, New Jersey, takes great pride in the wide range of innovative learning experiences that students are exposed to on a daily basis. Focusing on digital literacy and building digital capacity are important aspects that we incorporate on a daily basis. Teachers and students take challenging risks utilizing various web based tools and mobile learning devices in order to better understand a particular concept. Digital literacy permeates the school setting and provides students with a relevant and engaging learning experience. The examples included in this blog post provide a glimpse of just a few best practices related to writing.
Performing Arts: Collaborative Script Writing
Script writing via Google Docs is an important unit of study in Mrs. Vespignani’s Performing Arts Class. Students work in groups to create a play and write a script using Google Docs. They also incorporate sound effects, background music, and props to effectively portray their creative masterpieces. The final product is then presented to the class and allows for students to respectfully critique their peers.
Computer Applications: Digital Ads and Coding Blogs
Mrs. Garrison’s Computer Application class creates digital advertisements on SAT words using free Movie Maker software and other web based curation tools. This particular project enables students to focus on higher order vocabulary words and taking ownership on portraying their meaning using available technology. In another unit of study, a blog post is then created on KidBlog or Edmodo as a culminating activity that examines the purpose of coding.
Health: Letters to Special Olympics Athletes
Students in Mrs. Dempsey’s and Mrs. Tarnacki’s Health classes write essays on topics related to health awareness, drugs, and nutrition to name a few. Other writing activities have students reading informational texts and citing specific details in open-ended responses. All middle schools students leveraged the power of Google Docs in Health class recently to write welcome letters to Special Olympics athletes that will be competing this summer in New Jersey.
Gifted and Talented: Career Blogging
Mrs. Maza’s Gifted and Talented students learn and reflect on career readiness through researching and blogging. Students select three careers and thoroughly research what it takes to secure employment and subsequently be successful in that field of work. Reflection and comprehension are then composed through a blogging site called KidBlog.
Media Center: Research-Based Digital Posters
Students at Black River Middle School have an abundance of digital tools, resources, and devices available in order to make reading fun and relevant. Mrs. Aaronson, the school librarian collaborates with teachers to design digital learning experiences across all subject areas. For example, students in Mrs. Keane’s Biology class created digital posters using a web tool called Glogster. Throughout this unit of study, Mrs. Aaronson provided guidance to students on where to research their topics and how to portray their findings on a digital poster.
As you can see, students at Black River Middle School write across the curriculum utilizing educational technology and digital tools. Authentic writing experiences through blogging on KidsBlog, posting on Edmodo, and collaboratively writing on Google Docs provides students with purposeful and relevant learning experiences. Writing across the curriculum exists at Black River Middle School due to the strong collaborative approach teachers take in sharing best practices and learning from each other.
Brad Currie is the Supervisor of Instruction/Middle School Dean of Students for the Chester School District in Chester, New Jersey. He is the co-founder and co-moderator of a weekly Twitter discussion for current and emerging school leaders called #Satchat. Brad is passionate about the infusion of digital resources, educational technology, and social media in the school setting. You can learn more about Brad by following him on Twitter @bradmcurrie or visiting his website at www.bradcurrie.net.