Article

Grades 6-8: Literacy Lessons for a Digital World

Integrate technology across the curriculum—while meeting Common Core.

By Meg Gaier, Jamie Diamond
  • Grades: 6–8

Blogs and Beyond Use these resources to take your students’ understanding of digital literacy to the next level.

Digital Storytelling

For Windows: Photo Story 3
For Mac: iMovie

Visit storycenter.org for more information.

Blogs

kidblog.org
blogger.com
wordpress.com

Podcasts

For Windows: Audacity podcasting software (free download at audacity.sourceforge.net)
For Mac: GarageBand software

Personal Narrative Digital Story

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3, SL.5

What You Need: Mentor narrative text, note cards, copies of Storyboard Template, computers with digital ­storytelling software, microphones
What to Do: Ready to introduce your students to storytelling 2.0? Begin by sharing a model of good narrative writing, such as a passage from Woodsong by Gary Paulsen. Have students choose an important moment from their lives to write a short personal narrative of their own. To keep the narratives shorter than 200 words, challenge students to write their stories on one small note card.

Publish these narratives in the form of a digital story (a recorded narration with corresponding images and background music). Give each student the Storyboard Template graphic organizer (click here to download) to plan how their stories will match up with images. Then, model how to use digital storytelling software (see “Blogs and Beyond” sidebar for suggestions) before allowing students to craft their digital stories.

Science Lab Digital Story

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.6-8.3; CCSS.ELA-Literary.WHST.6-8.2, 6-8.6

What You Need: Cameras, copies of Storyboard Template, computers with digital storytelling software, microphones
What to Do: Stories From the Science Lab may sound like a book about experiments gone awry, but it’s not! Try to integrate digital stories into your next lab. Instruct students to take photos of each step they complete. Afterward, tell students they will make a digital story to explain what happened in the lab, why it occurred, and the lab’s connection to real life. Have lab partners work together to complete the Storyboard Template—sequencing the photos they took while drafting a script to accompany the images. When students have finished their storyboards, allow them to create their digital science stories using storytelling software. View a few finished digital stories as a class to compare and contrast the students’ explanations of the lab.

Blogging: Math in the Real World

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.6; CCSS.Math.Practice.MP3

What You Need: Computers with Internet access, LCD projector, computer speakers
What to Do: Prior to the day your students begin to blog, select a hosting site to set up your class blog (see “Blogs and Beyond” sidebar for suggestions).

Once you're ready to go, encourage students to write about math by way of blogging. Introduce the class to blogs by watching the video “Blogs in Plain English” at commoncraft.com/video/blogs. Browse some samples of student-friendly blogs, noting the format of posts and comments. Model how to create an engaging post, including how to embed images, video clips,
and hyperlinks.

Then tell students they will create their own blog posts. Assign students a topic for their first post: how math connects to the real world. Allow students time to brainstorm examples of when they’ve used math outside of the classroom. Then let your bloggers get to work. If you’d like, connect with other class blogs from around the country—or around the world, for that matter—and share thoughts about one another’s posts. Math blogging buddies, anyone?

Blogging as a Historical Figure

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.WHST.6-8.2, 6-8.4, 6-8.6

What You Need: Computers with Internet access, research re­sources, Historical Figure Blog printable
What to Do: Blogs are a staple of modern life, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be used to teach history! First, gather appropriate research resources about historical figures covered in your current unit of study. Invite students to each choose a historical figure of interest. Provide time for students to research these individuals.

Use the Historical Figure Blog printable (click here to download printable) to introduce three blog posts students will write using their research. Model how to write the three different entries, including using points of view. (If you haven’t already, you’ll also want to show how to use the class blog you’ve set up.) Then, send students off to blog. When they’re done, encourage students to read and comment on their classmates’ posts to facilitate a dialogue about the historical figures selected.

Book Talk Podcast

Standards Met: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.R.3, SL.4

What You Need: Computer with podcasting software and Internet access, LCD projector, microphone, Book Talk Podcast printable
What to Do: Take book reports to the next level with Book Talk Podcasts. Show your students the video “Podcasting in Plain English” at commoncraft.com/video/podcasting. Tell students they will create podcasts to share books they have read during independent reading or literature circles. Review the Book Talk Podcast printable (available to download here) with students to set expectations for what the book talks should include. Then, provide time for modeling, prewriting, drafting, and editing
of podcast scripts.

Demonstrate how to use podcasting software (see “Blogs and Beyond”), and allow a minimum of two to three days for students to podcast. You can upload the completed podcasts as MP3 files to a class site or blog or save them to your desktop or a flash drive. 

 

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Meg Gaier, an eighth-grade math teacher, and Jamie Diamond, a seventh-grade English teacher, are authors of Literacy Lessons for a Digital World: Using Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and More to Meet the Demands of the Common Core.

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  • Subjects:
    Reading, Curriculum Development, Blogging, Literacy, Creative Writing, Expressive Writing, Narrative Writing, Nonfiction Writing, Persuasive Writing, Traits of Writing, Writing Process, Writing Prompts, Communication and the Internet, Educational Technology, Teaching with Technology
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