If you read my previous post, you know that I recently got in touch with my first grade teacher and have started working on a project with her. This will most likely be an archive for kids to share their reading experiences, and view those of others.
In building this project I imagine to have a harmonious relationship with Mrs. Mason. We will most likely be making constant iterations, so I see it important to know each other’s strengths. As far as expertise goes, this is how we may define our roles:
First Grade teacher in the Kyrene District in Arizona for 25 years. Very passionate about her profession, and likes to explore creative methods for teaching. She will serve as the pedagogic expert as far as what may or may not work with our target audience.
Designer, explorer, problem solver for the past eight years. I love to learn about the world around, create and communicate exciting experiences. My authority will be the experience and visualization for the project. I am also the project leader, so I will be conducting interviews, research and play testing on a regular basis.
It goes without saying though, that we will naturally be wearing each other’s caps from time to time. Nonetheless, our vision is to brainstorm, explore formats, and question together.
Asking the right questions
Speaking of questions, that’s the first thing I thought we should explore. Since we come from different backgrounds, and I personally have not set foot in a first grade classroom for close to 25 years, I put together some initial questions for Kim to answer.
- What tools / worksheets / assignments are assigned to kids nowadays?
- What’s the timeframe like from choosing a book to writing a report?
- Do the kids do any kind of sharing / presentation / interpretation after reading a book or are most assignments focused on writing an actual report?
- Are there any “best-seller-must-have” books that all kids read or need to read that could be a good starting point?
- If possible, can you share a book report that was completed just for me to get a sense of where this could go / size / level?
- From an academic point of view, what skills would you say are important to cover in a project like this (ex. writing / reading / sharing / grammar / research / art & expression / etc)?
- I see this as a growing archive where kids contribute to possibly the same books
- Tell me a bit about the exposure to technology at your school. Are the students plugged in to devices from the time the enter the classroom, or are there activities that are still “analog”?
- Do kids in your classes read digital books or printed books?
First Steps in Research
Finding supporting documents and content for a project is not an easy task. In fact, I believe it is a skill, and arguably an art. I think it’s a good habit to strive to research one significant reference each week (besides for the other tasks considered to be research in which we will get to shortly).
For this week, I would like to share a tool that recently came my way called Grammarly. This tool has been around since 2009, but from what I understand their interface is pretty new (and pretty in general). Grammarly helps writers by suggesting live corrections in both grammar and spelling, but besides for being just a technical tool, it often gives the reasoning behind the suggestion it is offering.
Here’s a screenshot of the product on their website:
Unfortunately, Grammarly does not have an API to plug in to, but I would be happy to look into integrating this tool with a writing platform we create. Now I start to think: what we might be creating here is a writing tool that is kid-friendly and will encourage them to write about books they read. Or in other words: My First Blog Pad.
So many people that are in reach through my network come to mind. I can think of three in particular who’s brains I would love to pick:
Tina Roth Eisenberg
Jason Santa Maria
Writer, designer, creative director of A List Apart
Kate Kiefer Lee
Writer and editor at Mailchimp, author of the fantastic book Nicely Said: Writing for the Web With Style and Purpose
Kim and Dalit Meet for Online Coffee Once a Week
It is important to set aside a designated time (maybe a set time) to speak over Skype and catch up. In addition to our once-a-week chat, we’ll be corresponding through emails and have already set up a shared folder in Google Docs for all of our documentation, research, iterations, references and inspiration.
Over the upcoming week, and after speaking to Kim, I would like to send out a short intro email to all of the above with 3-5 questions. Stay tuned for more discoveries next week!
Opening photo by imarcade.com