Creativity & Collaboration in Grade 5

Teacher-librarians aren’t always found in the library. As a matter of fact, they are oftentimes out and about, working with classroom img_5297teachers. DEMS grade five students in Mr. Coleman’s class have been making classroom connections with storytelling by writing personal narratives that reveal creative tension and develop an emotional impact.  Mr. Coleman and I developed the storytelling unit during shared planning  time.

IMG_5281.jpgDesigned to challenge students to compare and contrast memorable stories and to find their own compelling stories to tell, the lessons have offered a way for students to dig deep to find the stories that IMG_5292.jpgoffer meaning and important lessons to share. Based on Bernajean Porter’s Digitales storytelling structure, students are examining the Six Elements of Good Storytelling and using the process to guide their creative work.

After working together as a class to create a story arc using The Paperbag Princess by Robert Munsch as a model, they are designing story arcs for their own personal narratives.

Sitting down to plan as a team takes commitment, hard work and time. As ideas are shared and put on the table, collaboration requires a certain sense of humility, a desire to listen to the other and a willingness to adapt.  Teachers working solo make good lessons, but teachers  working together make mind-boggling, juicy, super-duper lessons.

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Creative Gatherings, Shared Space

It all began with the DEMS middle school students. They cracked open the puzzle box and formed the geometric outline. Later, when DBGS students came in during their break, they added their own contribution. img_2614

By the next morning, the DHS high school students had added even more pieces to the puzzle, forming the central image: a blue jay.

Three schools. Dozens of students. One simple, fun artifact evolving over time. These types of shared activities give students a chance to relax, socialize, and take a break from the academic rigor of school life.

Stop by the LRC before or after school, during break, or during lunchtime  to see students participating in creative game-playing, coloring in giant coloring books, or perhaps adding the final piece to a blue jay puzzle.

As the go-to meeting place for students from all three campus schools, the LRC will continue to add interactive games to our collection and offer shared activities that allow students to connect and collaborate in our open-access space.

The Art of Eliminating Distractions

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MULTI-TASKING TURNS TO SINGLE-TASKING, INCREASING THE ABILITY TO FOCUS.

Do you find it difficult to focus when you write? That “ding” of an incoming email interrupts your thought process. A Skype message or phone call breaks your concentration just as you’ve found the perfect sentence to wrap up a really juicy paragraph. Your flow is interrupted by that weird sound that Facebook makes when to indicate that someone has commented on a photo or status update. Interrupted by the distraction, you grasp to recover the thought you just had, but it has escaped into oblivion, never to be found again.

Enough of that. One tool that I’ve been using for years to help me concentrate in a clean, distraction-free writing environment is something called OmmWriter. The free download offers a writing tool for PC, Mac, and iPad. Ommwriter is your own private writing room where you can close the door behind you to focus on your writing in peace”. Gone are the icons at the bottom of your screen. Gone is the toolbar at the top of your word document. Gone are the webpages, tabs, and browsers. All you see is a clean, uninterrupted screen, just ready for a new idea or creative thought. Even spell check is turned off so that your ideas aren’t blocked by the obsessive need to edit mid-sentence. When you’re finished, just copy, paste and save your text into a Word document and move into the editing phase.

OmmWriter is a helpful application that helps writers focus. It’s clean and free –  a fresh, calm breeze in a world of technological distractions. Multi-tasking turns to single-tasking, increasing the ability to focus. Find out more about it here.