The Learning Hub

Spotlight On: Kindergarten Voice

BY: Reuben Bathgate

My Kindergarten students are almost at the end of their Health Related Fitness Unit for the year. This is our major ‘theory’ based unit which, in the past, has led to assessments that completely take away from what Physical Education is all about. These tests involved pencil, paper and sitting around answering questions. Let’s not forget how hard it is to make an authentic assessment for a 5 year old to explain their understanding of being healthy.

This year, thanks to a great new app that I discovered, that has all changed! Using ‘Tell About This’ I took photos of each student at the end of a class. They were very red-faced and sweaty! Then I added a prompt to each photo that asked “What might be happening inside your body and why?”.

The next time they came to class we spent the first 5-8minutes of the lesson, working on the iPads answering that question using ‘Tell About This’. They then used ‘Easy Blog Jr’ to post these explanations to their class blogs (see example) – and the best part of all this, they pretty much did it independently! For the most part, my job has been to sit back, listen and observe (and offer technical advice from time to time).

Student blog

Check out Henry’s Tell About!

I have had enormous pleasure watching these blog posts and being amazed at just how much these 5-6 year olds have taken in and how eloquent they are in explaining their knowledge. I certainly never got this depth of understanding from a piece of paper!

Reuben Bathgate is the Kindergarten/Grade 1 Physical Education teacher at the Western Academy of Beijing, China. He is a firm believer in the power of tablet computers to enhance student learning and is constantly searching for new and exciting ways to engage his students through technology. Follow him on twitter @Geuben

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The Hurdle of Finding a Topic

One of the biggest challenges for starting a writing assignment is coming up with a topic. We often ask students to brainstorm a topic they are passionate about, justify it, and even take a stand on a position for it. However, this can be a daunting task for students who aren’t as comfortable in articulating their passions or even having a strong opinion.

Elementary Apptitude - http://blogs.southfieldchristian.org/

Elementary Apptitude – http://blogs.southfieldchristian.org/

Here are some strategies where the Write About This app can help students get over the common difficulty in finding topics for writing an argument.

Browse the Write About This app gallery and prompts: The gallery is full of images that can help trigger students’ creativity and writing initiative. With each image, students can click on the level of writing prompt (1-3) to explore. Encourage students to browse images they are interested in as well as browse the prompts. Many of the higher level prompts invite students to share their opinion and justify it. Simply browsing can help students find a source of inspiration to write!

Compare pictures within a category: Have students pick a category of images in the Write About This gallery that they are interested in. Instruct them to answer any of the following question starters to help stimulate thoughts: What is the best ___? Which is the better ___? What is your favorite ___?

Get a Writing Prompt from a Friend: Pair students together with someone they are fairly close with or know well. Give students time to peruse the Write About This gallery and writing prompts in search of an image and prompt that is well-suited for his/her partner. If they can’t find a suitable prompt, encourage students to create one for their friend. Sometimes it helps to have someone else who knows the student to get an idea of what to write about!

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.

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10 Ways to Use Write About This for Classroom Writing

  1. Students are given free writing time and find a prompt that inspires them. Celebrate the writing by emailing the teacher and parents the finished draft!
  2. Student photographers are in charge of creating a custom photo prompt once a week.
  3. Teacher or students choose a prompt to display through a projector & the entire class responds in their Writer’s Notebooks.
  4. Begin a prompt as a class discussion starter & then the teacher models writing strategies by creating a Write About.
  5. Small groups or partners work at a center or station to write within the app or in their notebooks.
  6. Celebrate Poetry Month with picture-inspired poems!
  7. Students reflect on a picture from a science experiment by creating a custom prompt and Write About.
  8. Teachers can reference the prompts for “quick writes” during a transition after recess or lunch.
  9. Students chose a prompt to help them start a process writing piece and publish their final draft as a Write About.
  10. Take photos during a field trip or assembly and email student reflections to parents, the principal or the content providers!

How are you using Write About This in your classroom? We’d love to add your ideas and feature your students’ writing! Share the inspiration by contacting us today! info [at] writeaboutapp .com

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