I am really excited about my current unit in writing - Informational Books. Our students had to create a few essays during the essay unit so we wanted to switch gears (for their sanity and ours) to informational writing with a twist. Our new Lucy Caulkins rubrics almost require us to move in this direction as it asks our students to include text features in their written work.
Part of my excitement comes from the fact that I am able to implement so many amazing materials into this unit. We began yesterday by brainstorming in Padlet and I challenged the students to pick a topic that relates to a culture or a historical event. This decision on my part was two-fold: 1) They would all pick animal topics or Legos if I let them and I want to challenge their thinking and 2) We are reading books during reading that relate to different cultures and historical events so it was an easy way to tie all that work together (yeah Common Core). Today they will be placing their topic and title in a Google Doc so I have a class list of their topics. This will allow me to house them in one place and make sure their topic is appropriate without having to call each one of them up independently.
I also created some templates in Google Docs that can house the research they find. This will allow them to use the research tool as well and type directly into the document to make their research easier to keep track of. I was able to link these to my website so it is all in one central location. I am able to use technology to support my students while incorporating curriculum like Lucy Caulkins as well - this to me is best practices - and that makes me feel like I am getting more comfortable with all of my teaching tools. I also know I am a better, more effective teacher when I am excited, and I am definitely excited by the possibilities of this unit!
The one thing I am still pondering is how I want to publish their work. Google Docs is a great tool for so much of it, but I am wondering if there is another publishing device out there that could expose them to something new. Let me know if you have any ideas!