A Twist on Collaborative Writing Using Google Docs

Google Docs is an easy way for students to write collaborative stories.
I needed a short activity to do this week since we weren't starting a new Wonders story for the short week. One of my coworkers shared a fun collaborative story idea. I did mine with a Thanksgiving theme, but you could really do it for any theme.

First, I divided the class into pairs. I gave them five words they had to incorporate into a Thanksgiving story. Then they had ten minutes to initially figure out what they wanted to do with those five words.
After ten minutes, each student got his/her Chromebook. Student A in each pair created a Google doc and shared it with his/her partner. Then partner B went in another room.
Each pair was looking at the same document and started to write the story. The only way they could communicate was through the comments or within the document. It was probably the quietest half-hour I've ever heard with students in my room.

The next day, I gave them five minutes to touch base before they went their separate ways. When the pairs finished, Student A was responsible for turning it in on Google Classroom. I can't wait to read their final products!
Google Docs is an easy way for students to write collaborative stories.


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Grinding Corn Revisited

When we are in the Southwest region of our Native American unit, I take the kids outside (while the weather is still nice!) and we grind corn to get a feel for what it would have been like. Last year, I didn't do it with my class since it was a new social studies curriculum in my new district, but I missed the activity and wanted to do it this year with my class.
Materials needed:
One rock per student, fist size or larger
One tub per group to hold materials (I use a plastic dish pan - $1.98 each)
Ears of squirrel corn, two or three per group
Cup and/or Ziploc to hold ground corn, one per group

I assemble students into groups of four and give each group a tub with the following materials - one rock per student, two to three ears of corn, a cup and a sandwich-sized Ziploc bag. We go outside and choose a square on the sidewalk for each group. I do not offer any advice or tips. I let them figure out techniques and such on their own. I give them about a half-hour, and they need to get the ground corn into the cup/Ziploc. Then we come inside (after stopping by the restroom to wash up) and discuss things like if we would like this for a daily job, if it was harder/easier than expected, what techniques were successful, etc.

It's a very memorable day and the kids just love it!


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Totems Galore!

So I've been the world's worst blogger lately, but on the flip side, I've been the world's most awesome fifth grade teacher! Well, at least I'm trying to be :)

I have this year's batch of stylized totems that I wanted to share.
To create them, I ask the students these questions:
  • Have you ever felt drawn to one animal or another without being able to explain why? This could be animal, including birds and insects.
  • Does a certain kind of animal consistently appear in your life? This doesn’t necessarily have to be a physical appearance, it could be represented in other ways such as receiving card and letters with the same animal pictured over and over, unexplainable dreams of a particular animal, watching television and seeing the same animal featured time and time again, or, actually having the animal show up.
  • When you go to the zoo, a park, wildlife area, or forest, what are you most interested in seeing?
  • Are there any animals that you find to be extremely frightening or intriguing?
  • Is there a particular animal that you see frequently when you’re out in nature?
  • Have you ever been bitten or attacked by an animal?
  • Have you ever had a recurring dream about a certain animal, or a dream from childhood that you have never been able to forget?
Then it was time to create! One thing that I've learned was to organize my scraps that the students used by color. This cut down on the number of scraps in a huge, unmanageable pile.

Happy creating!

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