#DigiLit Sunday #NaNoWriMo Google Apps

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, November 9, 2014.



Our students in grades seven and eight are participating in #NaNoWriMo again this year. Each students sets their own goals and we continue to follow the Common Core State Standards aligned curriculum by Young Writers NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I wrote about it last week, and this was our first week.

We actually have only twelve days of classroom time to allot for this due to trainings, conferences, and Thanksgiving. However the students are writing about what they know: their hobbies and interests. They took that lesson to heart: writers write about what they know [or research]. So students are writing about friendships made and lost, sports goals and goofs, and characters new and ancient.

Students draft their writing in Google Docs.  Our Teacher Dashboard by Hapara allows me to quickly see new additions, view, and click to add comments to encourage their continued efforts. I point out the positives to encourage their continued use of those strategies such as dialogue and description to help set the mood and tone for their action.



nanao comments


Students share their novels with each other to also add comments and encourage each other. Students or teacher and student can carry on a feedback conversation through the comments and when completed, just click “Resolve.” The collaborative aspect of Google Apps for Education encourages writing by students through this process; it’s personalized learning at its best.

When not writing for NaNoWriMo, the apps allow for students to choose the app that best fits their audience and purpose: a blog? a Google site? a document? a slideshow? a survey [forms]? a spreadsheet with charts for data? a HangOut with experts? To meet the Common Core State Standards, collaboration and multi-media information are key. I’m so thankful our school district adopted this for our students.



#nablopomo #nablopomoed Blog A Day 23 Time for

2013-Participant-Square-Button#nablopomo #nablopomoed  Blog A Day  23 Time for…

…writing. It’s 3:42 PM. I’ve been working on my novel since noon, and should have started at 9:00 am.  I’m behind, but not really. I’m 39,455 words into the 50,000 required by November 30th for National Novel Writing Month #NaNoWriMo. Really, I’ve already met my count for the day, but weekends are my main writing times, since teaching demands so much time and energy. For those of you not in education, a teacher’s day does not end at 3:00 PM.  So on the weekends I’m building a world, I’m writing it into existence. It wasn’t here before, and now it is. Each letter, each word adds another dimension to my character, the setting, the action, the mystery. It just flows out and meets with what was written before and lays the path towards the future. It fits. That’s the creative process in action. I would have thought before my first NaNoWriMo that I needed an outline, a draft of a play, some prewriting, but that isn’t true. A kernel of an idea, a what if or perhaps a sentence from your imagination begins the journey. If you believe in it, your kernel, your nugget of a sentence, then your world will pop out and expand into a connected and deep story. If you believe it, and place yourself into your new world, all you need to do is start to tell it, to show in words what your mind envisions, one word, one incident, one character at a time until the story is told. Next November, try it. You will never teach writing the same again.

… a movie.  My husband will arrive home later this evening; he’s already warned me that a movie break is in order. Hopefully we can find something we like. A drama with suspense and mystery. That’s my preference.

What do you have time for today?


#nablopomo #nablopomoed Weather

Reflection of reflection...!!!

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Denis Collette via Compfight













#nablopomo #nablopomoed

Day 13: weather description, a sample of setting…

Perfect prompt today as we continue reading Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. for the Global Read Aloud 2013. We’re at the important part of the story. The weather is loud with thunder and pouring rain. Everyone is in a foul mood and some are sick; nothing is right. And nothing was right.  And something happened.

“I shrieked, I screeched, I yelled. The rain poured. The thunder roared.”

Chapter 30, page 275.

It’s an intense chapter in which weather adds to the struggle. It’s perfect chapter to show how setting, and weather, can add suspense, especially if students are also writing novels for NaNoWriMo.

I especially the lesson when students then apply the strategy:

“Today the Eagles will play the Chargers. You remember the last time they went back in forth in nice, clear weather. Today they will play in rain and loud thunder. Eagle fans asked if they are going to cancel the game, and the coach said, “No. They’re tough; they want to play.” [ from Bad Weather chapter in Ray’s Novel ]

So if the clear weather brought a give/take score, will this rainy weather create a give….. or a take score pattern?  I can’t wait to find out.

So this day included a ray of sunshine as well as some suspense in two novels! And this is how my weather started:

To the east in the foothills, clouds shrouded the pines, which were ghostly slivers of darkness fading and appearing within the steel grey of fog. On my way north, the the low lying clouds lightened, softening into billows of white with only a hint of grey-blue below each. The red willow branches still held the sliver of yellow leaves, holding on to the last leaves of life, while the elms had either shriveled brown balls of leaves, or none, leaving only the deep brown outline of once stately trees. But to the west, the low clay hills rolling in sage and bunch grass, remained in shadow below as the tops popped in golden hues as the light of the world whisked away the fog and shimmered them in morning yellow.

Today would be a good day after all.

#nablopomo #nablopomoed Day 9 Saturdays

On Saturdays, we rest.

Saturdays are our favorite, my husband and I. They are mornings of rest and review, sharing and showing our past week.

We tweet and share; find a blog and share; maybe watch a video [ TED Talk, Science, etc. ] together on Apple TV.

On most Saturdays 9:00 am is an important part of the week. This week I missed it catching up on tweets, and I missed one of my favorite people: Shell Terrell. What’s important about Saturdays at 9:00 am Pacific? Classroom 2.0 Live! started by Steve Hargadon to help teachers share and learn how to integrate technology effectively for 21st Century education.  A presenter [teacher, educational mentor, etc.] shares topic howtos [ assessment for learning, Edmodo, Google Apps, VoiceThread ] that teachers can use immediately. Teachers listen via Blackboard Eluminate and add resources in the chat, conversing about connections and application as well as asking questions of the presenter. It’s a powerful way to learn about technology and to meet people who will work with you. However, you can bet I will watch the Archives! You can also subscribe on iTunesU.

This Saturday and November Saturdays are NaNoWriMo marathons for me. It’s my third year to participate. I am hooked on the creative juices that flow from my imagination to the word images on my Google Doc… creating a world this way shows just how exciting writing can be, and how learning to write needs to be more student-centered rather than scripted formulas. I wrote about that here: Let Them Write.

And so… I grab my cottage cheese and Ritz crackers to finish what I’ve started:

“She continued, “I saw a flash and a shadow dance among the leaves. I thought it just the play of leaves dancing in the breeze before the thunderstorm. But no, the flash was frantic and the shadow followed it wherever it went…”


On Saturdays in November, after a morning of conversation and sharing, I’m creating another world.

What are your Saturdays like?

#NaNoWriMo #NaBloPoMo

NaBloPoMo_November_blogroll_largeYes. I’m applying my creative endeavors to the written word this month. I’m letting the thoughts in my mind have voice.  My students and I are reading Out of My Mind by Susan Draper. We are holding onto the idea that “Thoughts need words, and words need a voice.” [page 8] We’re holding to that because Melody for so long had no voice. The students are hoping for her.

And I’m realizing that my students don’t realize how far their voices could be heard. I’m working on that. We’re connecting through blogs with other students, and they so want to see their faces and Skype/Hangout with them. But it’s more than that. They don’t know they can change the world. I’m working on that too. Seventh grade is joining YouthVoices, and are writing their 10 Self / World questions after watching the video by Paul Allison of his class. That class had students pondering the trivial and the powerful, the inner and the outer worlds of our wonderments. It engaged my students’ considerations.

So I’m blogging every day this month for NaBloPoMo. Just thoughts, strategies, or musings about my world — a small voice in the big world.  Maybe it will become a habit.

2013-Participant-Square-ButtonAnd I’m writing my third NaNoWriMo novel —

Writing tip: Just set your fingers on the keys and write: I don’t know what to write. And today…