Do you want to meet some amazing 2nd-grade biography writers? Do you feel that exceptional writers can also be creative innovators?
If so, than I would like to introduce you to Mrs. Mancuso’s 2nd-grade class from the Tulsa Trail School in Hopatcong, NJ. These students have done an outstanding job using a combination of creative resources to enhance their learning.
Initially, the students used their iPads to research a famous historian. Then, the students became highly engaged in creating Lego structures to represent their research. Finally, the students used their writing workshop time to write informational biography reports. Consequently, combining technology, academics, and the arts allowed students to: engage deeply in their research, be creative when visually representing their learning, and write with passion and voice.
Indeed, Mrs. Mancuso knows that in order for students to find meaning in their work - their work needs to be shared and valued. Therefore, the students’ parents were invited to a “Biography Breakfast” at the Tulsa Trail Library. These young innovators proudly shared their biography reports, creative structures, and their technology skills with both parents and friends.
In addition, students and families each received an “appetizer” menu highlighting several of the educational apps that are used to personalize learning on a daily basis. Students showed off their technology skills by teaching their parents how to use these creative educational apps. These apps personalize, strengthen, and differentiate academic learning at school and home, which impacts each student’s academic achievement. As a result, this learning experience will not be forgotten. The skills learned and used throughout this unit of study represent 21st Century learning skills needed in order to be successful in school and in life.
Certainly, the Blended Learning Grant which was awarded to Hopatcong by the DOE has enhanced this creative work and learning experience. Our Hopatcong teachers, who applied for this grant, and won it for two years in a row are extremely happy with the academic success it has brought our students in the areas of writing, creativity, collaboration, problem-solving, innovation and technology. A true blended learning experience!