I decided to end the year with a persuasive writing unit which has proven to be successful over the past few years. As with any unit/lesson, I try to grab my students’ attention from the very beginning with a topic that will fascinate them.This time around we are going to focus on FAST FOOD. Simply mentioning those words perks up a bunch of middle schoolers. After doing some close reading and intense research my students will write persuasive essays, create slogans and advertisements that promote healthy living habits. In the past my classes have done this using basic loose leaf, chart paper, poster paper, pencils and markers. But this time students will be using iPads to create advanced versions of what students in the past have done.
- We will begin by using the iPads as digital readers. Students will read articles such as “Rain Forests at Risk” and “Get Some Sleep!” on the Time for Kids website. They will use new facts they learn to defend their point of view and engage in accountable talk with their classmates. Each student will be responsible for submitting a written response which they can type and email to me from the iPads.
- Next we will read Chew on This: Everything You Don’t Want to Know About Fast Food by Eric Schlosser and Charles Wilson. Unfortunately, the book is not available in digital format so we are going to stick to regular paperbacks. Since my students are comfortable using Post-Its while reading, they are going to use the Sticky Notes app (free) to collect facts and ideas that they may want to include in their persuasive essays.
- Then we’re going to watch “Super Size Me” with Morgan Spurlock. In addition to gathering notes, we’re going to use the Popplet app to swap ideas with partners. There will be one focus question and students will share their opinions based on what they have learned from the movie and their reading.
- After publishing their persuasive essays, students will begin to create advertisements for healthy living. Students will use the Phosters app (.99) to create posters that include pictures, slogans and a paragraph to convince the reader to “purchase” their product. The goal is to effectively promote healthy eating habits and living.
To close out the year I want to return to one of our favorites, Dr. Seuss. A few months ago when I was looking for “Dr. Seuss-ish”/poerty apps I was thrilled to find that several of his books were available in app format. Oh, the Places You’ll Go ($4.99) is a classic and I want to use it to have my students to reflect on the past year, set short and long term goals for the future. I’m still not clear on what that final project will look like, but that is the exciting thing about working with iPads, there is always something new to look forward to.