Yes, I said FINALISTS - that’s right, I am naming them in this post! The top five are announced, plus an honorable mention. This year the theme for my 7th annual writing contest was Pets. I had entries from 28 states around the country. I had Skyped with 91 classrooms between September and November talking to students about writing and creativity, and many of them also entered the contest.
When the entries came in this year, something very different happened. Many of the teachers also wrote me letters sharing what their classrooms learned from participating in the contest. I wanted to share some of them with you, as I loved reading about how many technologies these young students are learning in the process of being creative. Here are some examples:
Ms. Cheryl Bradley’s 4th grade at Brentwood Elementary Magnet School in Pensacola, Fl
shared that their collaborative story was written in groups using their Smartboard and many vocabulary words they were studying!
Mrs. Sandstrom wrote this about her 1st grade class at Eaton Elementary School in CO
“We are encouraging students to use technology more and more in classrooms since they are consumed with it in everyday life. The class wrote their story on the Chromebooks and then shared them with the class. “
Alison Gates, the technology coach/teacher-librarian at Shellesburg Elementary in IA, let me know this: “ From the very beginning, all 20 students collaborated together using a wide variety of technology tools, including Chromebooks, Google Classroom, Google Docs, and Padlet.”
Marti Langston shared a lovely letter to me about her 2nd grade at Crossroads Elementary in O’Fallon, MO. Here is a short excerpt I want to share: “As I reflect on these great conversations and teachable moments, it makes me wish we could build this into our curriculum every year. I have had to put other writing lessons on hold, but feel the value of this assignment was well worth it. Not only have final copies of their writing assignments improved, but I see more of them taking their time to reread, revise, and add more. Many of my students have gotten into writing their own books in their free time, and we have decided to extend our “Five Dog Adventures” into a series of books written by individuals (or small groups) in our classroom. The icing on the cake was heard on the last day of wrapping up our final copy. My student Jayden said, “It’s a lot of work to write a book. I didn’t know it was this hard!” We are currently working on illustrations and will be making this an actual book in our class for all to take home and enjoy. Thank you again for putting this challenge out there for us!”
It’s interactions like these with teachers that drive me forward each year as I hold my annual writing contest. These teachers taught me there are many, many ways a writing contest can be used in the classroom, more than I even imagined.
O.K. Now the drum roll please...This year’s five finalists selected by a panel of celebrity judges that included Peter H. Reynolds, children’s book author, illustrator, bookshop owner and founder of FableVision; John Schumacher, Scholastic’s Ambassador for School Libraries; and Mrs. P (T.V. Actress Kathy Kinney) are: (in order by state, nothing more)
- Strange Rabbit: A collaborative story from Ms. Bradley’s 4th grade at Brentwood Elementary Magnet School in Pensacola, Fl
- The Runaway Hamster and Cat: Mrs. Patterson's 3rd Grade Class at Shellsburg Elementary in Shellsburg, IA. 20 students collaborated together to create their story.
- Classroom Pets: A collaborative class project from Ms. MacInnes’s 3rd grade class at Brewer Community School in Brewer, Maine.
- The Five Dogs and a Little Bit of Trouble: A collaborative class project from Ms. Langston’s 2nd grade class at Crossroads Elementary in O’Fallon, MO.
- Milly, Molly and the Miracle: Mrs. Garnett’s Fourth Grade Classroom at the Collegiate School in Richmond, VA. This class voted from 8 students’ entries to select this story to submit.
“There’s No Place Like Home” a poem from Ms. Grassi's 3rd Grade Class at Roberts Elementary School in Wayne, PA, was also named an honorable mention. It also was a collaborative class project.
The grand prize winning classroom will be filled with actual books, audio book and digital books along with some fun writing software thanks to the sponsors of the contest: Mackin Educational Resources, Tales2GO, and FableVision. Mrs. P will also produce a video of the winning story illustrated by Robin Robinson that will premiere on Mrs. P’s YouTube storytelling site in March. The four runners up will also all receive gift cards from Powell’s books.