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Bush Students Use Writing To Show Off Balloons

Bush Elementary School fourth grader, Maddie Wilkins, gets help from JPS Integration Technology Specialist, Jason Kathman, to create her unicorn balloon in Keynote to include with her ELA persuasive essay.

Bush Elementary School fourth graders became Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon makers through an ELA persuasive writing assignment in Cristin Hockenberry’s class.

The students wrote a persuasive essay for the Macy’s parade committee explaining why their balloon should be included in the annual parade. Mrs. Hockenberry collaborated with JPS Technology Integration Specialist, Jason Kathman, to have the kids create a photograph of their balloons, complete with a new background, using their iPads.

“The idea of writing a persuasive essay to convince the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade committee to choose a new balloon comes from a former teaching teammate, Scott Chelli, who I still collaborate with to create lessons that engage students in learning,” said Mrs. Hockenberry. “Writing is one of those topics that can be challenging to get students excited about. By adding this technology component to the lesson, students were actively taking part in learning over multiple standards in one lesson over multiple days. On day two when a student asked, ‘Are we going to get to work on our writing today?’ I knew they were really excited about what we were doing. They never ask to write! The students liked this writing assignment and the technology piece because it pulled everything together and made the topic seem real.”

Mrs. Hockenberry’s class has been doing a lot of writing this year. They have been writing to entertain with creative writing, writing to inform with explanatory pieces, writing to respond to text they have read, and even writing poetry to connect to the main character in Love That Dog.

Having students switch to a persuasive writing piece allowed them the opportunity to work on the voice of their writing while continuing to build on their basic knowledge of language skills. Students were engaged in the project because they had a connection to the balloon they wanted to see in the parade. This connection made it much easier for them to find reasons to be able to persuade the “committee.” Having the opportunity to actually create the balloon using technology allowed students the chance to see their balloon to connect it to their writing.

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