For many people, April is testing season. Here are some fresh ideas you can use to encourage student creativity and have fun while still meeting the standards and boosting student thinking skills!
National Library Month
April is National Library Month, but who really needs an excuse to connect students to books? Ask students to write original stories that are printed, bound, and shared in your school library, or even exported as eBooks for your own classroom digitial library.
You can also create adaptions of your favorite book as a present for your school library. If you aren't sure which one to choose, ask your librarian or use this list of picture book titles as inspiration for your class's adaptation of a favorite book.
Georgia Media Specialist Juli Gilbert uses choice boards in her library to engage students in reading and let them demonstrate their comprehension of a story. Celebrate their work, by hosting their presentations of learning in your media center and inviting parents and community members to the event.
Libraries are great places, but it is the people in them that really make them amazing. Have students collaborate on a Thank You project for your school Librarian or Media Specialist as well as their assistants and volunteers. Have students share how these people have helped them connect with just the right book or taught them a new skill.
National Poetry Month
It is the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month and if that isn't enough to get you excited, there are special poetry themed days throughout the month. For example, the 17th is National Haiku Poetry Day, April 28th is National Great Poetry Reading Day.
To share your student's understanding of poems they are studying as well as their fluency and intonation, have them create video versions of poems they can share on social media to inspire others. You can even find step-by-step directions for creating visual poems in Frames in this Frames tutorial.
Students can write a Haiku about the nature of spring and create a slide with images in Wixie or Pixie. Import each page into one big project and print them as postcards. Bind the poems together to share the school library or office.
Since Earth Day is also celebrated in April, consider an Earth Day twist to the poetry. Haikus are supposed to include a "kigo" or season word and could be connecte to spring. You could also connect student poems to bird for National Audubon Day (April 26th) or related to trees to celebrate National Arbor Day on the last Friday of the month.
National Tell a Story Day - April 27th
Digital storytelling is a powerful way to connect students to the content they are learning. To have students practice empathy and build powerful 21st century communication skills, have them craft digital stories to share the perspective of a character in a book you are reading, a person from history, or even an animal or chemical element you are studying!
Tech4Learning's tools like Wixie and Frames make it easy to create a beautiful visual story with images and narration. A tool like Share lets student's craft non-linear stories in the style of a Choose Your Own Adventure® book.
No matter which tool you use, have students write their story and use a storyboard to chunk it into pages or scenes. Illustrate the stories using the stickers, drawing tools, or their own photos. Then, have students read their stories and capture their feeling and intonation using the recording tool.
Need some inspiration on topics? Check out these digital storytellling lesson plans.
Shakespeare's 400th birthday - April 23rd
One of the greatest storyeller in history has his birthday in April and this year is the 400th anniversary of his birth. The older English in Shakespeare can be hard to decode, so help connect students to this amazing author through some of the common phrases he coined that we still use today!
You could have students create trading cards with these phrases to print and share with other students. Then challenge them to see how many they can inject into their conversations that day!
I can't wait to see how your students grow in April.