Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Journey (Social Media Excitement in our 2nd Grade Classroom)

As part of our first ever (in 2nd grade) Wonderstruck Wednesday (see blog about WW here), I decided to bring out one of my favorite wordless picture books to share with my students and get them wondering! I could tell it was unsettling to them to have to take in the story, jot down their “wonders” and not respond to the text until it was finished, but I wanted them to really hear their own thoughts and form their own ideas and opinions about the book BEFORE we started sharing. With each page turn, I reveled in their facial expressions and I was having so much fun watching them, that I decided to snap a quick picture to share my vantage point with the world. So, as I often do, I tweeted out a quick glimpse into our classroom and carried on with my day. After we finished the story, I had the students put their “wonders” up on our wonderwall, then to rejoin the group and finally talk about the book and share interpretations.
When the students were out at recess, I came back to my room to find that the author of the book, Aaron Becker, had responded to our tweet! He was offering to answer our questions! We had hit the Social Media Jackpot! To say I was giddy would be a tragic understatement!!!
I pulled my students back together and took some of the questions that they had about the story. I tried to prepare them, that it might be days before we got a response, or we might not get one at all, but we tweeted them out to our new Author tweet-pal and hoped for the best! We continued on with our learning. The students generated definitions for the word “Journey” and illustrated their ideas “graffiti style” on our whiteboard. Several students talked about real-life places that they might like to journey to, and we located these places on our globe and talked about the different kinds of journeys each one would be. Then we moved on to our writing activity, and wrote about and illustrated the journeys we imagined for ourselves.
Meanwhile, our Author Friend was tweeting us back! He answered each and every question that we supplied and our room was buzzing with excitement and learning conversations. When they asked a question that was “research-based” I reminded them that they were asking “Think and Search” questions that we could find the answers to ourselves (and might not be quite proper to ask a stranger) We looked up bio information on Mr. Becker and were able to find out the answers to:
Are you married?
Do you have children?
Where do you live?
How many books have you written?
The questions we actually sent him, were more introspective questions about the story itself and the author’s own intentions and interpretations. These wonders, I told my students, are the ones that we often never get to have answered from the source. They were ecstatic and wonderstruck to have this experience. My one student Jahlil, was in such disbelief that viewing the tweets on the smartboard wasn’t enough, he had to come over to my computer and read the tweets with his name in them, for himself!

I am such a huge proponent for social media in the classroom as a means of allowing my students to be heard, connecting them with the outside world, exposing them to unique ideas and perspectives and sometimes, on a random Wednesday, providing them with a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience and connection that I hope they will remember for years to come!

If you’ve used this book or others with your class, please let us know how! We plan to explore the whole trilogy and connect these beautifully imagined stories back to our learning through out the course of this school year!
Thank YOU for being a part of our JOURNEY today!


  1. What a terrific post, Mrs. Halliday. Wonderful to hear how this came about and your students' reactions to it all. They might be even more amazed to find out that you all reached me in Malaga, Spain, where my family and I are staying for the school year while I finish the paintings for book # 3. When you plan to read Quest with them, let's surprise them with a live-skype or chat and I can read the book with them! That would be a blast! Aaron

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    2. That would be AMAZING!!!! I will absolutely be contacting you to work out the details of this surprise and am so grateful that you have offered as I was working up the moxie to ask you! :) My words and pictures here hardly do justice to the excitement, enchantment and engagement your correspondence caused in my classroom yesterday! Thanks for taking time and care to add some magic to the most wondrous place I know! I hope my spreading the word causes more people to share your books with children because they really are so magical and inspiring!

  2. As a lifelong teacher my heart explodes with delight over this story. How thrilling to connect with a writer in real time half way around he world. I am a deep fan of Mr. Becker's books. I've been having some of the same questions the students asked. Brilliant teaching, Mrs. Halliday. Thanks for posting.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments! We were absolutely thrilled that Mr. Becker took time out of his day to interact with us, and to share our "Journey" here! Thank you too, for being a part of our experience and for your kind words and your dedication to the profession!

  3. Hi! I found your blog from your slantbox partner Sarah. She posted the video that you made about her slantbox. I LOVED it! You're blog is awesome, and I'm really excited to keep reading! Hope you had a great weekend.
    Ana :)
    Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard

    1. Hi Ana! Thank you so much for looking us up and commenting! My first slantbox experience was ridiculously fun!!! Thanks for your encouragement, and for following us! We're happy to have you with us! (and I'm following your blog now as well! Hooray for teachers sharing and inspiring one another!) Hope your week is off to a great start! :)