Sunday, January 18, 2015


We are knee-deep in our fantasy unit of study. We connected Reader's and Writer's Workshop for this purpose. In case you missed it, check out the reading connection HERE.

Our kids enjoy writing...when they have the choice! Nine times out of ten, they would choose fiction writing. That being said, we don't have a true fiction unit in our 5th Grade Units of Study kit. We have a narrative unit, but it is a personal narrative. Our kids hunger for fun, creative, fiction writing. When we began long-range planning, we knew we needed to incorporate as much fiction writing in...whenever we could get it! Our Reader's Workshop fantasy unit was the perfect time. This writing unit falls within the "If...Then..." book in the Units of Study. The section of the book is fairly wordy, so we mapped out our own lessons in conjunction with our Reading unit.

We launched the writing unit with a picture book study. We started with our general observations in partnernships, then layered in different fantasy elements. Our kiddos examined their chosen picture books for character archetypes and quest structures. We then moved into brainstorming their own ideas using things they were passionate about (example: one students is a baseball fanatic....he could write a story about a magical baseball card that transports him to the past).
They flash-drafted, selected their story of choice, completed graphic organizers, and are off and running with their drafts.

Now what??

Sure, we conference, pull strategy groups to target certain skills, model with mentor texts, and the like. But what will happen when the story is done? Sure, they could publish using Google Docs. We could print them and put them in the hallway. They could share them on paper with our kindergarten buddies. But we wanted something more and different!!

Enter the amazing resource: StoryJumper!!

Our absolutely amazing student teacher, Liz, was digging around one lunch hour while I was complaining about wanting something different for our kids to do. I wanted something more meaningful for them. She began digging and found StoryJumper. Check out this quick tutorial video. Trust is worth the 7 minutes:

And the absolute best part of is FREE! I don't know about you, but we are all about FREE in our space! I love that they can upload their own images/illustrations. I especially love that they could upload a picture of themselves, and crop their face to put on the bodies from the StoryJumper toolkit! You can generate a permalink when you are done that will be perfect for their digital portfolios, too! It also offers tremendous security features to protect our youngsters!

Another great feature that ups the SAMR scale...they can share these with the world! You can publish them in the StoryJumper library for the world to read! Talk about changing the audience and motivation for writing! If parents/schools were interested, they can order hardcover books for $24.95 or softcover books for $12.95. Even cooler...they offer a school fundraising option! Who wouldn't want one of these awesome books instead of overly-expensive popcorn or wrapping paper??

Bottom line...I was SO, unbelievably excited when Liz found this! It absolutely made my day! We cannot wait to share this option with our students as a choice for publication (I'm guessing MOST will choose this amazing tool!). We shared this with all of our school peeps, as well! Our friend and amazing colleague, Lisa, from Growing Firsties, already wrote her own blog post about it! Needless this to say, this tool is FANTASTIC, and everyone should try it!

How do your kids publish? Have you tried StoryJumper? Do you have another amazing tool? Sound off below!

~Angela :)

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