Like many families, mine spends part of every evening re-hashing the day – sharing experiences, discussing current events, solving the world’s problems, and arguing whether the X-Men are actual super heroes.
Earlier this week, during a discussion about school, my daughter blurted out:
I really don’t do anything at school. I’m asked to learn stuff that doesn’t mean anything to me in ways that are incredibly boring.
She and I have had this discussion before. She plays the game very well – straight A’s, great test scores. She knows the rules. And the traditional view of school would suggest that because she has a nice GPA she actually knows something. But every time I hear about worksheets, answering questions at the end of the chapter, or high school students reading out loud from the textbook to one another, I’m not convinced. Research is telling all of us that these sorts of instructional strategies don’t impact long-term learning.
Okay. I’ll be honest. I just found out about inklewriter but haven’t learned much about it yet. This week will be another busy conference week and I probably won’t have much time to play around with it.
So. You have homework. Go to inklewriter. Explore a bit. And report back here what you find out.
Some background. inklewriter is an online tool that lets you and your kids create interactive stories. You remember these, right? A story starts and after a few paragraphs, you are provided with two choices. You select a choice and the story branches off in that direction. A few paragraphs later, the story offers two new choices. The story continues to branch based on your choices.
A project of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, OurStory is designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through children’s literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities.
The National Museum of American History and the National Center for Family Literacy are teaming up on OurStory projects. They are working together to help make reading historical fiction more fun and educational.
The OurStory programs are designed to:
- teach children about history through the use of objects, documents, oral histories, and quality children’s literature
- improve student attitudes about reading through exposure to quality children’s literature and the opportunity to own books
- Foster an environment in which participants of different generations and cultural backgrounds interact, share, learn from one another, and begin to see themselves as part of American history.
- Broaden participants’ understanding of the history of diverse communities and cultures within the United States.
You’ll find 20 different American history activity sets with recommended books, teaching materials, and engaging activities all focused around historical fiction. You can also find useful links to other history / literacy sites.