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Fifth-graders put poetry online

Students (pictured from left) Isabela Artiaga, Luke Holme and Morgan Clarke create poetry websites at St. Croix Central Middle School.1 / 3
Pictured (clockwise, from bottom) fifth-graders Indi Hamlin, Evan Fermanich, Lauren Leen, Logan Knapton, Desire Dillon, Kyle Peters, Emma Knospe, Kainoa Victor, Camryn Annunziata, Carah Fitzgerald, Isabela Artiaga, Luke Holme, Danielle Rustand and Peyton Timmerman work on their poetry websites at St. Croix Central Middle School. Fifth grade teacher Katie Tate reserved the school's netbook cart so the students could use the school's laptop computers to create their poetry websites.2 / 3
Instead of poetry books, this year Katie Tate's fifth grade students created poetry websites. Pictured (from left) are Desire Dillon, Kyle Peters, Emma Knospe, Kainoa Victor and Camryn Annunziata.3 / 3

Fifth-graders are usually not excited about writing poetry, said Katie Tate, St. Croix Central Middle School fifth grade teacher. But this year, Tate's class was very excited about their poetry project.

"They sat every afternoon for an hour with a laptop on their desk," Tate said. "It didn't get old for them."

Instead of approximately 40-page poetry books, Tate's 26 students created poetry websites this year.

"It just makes an ordinary project more fun," Tate said.

The idea for the websites was suggested to Tate by SCCMS media specialist Amanda Olson.

Olson said she has been trying to encourage teachers to incorporate technology into their classes more often.

"I'm really very fortunate that the teachers in our district are willing to try some of these things out," Olson said. For example, she said she had never tried Google Sites with students before she worked with Tate's class on the poetry websites.

St. Croix Central students have access to Google Sites through their Google Apps for Education accounts. St. Croix Central School District just signed up for Google Apps for Education this year, Olson said.

Tate's students wrote out 20 poems by hand. Later, they typed the completed poems in Google Docs. Then they inserted the poems into their websites.

"I think a lot of the kids put their whole site together in one class period," Olson said.

Part of the idea behind using websites rather than printed books, Olson said, was to be "greener" by using less paper. Having the poems web-accessible rather than all stored in one book also made the students work easier to share with parents and relatives.

"They loved it," Tate said, "and they're so proud they have a website that everybody can look at."

Tate is one of several SCCMS teachers to start incorporating more technology into her lessons. Sixth grade teacher Karen Loenser's class created digital book reports and seventh-grade teacher Laura Lee's class created digital book talks.

Olson said another reason she is encouraging increased use of technology in the classroom, is because many students are already using technology in their daily lives.

Tate said she will definitely be repeating the poetry websites assignment and she is hoping to have students try more, similar assignments next year.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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