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Monday, January 4, 2021

Boomwriter's Writing Bee - A Unique Creative Writing Contest for Kids

Disclosure: Boomwriter is currently an advertiser on my blog. 

Boomwriter’s Writing Bee is a free event that takes a unique approach to inspiring elementary and middle school students to participate in a creative writing project. 

A traditional student writing contest basically gives students a prompt and tells them to “go write” and then months later a few students find out that they’ve won. Boomwriter’s Writing Bee is not a traditional writing contest at all. Boomwriter’s Writing Bee provides opportunities for students to get feedback throughout the writing process and it provides you with lesson plans to support your students’ involvement in the Writing Bee.

Who Can Participate
Boomwriter’s Writing Bee starts now and runs through May. It’s open to all third through eighth grade classrooms who are registered by their teachers. To register your classroom simply head to the 2021 Writing Bee webpage and click “Create my Class Writing Bee.” You’ll find that button centered between images of Jeff Kinney and Jerry Craft.

How it Works
The Writing Bee asks students to write their own middle and end chapters to complete a story that was started by Jeff Kinney (the author of the Wimpy Kid series) or by Jerry Craft (author of the Newbery Medal-winning New Kid). Students read the story starter provided by Kinney or Craft inside of their Boomwriter online classroom, watch a short video introduction, and then start writing.

Boomwriter’s writing platform provides you with a place to see all of your students’ stories in progress and give them feedback. What’s unique about Boomwriter is that when students have finished writing their stories those stories can be read by their classmates without knowing who wrote which story. Students can read small batches of their classmates’ stories then vote for their favorite story. In the Writing Bee there is a winner for the favorite middle chapter and favorite ending chapter in each classroom. The winning authors from each classroom are then invited to the online Writing Bee finals that will take place in May 2021.

Key Points to Consider
Any third through eighth grade classroom can participate in Boomwriter’s Writing Bee. Boomwriter provides free access to their platform for the entirety of your classroom’s participation in the Writing Bee.

The Writing Bee is completely online so you can use it whether your classroom is online, in-person, or hybrid of both.

Boomwriter provides supporting materials for you to use throughout the Writing Bee. These materials include vocabulary activities, graphic organizers to help students organize their story ideas, and lesson guides. You can also check out my YouTube channel for a video overview of how the Boomwriter Writing Bee platform looks from a teacher’s perspective and from a student’s perspective.

Finally, Boomwriter provides an option for you to have your students’ writing printed as a softcover book. That’s available whether your students win the whole Writing Bee or not.


Sign-up and get your class started on the Writing Bee today. 

A Demonstration of Sworkit Kids

Just before the winter (summer) holiday break I published a short article about using Sworkit Kids to lead your students in fun brain break activities during long classes. If you missed that article, the gist of it is that Sworkit Kids provides you with short videos of dozens of exercises that you and your students can do right in your classroom for a few minutes or more. In this short video I provide a demonstration of how to use Sworkit Kids. 

How to Add a Dynamic "Latest News" Section to Google Sites

A couple of weeks ago a reader emailed me with a question about creating a Google Site that her colleagues could comment on. She wanted to have a section in her site that had tips and news for colleagues who could then ask her questions about those tips. 

The old version of Google Sites had a commenting function built into it. Unfortunately, the current version of Google Sites doesn't have a commenting function built into it. There is a work-around that can work if you're sharing your Google Site with your colleagues and or students in the same G Suite for Education domain. 

To create a news section that automatically updates in Google Sites and that your colleagues and or students can comment on, use a Google Document embedded into a page in your Google Site. To do this you'll create your Google Document then change its access permissions to allow anyone in your domain to comment on it. Then you'll embed the document into a page on your Google Site. Whenever you update the Google Document, the updated version will appear on your Google Site as well. In this short video I demonstrate the whole process of creating a dynamic news section in Google Sites.