Digital Essays: Taking Research Writing into the 21st century using Buncee

Buncee is about communicating creatively. We believe the best way to engage with our community is to learn, create, and share. With this is mind, it is our pleasure to showcase the amazing educational story of Mrs. Victoria Ruane and her Lincoln Elementary 5th graders! Check out the guest blog post below and see if you get inspired to take your writing digital!

Providing students with new and interesting ways to share their writing is a task we are charged with as twenty-first-century teachers. It is no longer enough to go through the writing process and have a publishing party or celebration in class. Students deserve a global audience and dynamic ways to publish their work.

Digital storytelling has become very popular and is an excellent way for students to publish their narrative writing so it can be shared via a blog, class website, or social. Being able to tell their stories by using multimedia makes their writing come to life and provides motivation to even our most hesitant writers.

All of this is what inspired me to change the format we used when working on our research writing unit. In the past, the final product for this unit was a five paragraph essay. If students had time, they could create a poster or presentation to accompany their work. When we got to our research writing unit this year, we were happily ensconced in learning all of the ins and outs of Buncee, room one’s new favorite creation tool.

The idea was born one afternoon a few weeks into the unit when I meet with a group of student writers. Instead of “just publishing a boring five paragraph essay,” the group wanted to “tell the story of their essay” using Buncee.  To prove they weren’t alone in their mentality, they sent a poll to their classmates using Google forms and everyone agreed…this essay would be a Digital Essay.

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 Click here to see this Buncee!

We were stepping into new territory, here. The digital essays were not going to be in addition to the traditional essays; they were going to replace them. As a class, we decided the best way to think of it was that the digital essay would tell the story of their research. In doing so, it would help their work, and the drafts they already authored, come to life.

The starting point for the digital essays was the traditional five paragraph essay draft the students had already done. Then, we transcribed the drafts to the web-based canvas, and transformed their work into digital essays on Buncee. Surprisingly, this process led to an amazing amount of revising; the students did more revising independently and naturally than they had previously.

Additionally, we worked together and came up with some non-negotiable and optional components to included in their creation. I sent out a detailed explanation of the requirements using Buncee’s assignment feature, and let the kids get to work. Watching them create, and conferring with them as they worked through transferring their drafts to their new, more dynamic digital essays, was nothing less than magical. Weak transitions became obvious and were fixed. Stronger word choice developed from the images students selected. And introductions came to life. Students, without being prompted, collaborated about things like background choice, use of audio, when to start a new slide, and finding images that supported their research. It was truly learning at it’s finest.

When reflecting on this process, we decided unanimously that Digital Essays are the way to go for informational writing and Buncee had the tools to help us make our research come alive. Next time we want to leave out the table of contents slide and incorporate music or sound bites. Room one’s Buncee student ambassadors would love to support you if you want to create Digital Essays. We’d also love to hear your ideas! Connect with us on Twitter: @mrsrruane

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 Click here to see this Buncee!

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