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Several years ago, I read about an ed-tech team of former educators in London who were working to connect children to literacy and creative writing with their online learning platform they called Night Zookeeper. As I learned more about their approach--which emphasized connections to a student’s imagination, to global classrooms, and to best standards of practice--I was hooked!
Over the years, I have loved getting to know this great (and fun) team at Night Zookeeper and their work! From their engaging, gamified global writing competitions that involve 1,000s of schools from all around the world to their home-to-school programs that move writing past the classroom walls to involve parents and caregivers, Night Zookeeper is working to make sure developing literacy and writing are lifelong and life-wide skills we can prioritize with our students!
If Night Zookeeper is new to you, I’d love to introduce you to their special online world of magical animals and literacy games that guides learners to play with vocabulary, ask and answer big, open-ended questions, and practice, practice, practice writing!
Creative writing: GAMIFIED!
Through immersive storytelling and smart technology, Night Zookeeper engages elementary students into writing adventures to develop both skills and motivation. Teachers can choose from 1,000s of interactive lessons from across the curriculum (with alignment to Common Core, UK National Standards, and IB Standards). Students are able to have customized experiences with differentiation of challenges and age- and level-appropriate content.
The core Night Zookeeper activities include:
Student writing with Night Zookeeper is automatically assessed and recorded (LOVE this!). The teacher dashboard provides insights and suggested comments for students--this saves teachers time and helps to get immediate, personalized feedback back over to students. The writing tool also provides students with vocabulary suggestions for their stories along with objectives and helpful tips.
Students can produce work to be published on the class blog--a great space for providing an authentic audience and giving writing meaning and purpose. Feedback on published work can come from peers, teachers, and even teachers from other countries--which takes me to the next point (and one close to my heart!).
Create global connections
Students from all around the world are joining in Night Zookeeper each day sharing their ideas based on their interests across genres and styles. Students as authors can publish work for their global peers, and students as readers can read and provide feedback right back to them.
And, beyond the daily student-to-student writing connections, I love the Night Zookeeper global writing competitions offered throughout the year. With tickers of numbers of words that go into the millions, the competitions offer celebrations of writing and of world literacy--so fantastic!
Connections to home
Recognizing the importance of home-to-school connections particularly at the elementary level, I have always appreciated the emphasis Night Zookeeper places on parents and writing at home. Teachers can easily and safely share writing with parents (Night Zookeeper characters have even been known to pop up and leave comments to parents!), and the online platform provides options for unique lessons to be completed at school or at home. Home programs are also available for parents who are searching for home solutions for instruction and practice. Students, parents, teachers--all working together to develop a love of writing!
It has been wonderful to get to know Night Zookeeper over the past few years, and I am excited about some new plans coming up in the next few months!
Looking forward to hearing your ideas on ways to use Night Zookeeper with elementary students! Give it a go by jumping in here http://bit.ly/nzkwriting and please share your thoughts and feedback by tagging me in on Twitter (@JenWilliamsEdu). Be sure to follow the team at Night Zookeeper as well on Twitter at @NightZookeeper and their hashtag #NZKWriters.