Storybooks for Haiti and Napa

A Project Prototype by Don Doehla, NBCT

published on Jul 31, 2015

Students will gain greater literacy, while supporting others in their own literacy development, by co-authoring children's storybooks with students in Haïti. Two sets of the final drafts of the books will be printed, one set for the students in Haïti for their school library, and one set for the class library for our school in Napa. In addition, eBook versions of the books will be published on the web for use by the global community.

Overview files comments

Preparing for the Project

Project Resources

Getting acquainted with Haiti and Napa- geographical realities

Launching the Project

Project Communication Tasks

Project Launch, Driving Question and Learning Targets

Documentary videos

Managing the Project

Project Scaffolding

Tech Tools for Managing Learning and Publishing our Books

Task Sequence

Project Calendar


Group Contract


Project Evaluation

Implementation Info

Implementation information not specified.

Preparing for the Project

Project Resources

Resources which will be used:  

  1. Our textbook is one resource, and will be used as needed - T'es branché level 3, EMC Corporation. Students in Haïti also have course textbooks to help them with language learning needed to complete the storybooks.

  2. YouTube video playlists - to be curated on a wiki page using Blendspace (see next)

  3. BlendSpace playlist - a collection of multiple authentic multimedia resources, including prompts to engage students with deeper critical thinking. We will share the playlist with our friends in Haïti so they can contribute their perspectives, comments, questions, and responses to ours.

  4. Edmodo - we will have a shared community on Edmodo where we can share resources, and have on-going dialogue between the students in Haïti and our class.

  5. Readings and workshops as needed on linguistic content, with guided practice opportunities for improving linguistic accuracy.

  6. Short stories from Haïti, including folktales and short stories such as those on the following website
  7. Resources on TV5 Monde television and the website at
  8. and other resources as we discover them along the way.

Getting acquainted with Haiti and Napa- geographical realities

Students in Napa and in Haïti will work in teams of four to explore several different maps of each country/region, and make observations based on the data they gather through examining the maps.

For the students in Napa, I have created a webpage with an embedded Google Form to guide students in the collection of the data and their observations.The Google form asks students to record what they know from examining the maps, and what they need to know. We will use this data to establish a clear need to know in connection with the driving questions, also listed at the top of the same webpage. We will also generate several questions to post on Edmodo to engage our friends in conversations about their homeland. They will also do the same.

Technology Tips

I find it useful to curate multiple resources on a wiki page, such as this one. In addition, I have begun building an outliner on Diigo of resources on and about Haïti which we will access as the need for inquiry builds in response to the need to know. Curating valuable content helps save time and guides students toward resources which I have already examined as being, at least potentially, worthy of examination for information. 

Task Extension

Students will be asked to write a summary paragraph of their observations, and their needs to know, in French.

We will begin class the following day sharing compositions in small groups, and identify further needs to know, such as vocabulary needed to express the concepts they wish to convey. We will begin building a project dictionary, and a word walll for the key terms needed to discuss observations from the examination of the maps.

Launching the Project

Project Communication Tasks

This project will provide opportiunites for all the students to improve their interpersonal, interpretive, and presentational communicative proficiencies. Activities will include the following:

Students will communicate regularly in the interpersonal mode with each other, and with the two teachers, the teacher in Haïti, and myself, on Edmodo.

We plan to set up opportunities for interviews via Google HangOuts and asynchronously by video.

Students will communicate with native speakers in their own communiites, in Haïti, and with members of the Francophone community in Napa Valley, as they investigate details for their respective stories.

Students will read many authentic documents in French. They will also watch videos, listen to audio recordings, and music from Haïti.

Students in Napa will present the final drafts of their books orally to members of the Francophone community at an open house event. Students in Haïti will do the same at their school. We will each make video recordings of the events at each school to send to each other to celebrate our accomplishments.

Printed copies of the books will be placed in the libraries of each school so other students will be able to read them in the future.


Technology Tips

Edmodo will serve as our base for communications between our schools. We will also schedule Google Hangouts when possible to exchange information and to practice interpersonal communication skills.

Project Launch, Driving Question and Learning Targets

Students will receive a letter from the 2 teachers involved in the project - the teacher in Haïti, and myself. We will invite the students to collaborate in creating storybooks to enhance the libraries of their schools. Students will share a collaborative space on Edmodo where they will be able to post photos, videos, and additional resources as needed to create and produce their books. The letter will also include details to guide students to include all that is needed to produce coherent and engaging stories. 

The project learning targets include the following:

Content Knowledge

Language Knowledge

Performance Assessment

Our learning targets:

I can create a story with appropriate elements - setting, plot, ending, character development, illustrations (more to be determined)

Our learning targets:

I can narrate in past and present time-frames.

I know how to differentiate between one time complete actions in the past from background and/or on-going past events.

Students will:
  • create rough drafts for feedback and revision

I can work collaboratively to create a children's story, incorporating cultural elements appropriate to the story.

I can utilize a variety of vocabulary to engage my reader, including transition words, culturally appropriate terms, and rich descriptions.

  • ask and answer questions in communications with our friends in Haïti/Napa

I can work collaboratively to create characters which are interesting and engaging. I can collaborate to create settings for our story.

I can include comments, impressions, and opinion statements in our story.

I can create complex sentences to express past events, as well as comments and opinion statements.

  • will demonstrate comprehension of written materials as they engage in research in the target language

I can differentiate between narration and discourse in culturally appropriate ways in French (punctuation, tone, feeling…).

I can use French punctuation marks as needed for differentiating between narration and discourse.

  • will demonstrate comprehension of multimedia authentic resources as they conduct their research


Technology Tips

We will use Edmodo and Google Docs to create collaborative workspace in the cloud and to facilitate communication between our two schools.

Documentary videos

Students in both Napa and Haïti expressed the desire to get to know one another better before beginning the work on writing stories. Out of their own expressed interest, they asked the question, "How can we create a documentary  about our school and our community to help our friends (in Haiti and in Napa) get to know us better?" They decided to create videos in teams of 4 to five students. One video is about an aspect of our schools, such as the sports facilities, the arts, the quad, the academic programs, and others. They also wanted to share information about their communities, such as the local economic opportunites, areas of interest for families and recreation, and public faciliites. They decided that the videos should include both presentational language and interpersonal language; the students are including interviews with mambers of the school and community who speak French, and some who do not. For the later, they are including dubbed over voice in French, or subtitles in French. We have scheduled a feedback and revision day to provide opportunity for critique, for comments and questions, and for suggestions for improvement. Once the final products are complete, the students will post the videos on Edmodo to share with our friends in the other location. We will also offer feedback, questions and comments, all in French, to further provide opportunites for interpersonal communication and development of intercultural competence. 

Technology Tips

Students are using cell phones to make videos. They are posting their videos in Google Drive and setting the share link to "anyone with the link can comment," so the videos can more readily be shared for feedback and revision. 

Task Extension

The next steps will include:

a) students will write personal letters to each other

b) students will be organized into small groups on Edmodo, with students from Haïti and from Napa in each group

c) students will have an opportunity to participate in a Google Hangout to greet each other via video; they will prepare questions to ask ahead of time. The co-teachers, myself, and Monsieur Luxon, will offer some CI and guided practice opportunities to help students prepare interesting questions.

d) students will do some further inquiry about each others' communities to increase their knowledge of each others' history, cultural background, and interests

Managing the Project

Project Scaffolding

Project Scaffolding will include:

  • project process

    • rubrics for content, storytelling, digital products, collaboration, creativity, communication skills, and critical thinking

    • group contract

    • students will identify project jobs and roles and include them in their contracts

    • reflection opportunities on Edmodo or on student blogs

    • feedback and revision opportunities - from other student groups and from me as the teacher

    • sentence starters for complex sentences - for subjunctive sentences to express impressions, comments and opinion statements; for if… then statements (imparfait/conditionnel); for pastime narration vs. discourse.

  • content

    • I will create a wiki page of resources, including videos, short stories, resources shared with us by our friends in Haïti, articles on Haïti (culture, history, social stats, stories - all in French).

    • I will create a BlendSpace playlist, to be posted on the wiki page, of a sequence of these resources, including prompts for thinking deeply, for language practice in connection with the socio-cultural context of Haïti.

  • language

    • reflection opportunities on Edmodo and on student blogs

    • feedback and revision opportunities - from other student groups and from me as the teacher

    • sentence starters for complex sentences - for subjunctive sentences to express impressions, comments and opinion statements; for if… then statements (imparfait/conditionnel); for pastime narration vs. discourse.

  • final product  

    • Students will write their stories collaboratively on Google docs.

    • Students will submit rough drafts for feedback and revision - share with peers, and with both teachers, for comments to improve language skills, and for reflection on cultural content

    • Students will have access to members of the Francophone community in our area for feedback and revision.


Tech Tools for Managing Learning and Publishing our Books

Technologies to support language learning and communication

  1. Edmodo - we will post prompts to offer opportunities for practicing interpersonal communcation between our classes, and to help our students get to know each other well.
  2. Blendspace - to curate content and offer opportunites for exchange of ideas and comments
  3. Padlet - prompts for sharing ideas to help build project storyboards
  4. Google Docs - for writing extended texts, such as journal entries, compositions, etc.
  5. FlipGrid - students will create short videos in response to a prompt to share ideas, and to practice presentaional oral communication skills

Technologies to support the project

  1. Edmodo - home base for all communications and sharing of ideas, document links, etc.
  2. Padlet - to post ideas to build project storyboards
  3. Google Docs and Calendar - for collaboration and creation of all documents to build the storybooks
  4. Digital storytelling tools - tools to layout the pages, edit text and for pagination
  5. Photo, image, and video processing tools
  6. Shutterfly or Mpix to publish our books


Technology Tips

It could become a challenge to manage project details if we use too many different technology tools. Accordingly, we will focus on Edmodo, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Padlet for building the project and for project management. We will use an online serive such as Shutterfly to create our books and to publish them.

Task Sequence

Task sequence

These are the essential tasks needed to complete the project:

  1. Students will receive a letter of invitation from the two teachers to do the project. They will complete a know/need to know analysis of the project details from the letter. We will revisit the know/need to know chart frequently, updating the information - we will move the items we identify as "needs to know" to the "know" side as we discover the answers to our questions. This process offers opportunities for formative assessment and clarification of details.

  2. Students will help define and refine the driving question, and any additional questions they need to know on the Know/Need to Know chart

  3. Students will decide on roles within their groups and establish a group contract with norms, contact information, and common agreements. Teachers will offer support and guidance as needed to ensure the project advances.

  4. Students will set up a class calendar (using Google Calendar) to chart out deadlines so teams can backwards plan to ensure task completion and to meet deadlines.

  5. Students will practice meeting language learning targets with scaffolded activities, using sentence frames/starters, and authentic resources as models, to build active vocabulary and to help support accuracy of expression.

  6. Students will peer edit work of the members of their teams, and have opportunity to support other teams as well. Their team members in the opposite country will also offer support. Both teachers will offer direct teaching workshops as needs to know arise about language, culture and content.

  7. Students will have regular opportunities to refelct on their learning and on the advancement of the project in response to blog/journal prompts. These prompts will focus on elements of the project, such as those needed to develop their stories. In addition, students in both classes will post comments, questions and letters to each other on Edmodo.

  8. Students will present their stories to the class, and offer critical friends feedback ("I like/I wonder) before final drafts are uploaded to the book-making site for printing and delivery. We will also ask members of the local Francophone community to attend this presentation, so they may offer support to the students with feedback/revision before the final product is ready to send to the printer.

Project Calendar

Altough this is not a task, the project calendar will serve a valuable purpose to keep students on track for the various components of the project and their deadlines so we can publish our books before the end of the school year.

Technology Tips

We will set up a shared Goolge calendar, editable by the two teachers, to help support completion of the tasks by set deadlines and check in points.


Students in both classes will create a folder in Google Docs, which they will share with all members of their teams, both in Napa and in Haïti, as well as with the two teachers. All documents will be kept in these folders.

Students will create storyboards, outlining the images and the text for the stories, including both narration, dialogue, and all other story elements.

Students will create character sketches to ensure they are complex and interesting.

Students will create a story outline to define the setting, the problem to be developed, the climax, the dénoument, the resolution and appropriate endings.

Students will create a story dictionary to keep track of language which may enhance their choices of vocabulary and expressions to ensure authenticity in their stories.

Students will participate in a feedback and revision gallery walk using the Critical Friends protocol for peer feedback. They will revise their stories based on the feedback received.

Group Contract

Students will establish a group contract to do the following:

- students will establish group norms and consequences for not keeping them

- students will establish proceedures for mutual accountability and responsability

- students will define roles for each group member: project manager, secretary, technology expert, editor, and others as needed

- students will share their contracts with our friends in Haïti, so they may suggest changes, additions, and/or deletions.

Each team will have a small group on Edmodo. My colleague in Haïti will organize his students so that they are assigned to the same small groups on Edmodo, to ensure each team has group members in each country.




Project Evaluation

The expected project outcomes include:

Students will demonstrate:

  • the ability to engage in interpretive, interpersonal and presentational modes of communication, in oral and written forms, in the target language, and in apprpriate contexts given the stories they will create

  • the ability to explain how they have addressed the cultural and social elements needed to convey their stories appropriate to the stories they will create

  • the ability to differentiate between narration and discourse in their stories

  • the ability to narrate in the past in various tenses in French: passé composé and imparfait, présent, futur and conditionnel

  • the ability to express impressions, opinions, and comments in complex sentences using subjunctive clauses and if/then statements

  • the ability to use rich and varied vocabulary to enhance the storytelling and to engage their audience
  • the ability to use appropriate conventions for written French


Formative assessment opportunites will be offered on a regular basis. Examples include:

- Students will respond to prompts posted on Edmodo.

- Students will collect samples of exchanges between the two classes.

- Students will receive feedback on their project components - character outlines, storyboards, rough drafts...


Students will engage in reflective practice on a regular basis. They will do so by completing tasks such as:

- blog entries

- self assessments based on the rubrics at various check points

- whole group discussions about their identified Know/Need to Know items


Students will help to assess themselves individually, and in teams, based on the following rubrics:

Communication - presentational oral - intermediate level

Communication - presentational written - intermediate level

Critical Thinking - students will select the 2 criteria most useful to them for assessment from this rubric - most likely we will choose application and creation




Next Steps

The students have finished this project! I could not be more proud of them. This turned out to be an exceptional learning opportunity.


Here is a link to the PDF versions of the student books. You may consult them, but please contact me if you want to make copies of them to print. Thank you!





Implementation Info