Students have more choices than ever. My cabinet is overflowing with teacher made games, games I bought from catalogues, and games that have been given to me. We have computer and web-based games. Add iPads and a plethora of apps into the equation and the result could be confusion for students.
We do reader’s workshop in my classroom. As a result, I try to “guide” students as they make choices. My goal is for them to reflect upon themselves as a reader and choose the literacy activities that will help them achieve their goals. We track progress together and we also celebrate when goals are mastered.
I found, however, after integrating iPads into my literacy block for word work, students began to lose sight of their goals. The range of abilities is vast in my room and so I purposefully chose apps that will meet the needs of all students. There are apps for sight word practice, apps for vocabulary, and apps for grammar. Some apps are meant to reinforce the foundational skills beginning readers need while others are meant to broaden a fluent reader’s vocabulary. I do not want each student using the same apps. They are meant to promote growth. (Not to keep students busy.)
As a result, I took time to develop a word work planning sheet. The sheet has the various research based word work/spelling activities that students need to grow as readers. Students use the sheet over the course of a week and cross out an activity as it is completed. Most students will make appropriate choices. Others, however, need a little more guidance and so we discuss the plan together and highlight an appropriate choice for that day.
You might be wondering what impact the plan sheet had on my class. I am very pleased. Students make deliberate choices during our literacy block and enjoy purposeful learning as a result.
O.k. So the title of this blog may be misleading. Teaching students to deliberately and conscientiously use strategies to understand and remember their reading better takes time. My goal as a curriculum coach, however, is to help simplify information and give teachers a place to start. I created brochures on each thinking strategy to share with colleagues at my school a couple of years ago. Today I would like to share them with you. If you are interested in adding a shared reading component to your day where you teach students to make connections, ask questions, or synthesize information, this is a place to start. The content is inspired by Debbie Miller and her work “Reading with Meaning.”
*Click on a link below to find the strategy you are looking for. FYI-I created these brochures on my home computer using Microsoft Works. Since we do not have that program at school, I scanned each page in order to share them with you.
Have you heard about Augmented Reality recently? Are you wondering how it can positively shape the learning climate in your classroom? Are you wondering how it can propel your teaching to a whole new level? I am a huge fan of AR and I have spent much of this school year discovering the ins and outs. I created this slideshare presentation to introduce educators to the facinating world of AR. Enjoy!
With the advent of RTI and Common Core State Standards, I have experienced a growing sense of urgency in my teaching. My goal is to teach my first graders to be independent, creative, deep thinkers. I want to guide them as they set goals and help them track progress towards their goals.
In the past, an absent student would miss out on that day’s learning. Access to technology has changed this completely. An absent student can immediately continue along their learning path upon their return to school. On the flip side, a motivated student can complete lessons at their own pace in the elementary classroom.
I have always struggled to fit handwriting practice into the school day. Teaching students to analyze texts, infer, predict, and provide evidence for their thinking has been a priority for me. I strive to teach my students strategies to comprehend math and explain their thinking. I always thought, “Where does handwriting fit in to all of this?” We would be “fitting in” handwriting instruction right down to the last few weeks of school!
QR codes and the app “Show Me” gave me the platform to create videos illustrating correct handwriting formation. Students then were instructed to set a goal (completing at least 1 page per day), and then were given sheets where they could track progress towards their goals. Since the winter olympics were just starting, becoming an “olympic hand writer” was our theme.
The results were awesome! Students shifted their thinking from just trying to complete the page to trying to do it well. Many students chose to complete more than one page a day and they used any free time to complete the work. They are no longer dependent upon me to teach the whole group lesson. The learning is student driven and at their own pace.
Click on the link below to view an Animoto Video about Aurasma.
Want to learn more about Aurasma and Layar? Click on the following link to view a handout illustrating the implication of these apps in the primary classroom!
I have been getting teased a lot lately. I should say a little more than usual. In all honesty, it is because I told my principal that, aside from my wedding day and the birth of my four children, the day we went 1:1 with iPads was the happiest day of my life. In my defense, it really was. It is invigorating to me to constantly learn something new. That goes with the territory when it comes to tech.
I am learning and adjusting as I go. “What have I learned?” you might ask. (Aside from the obvious, which is new apps that seem to constantly be emerging). I found that kids get really excited to have an iPad. Sometimes they are so excited that they just can’t help trying out all the apps on their device before I have the chance to teach and introduce them. I have learned that kids need to be taught how to listen and follow directions before they start doing. I have learned that kids need to understand that using an iPad is a privilege and an immensely powerful learning tool. In order for students to learn and grow, they need to be on-task and not just engaged while working.
That is what led me to create an iPad contract that I discussed with my class and then asked them to sign. In doing so, they understood that signing the contract signified a promise. Kids truly understand promises and know how it feels when someone breaks a promise to them.
The next, natural step, was to talk about what should happen if they break their promise. The following poster is what the class decided on as a list of consequences. Taking time to do this was immensely worthwhile since we use our iPads all the time. Stopping my teaching to ensure that children are using their iPad as a tool and not as a toy makes my job as a teacher very difficult. There needs to be a flow to any lesson. Asking students to take responsibility for their actions was one of the best things I could do.