Tag Archives: Padlet

10 Strategies and Tools to Activate Knowledge

Understanding what your students already know is key to building initial knowledge that they need. Activating Prior Knowledge is important in students understanding, because it allows them and helps make connections to the new information. Using what students already know, helps teacher assist students with the learning process.

Most teachers utilize a K-W-L Chart for activating knowledge and in 2012 I wrote a blog post Beyond KWL Charts describing eight different strategies, I thought it was time for an update with some new strategies and tools that help “honor what students bring to the classroom and provides them with necessary context and connection to the purpose and payoff of what is to be learned. It is essential to culturally relevant pedagogy,” according to Jeffery D. Wilhelm, Adam Fachler, and Rachel Bear are the authors of the book Planning Powerful Instruction: 7 Must-Make Moves to Transform How We Teach–and How Students Learn.

KWHLAQ – These updated charts extend the range of a basic KWL chart to incorporate more metacognition, and follow-through towards continuing learning and related action. This chart includes How, Actions, and Questions alongside of the traditional what do you already know, what do you want to know, and what have your learned.

BRAIN POURS/BRAIN DUMPS – Brainstorming comes in many forms and asks students to write down everything they remember about a topic or subject. This is similar to a free write where students write all the things that come to their mind or they are thinking about without worrying about spelling, punctuation, and proper usage.

CAPTION THIS – One of my favorite activities from Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook, the teacher selects an image and students annotate, comment, and even write a story to describe what they see in the image.

PADLET – This platform is great for collaboration and curation of ideas and activities. I use Padlet with my grad students and middle school students to share ideas, explain concepts, and collaborate in the brainstorming process.

ANSWER GARDEN – Another great online tool to post a question to the class and have students respond in 140 or 170 characters, what is great about this platform is that it creates a word cloud of all the responses with the most repeated words larger than others.

ANTICIPATION GUIDES – An anticipation guide is a comprehension strategy in any content area that poses statements or questions for students about the larger themes and ideas presented in the unit. I use anticipation guide often prior to a reading unit to gauge students thinking about themes connected to the unit of study. You can preview the one I created on Google Forms on WW2 and the Holocaust

GALLERY WALK – During a gallery walk, students explore multiple texts or images that are placed around the room. I use this strategy for students to respond to a collection of quotations, images, and textual excerpts. This strategy requires students to physically move around the room, it can be engaging to kinesthetic learners. Texts should be displayed “gallery style,” in a way that allows students to disperse themselves around the room, with several students clustering around each particular text. Texts can be hung on walls or placed on tables. The most important factor is that the texts are spread far enough apart to reduce significant crowding. Students walk around the room to read or view the texts around the room and then respond or comment on poster paper, a graphic organizer, or later during a large class debrief.

GAMES like Kahoot, QuizletLive, Quizalize, Quizizz – Test what students already know about a topic or idea by asking a series of questions on a game platform. Students love these games and they are perfect to access prior knowledge with low stakes or can also be utilized at the end of the lesson to see what students learned.

SURVEYs/QUESTIONAIRES – Make a list of 10-15 statements related to the subject content, including commonly held misconceptions. Have students mark “true” or “false” next to each statement.

WORD WEBS – Provide students with a word web of key words and concepts related to the topic or concept to be learned. Ask students to circle the words they already know or write a sentence using a 4-5 of the words that explains the connections between the ideas presented in the word web.

Have more ideas that work well with your students, share in the comments section for our readers.

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5 Teaching & Talking Points for Washington, DC January 6th, 2021

We ended 2020 with promise and possibility. A vaccine for the Corona Virus, a woman of color to be our next Vice President, Black Lives Matter at the forefront, a congress and senate that is diverse and representative of our nation. And then on Wednesday January 6th, 2021 a mob of pro-Trump people stormed the State Capital following a rally where President Trump “falsely claimed of widespread voter fraud.” The New York Times reports, “Hundreds of people barreled past fence barricades and clashed with police officers in an attempt to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College results.” The mob smashed windows and broke through the main doors moving freely throughout the building, some vandalizing statues, carrying confederate flags, and taking pictures of their endeavors. The images displayed through social media and presented on news evoked feelings of terror, embarrassment, and appal.

Image from Leah Millis/Reuters Published in New York Times 1/7/2021

Reactions around the globe are of disdain, dismay, and doubt of the stability of the United States Democracy. It was the War of 1812 when the British set fire to the Capital building. And now in 2021, a collective of Pro-Trump Americans inciting violence and treason stormed the capital building. History is being made everyday.

How do we as history and English teachers address these events in a ways that promotes conversation, not division and greater divide?

Depending on the age level of your students, here are some possible avenues to engage in conversations in our classrooms relating to yesterday’s events.

  1. Examine The History of the US Capitol Building through Architect of the Capital website published by the government. On the website it states, “The history of the United States Capitol Building begins in 1793. Since then, the U.S. Capitol has been built, burnt, rebuilt, extended and restored.. . . it stands as a monument to the ingenuity, determination and skill of the American people.”
  2. Teach a lesson on Fake News. So much of what Trump has posted on Twitter and spoken about to the country is false. He throws around the concept of “fake news” since the beginning of his presidency. But what really is fake news and which information is correct? Check out the New York Times Fact Checks website that details the falsehoods and misleading statements from our political leaders. Although the Newseum in Washington, DC closed its doors last year, their resources for Fake News lesson plans and resources from the Education Department are very valuable.
  3. Re-examine the Constitution and the 25th Amendment. Right now the conversation is whether Trump is fit to hold office for the remaining 13 days. Trump has shown over the past four years his disregard of the Constitution. Allow students to closely study the Constitution and decide whether or not Trump should remain in power. For more historical details and debates, check out Representative Barbara Jordan’s speech on impeachment back in 1974.

4. Read a Dystopian Text. Right now my students are reading Animal Farm and although Orwell wrote this book to parody the Russian Revolution, there are so many passages that connect with our political parties today. Whether addressing propaganda or rebellion, revolt, and revolution, these fiction tales of dystopian communities are a mirror to current events. Essential questions can address, Does power have to corrupt? and Can we protect ourselves from manipulation?

5. Parlay, a discussion based platform and learning tool, showcased two lessons reflecting on January 6, 2021. Both addressing topics of government and civics. In one discussion prompt students respond to the provided questions or post a question of their own. The following sources are used to kickstart the discussion:

Parlay has many more government and civics related lessons. The questions designed by Parlay can also be used for online discussions on a Google Jamboard, Padlet, or Flipgrid responses.

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Hybrid Teaching Hacks

I took a class with Emma Pass @Emmabpass, author of The Hybrid Teacher Survival Guide and walked away with a handful of hybrid teaching hacks for Synchronous Learning, Asynchronous Learning, and Coordinating learning. Emma is an educational consultant and 7th & 8th grade
language arts at PSD Global Academy (PGA) in Colorado, a public hybrid school in which students spend half of their time learning in-person and half of their time learning from home.

When it comes to synchronous lessons, teaching and learning that occurs together, simultaneously in-person or online, Pass recommends the following structure:

  1. Begin with check-ins and community questions
  2. Movement and or mindful moment
  3. Review of norms and expectations
  4. Direct Instruction
  5. Practice and or application
  6. Wrap Up and Good bye.

There are many debates whether the students need to have cameras on while in a Zoom or Google Meet. Personally, it is not important to me that students have their camera’s on. Some of my students blur their backgrounds, while others are active in the chat or participate in discussions so I know they are still participating in the lesson. My school does not allow recording Google Meets so setting norms and expectations about engagement and participation is so important. Emma Pass recommends, “Start the year with a tour of the virtual environment,
teach your students how to use the different functions of the video conferencing platform, and be sure to clearly establish norms and expectations.” Her three expectations include: (1) Be present and actively engaged in the lesson; (2) Keep mics muted unless otherwise instructed; and (3) Stay on topic in the Chat Box during the lesson.

The idea of “Check Ins” are like a smile when students walk in the classroom door. Students feel acknowledged. This might be as simple as saying hello to every student online as well as in the class or posing a community question in the chat box and then sharing out the responses. Teachers can even have students respond on Answer Garden or consolidate student responses into Word Art or word cloud generator.

Emma’s idea of doing a mindful movement activity or challenge is great and one that I am going to incorporate more often. It can be as simple as having students copy the moves in a giphy, Supermovers, or Go Noodle. Our students are spending lots of time online and the opportunity to get up and move is important within the day.

For direct instruction, Emma talked about Peardeck to create her interactive lessons. Pear Deck allows you to add interactive questions, such as short-answer responses, multiple choice, drag and drop, drawing, and more, right into your Google Slides.

Closure is important to any lesson. Emma states, “I try to reserve the last bit of class for all the students to come back to the whole-class Google Meet to wrap-up, share, reflect, and say goodbye. If my students have been working on a project, I’ll have the “screen sharer” from each group share their screen and briefly present and share what their group worked on. If we
played a game, I’ll typically review questions that were commonly being missed, or sections with which I noticed students struggling. If they worked independently, I’ll ask for volunteers to share their work. Really, these are the same types of review most teachers do at the end of any class period.
If there is an exit ticket, it is most common just to type a response or reflection into the chat box. I look at those responses as quickly as possible and narrate out loud which students are allowed to sign off because their exit ticket is sufficient.” Additional exit ticket strategies include Padlet, Poll Everywhere, or a comment in a Google Meet or on Google Classroom.

One of the last standout ideas that Emma presented was how her middle school team decided to organize our Google Classrooms on my blog, but essentially we all post work labeled by day, and under a “Week #” header.

Google Classroom organized by week and daily assignment. Students can easily see what they are working on which days.

I highly recommend you follow Emma Pass on Twitter or visit her website to get a copy of her ebook The Hybrid Teacher – Survival Guide (2020). She provides great ideas for synchronous and asynchronous learning. More than I have provided here.

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12 Tech Resources for Teaching English

Matt Miller (@JMattMiller), author of the Ditch that . . . series wrote in his book Don’t Ditch That Tech (Burgess, 2020), “Technology can super charge learning.” Technology provides active learning, student centered, differentiated opportunities for students to showcase learning and understanding. Before you integrate any technology, consider the goals for the unit, lesson, and individual students. Then think about how technology might integrate to support those goals and provide opportunities to transcend learning.

As we get closer to the start of another school year and many of us do not know what that will look like in the midst of COVID-19 – in person teaching, hybrid models, blended learning, or 100% remote learning. Here are twelve tech resources for teaching English (and other content areas) to super-charge learning whether we are in the classroom or working from a distance.

Educator-Resources

Reading Platforms:

Actively Learn – My favorite reading platform by far because of its customizable aspects. Students are able to read digital, print and videos within the platform and answer reading comprehension questions. Standards aligned and tons of free content or you can upload and design your own. Many differentiated aspects to support ENLs. struggling readers and high fliers. Syncs with Google Classroom.

Newsela – Similar to Actively Learn but now is a paid platform with tons of nonfiction articles. Differentiates by changing the lexile scores of reading passages to make information accessible to everyone.

Insert Learning – This Chrome Extension allows you to insert instructional content to any page! Create your own differentiated assignments that are customized to individual students. It’s free!

Edpuzzle – Yes, this is a video platform that allows a teacher to insert a video and include comprehension questions throughout the video to check for understanding. We live in a visually saturated culture and students need to be able to “read close” visual texts.

Creative Communicators:

TeleStory is an App that allows students to create and broadcast your own TV show! Record a music video, teleport to an alien planet, film a high-speed-chase, or perform on a reality TV show. This is a great way for students to get creative in how they showcase their ideas, learning, and knowledge.

Flipgrid is a free platform that Syncs with Google Classroom for students to amplify their voice by sharing and showcasing ideas, reflections, and information verbally.

Storybird is a creative writing platform for students and provides a writing curriculum for teachers.  This paid platform supports Google Classroom and has more than 600 writing challenges and art from around the world to inspire and support students authors.

Buncee is a great tool to create, present, and share multimedia. Teachers can use it for lessons to share content and students can create their own engaging presentations or portfolios.  Nearpod and Peardeck are similar to Buncee for sharing information for classroom presentations or a flipped lessons.

Showcase Learning & Assessment:

I have already mentioned Flipgrid and Buncee which students can utilize to document, communicate, and visualize their learning. Here are a few others that allow students to be creative and show learning and understanding.

Powtoons is a comic creation tool where students can create their own storyboard, comic book, or graphic novel.

Padlet collects responses from students in text or visual format. I have also utilized padlets for book reviews, sharing poetry and reading responses.

StoryMap.KnightLab.com is like Google Lit Trips  where a map is utilized to tell a story. You can tell stories with photographs, works of art, historic maps, or a narrative.

I work in a Google School and I use Google Suite daily. GSuite offers lots of different tools that can help students showcase their learning from Google Jamboards for collaboration and brainstorms, longer writing on Google Docs, presentations in Google Slides or think outside of the box with Google Drawings to create infographics, graphic organizers or illustrations.

 

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Digital Tools to Support Literacy in the Time of Remote Learning & E-Learning

My mailbox has been full of newsletters and emails about resources for remote learning, e-Learning, and virtual learning, and maybe for you too. In a small amount of time, teachers and school have shifted to online learning to help our students maintain some normalcy, meet learning targets, and support the community.

How do you make sense of all the educational platforms and virtual lessons ideas that will best support your students?

Web20Classroom created an infographic on “Teacher Tips for Active Learning Interactions Online” showcasing four types of blending learning opportunities for students whether we are in the classroom our working remotely: Learner-Content, Learner – Instructor, Learner to Learner, and Learner to Technology. We can think about these four types of active learning strategies when we think about planning our online lessons so that students are still engaged in active and blended lessons remotely.

Learner-Content is the traditional style of lectures and presentations, videos, and readings used to present information. Rather than pushing out a chapter from a textbook, teachers might consider a platform like Edpuzzle that allows teachers to embed questions in videos (from YouTube & TED) to improve attention and comprehension for students viewing. Additionally, if using print text, Actively Learn is an E-reading platform that improves students’ reading comprehension. Teachers can customize instruction, provide. real-time feedback, allowing peers to collaborate, and get analytics on student performance. If you have slide decks in Google Slides or Power points, you can upload them on to Nearpod and create interactive and engaging lessons for students with extended responses, polls, and games. Teachers might also consider making their own video lessons using the Screencastify Chrome Extension. This extension allows you to easily record and screencast your screen with accompanying audio and video commentary to present a new idea, concept, or lesson.

Learner-Instructor connections are so important and we do not want to lose the interaction and relationships among our students. Using Google Hangouts and Zoom  provide a time and place for learners and instructions to connect face to face. Teachers can schedule conferences to check in with small groups or individual students. I currently hold a Google Hangout once a week for questions and check-ins with my middle school and graduate students. I also email and call students to check in when they do not turn in work or seem to be missing days on end.

Learner-Learner is the interaction between one learner and other learners. If you are like me, group work and collaboration happened everyday in my classroom. How do we re-create this in a virtual world? Padlet allows teachers to create an online bulletin board to display information for any topic, use for brainstorming, and students sharing their insight. Users can add images, links, and videos. Flipgrid allows students to share their voice with one another. This social learning platform allows educators to ask a question, then the students respond in a video. Students are then able to respond to one another, creating a “web” of discussion. I use Flipgrid for sharing writing, book reviews, and group discussions. Seesaw  is Padlet and Flipgrid combined. It can be utilized for student engagement and digital-portfolios where students create, reflect, share, and collaborate.

Learner-Technology is about the interaction between learners and technologies to deliver instruction. In this current climate of remote learning and virtual learning we have shifted all our work online. That also means our students are spending A LOT of time online and in front of a screen. With a 9th grader and 5th grader at home, I see how much time we are all spending online — more than 5 hours a day online! Choose assignments that are meaningful and don’t try to fill a 40 or 50 minute time block as if we were still in our classrooms. Create your lessons wisely. There are so many fantastic resources online to support reading, writing, and teaching remotely. Let’s design experiences that are engaging, offer choice (like Hyperdocs and Choice Boards), support ALL learners, and are meaningful.

Looking for more ideas, check out:

 

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Learning with Innovative Technology 2019 Conference

In beautiful, upstate New York, SUNY Empire State College and Saratoga Springs City School District hosted the 3rd annual Learning with Innovative Technology (LIT) Conference. The goal of the conference was, “to bring teachers, scholars and practitioners together to share knowledge about the effective use of educational technologies that will provide more enriching learning experiences.” With more than 40 workshops and hands on learning experiences throughout the day, there were many opportunities for collaborative learning and enriching educational experiences.  Sessions included gamification, project based learning, digital citizenship, robotics, virtual reality, makerspace, and STEM.

I presented a session titled, “Operation Game Design: Building Quests for Personalized Learning In Your Classroom.” This session provided teachers with an introduction to gamification versus game based learning and a step by step approach to building a quest for classroom learning. Participants learned how to organize an overarching mission in which assignments are like a sequence of game levels students need to successfully complete in order to “rank up” and complete all the required learning targets. To view the presentation slides, see below. For your own copy of the game design template, click here.

After presenting, I was excited to attend other sessions and continue to learn from other experts leading workshops at the conference. I attended a session in the afternoon on “Making Google Forms Engaging Using Branching Form (Assessments and Scavenger Hunts)” led by Carolyn Strauch where I learned how to extend the standard Google Form by making it interactive with the ability to guide students and lead them through prompts based on their answers. I love this as a way to scaffold student writing based on their responses to questions and answers. Here is a video for more clarity.

 

I am a proponent of Socratic Seminars and after building out a short response assignment for my students with scaffolded prompts in Google Forms, I moved on to a session titled, “Socratic Seminar, Meet Social Media” presented by Sarah Fiess. In a Socratic circle, participants seek deeper understanding of complex ideas in the text through thoughtful dialogue, rather than by memorizing bits of information. A Socratic Circle is not debate. The goal of this activity is to have participants work together to construct meaning and arrive at an answer, not for one student or one group to “win the argument.” Not only did we participate in a socratic circle, we examined this teaching practice as a way to engage ALL students in the conversation utilizing back channels and reflections created in Google Forms.

The last session I attended was “Beyond Hating Group Work” presented by Theresa Gilliard-Cook. We all assign group work in our classrooms but how do we make group work more effective and engaging, rather than hated and dysfunctional. Teachers need to be intentional about group projects and scaffold collaborative work for it to be successful. Creating a list of teamwork projects and possible solutions, particularly regarding conflict is useful. Additionally, providing videos and articles how to resolve conflict, creating a list how to work through conflict, and providing specifics how you, the teacher will get involved when conflict arises. Tech tools like Google, Slack, and Padlet are three student collaboration tools.

 

 

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Purposeful Vocabulary and Grammar Instruction

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Jeremy Hyler and Troy Hicks’ From Texting to Teaching: Grammar Instruction in the Digital Age (2017) is filled with grammar and vocabulary lessons that utilize technology. Their premise is to help teachers and students learn to “code switch” between academic, formal language and cultural text speak. Each chapter illustrates how teachers can weave grammar into authentic classroom experiences, rather than skill and drill.

When speaking of grammar, this includes usage, rules, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation. Grammar matters because “it offers us options – both as speakers and writers – for creating meaning” (pg. 4) Looking at the Common Core Standards, grammar is now under the Language Standards” and students are expected to gain commands of conventions and show their knowledge of language and conventions when reading, writing, speaking and listening,

Hyler and Hicks’ approach teaching grammar with digital tools, utilized flipped lessons to learn parts of speech, utilize social media, Google Docs, and other digital tools to enliven vocabulary, master mechanics, and learn sentence style with formal and informal writing. Grammar matters because the standards suggest it, digital citizenship has become an essential skill, and revision matters.

“Technology can enhance writing instruction. Smart grammar instruction – coupled with smart uses of technology – will help improve students’ understanding of how to use various sentence patterns, phrases, punctuation, and other stylistic techniques in their own writing” (pg. 24). 

Consider the grammar lessons you teach and how you might enliven them to help students master language conventions to be effective and creative communicators. Here are three ideas from Hyler and Hicks to help you infuse grammar with technology in effective ways.

A teacher made screencast or podcast is a great way for students to demonstrate new knowledge, learn new topics, or listen to a review. Use the tool screencastify or screencastomatic to plan and script an instructional screencast or podcast. The benefit of  a flipped lesson is that these lessons are at students disposal to review when needed. Plus, the best flipped lessons have students do more than a lecture to watch, often teachers provide thoughtful, scaffolded activities associated with the video that students watch. Hyler utilizes a “Watch, Summarize, Question (WSQ)” tool or guide for students as they view the flipped lessons and utilize conventions in their own writing.

To help students learn sentence styles and study great writing, examining sentences in the texts we read help understand the nuances and beauty of writing. Posting a beautifully crafted or complex sentence from a class novel on Padlet is one way to have students analyze sentences and think carefully about writing. Or a sentence that needs revising can be posted on Padlet and students can use revising strategies to help revise the sentence.

For vocabulary building Hyler and Hicks recommend having students “create videos with web tools like WeVideo depicting a real world use of vocabulary words. If real world connections can be made with vocabulary and spelling, students are sure to retain more of the information they have learned and see the relevance” (pg.81). Students storyboard their video draft ideas and are required to draw connections between the vocabulary word and the text students are reading. Lastly, reflection is necessary to gain feedback about the process and new understanding.

Grammar should not taught in isolation. Nor should not be left by the wayside in the English Language Arts classroom. Teachers must constantly reflect on the technology and learning landscape and how we can blend the two to creative relevant and engaging lessons that help our students succeed.

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Literature Circles for Today

Harvey Daniels’ book titled Literature Circles (2002) describes a procedure to organize student book clubs in the classroom. A stimulating and productive discussion on a text requires participants to focus on many different things: overall content and form/style, particularly important passages, vocabulary, imagery, and the connections between the material and personal experience. The more we put into our discussions on all these specific fronts, the greater our comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the text as a whole.

The idea behind literature circles is that students take on different roles and responsibilities as they are reading a text. Students are assigned different roles on different days (at random) and that no student will play the same role twice in a row.

Each student is assigned one of the following seven roles:

DISCUSSION DIRECTOR (a.k.a Curious George) – As the Discussion Director, your job is to develop a list of questions that your group might want to discuss about this reading. Additionally, it is your responsibility to make sure that all the other group members share their materials.

LITERARY LUMINARY (the Buddha of the book) – To be LUMINOUS means to shed light. When you are acting in the role of Literary Luminary, it is your job to “shed light” on the significant and/or difficult, possibly confusing sections of the reading by bringing them to the attention of the group and reading them aloud. The idea is to help people remember some interesting, powerful, funny, puzzling, or important sections of the text.

ILLUSTRATOR (our very own Bob Ross!) – As the Illustrator, your job is to draw some kind of picture related to the reading. It can be a sketch, cartoon, diagram, or flow chart.Any picture that conveys an idea or feeling you got from the reading.

SUMMARIZER (You make it short, you make it sweet) – It is your job as a Summarizer to put it all together. You should prepare a brief WRITTEN summary of the reading, noting all the main events, interaction between characters and more. The other members of your group will be counting on you to give a quick (1-2 minute) statement that conveys the essence of that day’s reading assignment.

VOCABULARY ENRICHER (like an apple picker) – It is your job as the Vocabulary Enricher to be on the lookout for a few especially important words in today’s reading. If you find words that are puzzling or unfamiliar, mark them while you are reading, and then later jot down their dictionary definitions). Not all words that you select need to be unfamiliar. Also seek out words that are repeated a lot, used in an unusual way, or key to the meaning of the text.

CONNECTOR (You help connect the dots) – You are the Connector. Your job is to find connections between the reading and the world outside. This means connecting the reading to: your own life; happenings at school or in the neighborhood or news; similar events at other times and places; other people or problems; other books or stories; other writings with he same topic/theme; other writings by the same author.

OBSERVER (you are the “eyes and ears” of the group, an informant) – You have no particular written assignment overnight other than to read through the assigned section of text. But you will be busy tomorrow! You are the secretary, informant, and synthesizer all rolled into one. You must record the participation and information covered and contributed by all the other group members. To synthesize means to bring together. You should try to gather together everyone’s contributions and ideas into a single understandable summary during and after the group discussion.

These are the traditional roles and many have been updated to include Character Commandant, Mood Maven, Insightful Identifier, Symbol Sleuth, Mind Muser, and Reactionary Revealer. 

When I first started teaching my students would receive a color paper detailing the responsibilities of his or her role. Then, I threw out the reading and literature circle role log/worksheets.

Technology has enhanced the literature circles strategy to another level with Google Docs and platforms like Padlet, Seesaw, and Flipgrid. Students can use these digital tools to share their reflections, connections, understandings, and discussions. Assigning each book group a classroom in Google Classroom, students can submit digital evidence in the form of Google Docs, BookSnaps and/or any other application chosen.

Here are the benefits of Literature Circles: Student Choice

  1. Book selection – Students choose the books they will read.
  2. Job assignments – Students decide which roles they will assume
  3. Chapters read – Students decide how much they will read for the next session.
  4. Digital platform used – Students decide which digital platform the group will utilize.

 

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Pathways to the Standards #CECACASL18

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On Monday, October 22nd I attended and presented the CECA/CASL 2018 Annual Conference. There were more than 50 presentation from educators, authors, and administrators addressing topics that intersect literacy and technology.

One of the key strands of the conference was differentiation and ways to differentiate in a student centered classroom. By differentiation I mean including EVERY learner in the classroom (not just the ones who are struggling). The key is that there are multiple ways for students to demonstrate understanding and instruction needs to change when evidence of learning has not occurred.

Steven W. Anderson of web20classroom.org shared 10 great tools to help differentiate content, product, process, and assessment.

  1. Poll Everywhere is an online polling platform that does more than just have students respond to a survey or multiple choice question. With Poll Everywhere students can respond to an open ended question and even formative assessments where students can pin a location on a map or diagram.
  2. Padlet – Yes, the online sticky notes where students can respond to a question or post a response. Padlet let’s users respond in text, drawing and images, and even audio. I recently had students share book reviews on Padlet of nonfiction independent reading books.
  3. Quizizz is so much better than Kahoot because it is not a competition but an assessment tool similar to Kahoot that let’s students work at their own pace to show their understanding.
  4. Nearpod is an interactive slideshow creator with a quiz feature. Nearpod does so much more and the paid version even offers AR & VR components.
  5. Edpuzzle is great for sharing videos in class and then students can answer questions before, during, and after viewing of their learning.

Teaching is an art more than a mechanical exercise. Students vary as learners and not everyone’s road map is identical for learning. When we know our students we are able to better create learning opportunities that honor their strengths, abilities, and cultures.

6. When thinking about differentiating the process and student’s understanding Anderson spoke about Gamification (Oh, Yeah!!). He shared Breakoutedu, Classcraft, Class Badge, Mincraftedu, and Duolingo – many gamification tools that I blog about regularly.

7. Flipgrid is now free since Microsoft has acquired it and it can be used in so many ways for the classroom from students reflecting on their own learning and thinking to posting a book review or explaining how they solved a math problem.

8. Book Creator is one that I am going to invest more time and attention to this year. Book Creator allows users to create their own interactive ebooks.

9. Microsoft’s Sway lets you create visually appealing and multitiered presentations. You can record audio on the slides and it will even grab resources for you when creating a presentation about specific topics. This is one to check out if you are looking for more interesting Google Slide Decks or Prezis.

10. TextHelp is the makers of Fluency Tutor and Read Write, these two Chrome extensions offers assistive technology that supports literacy in different ways. Fluency Tutor allows students to record text passages to help build their reading fluency and comprehension whereas Read Write has a dozen different tools on its toolbar to support readers and writers.

The key is choice when thinking about differentiating in your classroom. Choose technology platforms that allow students the opportunity to create new products and new knowledge. Remember, it is not technology for technology’s sake, but about creating a learning environment where there is “equity of access to excellence.”

 

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Mash Up March: App Smashing for Effective Feedback

When students are writing, Google Docs is a great tool to help brainstorm, draft, edit, and revise their work. I have been thinking about the most effective ways that I can offer effective feedback on their writing throughout the writing process beyond the Comments feature on Google Docs. Here are a few apps to utilize when giving feedback on student writing.

Flipped Lessons with Exemplar Writing – I often share an exemplar essay from a student from the previous year as a model and mentor for student writing. Using the SMARTBoard or Document Camera I am able to show the writing model and talk through the craft moves the student made that make it an exemplar paper. But, I can also make a recording of this and provide students with easy accessibility to the model essay, annotations highlighting the key writing moves, and explanation why the essay an exemplar. Using Google Slides, Google Drawing, and Screencast-O-Matic, I am able to record this lesson and have it available for students to view any time. Additionally, students can respond to the elements of the exemplar they notice, like, and want to model in their own writing with Padlet. Padlet is a collaborative platform or “board” for students to share feedback, answer questions, respond to a prompt, or brainstorm together.

MultiModal Feedback – Google Comments allow teachers to add comments on Google Docs. This is helpful to address specific concerns and highlights on a student’s essay. Additionally, the extension Checkmarks is an easy commenting tool that has popular pre-made or custom comments. Another possibility is to add vocal feedback with extensions like Read & Write or Talk & Comment. Teachers or peer editors can record their comments on these apps and the writer is able to listen to helpful suggestions to make their essay clear and concise.

App Smashing the Entire Writing Process – Using a semantic map tool like Popplet or Bubbl.us can help students in the beginning stages of writing to jot down ideas what they will write about and gather necessary textual evidence. Then, to help students build an outline, they might demonstrate their thinking using Explain Everything or using a voice recording app like Audacity. When students are writing Google Docs is a trustworthy tool. Then, reading aloud their essay to get peer feedback and check for correct grammar and usage, students can read and respond to each other’s writing on Flipgrid. Students can compile all their work on Thinglink posting links to showcase their writing process.

 

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