Tag Archives: Seesaw

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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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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How do you promote speaking with English Language Learners?

The post below was originally written for Larry Ferlazzo’s Classroom Q & A blog on Education Week. It is part of a five post series addressing the question:

How do you promote speaking with English Language Learners?

Speaking is one of the core literacy skills, but ELL students might be shy or overwhelmed to participate in a large class discussion because of their language skills. Initiating small groups discussions and one-on-one discussions is a way for students to share thinking, questions, connections, and synthesis of a text, while at the same time building language and speaking skills. Doing so also addresses Common Core State Standards, which require students initiate and participate in a range of collaborative discussions (CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9- 10.1).

Technology tools can help ELL students meet the demands of the curriculum and build understanding so they can meet learning objectives. As authors Heather Parris, Lisa Estrada, and Andrea Honigsfeld (2017) explained in ELL Frontiers: Using Technology to Enhance Instruction for English Learners, “The use of digital media provides a low-anxiety environment with a focus on the traditional four language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), plus the skill of viewing, which must be included in today’s classroom. ELs need ample production opportunities to develop language skills.”

To help ELL students develop academic language, consider having students respond orally using a video discussion platform, such as Flipgrid, Recap, or Seesaw. These tools remove the stress of performance in front of the class and give students the opportunity to present knowledge and ideas orally while at the same time build verbal communication. With these video discussion platforms, you pose a question for which students can record responses. You set the amount of time that students have to respond to a question; for example, students have one minute to answer a question or ninety seconds. Students can listen to each other’s reflections to learn from them and respond to one another. Flipgrid also offers stickers, similar to those on Snapchat, for students to digitally accessorize their look on camera. For students who don’t like to show their face on camera, you could keep a collection of masks or selfie props on hand for students to use when sharing.

On Seesaw students can add written reflections and draw their responses. Students have more options for how they might share and reflect by adding a drawing to explain their thinking or their steps for solving a math problem. Students can view each other’s written responses and add peer feedback with the app. Providing discussion starters or sentence frames can help students scaffold their response and plan out what they will say before posting a response on a video  discussion platform.

Both sentence stems and word banks are useful tools to help support students who are new to English Language.  Here are a few sentence frames from Achieve the Core that can be adapted to meet the needs of the students in your classroom:

Analysis:

  • I anticipate that
  • I think that  . . .  will happen because . . .
  • I think  . . .  might  . . .  because I know that . . .
  • If . . .  then . . .

Explanation:

  • One reason
  • Another reason
  • At first I thought

Cause and Effects:

  •  . . is most likely the cause for . . .
  • When  . . . happened then . . .
  • I think . . .  was caused  by . . .
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