Tag Archives: Tech Projects

12 Tech Based Alternative Assessments In Lieu of Book Reports & 5 Paragraph Essays

The ideas presented below are part of a poster session I will be presenting at at the International Literacy Association (ILA) in St. Louis, MI July 17-21, 2015. I always want to encourage my students to read and love reading. At the same time, I am trying out different ways to assess student reading and understanding of a text without a test, essay, or book report. Here are a dozen alternative book assessments that I have used with my own middle school ELA students.

1. Twitter Chats & Cyber Book Clubs- Students hold book discussions on Twitter.

2. Video Trailers – Students create a video trailer about the book and to promote the book to their peers using iMovie.

3. Movie Poster – Use Glogster or BigHugeLabs to create a promotional movie poster.

4. White Board Animation Video – Summarize the book in a creative and visual way.

5. Blog Post Review or Discussion Guide – Students write a review or create a discussion guide and post on a class blog.

6. Instagram Scrapbook – Students create a digital scrapbook of the key events and ideas expressed in the text.

7. Symbaloo or Thinglink Text Set – Have students create a text set (various articles and texts) to support the main idea or theme in the text.

8. Storyboard That – Use animation or storyboard platforms for students to recreate the key elements of the text.

9. Lego Movies – Students can design and film lego versions in key scenes from the text.

10. Prezi Teachers Guide or Lessons – Students can use Prezi or any presentation tool to create a teacher’s guide and design a lesson to teach from the text.

11. Write Book Reviews for Amazon or GoodReads

12. QR Code Key Quotes – Students can design a QR Code Scavenger Hunt throughout the book of key quotes or scenes that support the theme of the text.

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Technology and Teaching

My students know lots of things when it comes to technology. My colleagues, know a handful of things about technology. We are both immersed in technology, but different technologies. My students carry their cell phones with them all day in school even though the school policy requires them to keep them in their lockers during the school day. As soon as last period ends the hallways are a buzz with students on their phones, texting, talking, gaming, listening to music. Students try to hide their ear-buds and listen to their I-pods during lunch period or when class seems boring to them (more often than not). They spend their nights rushing through homework so they can get online and play games, I-M their friends, watch their favorite TV episodes online or create their own videos.

If our students are immersed in technology then why not utilize these tech tools in the classroom as teaching tools?

Technology in the classroom allows young people to demonstrate their tech savvy skills and apply them in a way that highlights their understanding and learning. Technology allows for creativity, inquiry and collaboration. Students can complete a web quest which emphasizes critical thinking skills and integrates media literacy. Why compete with technology and young people? Rather, use technology to highlight the strengths of young people and help invest them in the material we are teaching.

I strongly believe technology is vital to help students learn best and in turn, for my students to show me their understanding and learning. There is an infinite amount of ways to integrate technology in the classroom. When people asked my how or why I use technology in the classroom I show them what I have done. Then I list the skills we are building when we use technology in the classroom: Connecting to Prior Knowledge, Questioning, Predicting, Inferring, Summarizing, Supporting Claims and Providing Evidence, Synthesizing, Build Vocabulary. Retelling in Our Own Words, Sequencing, Monitor Learning, Foster Sense of Inquiry, Making Real World Connections, Creative Thinking, Collaboration, Listening and Reflecting, and Analyzing.

Books and technology both belong in the classroom. I cannot and would not pick one over the other nor would I be willing to give up either one. If students want to read on their Kindle or other device, I would say, “Go ahead.” As soon as something else emerges I figure ways to blend them into my teaching and classroom practices – mobile surveys, Google Docs, Glogster, Wallwisher, QR codes, the list goes on and on.

Anything to help my students learn best.

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Collaborative Project Ideas

Today I spent the day outside of my classroom and school to participate in a Bureau of Education Workshop titled “Strengthening Content-Area Learning Using Cutting-Edge Technology Projects” taught by Cindy Kendall.  I am always looking out for new ideas that can I translate in my classroom and, in turn, share on this blog and my wikis.  I was surprised by the large amount of information that Cindy shared today and the ever growing amount of tech tools that we can use to enhance content area literacy and critical literacy in our classrooms.

Many of the tech tools that she shared are ones I have previously mentioned in this blog: digital storytelling, podcasts, poll everywhere, xtranormal, wikis, or will soon have my students utilize: glogs and prezis.   You can find links to many of these web 2.0 tools mentioned on my cyberteaching wiki and can see some in action on my classroom wikis. The information Cindy shared that really captured my attention was the collaborative projects that are happening around the world where students are collaborating with students from other schools.  For the past four years that I have been using wikis in my classroom, I have made my wikis protected sites where only the students registered in my classes for the semester can edit and add to the wiki.  Maybe it is time that break down the walls of my wikis and make my wikis more globally interactive and collaborative.

Thus, I am looking into different collaborative projects to join in or create new collaborative projects that blend my content area and classroom objectives.  Some of the places that I have started to look at and think about how I can model the collaborative projects that are already out there include: The Flat Classroom Project, international collaborative projects; for science teachers, the Center for Engineering and Science Education at Stevens Institute of Technology has many science themed collaborative projects from human genetics to the global water sampling project; and  Collaborations Around the Planet is another site for collaborative projects and events.  If you have any ideas for collaborative projects or are currently participating in collaborative projects please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

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