Tag Archives: technology integration

Digital Writing Tools For Reluctant Writers

So, your students tell you they hate writing or they profess they are not good writers. Why beat them over the head with writing essays? Here are ten digital writing tools to help build writing endurance and have students create authentic and creative writing pieces.

  1. Blog It – This year my students are blogging about their Genius Hour projects. Each of their blogs detail and record their passion project research and findings. Students can create blogs about anything and everything so don’t only have them write on lined paper for your eyes only. Let students write for a global audience and write about topics that are meaningful to them.
  2. Collaborative Writing with Google Docs – Whether students are working collaboratively compiling research for a debate or working together to write a screenplay or story, why do it alone? So many authors today are collaborating and students should be able to work together too.
  3. Digital Inspirations – My friend and colleague, Carol Varsalona creates these amazing pictures and inspirational words on her blog Beyond LiteracyLink and has all different writers, teachers, and artists contribute their own digital inspirations. Have your students take their own photographs and write inspirational words, poems, ideas to go along with the images produced.

C Varsalona Beyond Literacy Link4. Podcasts are a great way to get students writing, speaking, and collaborating. I am a huge fan of NPR’s RadioLab podcasts and have used them in my classroom as a mentor text. Students can script their podcasts before recording them and make their own radio shows on all different issues and topics.

5. Prezi Picture Books in lieu of a traditional picture book, students can create their own digital picture books using Prezi or Google Slides and then screencast an audio file reading aloud the picture book created.

6. Twitter Poems and 140 Character Memoirs

7. Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books in the 1980s? Have students create their own Choose Your Own Adventure story or research inquiry using YouTube, Thinglink, or SymbalooEDU. Students do all the writing and research and allow the viewers to choose the direction of the story or inquiry.

8. Create Your Own Textbook on Wikispaces. What if you had students create the course textbook for the students next year? Let students curate the materials, and design the texts that are essential to classroom learning and content knowledge.

9. StoryWars is a website that was recently shared with me because it is a collaborative story telling website where people can upload their own stories or contribute a chapter to an existing story. Participants can read a story, write a chapter, or vote on a story’s path.

10. Make it a graphic novel using ToonDoo or Bitstrips blending dialogue and cartoon images together.

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5 Things I Will Do Differently as a Result of #Edscape 2013

Today I attended the Edscape Conference at New Milford High School in New Milford, NJ.  If you participate in #Satchat or the 140Characters Conference you might know many of the innovative educators presenting at Edscape, sharing ideas about innovation, collaboration, and transformative teaching and learning practices. The conference is organized by principal, Eric Sheninger of New Milford High School and Teq.  Throughout the day I was inspired, made connections, and collaborated and networked with many educators.

Here are a few things that I am going to as a result of the conference when I go back to my classroom on Monday morning:

1. “Be More Dog”

George Couros, principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning with Parkland School Division in Alberta, Canada kicked off the conference with a hilarious and meaningful keynote. He spoke about meaningful creation, disrupting our routine, and allowing our students the opportunities to do the extraordinary.

2. Create a Paperless Digital Classroom

Each year I challenge myself to use less paper and teacher at NMHS, Vikki Smith, shared how she has gone completely paperless in her High School science class this year by using Nearpod, Edmodo, mobile devices, and Classmarker. Class wikis, blogs, and Google Drive are also great tools to help reduce the amount of paper used in schools for worksheets, and handouts. I am going to try out the Classmarker for creating and administering a quiz this month.

3. Participate in the Global Collaborator Network

This fall my middle school students are participating in the global collaborative project “Digitween” created by Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis of the Flat Classroom Project. The project centers around digital citizenship. But digital citizenship is not one lesson that is taught one day. Rather, teaching digital citizenship is ongoing so that my students understand their responsibility as a global citizen. Bill Krakower and other teachers of the Global Collaborator Network shared many more global collaborative projects that teachers and students can participate in.

4. Allow Opportunities for Voice, Choice, and Authentic Audience

The assessments and projects that my students do in my class need to matter in life, not just in school. Dr. Robert Dillon addressed how voice, choice, and authentic audience need to be central to learning. These three elements are the keys to engagement and integration.

5. Use Twitter for Reading Comprehension and Literary Analysis

Teacher Matthew Morone shared his experiences with his class using Twitter as a tool in his English classroom. As my students are reading we will try out Twitter as a web tool to record observations, define terms, decipher allusions, apply critical theories, argue claims, and justify connections with others.

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Tech-erentiated Assessment Projects for To Kill a Mockingbird

This spring my eighth grade students read To Kill a Mockingbird.  As an assessment of their reading and understanding I gave my students a Think Tac Toe board with nine different technology based, differentiated project choices.  Hence the word “tech-erentiated.”  The idea behind the assignment is that students complete any three assessment projects as long as  they make a tic-tac-toe on the board.

Below is the assignment and rubric.  Also included is a blog post written by one of my students on the relevance of reading To Kill a Mockingbird today.

The novel To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an old story that relates to modern times in many ways. In the story, Scout is a growing child who is finding her place in the world. She is constantly reminded that she is a “lady” and that women don’t wear overalls or play football. She is also scolded by her Aunt Alexandra for not acting like a women. Her role as a Finch in the town of Maycomb is to become married to a respectable man and to raise children to be kind and polite people. In modern times, many of these expectations still apply. Most fathers and mothers want their daughter to grow up, marry, and have children so that they can carry on the family name. The parents also want to make sure that their child is appealing to others in the community, even if the child doesn’t want wear skirts and dresses. The expectation of girls has declined from the 1930s, but it is still there. Most families simply want their daughter be a mother when they are older.

Racism of African Americans is another example of how the novel relates to real life. In the 1930s, blacks were treated with extreme disrespect and hatred. Like in the story, blacks were blamed for crimes that they didn’t commit, and also scolded for actions they didn’t do. Many African American women were nannies or housekeepers, while the men were hard laborers who worked out on the fields. After the government put an end to discrimination, segregation, and hatred towards blacks, most of the racism and cruelty died down. But even today, with a black president in office, white Americans still treat African Americans in ways they shouldn’t be treated. One example would include stereotyping, where a white person judges a black person just by the color of their skin. Another would include bullying in schools for being different than the majority of the students.

In the novel, Dill is ignored by his parents. Even though Dill is given the toys that he desires, his parents never want to spend time with him. Because of this, Dill runs away to the Finches, where he knows he can find a friend. In present times, this actually occurs quite frequently. Today, people would call Dill a spoiled brat. Kids his age would envy him for the toys he possesses, but what they don’t understand is that Dill is all alone. Many modern day children also run away from their homes, because they have know one to play with. Even if a child receives all the toys in the world, he would still not have a friend to enjoy his toys with. This happens mostly to children with no brothers or sisters, but it can happen to anyone.

Jem faces the challenges of being an adolescent as he grows older. During the novel, Jem starts to play football, read magazines, and stay away from Scout more and more often. Jem starts to show more appreciation for becoming a lawyer and analyzes the Tom Robinson rape case with intensive concentration. In modern times, boys go through the same kinds of phases; they become more mature and look to their future more than when they were children. Jem and boys of the 21st century would agree that hanging out with your little sister is embarrassing and that football is the best sport to ever be invented. They also both look to their future careers, be it a lawyer, doctor, or even scientist. Jem and modern day boys are more similar than most would imagine.

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Education Evolution

The majority of classrooms need to change from a physical and technology stand point. Classrooms need to incorporate more collaborative work among students and integration technology in authentic, meaningful ways. Thank you to Edudemic for sharing this video. Fore more information about the creators of this video check out their blog.

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