Monthly Archives: April 2017

Building Technology Grit

I am SO excited that our school is choosing to now focus on technology. I have my masters degree in instructional technology and this is what I live for! I believe that tech is a vital component of education and I use it constantly! But there are teachers at my school that struggle with the idea of changing how they teach. So we are working to build our teachers’ tech grit! Here are some of our resources that we will be using to help us start this important work.

TPCK 

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Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge. (Try to say that five times fast!) These overlapping circles explain that we have the what we teach (content) and the pedagogy (how we teach it.) Lots of teachers live in that little green area (PC) but what we often skip is the technology and how that is incorporated into our instruction. They all work together and need to be planned together using backwards design. You can’t just squeeze it in at the last minute and have it be nearly as effective.

SAMR 

Teaching has #AllTheAcronyms! The SAMR Model falls into the T circle of TPCK. It shows us that we can incorporate technology into our instruction in different ways and in baby steps.b4e25bceb556254f25c542957f8a6654.png

If you are using an activity that falls under the substitution category, that isn’t bad! Every activity you teach cannot be a redefinition! That would be exhausting and overwhelming for most teachers. Baby steps!

You can also take SAMR a step further and align it with the different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy.

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Common Core Student Standards for Technology 

We were trying to come up with things for teachers to work on with their kids to promote technology use in the classroom and instead of reinventing the wheel, we went to the common core standards. These are skills our technology teacher works on with our kids, but if I see that my third graders should be learning how to perform basic searches on databases, I can plan a project to have them work on that in the classroom too.

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ISTE Teacher Standards

When deciding what teachers should be doing to promote technology in the classroom, we went to the ISTE Teacher standards. These are very general but I think they will allow our teachers who are more reluctant to use technology find some strategies that will work for them. Promoting creative and innovative thinking could be just about anything! We will definitely need to come up with some specific examples to get our teachers started and then hopefully they will run with it!

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So this is our starting point. We will definitely have to take some baby steps and support our teachers as much as possible, but I am excited about the possibilities this technology focus has!

Holes!

Shared reading is my absolute favorite thing right now. I’ve done shared reading in the past where I put a piece of text up on the document camera and read it and we talk about it, but there wasn’t any real engagement. So I decided I wanted the text in my kids’ hands!

I started doing some diggin (no pun intended) on Scholastic.com looking for cheap books. Holes jumped out at me right away and it was only $3.50! It is a bit above most of my students’ reading level, so it was perfect for shared reading. I had all my parents order their kids a copy online and we got reading!

Before we started we made a lapbook with some background info, some graphic organizers and some maps. We also included little printable books to take notes on all the characters that I got from this blog. 

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Now, I’m a reader, and I HATE when people tell me I can’t keep reading, especially if I’m hooked. I just want to keep going! So I rarely do that with my kids, but this one time I am doing it: they are not allowed to read ahead. (Lots of them have seen the movie and have an idea about what’s going to happen anyway, but I’m still keeping up the suspense this way.) To ensure they are following along I made each of them a colored notecard with their “Holes name” on it: first name and then first name backward. So it might say Jordan Nadroj or Asher Rehsa (many of which sound vaguely Indian.) They have to follow along with this notecard to prevent inadvertent skimming ahead while I read. It also helps to save their place when we stop to talk about something, which we do frequently.   do a ton of annotating in my class (like on every piece of paper I hand them.) We write question marks when we’re confused, put stars next to important parts, underline when we find the answer to a comprehension question. I’m really focusing on vocabulary right now, so we’re doing a lot of finding our spelling words in our books, noticing when words have prefixes and suffixes and how that changes the word’s meaning, using a dictionary to look up words we can’t figure out.

In general, we do a ton of annotating in my class (like on every piece of paper I hand them.) We write question marks when we’re confused, put stars next to important parts, underline when we find the answer to a comprehension question. I’m really focusing on vocabulary right now, so we’re doing a lot of finding our spelling words in this book, noticing when words have prefixes and suffixes and how that changes the word’s meaning, and using a dictionary to look up words we can’t figure out. We are also adding small doodles at the beginning of every chapter to help us remember what happened in that chapter, like a visual summary.

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We talk about how writing in a book, one that belongs to you, is truly a magical thing. I write in all my personal books, but I usually don’t tell them lest I find doodles in all my class library books. I underline sentences I like mostly. The kids are only allowed to write in pencil, so it can be erased (I write in different colors of pen: orange for vocab, green for figurative language, purple for examples of good/bad character.) Everything the kids write must be for a purpose. They can doodle if it helps them learn about the plot better. They can circle and underline words that they choose as long as they have a reason. I should NEVER see meaningless scribbles in their books. So far I haven’t had a problem.

I also send my kiddos with the para in small groups to discuss comprehension questions and vocabulary words. I got these from Super Teacher Worksheets. This is what they look like.

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This kind of teaching for me is very authentic. I’m not reading from a script. Most of the time I don’t even prep to see what we are about to read that day, I just start reading. And when I come across a difficult word or an interesting sentence or scene, we stop and talk about it. If the kids make a connection and we tangent for a few minutes, that’s fine! The beauty of shared reading is that I am modeling how I read for my students. They can follow along with my thought process, how I work through difficult words, connections I make, things I wonder about as I read.

And the very best part of this particular shared reading is how engaged and excited the kids are about it. They groan and shout NO when I have to stop. When they are chitchatting (which they often are) I just start reading and they all stop talking immediately and begin following along. They are truly getting lost in the book and that is so rewarding for me to see.

What books have you used for shared reading or read aloud with your class?