Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Reflections on the year

When I look back on the year, I know that I’ve made progress in using technology in my classroom.  Some of my accomplishments:
  • used my website as a method of communication for both parents and students
  • utilized our classroom cart of Triple Es for writing, not just in publishing, but also planning, drafting, revising, and publishing
  • presented at the Inspired Learning Conference (thank you Suzanne and Maria)
  • became more comfortable using Google Docs

Some of my goals for next year include:

  • set up Google Classroom for use with my students
  • improve my website to become an even better means of communication with both students and parents (add spelling lists, vocabulary words, book discussions?)
  • utilize technology to better differentiate for the learners in my classroom

I love books, the “real” kind.  I love curling up in my easy chair with a favorite book, a just released mystery by my favorite author, Louise Penny.  The roughness of the paper as I turn the pages, the weight of the book, the maps on the inside cover, they all combine into a book reading experience.  Did I mention, that I don’t read books on my iPad?  

I love reading picture books to my students.  We all become enthralled by the stories of Patricia Polacco.  My students sit on the carpet, silent, as they wait to see if the illustrations in the book match the pictures they see in their minds.

So when I noticed that one of the suggestions for a blog post was to read and discuss a piece of digital writing resonated with us, I decided to give it a try.  

I read the digital text, “Snow Fall:  The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek” by John Branch and I can’t forget it.  Because it was composed as a digital text, it included animations to show the route of the skiers and how the air bags can provide protection during an avalanche.   But most of all, it helped me understand just what happened and how it could be that three gifted skiers were killed in the avalanche.  The videos of the survivors helped me see these individuals not only as skiers, but also as loved friends and family members.

Reading this text in a digital format actually helped me to “be there,” the opposite of what I was envisioning when I started.  It’s an excellent example of the power of digital texts.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Reflections on “2 Pros And 2 Cons To Education Technology”
by Roman Sahakov

In his article, Sahakov discusses whether technology helps or hinders learning.  

In the first half of the article, Sahakov discusses how technology helps students learn because of its importance as a teaching aid.  In my own classroom, I use the Smartboard daily as a teaching aid in all different subjects.  Now we use an online techbook by Discovery Education for much of our science education.  In teaching these lessons, I use my computer, document camera, projector, Smartboard for directed lessons and the students use their netbooks for guided learning assignments. This is just in science!  

Another way that Sahakov believes technology helps learning is because students can access information easier.  I’m the first to admit that I love the fact that I can get on my Smartphone whenever I’m curious about something and “Google” it.  Students can certainly do the same.   A challenge for my third graders is to check the source of their information to discover whether it is a trustworthy source.

One challenge that Sahakov mentions is that technology can be a distraction to students and I have seen that in my own classroom.  This is my first year of using technology so completely in the writing process.  Even though I thought I had set up clear and strict guidelines, there were a few students who lost the use of their computers because they did not follow the guidelines.  They became distracted.

Another hindrance that Sahakov mentions is cheating.  He writes that technology has made it easier for students to cheat on exams with “minimal chances of getting caught.”

This article helped me to think about my use of technology in my classroom, to make sure that it is a help and not a hindrance.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Reflections on "The Many Uses of Exit Slips"

Reflections on the article...
The Many Uses of Exit Slips
by Robert J. Marzano

Reading this article reminded me of why I have always admired the work and writing of Robert Marzano.  I have often used exit slips for formative assessment, to determine whether my students understood the concepts presented that period, but I had not thought of the many ways I could use exit slips to improve my instruction.

The four kinds of prompts that Marzano mentioned are:
  • Prompts that provide formative assessment data - for my third graders a prompt of this type in science might be “What are you confused about regarding how igneous rocks form?”
  • Prompts that stimulate student self-analysis - the idea that effort makes a huge difference in how much you learn really needs to be emphasized in my classroom.  This coming year, I plan to use the prompt “What could you have done to help yourself learn better?”
  • Prompts that focus on instructional strategies - Because I often use instructional strategies that require student talk in groups, I could use the prompt “How did the group talk today help you understand what we were studying?”
  • Prompts that are open communications to the teacher - I love the idea of directly asking my students “What is something that I could be doing to help you understand this concept?”
Using exit slips in my classroom in these many ways will help me to be a more effective teacher.