Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Digital Learning’ Category

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I’m one of these people who believes that every day should be Mother’s Day or Teacher Appreciation Day or Earth Day.  But these annual celebrations serve a purpose.  They remind us that we need to stop and think about Mom or your teacher or the Earth.

As a teacher, part of my responsibility is to teach the truth.  I believe in Science.  Scientists are trained, dedicated people who care deeply about the world.  I know them.  They do not make things up.  One sign I saw online from the March for Science said, “Sometimes the truth is inconvenient.”  That does not mean that it is to be denied or disregarded.

In my area of the Earth, wetlands are disappearing at a rate of a football field an hour according to the US Geological Survey. Because of science, data, environmental agencies, and yes, federal funding, this trend is turning toward the positive.  When we pay attention, change can happen for the better.  We need our wetlands.

In Louisiana, wetlands have come into the limelight.  Educational programs help teach our students about their own home.  Education about the environment can begin in your own backyard.

Next week I am taking a student to meet with a water testing chemist just down the street from our school.  A few months ago, my students met with a naturalist about an oak tree in our area.  They learned about the importance of preserving our oaks.

I did not join the local March for Science, but I am being intentional about how and what I teach my students.  They are the future stewards of our Earth.  It is our responsibility to make them care.

I am writing poetry every day for National Poetry Month.  Today I wrote an ode to the Earth.  I used pictures from my files to create an Animoto video.

 

If you are joining the conversation, please add your link below.

 

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

In my classes this week, I introduced the ABCs of poetry. We have written a poem everyday using a different poetic form. My partner for two of these exercises was Read, Write, Think. This amazing site full of lessons for teaching reading and writing also includes student interactives.

For the letter A, we used this one for Acrostics. My students had free choice for the words they chose to write about. The interactive allows for brainstorming and also gives word suggestions. The final form appears as a downloadable pdf. I taught my students how to take a screenshot of the pdf, paste it into paint, and save as a jpeg. They uploaded their jpeg images into our Kidblog site.

Two very different poems above. Erin is a fifth grader. She’s been going through a rough time lately, so I gave her a wishing rock inside a prayer pouch that I had crocheted. Her poem grew from her strong desire to have her dreams come true.

Lynzee was writing from the moment. I had brought in left over cookies from a writing group meeting. She chose chocolate chip and this moment became the subject of her poem. Don’t you love the word voraciously? She is such an avid reader that her vocabulary is advanced. She loves using new words, and I enjoy our conversations about them.

Another interactive we used this week was for diamante poems. In this form, my students selected antonyms or nouns that had near opposite meanings. Like acrostic, this form allows students to explore word meanings. They looked for words that were specific to their chosen noun.

Lani, 5th grade, wrote honestly about her feelings around life and death. Andrew was reading a book entitled “Gross Science” so his poem explored the difference between beautiful and gross. We talked about how each one depends on a person’s perspective.

I hope you will consider playing with language by using these interactives from Read, Write, Think. Happy National Poetry Month!

If you are writing a DigiLitSunday post, link up below.

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Do your students ever ask, “Why are we doing this?” Friday we celebrated the completion of the March Slice of Life Story Challenge. Kathleen from Two Writing Teachers shared a Google Slide Show in which she posed these questions to student bloggers:

I discussed these questions with each of my class groups. Sometimes I wonder if my students really understand why we do this. I can see the benefits daily. Each day, they try to do better, write more, and add more craft into their writing. But it’s more than that. They grow as human beings, too. They share a piece of who they are and who they are becoming.

Noah said, “I learned that when you write on the blog, you are showing other people who you are.”

Sometimes these are hard lessons. These kids are at an age where they are still figuring it all out. They try stuff. They write things that may not be true to who they are or want to be. This blog space becomes a safe place for them to express whatever is on their minds.

Erin said she has learned to be more open. Kaiden has expressed emotions through figurative language. And even Tobie said he learned he wasn’t so bad at poetry.

With all the balking about writing every day and even the multiple posts of things like Google tricks, writer’s block, and “Idontevenknowwhywearedoingthis” posts, my students grew as writers and as people making their way in the world. I am grateful to the Two Writing Teachers, especially Kathleen and Lanny who led the classroom challenge. Another year down and many lessons learned.

I am sharing Kaiden’s clever poem about writer’s block.

A vacuous screen

filled with a picture

of a polar bear

in a snowstorm.

Snow swirling,

chills sinking

into your skin

in this winter wonderland.

Place your links for DigiLitSunday below:

 

Read Full Post »

 

Slice of Life Challenge

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

 

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

In my teaching, reflection is important to me.  Not on purpose, really, but as part of my nature. I mull over things.  I wonder out loud and silently.  I talk with colleagues.  I also participate in a Good2Great Voxer chat.

Good2Great teachers are continuously reflecting.  We are always engaging in conversations about our teaching practice. One evening last week, Trevor Bryan and I got into a conversation about the writing process.  He made me think when he said, “The writing process is a creative process, and in the creative process, artists and writers are always making bad work.  Something that doesn’t work is part of the creative process.”

My burning question was born from this conversation.  “How do we honor the process of writing?”

Blogging is a huge part of the writing process in my classroom.  I’ve contended that by writing every day on a blog, my students’ writing grows and improves.  I still believe that, but I’m not sure I honor the mulling, the brainstorming, the idea gathering.  I have stressed to my students that they are writing for an audience.

Jacob decided to write about the movie Moana for his Slice.  When I read his post, he was telling the story of the movie…the whole movie.  He said, “This is only one third of the movie.  I can make more posts.”

Of course he could, but would anyone want to read multiple long posts retelling the Moana story?  I posed that question to him and immediately felt a pang in my gut.  I wasn’t honoring the process.  I was thinking only of the product.  I realized that maybe by writing this whole story, Jacob would learn about writing dialogue.  He would learn about a story arc.  And he wasn’t writing from a book he read.  He was writing from a movie he watched.  He would have to create the actions with his words.

How often do we stifle our young writers?  I know they need to practice.  They need to write often.  But who am I to tell them they must produce a worthy product every time?  As a writer, do I?  Not at all.

Sometimes students do not need to write for an audience.  I will continue to reflect on this question and watch myself more carefully.  Honoring the process is as important, if not more important, that celebrating the product.

 

If you are joining the DigiLit conversation today, please link up.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Some weeks a word will pop into my head for a DigiLit topic. Then I’ll mull over it and wonder why.  This is how it’s been with Innovation. Like Blended Learning last week, I am wondering if innovation is happening in my classroom.

I think of my young students who are writing for the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge every day.  Last year I put together a treasure box of writing prompts.  I decorated it and filled it with little odds and ends I found around my house.  One of these was a wishing rock.  Andrew put his hand into the box and came out with this rock.  I immediately thought of this Harris Burdick image.

“Maybe you could write a story to go with this image?”

“I’ve never written a story before.”

Andrew proceeded to type furiously into his Kidblog post.  The next day when he came in, he said “I can’t stop thinking about my wishing rock story.”

This is creativity working hand in hand with innovation.  You can read Andrew’s story here (part 1) and here (part 2).

My student, Noah, created a list post of “Things I Trust.”  Two of the curators of the Two Writing Teachers blog read his post.  They wanted to publish it to give other students ideas for writing.

Creativity and innovation happen in a classroom that is open to new ideas.  The let-me-try-this-out attitude.  I believe in my students.  They are more capable than I am when it comes to creativity.  Just look at Lynzee’s word cloud she created using the root word color.  She went on to write her post and change each word into a different font color.

 

Sometimes I feel like I just stand by and watch the brilliance of my students shine.  They are gifted kids, but more than that, they are open to the ideas floating around in the universe.  This openness will lead them on to produce wonderful innovations in the future, but for now, they are my little wonders.

To link up your own DigiLit post today, use this button.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

I subscribe to the Edutopia newsletter.  When I came across this article, Are we Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?, I had to ask myself if what I am doing in my classroom is true blended learning or is it just the same ole stuff digitized.  

“True blended learning affords students not only the opportunity to gain both content and instruction via online as well as traditional classroom means, but also an element of authority over this process.” Beth Holland

I watched with renewed interest as my students worked on book talks this week.  I started assigning book talks 10 years ago when I taught 4th grade.  I’ve been using the same rubric.  But watching what my students were doing with the addition of technology, I realized I needed to throw out the old rubric.

In my small groups of gifted students, my students rarely stand in front of the class to present their books.  I can take off the element of “engaging the audience with eye contact.”  I also need to remove “reading aloud a portion of the book.”  While this does show the audience the style and voice of the author, this is difficult to accomplish in an online presentation.

“(An online presentation) is about the visual,”  my student Emily said when I asked her how using the internet changed the work of a book talk.  She realizes that her visual elements play an important role in the presentation.  She wants the viewer to be inspired not only by what she says about the book but also by how attractive her video is.  

Blended learning can mean a step toward agency if we teachers create the conditions in which agency can occur.  I look on my role as more like a coach.  I stand by for any trouble shooting.

A student may say, “I don’t know the theme of this book.”  Then we have a conversation about it.  What are the major events?  What does this say about your character?

“My character was brave.”

“Did he need help? Did his family or friends help him?”

Theme: Family and friends can help you feel brave.

This kind of conversation doesn’t only happen when students are creating book talks; it may also happen during a reading conference, or when a student is writing a literary essay.

Again I ask myself and my students, “What is different when you use technology?”

Jacob said, “It makes it so much more interesting.”

Kaiden said the process of interacting with the graphics is more enjoyable.  He contends that it is more interesting to the viewer, too.

Emily responded with a “Yes!  And it’s so much more fun to do!”

I’m still unsure if I have truly switched over to blended learning. I use technology with my gifted students because it is motivating and gives them control over their product.  They look to the chart on the wall to see if every element I require is there.  When their presentations are done, they call out to me, “Mrs. Simon, come see this.”  They are proud producers of digital media.  This pride of accomplishment is enough for me.

 

 
If you are joining the DigiLit conversation today, please leave your link.

Read Full Post »

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Join the Two Writing Teachers blog for the Slice of Life Challenge.

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I was just informed that March is SOL challenge month. It’s a cruel, cruel world. We have to make SOL every single day. I don’t know if I will survive this deadly month. Okay, that was a little ( lot ) over the top of the ice cream cone. Yeah, that was a metaphor.

That’s kind of like saying over the mountain but in your mind picture a mountain sized ice cream cone with a ton of chocolate going right on the top and turning it into a chocolate avalanche. Did you do that? Good for you. Now I will grant you as many wishes as you want. NOT!! I am not a genie. But if I had one wish it would be not doing any Slice of Life challenge posts ever again. That is how bad I don’t want to do the Slice of Life challenge.

by Andrew, Feb. 21, 2017

“Andrew, the Slice of Life Challenge is voluntary. Are you saying you don’t want to try it this year? Should I make you a sticker chart?”

“I’m not making any promises. Yeah, go ahead, make me a chart.”

I teach my gifted students year to year throughout their elementary schooling. This is a blessing and a curse. I am blessed to know my students really well. I don’t have to pretest to find their reading levels. I don’t have to do writing prompts to see how well they write. I know all this.  They also know that when March rolls around it’s torture time. Time to write a Slice of Life every day!

Every year I try something new to motivate my students. Last year it was these buttons designed by Stacey Shubitz of the Two Writing Teachers. My students proudly collected badges until about March 15th when the newness wore off.

I also use incentives. One day of the month I hold a commenting challenge. The reward, one Skittle a comment. I soon ran out of Skittles.  I buy a book for each child who completes the challenge.  I usually buy 3-5 books.

Another thing we’ve done is connected with other classes doing the challenge. I’d like to do that again this year.  If your class is using Kidblogs, please request to follow by signing in to Kidblog and posting my URL, http://kidblog.org/class/mrs-simons-sea/. Click on the Follow button. Once I approve, I can follow you back. It’s fun and motivating to connect kids across the globe.

After seeing Holly Mueller’s students’ long slices, I implemented a word count rule. This has been both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is found when my students elaborate and expand their thoughts like you see in Andrew’s post above. The curse happens when they ramble on and type things like, “I’m up to 198 words, just 2 more to go!”

This is the nature of the beast that is SOLC! Blessings and curses! We are going to jump in despite the deep waters. Tomorrow we return from a break. Our challenge will begin. I wonder where this journey will take us.

I wrote a blog post for Kidblogs about the Slice of Life Classroom Challenge here.
If you wrote a DigiLit post, please link up with this button.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »