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Archive for the ‘Digital Learning’ Category

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Years ago, my colleagues and I created a monthly enrichment day for our gifted 6th graders to combat underachievement. This year we selected the theme of Communication. Each student or group of students were charged with asking a question about something they were interested in communicating. Emily asked if elderly in resident homes are lonely. She assumed the answer was yes and followed her research to discover that loneliness can actually lead to death. She was moved to do something about it.

Emily decided to set up a field trip to a local retirement home. With a little direction, she called the retirement home activity director, contacted our gifted supervisor for permission, and created a Valentine’s Day activity. I have never seen her so empowered and so excited. The night before the field trip, she hand made 34 Valentines to give to the residents.

My colleagues were more than cooperative in getting their students to the retirement home. The students quickly found an elderly resident to spend time with. As I circled around taking pictures, I was pleased to see these young kids talking freely with their new friends.

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On Wednesday at our monthly Wow (Way Out Wednesday) meeting, Emily compiled the surveys. She also put together a video of one of the residents talking about her life and how she liked living at Garden View. Emily’s presentation about this experience is coming together, but it’s taken on a new direction. She discovered that the elderly at Garden View are not lonely. They live in a community there. Activities are planned for them. People visit often. They are well cared for.

Beyond the original intent of Emily’s project, she has discovered that relationships at any age are important. She discovered that she can influence others and spread kindness. When we as teachers take the lessons out of our hands and put it into those of our students, they can be difference-makers.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Last week I wrote about an idea I had for digital vocabulary using Tagul. I tried the idea with my students this week. I explained that they could use Tagul to make a word cloud about a vocabulary word. I asked them to explore the meaning of the word by using Thesaurus.com to find synonyms. I wrote a model blog post to show my expectations for their writing around the word.

In their writing, I wanted my students to find a way to connect to the word. Then I asked them to choose a favorite synonym and tell why it interested them. By interacting with a vocabulary word, it will become more integrated into their lexicon. The activity also spurred on some interesting class discussions.

This is Kaiden’s response to the word remarkable.

Created in Tagul.com

Created in Tagul.com

I put remarkable because so many things in life are remarkable. Think about it. Dreams, for example are completely extraordinary. We are able to make simulations while our brains are only half functioning . Even the human brains are remarkable. We are capable of so many things. We can travel almost anywhere on earth. We can travel to places miles and miles and miles into the sky, and break the sound barrier.

My favorite word is incredible, because it is INCREDIBLE. It is enthusiastic, but it can also be used in a sad and sarcastic way. Which I guess is me. Some days, I am enthusiastic and jumping all over (Which happens about 2/5 days). Other days, I am grumpy/sarcastic, quiet, and sad. Sometimes separately, sometimes at the same time.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

I hate to admit it, but I have not been the best at teaching vocabulary.  I’ve tried all kinds of methods from word lists to word walls, but I am still met with groans from kids when I say Vocabulary.  This year I’ve been using a workbook.  This goes against my whole philosophy of teaching, so please don’t tell my students.  This workbook provides an authentic text, so the words are in context.  We also work with synonyms and antonyms and always a writing piece.  But like most work with Vocabulary in the title, my students think drudgery.

It is time for a change.  I have been intrigued by Carol Varsalona’s word clouds.  I tweeted a question to her.  Turns out it was our mutual friend Holly who introduced Tagul to Carol.

This leads me to an idea I will be trying this week with my students (crossing fingers the app works in our network).  I took one of our vocabulary words from last week, essence, and typed it into Thesaurus.com.  I opened Tagul and typed in a dozen synonyms.  Then I looked for a shape that would help define the word.  I chose a water droplet because water is the essence of our bodies.  The image shares common synonyms as well as makes this vocabulary work more motivating.

essence-word-cloud

In what ways are you digitizing vocabulary work?  Share your ideas on your blog and link below.

 

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Digitally enhanced iPhone image

Digitally enhanced iPhone image

A few weeks ago, I set up a plan for the month of January DigiLit posts. I promised to tweet the topic on Thursdays. I have not fulfilled that plan. I have been barely making it with a tweet on Saturday. Forgive me. I’m adjusting the plan somewhat. I’ll place the topic for next week in the current DigiLit Sunday post and tweet a reminder on Saturday. If you are writing posts, or want to join us, please go to the Google doc to add your information and your topic ides.

I enjoy playing with photographs on my phone using various photo-enhancing apps. The technology available to us today allows for regular people like me to make cool, professional looking photos with a click.

My students have discovered that in their Kidblog, they can change, manipulate, add features, etc. to their avatars. While this is fun, it can take away time from focusing on the real stuff of blogging, the writing. What place does digital design have in our classrooms, if any?

I struggle with this question. I think it is important to encourage creativity in the classroom, but where does creativity end and just fooling around begin?

My answer has been in setting purposes for digital design and creativity. When my students work on blogging, the design for their posts must serve a purpose. The design should communicate. Setting backgrounds, changing fonts and font size, manipulating images should communicate a tone or theme.

What are some ways you encourage digital design in your classroom? Join the conversation with the link below.

I am blogging for Kidblog. To see my latest post on Tapping into the World of Wonder, click here.

Next week’s topic comes from Maria Caplin: Increasing student vocabulary beyond definitions.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

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The image above makes me imagine metaphorically that I am that big green rock holding in balance the different colors of my students.  Teaching is a delicate balancing act.  As teachers, we must set goals for our students, individually and collectively.  Our job is to get on the train every morning and move down the tracks to that goal.  (Excuse the mix of metaphors.)

Sometimes one student can topple the whole balancing game.  We must stop whatever it is we are doing and pay attention.  Focus on needs rather than goals.

This week I had to call on a colleague for help.  I was not meeting a student’s need, and I wasn’t sure where to go next.  I had tried many directions, but none were working very well.  This is humbling.  However, I found strength and comfort in the shared experience.  Reaching out when you feel defeated is tough to do.  I am so grateful now that I did.  My student is better for it.  I am better for it.

My students write every day.  Writing is a brave act. So different from answering questions or working out a math problem.  Writing is personal and hard.

This week one of my goals was teaching essay.  The kind of essay that testing will require in which the student writes about a literary element (in this case, theme) comparing two texts.  We worked with a nonfiction article and a poem.

During a conference with one of my students, I read aloud to her what she had written.  “Blah, blah, blah” was her response.  “I can’t stand writing essays.  They’re so boring!”  After our chat, she typed up her boring essay.  I had to laugh when I read it.  She began with, “Hey, world. Listen here!”  And at a later point, she wrote, “Now that is awesome!”

My students need to be able to express themselves.  Sometimes these expressions come out in loud exclamations, quiet tears, or interjections. No matter the goal, needs may throw us out of balance, or may be the very thing to keep the balance.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Personally I have become very suspicious of news lately.  The skeptic in me is showing.  On social media, I hesitate to click through to a website for fear of ad invasion or some pop-up wanting me to sign up, and then there’s the creepy fact that everything you search becomes part of your history and everyone knows.  I placed an order on Jet.com and for a week, every website I went to popped up a Jet.com ad.  Really? Modern day commercials geared to who some cyberspace robot thinks I am.

How do we protect our children in these times of everything is news, real or fake?  When the topic came up, I originally thought I didn’t need to worry about it.  Our school district has safety blocks in place; however, lots of fake news sites have ways of circumventing these blocks.  And in the name of good research, my students were finding them.  Time for a talk.

Armed with chart paper, I wanted to find out what my students already knew about the difference between fake and real news stories.  Here’s what we came up with.

fake-real-news-chart

Then I asked my students to pick a story on the internet that they are interested in investigating and write about their findings.  One student made an interesting discovery when she wanted to find out if Donald Trump supports LGBT rights.  She was confused by the reports and the images of Trump holding an LGBT flag.  Which is true?  In this case, both.  So now we are on to another issue, what do we believe by the actions and the words of a person in politics?  My response was yes, it’s confusing, so write about that!

Kevin Hodgson tweeted a Google slide show that he created for his students.  I plan to show this next week to keep the conversation open.

I don’t have all the answers.   This world of news at our fingertips, real or fake or just plain confusing, can be daunting.  I want my students to be discerning citizens.  So I keep the doors open.  We wonder.  We question.  We look for answers.

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Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Please use this button on your site for DigiLit Sunday posts

Sometimes you just need a plan.  When the calendars come off the wall and you haven’t bought the 2017 calendar yet, where can you find the plan?  Digital calendars don’t end.  Not only can you go forward indefinitely, you can go back as well. When I scrolled back, I made it to 1770. Crazy!

Recently on the #Good2Great Voxer chat, Kari Yates talked about making a 5-year plan.  Most of us cringed and were overwhelmed by this thought.  But there is something comforting and practical about having a plan.

So here I am back at DigiLitSunday after a few weeks off, and I have no plan.  I know that I want this meme to continue, but I feel like a failure as a leader.  Where are we going?  What is the purpose?  What is the goal?

To alleviate my  anxiety about this, I have a tentative topic plan for January:

  • January 15: Fake vs. Real news: How do we teach our students to be discerning?
  • January 22: Balancing Goals with Needs
  • January 29: Digital Design

Please check in on the Google Doc.  I’ve cleared the topic area, so add in new topic ideas.  If you are not listed, please add your contact.  My goal is to Tweet the topic on Thursdays.

If you haven’t seen it yet, I’ve started blogging for Kidblog.  My first post was published last week.  Check it out here. 

With a plan or without, if you wrote a DigiLitSunday post, please link below.

 

 

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