Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Student Digital Portfolios Using Google Drive

What kinds of digital lessons can I create that allow my students to work in the cloud? Google Drive has been a HUGE game changer in the transformation of a "traditional" classroom into a 21st century "digital" classroom. In my district, we use Thinking Maps as visual graphic organizers where students can visually organize their thoughts across all content areas. So I had one of our district technology specialist create the various thinking maps we use in the classroom in PowerPoint and saved them as jpeg files. She then loaded them into a google presentation as backgrounds for the slides so they would not be able to move around on the students. A spreadsheet in google drive was created for both Math and ELA portfolios with the students first initial and last name. The spreadsheet was shared with me so that I can edit and view student products once created. The students duplicate each of the slides so that a new slide is always ready for them to work on before working on a map. This allows my students to have a digital portfolio where they can store all content in one place. This is a great way for students to begin learning how "working in the cloud" can be a great benefit to their learning and be able to have access to their work anytime. Here is a peek into what that looks like. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Six Flags Read to Succeed Kickoff

How can a squishy, soft pillow and a blanket make all the difference when reading in your classroom? Today, we celebrated our Six Flags Read to Succeed Program by asking students to bring a pillow and blanket to class to celebrate the "joy" of reading. I began by sharing stories of my childhood days when I would ask my mom for some sheets to make a fort out of our breakfast table or read under my bed with a flashlight or crawl in the bathtub with a pillow. These were and still are fond memories of my childhood reading experiences. I wanted my students to begin creating their own reading experiences at home by choosing a happy, fun place to read. Bringing the joy back in reading can be difficult these days with all the gadgets and play stations kids have today. So the students took out their blankets, pillows and iPads (used for a timer only) and set their timers for 30 minutes. I introduced a new app called "Sandtimer" and the students were so excited to begin their reading. I sat there and watched as my students were reading with such calmness and joy! An act so small but yet so grand can make all the difference in the world to a child! This brought such joy to my heart as I quickly remembered my childhood memories of reading and why I still love to open a book or an iPad to read. Are you creating life learning experiences for your students that they will always remember in your class? After all, "are we not reading to succeed?"

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Subtext in the Primary Classroom

Coming back from a two week vacation and getting back into a routine can be quite challenging. But I have to say that this past week was the most amazing week of learning for me and my students. One of my goals this year was to learn how to access our online reading adoption materials through Think Central onto our iPads to be able to use them in guided reading groups. I discovered Subtext and how to utilize this powerful app in my classroom. I had one of our district technologist specialist create student accounts so that students would be able to read their stories on their iPad. So my job was to assign each reading group their first book to read. The power of this app comes alive by the many ways the book can be opened. This is what got me excited! So I began to explore the app on my iPad by downloading a book to see how students were going to access their book. The download was successful as I opened it in Movenote, Explain Everything, AdobeReader, Edmodo, GoogleDrive, iBooks, Evernote, Knowmia just to name a few. I searched for lesson ideas on YouTube and found a great tutorial on the EdReach Radio show for using this app especially at the primary level. My students can now access their guided reading book electronically to read in guided reading groups and annotate vocabulary words, look for context clues, identify character traits and so much more in other apps like AdobeReader, record themselves reading the book in Explain Everything and Movenote which takes a video of them reading out loud. Students can now listen to themselves read to help build fluency. I am so excited to see how this app will help my students become better readers with a digital twist! Here are the steps to setting it up in your classroom:
  • Student accounts and password were created by technology specialist (a printed list of student accounts is helpful when students forget their login information teacher can login students)
  • Technology specialist added Think Central to the home screen on each of the student iPads for a student login page
  • Subtext app was downloaded to each of the student iPads
  • Classroom teacher can create a class group for students to join for whole group lessons so students can reply to discussions
  • I brought several students to the teacher table at a time to join my class group created (great way to use in chapter book read aloud discussions)
  • Teacher MUST assign books prior to lesson in Think Central for student access (groups must be created in Think Central to keep up with each group)
  • Students login to Think Central, open their book in Subtext or whatever app teacher plans to use for the lesson taught that day
My goal is to use this app to help develop vocabulary development, fluency and reading comprehension skills in all my students. I am really excited about this app and hope to post more information on student progress. If you have any lesson ideas or if you are using this app in your classroom, please feel free to share your learning by leaving a comment.

Here is the video on YouTube from the EdReach Radio Show: