Sunday, November 21, 2010

Learning to Learn

I teach a highly capable group in Reading in Fifth grade. We are currently reading the book, The Devil's Arithmetic. The main character in the book travels back in time and there are many literary elements in the book. At several points in the book the author does not spell out what is happening, rather through different literary techniques (foreshadowing, hyperboles, metaphor, simile, idiom, symbols, etc.) the author hints at what is happening so that the reader needs to infer. The students in my reading class were uncomfortable with this. They knew I had read the book before and asked me to tell them what happened. They complained that they didn't understand, and it was very difficult for them to take a step  back and just dissect what we do understand to help figure out the author's message. We also discussed that the author probably had a reason for not wanting the reader to know exactly what was happening. The students in my class just wanted the information handed to them and instead, I was forcing them to try to figure it out on their own. It was a very eye opening experience! I hope as they practice learning for themselves, it will continue to develop in other subjects as well!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Around the World connections

Wow! Last night I was on Skype with a woman from Australia about podcasting! It was so incredible to me that I was able to connect with someone from across the world and get ideas about podcasting! I was excited by the whole experience and she gave me some great advice. If anyone is interested in podcasting, here is her wiki site  which really guides you through the process. I am still trying to learn about podcasting so please let me know if anyone has some ways they have used it in their classroom.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Learning through voice thread

I have been using voice thread in my class room so that my students have a chance to present their information on Native Americans.

 It was a really good experience for my students because they really had to use higher order thinking skills in order to figure out which information they should speak about and how to present it in an interesting manner in under a minute!  The results were fantastic! The girls really presented their information well and it was really interesting to listen to. Next, when the girls responded to one another, the girls commented that they really learned a lot from their classmates and enjoyed listening to them. Their feedback to one another was fantastic and they had to use auditory skills in order to learn the information about one another's tribe. I will definitely use voice threads again!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Learning Curve

As I incorporate and learn new technologies, I think that it is also helping me to improve upon my teaching in other ways. For example, when I have a project with technology, my students are taking what they learned to a deeper level. The voice thread project that they are doing now, involves the students having to figure out how to relay their information about the Native American Tribe that they studied in a way that is interesting and that is not much longer than a minute. (We put the timer on for a minute and a half and the students couldn't believe how long that felt!). In order to achieve this, we used Rubistar to make a rubric together that the students could then use to evaluate themselves. It is certainly a learning process for me because it is taking me forever to scan in their pictures and get them looking right in the voice thread. I have to say though that I really like learning new things along with the students. It not only challenges them, but me as well and that makes it all the more interesting for all of us because we are all learning!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Using Technology in a meaningful way

I think I am finally getting the whole integrating technology idea. Partly due to what I am learning through PLP (Powerful Learning Practices) and partly as I continue to teach and learn. Because I have allowed myself time to learn and explore different web 2.0 tools, now when I am teaching a lesson, unit, novel, etc., the technology tools I am familiar with are meshed in my mind with all of the other tools that I use to teach (ex. manipulatives, graphic organizers, etc.). When I am figuring out how to plan or enhance a lesson, if it is a technology tool that will work best (for example, Google Earth for Walk Two Moons), then that is what I will use. I no longer feel like I am just choosing technology and figuring out a way to use it. I feel like I am now using technology in a way that is not separated with what I teach, but a part of what I teach.
As I continued to teach the Novel, Walk Two Moons, each student was assigned a Native American Tribe to study. I wanted to figure out a way that all of the students could share what they presented but I knew that it would take a lot of time for each of the 18 students to get up and present. Instead, I thought about using a voice thread and I talked to my technology coordinator about it and she thought it was a great idea. I am really excited to experience this with my students.
I also feel privileged to work in a school where all of my students have laptop computers and my technology coordinator (thanks, Renee!) is so supportive and available to help me as I try new ideas in the classroom. The Google Earth has been going better than I ever expected and it is amazing to see how engaged the students are and how much effort and motivation they are putting into it!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Google Earth in Reading

We are reading Walk Two Moons in Reading and the book tells the tale through a journey to several different places in the United States. I thought that the girls would really be able to "see" the story if they could document the places the main character traveled to using Google Earth.

Today went great! The students put place marks on the first two places that were discussed in the story. Then they wrote about what happened at those places, what feelings the characters while in those places and they ended with a thinking question or reflection statement. It was really neat to see how the students were getting into it and how much they were reflecting on their writing!

I am learning some more tricks of Google Earth and the girls are learning to problem solve as well! It is addicting though, it is hard to turn Google Earth off once you are on it! The 360 degrees feature is really amazing. I realized that for a couple of my sites I had to make them more specific (the Ohio turnpike) in order for the girls to find the exact place. Although it was neat because the girls really understood after seeing it why it is called a turnpike!

Each day Google Earth is becoming easier and easier and more amazing for the girls!
Their writing is incredible and they are really pulling events/emotions/character traits and all the other elements of a novel and relating them to the setting. It is quite amazing to see! The girls had an opportunity to share the place marks they had made today with a partner and they are ending with great reflective questions. Each new day I am excited to see what they have added to their Google Earth! I am really enjoying this project and it is helping to make the book come alive for the students!

The girls have already created 6 place marks and have written some very thoughtful comments on their place marks. In the end they will have at least 16 place marks. I thought maybe the best way to share was to get in groups of 4 and each person lead a trip through their place marks. Since each of their place marks has a comment and ends with a reflection question, as each student leads her tour, it will be a literature discussion.
I would love for their tours to be posted in some way but I am not sure how. Any ideas of how to share their tours and allow others to view them?

It was really neat to see the other day. The students in my class were working on comprehension questions. One question had the students comparing two different places. A few students didn't even hesitate and went on to Google Earth to look at the two places to compare them. Wow!