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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Revisiting Storybird

Tonight I came across a wonderful Blog called Kleinspiration.  The author, Erin Klein, recently had an article published in the Classroom 2.0 Book Project.  Her article, Digital Writer's Workshop, was about troubleshooting through collaboration and reflection when using digital writing tools in the classroom.  One of the tools she discussed using was Storybird.

I introduced Storybird to my second graders this year (click here and here for previous posts) and found they were really excited about creating stories using this tool in the beginning but that their excitement fizzled rather quickly.  Many of  my really motivated writers did not even complete their Storybird writing projects leading me to believe the tool wasn't appropriate for such young children.  After reading Erin's article I am newly inspired and ready to try again this coming fall.  She suggested having students write first and then use Storybird to publish.  When I introduced Storybird to my kiddos this past year they chose illustrations first and then tried to create a story based on those illustrations.  This was REALLY HARD for them because writing fiction is CHALLENGING for 7 and 8 year olds.  My students were also trying to create their stories using Mini Dells.  This was a challenge because the screens were so small!

My new plan is to introduce the website to my students at the beginning of the school year by showing them some stories that I have written and sharing my writing process (Erin's suggestion).  After we build up a collection of shared writing we will work together to publish a few of our writing pieces using Storybird. I have a feeling this is going to work much better. I will post in more detail once we begin our writing journey this fall!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Free Technology for Teachers

If you are looking for new and innovative ways to use technology in your classroom the Free Technology for Teachers blog written by Richard Bryne is a MUST SEE!  He is incredible.  I can hardly keep up with all of the wonderful things he has been sharing.  Sometimes he posts 5 times in one day!!!!!

Talk about making learning contagious!  After each post he briefly describes how the technology applies to education.  Below each post there are 4 additional links to other posts you might be interested in.

If you are using technology (and I really hope you are!) in the classroom you have now found your pot of gold at the end of the rainbow! 

Some of my favorites so far are:

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Digital Observation Forms

I, like many of you, have been searching for a better way to contain all those observational notes I collect when conferring with students and share that information with our Title 1 and Special Education teachers for years.  Last year I tried using a "penseive" like the one the CAFE sisters suggest.  I thought it was the best thing since sliced bread in the beginning, but by the end of the school year I realized it wasn't the best tool for me.  I still wasn't able to communicate the way I wanted to with our Title 1 and Special Education teachers and I found the notebook to be a little cumbersome.

I was given an ipad to play with this summer by my school district and decided I would first use it as a teaching tool for me.  I created a conferring observation form for reading, math and writing using Google Forms.  I kept the forms as simple as possible.  Below is a sample of the Reading Observations form that I made.  I am keeping the form and all of my reading lesson plans on a private Google Site that I made for easy access while conferring.

The reason I think this is so wonderful is that each time I submit an observation it puts all the data into a spreadsheet.  I can view the data in several different ways: by student, strategy, books the student has read, etc.  Also, by sharing the form with my colleagues we can all enter our data while working with students and view it!  This will allow all of us to be on the same page with our struggling students...the information will be at the tip of our fingers. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Learning Opportunities

This summer I am posting to my classroom website on Tuesdays and Thursdays in an effort to keep those sweet second graders I had last year connected to learning over the summer. Before the last day of school I modeled and taught them how to comment on our classroom blog.  We talked about social media etiquette and what a great blog comment would look like.
Is what I am going to write true?
Is what I am going to write helpful?
Is what I am going to write interesting?
Is what I am going to write necessary?
Is what I am going to write kind?

If you click here you will see the first post of the summer and can follow the rest from there.  Last week was the first week we were out of school and I haven't had any students make a comment on any of the posts yet.  Hopefully that will change soon!  I am also recording the posts using Soundcloud for those little ones who might have a little trouble reading the entire post independently.

Graphics by DJ Inkers