Get kids moving

Jennifer Gonzalez has a great post this week on getting kids to learn through movement.

This work ties into growing speaking & listening skills for students and has some great enhancements through tech as well.


Speaking to Share

Speaking and listening support for students is essential – the skills support all of the other work kids need to do when they are reading and writing. But most people have a fear of public speaking, including teachers, so we can forget to scaffold the skills with smaller tasks.

A great way to use to give students practice speaking in class is to let them read aloud a short selection of their reading for class. If the expectation while they read is to mark the text, then marking something they loved – a turn of phrase, a descriptive detail, imagery, etc. – can easily be shared. As a teacher, you are then assessing reading while assessing speaking.

Once the passage is chosen, have students whisper read to themselves, or read with a partner. Practice reading out loud in different ways helps avoid embarrassing mispronunciations or other issues that would reinforce public speaking as a scary experience. Practicing also helps student read more fluently over time, demonstrating to them the need to practice in order to improve.

I often have students record themselves since I had a BYOD policy in effect. That way they can troubleshoot their own voice performance through an audio recording, or record with video in order to critique themselves or critique with a partner.

Finally, have students read their passage to the class! You can create a specific list so they know when their turn is or you can have them “popcorn” read so they can jump in. More than one student can have the same favorite passage and passages can be read in any order.

This activity is great because it’s informal but gives students exposure to reading and public speaking. There are lots of ways to extend it as well: FlipGrid readings, writing a rationale for the selection, found poems from the passage, pastiche, etc.

Annotate in Google Docs

Google’s Applied Digital Skills lessons for students are amazing. They just released one on annotating (note taking) with Google Docs that teaches students WHY and HOW to annotate. This is a great resource if you are working on creating a paperless classroom or if you just want students to develop their annotation skills in a variety of ways (because they can also annotate paper, annotate on sticky notes, take 2 column notes, etc.)

Check out the Applied Digital Skills lesson to see how you can apply the learning in your own classroom!

Annotation and close reading

pexels-photo-632470.jpegWhen I was a sophomore in high school I was assigned selections from Hamlet to read in my English class. I read it, understood it, and took notes in the margins as I was asked to do. But the following day I was told I didn’t have “enough” annotations and was assigned a detention (a Friday Evening Inconvenience – it was boarding school).

But what is “enough” when it comes to annotation? As a college student I think I finally learned to annotate so that my thinking – at the time I took the note – was clear to me when it came time to use the note.

I think that, as teachers, we need to help students connect to the text through annotation. This starts with how we select the text and how we select the assign the annotation. We have to give them clear guidelines and support. Annotation is a skill that needs to be developed

Chunk – How can you break up longer texts?

Purpose – What’s the learning objective? Make this explicit to the students so you can all begin with the end in mind

Quantify – How many comments do you expect per paragraph, per page?

Notations – What do you want to see in the margins? Symbols, questions, definitions, specific connections? Symbols or color coding should include a key each time.

Rereads – When you need them to reread for fluency or in a coaching group, give them a different purpose or lens for the next read

We can use technology or low tech tools to support students through universal design.

  • Color coded sticky notes with questions or comments written on them
  • Hypertext annotation to definitions, expansion of ideas, etc.
  • Kami – potential shared annotation
  • Google Docs – comments in the margins
  • A document camera will allow you to model the annotation, with out-loud metacognitive thinking about why and how you are annotating, for students. Some document cameras will allow you to record the whole thing for playback later.

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Tech tutoring available

I’ve noticed over the last few years that my colleagues have questions about technology integration that can’t be answered well in a few minutes at the copy machine. Or they take a class but it doesn’t really address their pressing needs for how to effectively use tech with students for improved engagement, workflow, grading, creation, etc.

I’m here to help! I created a short page that lists a lot of the basic needs educators seem to have, along with a contact form. Though this was designed to help people locally, I can also tutor over Skype or create short videos that can be watched at your convenience. Best of all, the tutoring session includes email follow-up and support.

This is a HUGE timesaver because you can personalized service so you can be more efficient with your time once you get started with your project.

Check it out!

Grade all the things!

Seriously, this is the most fun I have ever had grading. It’s WAY more fun if the student has not done well though… I feel like I should find a way to turn that around.

A little while ago I followed the directions on Alice Keeler’s site to start using Bitmoji (it’s a free app that create a cute little version of yourself) outside of text messages. In Chrome, I installed the Bitmoji extension so now I can drag and drop my little avatars.

Since I’ve been using Google Classroom with my seniors, and this great little digital interactive notebook I got from Teachers Pay Teachers, it’s super fun to use Bitmoji as comments on their work. I cannot even tell you how endlessly entertaining I find this. I wish I could make my own in order to customize comments. I bet I can, actually…