This Isn't Your Mama's Classroom
From time to time it is necessary to stop and re-evaluate our practice. Are we still doing what's best for our current students or have we become creatures of habit emulating teaching practices from a by-gone era? There are four areas where we need to determine how we can best positively impact student learning while adapting to meet their unique needs in this digital age.
- Does our classroom set the stage for impactful learning experiences? Are we over decorators? I have curated much of the research we discussed on this Pinterest board: Learning Spaces. Cathy Mere has also curated a great learning spaces pin board: Rethinking Learning Spaces.
- To turn any flat surface into a usable collaborative space, use Idea Paint. Here is a piece that I wrote about the impact that our Idea wall had upon student learning: The Right Tool at the Right Time. Here is an example of one way my learners used our idea wall: Chalk Talk: Night Comes.
- The model of the teacher being the sole disseminator of information in a classroom is outdated. Our role has shifted. From the palm of their hand, students can search and discover information in a few seconds. We must become facilitators of learning through small group and individualized instruction.
- Students can construct their own knowledge using tools like Blendspace and Lino where content has been curated for student exploration and analysis. Here is an example: Trailers and Teasers Blendpace
- Personalized and timely feedback can be delivered through KidBlog and Google Drive. KIdBlog allows the teacher to leave students private comments for re-direction or reteaching, and saves everything in a chronological order showing student growth. Google Drive easily facilitates collaborative writing with the ability to collaboratively write, edit and comment upon one another's work. Here are some examples of how my students have used Google Drive: The Power of Choice and Igniting the Learning Fire. On IRA's Reading Today, other ways we use Google Drive with Students: How Do We Know What They Know and Where Do We Go from Here?
- Time management and organization can be challenging. Using the Confer app, you can quickly take notes on a student’s strengths or needs. Also, using “Quick Text,” you can create a note and apply it to a group of students. Once a note or comment is created, it is saved, and can easily be applied to other students at a different time. My students also set personal goals and we chart their progress with Confer. The video on that site demonstrates how it works.
- Student learning is not limited by classroom walls. If you are looking for some established collaborative projects, your students can join the Global Read Aloud,Mystery Skype, International Dot Day, or join The Educator's PLN and see who else is looking to start a collaborative project.
- TodaysMeet is a fantastic way for students to connect and discuss their learning. Often we have students who are shy and reticent to participate in class or small group discussions. It may be due to a lack of understanding, a fear of peer ridicule, an exceptional need, being introverted, or lack of English proficiency. TodaysMeet is a tool that allows students to carry on a back-channel conversation regarding a classroom activity, video clip, guest speaker presentation, or a prompt in a nonthreatening manner. Here are Five Benefits for Using Back Channel in Your Classroom.
- Skype allows for free video calls. You can find authors to Skype into your classroom. If you want to include more than one person or group, Google Hangouts are a great alternative.
- On Twitter, students can join many different conversations. My students joined #6Word for publishing six word memoirs, #ReadIt for their book jacket book reviews, #TweetStory for publishing stories in 140 characters or less and #WhyIWrite for National Day of Writing. Not sure about how Twitter works? Here's a blog where I explained the basics of Twitter. Interested in connecting your class with other classes from around the world through Twitter? Join The GlobalClassTwitter wiki. Uncomfortable using Twitter? Try Twiducate. Want to connect your students with a scientist? Here are 100 Scientists on Twitter by Category.
- How can students demonstrate mastery? Fakebook allows students to create static Facebook -like profile page of individuals, factual or fictional.
- Tackk is a free, simple way for one to create digital pages, flyers, or posters. It has a robust commenting feature as well as many ways to upload content. It can be embedded into websites, wikis, or blogs.
- Smore is a tool where a user can create a digital flyer. It has commenting capability and is easily shared via different medium. Smore also has the ability to be embedded into blogs, websites, or wikis. My students used them to create tabloid magazines of urban legends.
- Instagram provides students with the opportunity to not only connect with peers and create collaborative stories, but also they can use the photo or video feature to demonstrate mastery of content standards.