var _gaq = _gaq || []; _gaq.push([‘_setAccount’, ‘UA-38949041-1’]); _gaq.push([‘_trackPageview’]); (function() { var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true; ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s); })(); I am a newly addicted tweeter.  I must say, in the past, I’ve been rather apathetic towards this technology, but I think it is because I always hear about Kim K. tweeting about her ridiculous life to her millions of followers.  I was a bit turned off by the tool until I recently realized how much I can learn from other teachers, simply by being connected.  This can translate to our students as well: Using technology is going to enhance learning for our students as well, not just because its engaging and interactive, but because it connects them to others and to resources they would not encounter otherwise.

Great tweet from @justintarte today: Technology won’t replace teachers…but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who do not..


It’s so true.  It’s one of the first things employers look for, because the world is slowly becoming much more connected through technology, and our kids are going to have to be fluent in digital literacies as well as the simple use of technology in order to keep up.  Thanks to the help of my esteemed colleagues on my team, specifically @MissR146, here are some simple things that I’ve learned this year:

Google Sites

Screen Shot of my Google Site


We are fortunate enough to be utilizing the entire Google interface at our school, and it makes the transmission of activities relatively seamless for our students.  All of my activities, texts, and other information are housed on my Google Site, and the students have 24/7 access to it, in case they need something at home or some extra review. Additionally, it allows for relatively seamless differentiation in many areas.  I can post work for each of my five word study groups, allowing all students to maximize their extremely short half-hour of word study each morning; I can create multiple groups for my math students, so that the students who are at-risk for meeting standards are able to get more practice, and my kids that are at-risk for apathy can receive the challenging activities they need; I can also create webquests and more self-directed activities that require my students to interact more with text and rely on literacy skills to read directions and comprehend them in order to complete a task.

Google Forms

These are a life saver, and they are so easily created.  I can make quizzes, activities, entry slips, and exit slips on here, and it gives me instantaneous data.  I’ve used this in almost every subject area, and I’ve even been able to use it almost like an e-post it note.  The kids fill in the information in the form, and it populates the spreadsheet (that I project on the SMARTBoard). In one instance, when working on revising “boring” sentences for sensory details, each child submitted sentences, and we were able to compare all of these sentences next to each other, choose one to revise, and begin doing so together.  While this could have been completed using regular old post-its, our time was used much more efficiently, the kids could constantly go back to the spreadsheet, and I was able to keep the information for assessment data.

iCardSort

Never underestimate the power of sorting.  As I’ve said in previous posts, I think it is really difficult for children to truly understand a concept without some context.  Sorting is an easy way to provide this context.  They are able to see examples, non-examples, and even exceptions to rules.  This is especially helpful for word study, but I’ve used it for teaching point of view, grammar and sentence structure, determining important events in a fiction piece, and identifying quality versus low-level questions.

Educreations

At first, it might seem rather silly to create a video that teaches a concept.  Many might argue that we are taking away the face-to-face component of teaching, making learning more isolated.  I think it all depends on how you use it. First of all, I’ve used it to start flipping my lessons.  I’ve just started this, so I don’t really have any assessment data to show its effectiveness yet (nor can I say I am an expert in this practice), but I will have some initial data within a month.  So far, I’ve loved it.  It has allowed me to pre-teach information (specifically for math) while the kids are at home, allow them to try it on their own, and then assess them immediately upon entering the classroom.  I can, then, use my time more efficiently, spending time with my lower achievers and the ones who require more guided practice.  I’ve also used it during literacy in order to give students extra lessons in rather simple areas while I’m working with my guided reading groups.  For instance, students can watch a video on identifying similes or metaphors and complete a base-knowledge activity on it (i.e, simple identification out of context).  Then, I can spend more of my class time actually reading authentic texts, modeling the location of this figurative language, and teaching the kids how to interpret the language, which requires much more guided practice.


So What’s the Big Idea?

Technology isn’t just cool, it helps you work smarter rather than harder, it makes assessment more efficient and less monotonous, and it makes your instruction less homogenous.  I couldn’t agree more with @justintarte, and it’s not just because I think we need technology for the sake of technology; rather, technology helps teachers reach all students in ways they never could before, ways that teachers without technology will have a much harder time replicating.

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