#DigiLit Sunday #NaNoWriMo Google Apps

DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, November 9, 2014.

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Our students in grades seven and eight are participating in #NaNoWriMo again this year. Each students sets their own goals and we continue to follow the Common Core State Standards aligned curriculum by Young Writers NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month. I wrote about it last week, and this was our first week.

We actually have only twelve days of classroom time to allot for this due to trainings, conferences, and Thanksgiving. However the students are writing about what they know: their hobbies and interests. They took that lesson to heart: writers write about what they know [or research]. So students are writing about friendships made and lost, sports goals and goofs, and characters new and ancient.

Students draft their writing in Google Docs.  Our Teacher Dashboard by Hapara allows me to quickly see new additions, view, and click to add comments to encourage their continued efforts. I point out the positives to encourage their continued use of those strategies such as dialogue and description to help set the mood and tone for their action.

teacher_dashboard

 

nanao comments

 

Students share their novels with each other to also add comments and encourage each other. Students or teacher and student can carry on a feedback conversation through the comments and when completed, just click “Resolve.” The collaborative aspect of Google Apps for Education encourages writing by students through this process; it’s personalized learning at its best.

When not writing for NaNoWriMo, the apps allow for students to choose the app that best fits their audience and purpose: a blog? a Google site? a document? a slideshow? a survey [forms]? a spreadsheet with charts for data? a HangOut with experts? To meet the Common Core State Standards, collaboration and multi-media information are key. I’m so thankful our school district adopted this for our students.

 

 

#DigiLit Sunday Essentials #ce14 #ccss

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DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, October 12, 2014.

DigiLit Sunday  this week is a review of what is essential.  That’s been my focus this weekend as I develop tasks for students that are authentic for readers, writers, and researchers. What does that mean?

essentialquesitonsFortunately, I read in my Kindle App the book Essential Questions.

It’s great review for those of us who focus on projects because, no matter what, it’s student learning that is important. Grant Wiggins also wrote a great post on inquiry, PBL, and UbD — provides this gem:

“And that gradual release idea is the essence of backward design in UbD – and a great place to reflect this weekend. How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value? Viewed this way, there is no dichotomy at all between UbD and inquiry-based pedagogy.”

“How am I designing the year to make it most likely that students become increasingly autonomous as questioners and arguers (in the Common Core sense) – while still learning and understanding content of value?”

If my students are to become independent, they need to have choice in doing the work of readers, writers, and researchers. They now need to develop from our work in previous years their own projects that present their work. They work to be collaborative and authentic.

Essential Questions as overarching and transferable elements of language arts are key. So I looked at the verbs and nouns in the Common Core State Standards for Language Arts and developed a set of questions to start the year — and will add to them as our projects dictate. Because I teach Language Arts, students have some options in content, and so I am releasing some questioning responsibility to students as we follow the Right Question strategy.

I realize that essential questions can be the guiding work of our coarse and also the specific questions of content.  So we consider Essential Questions, and a guiding rubric scale that includes more specific questions and criteria for the language arts content. But what does that mean? If I’m teaching and releasing responsibility, I need even more. The Two Writing Teachers reminded me of writing checklists, so with our new standards, we need new checklists, which I created for each of the essential components that guide our work: collaboration, investigation, content, design, and language. These are our beginning.

And how do we bring this all together for students? A ThingLink:

As we change our task — to choice or teacher driven, we have a basic set of essentials to guide our learning. It’s not perfect yet, but we are moving in the right direction, together.

So, in our work together, students and I are guided by essential questions, focused questions, scales, and checklists. Our work is open in ThingLink [Kidblog for students] and Google Apps.

How do you keep your projects open for students, including the essentials of learning?

#DigiLit Sunday Differentiation

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DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, September 28, 2014.

 

How do I differentiate reading materials so students can approach grade level standards?

I’ve discovered four valuable resources with a Common Core State Standards focus:
Actively Learn   Link to your Google Account; set up classes for students with different levels of reading material.

NEWSela  Link to your Google Account; set up classes for students with different levels of reading material

ReadWorks Leveled Reading Passages

ReadWriteThink Lessons, Online Inter-actives

I love that I can find leveled texts to challenge students or to bring them into the conversation so they can think critically and collaborate to learn the skills needed to be life-long readers.

What sites have you found to help your differentiation of reading materials?

#DigiLit Sunday Assessing Blogs

How do you assess blogs?

What is your purpose?

That is the question.

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DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Sunday, September 14, 2014.

This week’s DigiLit Sunday is a follow-up to Margaret’s question last week: How do I turn this activity into data? 

How do you assess blogs?

What is your purpose?

That is the question, and that determines the data.

For some, the purpose may be writing fluency. Then assessment would be to provide feedback on the increased number and length of posts.  [ CCSS: 10. Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences. ]

As students develop fluency, suggest organization of paragraphs — not the five-sentence paragraph, but the idea of topic and support. [CCSS: 4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. ]

Next, add in conventions — sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc.

If fluency and foundational skills are not the focus, then consider:

  • design — the theme, layout, widgets, links, focus, invitation to participate, categories, tags [CCSS: 6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.] 
  • content — topic, support details, vocabulary, questions, style [ CCSS: 1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts, using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence. 2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content. 3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. ]
  • conventions

Perhaps the focus is writing:

  • organization
  • ideas
    •  [CCSS: 4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. ]
  • voice
  • word choice
  • sentence fluency
  • conventions
    • [CCSS: 5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach. ]

Perhaps the focus is collaboration:

  • research
  • connect
  • share
  • collaborate
    • [CCSS: 6 Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others  7  Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation. 8 Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism. ]
    • [CCSS Speaking and Listening 

Comprehension and Collaboration 1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively. 2 Integrate and evaluate information presented in diverse media and formats, including visually, quantitatively, and orally. 3 Evaluate a speaker’s point of view, reasoning, and use of evidence and rhetoric.

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas 4 Present information, findings, and supporting evidence such that listeners can follow the line of reasoning and the organization, development, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. 5 Make strategic use of digital media and visual displays of data to express information and enhance understanding of presentations.]

For a thorough review of blogging with students, see Silvia Tolisano’s work at Langwitches:

I especially like this rubric she created [click to enlarge]:

Silvia Tolisano’s Rubric

My hope is my “assessment” is a conversation with students and students with each other, so that the learning is a growth goal of which reflection inspires improvement. Therefore, an ongoing component of blogging would be a reflection by the student of the growth their blog demonstrates. If I must give score from a rubric, the important part is still the conversation, goal-setting, and reflection!

What are your thoughts about assessing blogs and gathering data?

#DigiLit Sunday Blogging Challenge

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It’s Sunday!  DigiLit Sunday is a Sunday post on literacy, an invitation by Margaret Simon, to share literacy strategies and tools for the classroom. This week’s list of bloggers: Click here.

This week: Get started or restarted with  class blogging !

I want to dive in to blogging with my students. We blog with Kidblog (Grades 6, 7) and Edublog (Grade 8). Last year was our first real attempt at blogging, as you can see at Kidblogs. I’ve archived my Grade 8’s already.

First of all, why student blogging? Read what Connected Principal George Couros says: 5 Reasons Your Students Should Blog. The main reason for me is to help students become  lifelong, connected and civil learners in our connected world. The second reason is that student blogging fits right in with the Common Core State Standards. Technology is integrated throughout the standards [ See the integration here, by Beth Goth], and students who blog will be synthesizing texts and using media to analyze and discuss the issues about which they are studying. And they’ll be applying the writing  / communication skills needed to share those reflections, compositions, and arguments. And, learning to leave a positive digital footprint that leads right back to them.

How will I restart this blogging habit to develop both reading and writing skills?

I’ve started the Edublogs Teach Class Blogging Challenge to get myself blogging, connecting, conversing, ready to get my students going as well. My first post at my class blog, Eagles Write, shares my new theme and some great ideas by three other teacher bloggers. I’ll remember all the tricks and tips and trials of starting a blog, and be prepared for my students. I’ll learn a few new tricks.

How about you? Are you thinking about blogging with your students? A good way to start is with one class blog — that’s how I ease into blogging with my new class of sixth grade students each year.  So how about joining a challenge?  Try Edublogs or other challenges — or join a group of teachers and just start together!

How do you start something new with students? Challenge yourself!  Dive in. Learn with them.

 

 

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Another Resource:

Why teachers should blog by Matt Davis

Maker MIndset #clmooc #teachdonow

Jackie Gerstein at UsergeneratedEducation pushes us constantly to think through the educational mandates and silver bullets to focus on students and their learning. What will best guide students to become thinking, caring, productive persons?

The first thirty-eight slides of her presentation [ below ] provide thoughtful background theories and key questions to consider for our classrooms.

 

Slide 8: Something to do. We lost this when state standards developed in the 1990s. We removed the authenticity of doing and replaced it with intangible verbiage, which would have been the learning had we continued with the doing.

Slide 22: The most important question for classrooms – because doing is learning.

Slide 27: Love this question. After all, aren’t we trying to make the world better?

Slide 29: The Soft Skills – the process of planning, searching, gathering, sharing, collaborating, listening, debating, revising. The skills we learn through doing and doing together.

With each of these first thirty-eight slides, I say – that’s what what we need to consider! That’s our goal… I appreciate that Jackie shares these slides and continues with examples in the latter part.

Jackie’s Thinglink provides more information to consider:

Refer to the work of those who focused on learning as opposed to standards or skill objectives. Review the work of Dewey [and here], Vygotsky, Bruner, Papert [and here]. For Language Arts, see the work of James Moffett [ and here ].

Consider these ideas and questions. Consider the students in your classroom. When did we lose the doing? We learn what we need while doing something. We learn the strategies as we go, with support from our collaboration with peers or colleagues. Every time we do something, we build on what we learned before. That is the power of project-based learning. Students today are fading out in classrooms, bored with the posted objective; they want to learn what is of interest to them — or a question, an issue that piques their interests. With information readily available, it is the questions asked about that information that leads to learning and understanding it; it is what we want to do with the information that allows us to learn deeper. It is the sharing and collaborating with a shared purpose that propels us to do more and better to discover an answer and produce the results for others to contribute; this is learning. It fits in any classroom.

How will we as educators bring the power of the question and the doing back into our classrooms?

dewey_doing

 


Source of Quote

Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education. New York: Macmillan, 1916. Print. p. 181
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