Featured Post

How to make a 2 computer classroom work for you: tech integration and

I often get asked how I managed to integrate technology into my classroom before I was a technology teacher teaching computer classes in a lab (with every child on a computer).  I must preface this post with: I am not an expert.  I taught second grade for one year and had two computers in my classroom and no computer lab for the school.  I used what I had and found a system that worked for me.  With that in mind here is how I made my 2 computer classroom work: My goal as a teacher is to individualize instruction whenever possible.  I am very aware that each of my students comes with different strengths and weaknesses, learns differently, at different rates, and with different interests.  I remember looking at the curriculum I was provided with by the school and feeling a distinct disappointment in it.  I knew as I read through the lessons each week that some of my students just weren’t going to get it.  I knew that some of them would love the subject if it was approached in a different way. I knew that some would just need it at a different pace.  With this in mind, a few weeks into my first year, I decided to structure my class around centers. My problem: space was an issue.  With 26 seven and eight year olds, supplies, and 26 desks, there was little room left for individual center areas.  Since I couldn’t have my students physically moving around from center to center, I decided that I would create a system where the centers came to them.  With 26 students and five days in a week, I split my students into five groups for each subject.  These groups were created by grouping students by similar ability levels.  Throughout the day the groupings would change (I used colors because it made sense to me).  For example: one student might be in the blue group for language arts/reading, red group for math, and green group for science.  I saw every single one of my students in their small group of 5 in what I would call my “conference” center for every subject, every week. At the beginning of every week I would introduce the whole class to the concepts we would be learning over the course of the week.  I introduced students to their “tubs” (colored plastic tubs that were full of necessary supplies for each center) and we discussed the “big ideas” of the week.  I had 4 tubs (and my conference center) so that each day my student groups were working on a different task but by the end of the week all of my students had completed the learning for the week.  My desks were grouped into 5 clumps in the room.  Because the groupings changed, a group of desks didn’t necessarily equate to all of the group member sitting at the work space.  For each subject we usually started class as a whole group, we would play a game as a class, watch a video clip, do an experiment, or learning something new together.  After the initial introduction, I had a leader from each table pick up that table’s tub for the day.  I met with the fifth group in my conference center where I could work with students in a 5 to 1 grouping.  If you aren’t doing something like this, I HIGHLY recommend it. Meeting with my students in smaller groups several times throughout the week gave me huge insights into my students and made me a better teacher. Tubs had a variety of activities and prompts in them.  All activities were designed for self-guided learning and flexibility.  I had a rule that unless someone was barfing or bleeding (the 2 b’s…if you’re in elementary you know what I am talking about) they were not allowed to disturb my conference group.  This cut down on the distractions and let students know it was okay to make mistakes in their learning.  One of my “tubs” always held instructions for a computer center.  With two computers and 5 students, this meant I could find activities that were short enough for each student to successfully complete them in the time they had, or I could find activities that they could complete together.  For skill building games and activities, students usually held a mini relay race.  The first student would complete a level or set number of problems and pass play to the next student.  This worked really well and kept students from getting too out of control because the wait time was minimal and they were “silent cheering” the other students on.  (I had “Go Team” signs that they could hold up next to each computer so they could cheer without disturbing anyone else).  For activities that needed to be completed by each individual student, I added a secondary game or activity to the tub that could be completed while students waited.  For example, if it was a skill building game or activity, I had students who weren’t at the computer play a file folder game together while they waited for their turn within their small group. For writing activities or activities where students were going to use the computer to create something, I made another tub activity that would prepare them for their computer time.  For example, if they were going to create an animation on something like The Zimmer Twins, I would use another tub for them where they would prepare by writing a script and planning the storyboard.  Because of the way the tubs rotate, it was easy to ensure that every student had done the prep activity before the computer center. My other tubs had a variety of activities in them, each one of them was flexible in the way it worked.  Students might perform an experiment and write/draw/discuss as a group, practice their spelling words in a way that made sense to them, play a math game, write, etc.  For each subject I had a standard tub where the activity didn’t really change from week to week.  For example, language arts had a spelling practice tub every single week.  Math had a fact practice tub every week.  In the standard tubs I included a Tic-Tac-Toe activity board where students could choose which activity they would complete to practice.  This let students practice basic skills in a way that was fun and made sense to them. At the end of every day, I would re-fill each tub with the necessary resources and supplies so that it was ready for the next day. On Friday afternoon I would fill all of the tubs up for the following week.  At the beginning of the year the tubs were extremely time-consuming to keep up with.  I got smart second semester and enlisted my students in helping me create the tubs for the following week on Friday afternoons.  (duh!)  By the end of the year it was part of our routine and didn’t require so much prep on my part. Because I was working with second graders, I knew that not all of my students would be able to read directions for the tub or remember the directions from the beginning of the week.  For detailed tubs, I included a tape recorder (iPod, what was that?) with recorded audio instructions for the tub.  This helped tremendously when their were multiple steps involved.  Students knew where they could help themselves to extra supplies like paper, crayons, books, scissors, dictionaries, etc. On Friday I spent some time at the end of the day to meet with each group so they could show me their mini portfolio of learning for the week.  This gave me a chance to do some formative assessment and plan any adjustments that were needed for the following week. I didn’t have the luxury of a projector that first year of teaching.  If I had a projector, it would have opened up the learning opportunities greatly! I am a big believer in playing to learn and technology lends itself so nicely to both.  When I help teachers integrate technology into their lessons I often recommend creating a game where a game wasn’t meant to be played.  For example, when we were studying paleontology and dinosaurs, my students and I went on a virtual dinosaur dig.  I found a great virtual dig that we could do as a class.  We pretended to get in our jeeps and travel to the dig site. Each student received a “special” paleontologist journal where they could record observations.  Students took turns coming to the board during the dig and helping unearth the dinosaur.  The other students sketched what they saw and took careful notes so the dinosaur could be reassembled later.  This was a grand adventure for my students that made for a fun day (digging M&M’s out of cookies didn’t hurt either.)  I look for opportunities to play with my students whenever possible.  Even older students love this (anyone want to solve a forensic case as a class?).  Play and learning are closely connected. I am always looking for ways to make learning fun and engaging whether we are limited to a class of 26 and one projector, or 26 students and 2 computers.  You can do it! Using the tub system meant that I got to spend a lot of time with my students. That conference time was so valuable. It let me meet all of my students exactly where they were at and provided the opportunity to work with them on a more individual basis.  As I said before, if you don’t have something like this in place, I highly recommend it! After I developed my Bloom’s re-imagines, I started including them in the tubs.  As part of the tub work, students could talk about the learning they were doing and what categories it fell into in Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Back then my Bloom’s wasn’t as fancy as it is today, it was hand drawn and copied   My how times have changed!  I find that students learning is even richer when they are thinking about their learning. Bloom’s Taxonomy gives students a nice framework to do this in. How about you all? What technology resources do you have available to you and how do you utilize them?

Read More

Extreme Speed Booking:Using Technology to help kids love reading

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 23-01-2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10

What it is:  What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun.  Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading.  Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis.  I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor.  Drag and drop website building is where it is at!  The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups.  How does Extreme Speed Booking work?  A whole lot like speed dating.  :)   Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”,  “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”.  Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)?  This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors.  Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find.  It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
How to integrate Extreme Speed Booking into the classroom: Extreme Speed Booking is a fun way to build book groups/literature circles.  I love this method of exposure to a variety of books, authors, and genres.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon.  Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students.  Don’t have technology?  No problem!  Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions.  If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book.  During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures.  The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read.  It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about.  After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch.  Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book.  Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book.  Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink).  I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading.  The form gets emailed directly to the teacher.  Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading.  I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking.  Great idea!  She is so smart.  This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
  • Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
  • Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
  • Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE author.  After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE genre.  Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
  • Choose a variety of books on a similar topic.  Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc.  This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
  • Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
  • Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc.   Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:   Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech!  If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above.  Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school.  You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below.  If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Extreme Speed Booking in  your classroom!

Comments (10)

What an awesome idea! A couple of questions…are you a paid subscriber to Webly? How did you embed the amazon books onto the site? And how did you set up Shelfari to just be recommended books?

Thanks!

This is an absolutely fabulous idea! I love it so much! Thank you for sharing!

I’m a school librarian and I do this (the non-tech version) with my 8th grade students to get them more excited about classic literature. They love it and teachers request it year after year.

love this idea! It would be great for helping to fire up a love of reading in kids by giving them tools to choose what they want to read.

Hello my name is Sarah Webb and I am in the spring EDM 310 class. I love the speed reading idea. I really want to teach elementary age children and think this idea would help the children to be more engaged in books and help with vocabulary. I know when I was in elementary school reading was a war between teacher and student. This idea, however, will let the students choose their own books and learn to not judge a book by the cover. I hope that when I start teaching I will be able to use this in my classroom and know I will be able to see improvement in children’s reading levels.

I will be summarizing my visits to your blog by posting on my blog. You can go to my blog or the class blogto read the summary if you would like on February 12, 2012

Deanne- I am not a paid subscriber to Weebly- I just use the free education version. I didn’t embed the books…I faked it. I took a screen shot of each book and linked it to the “look inside” page.
I had to go through and build a shelf of my own to recommend the books. It was not a quick process as I gave each book a summary and grade level appropriateness. Then I just embedded the bookshelf as HTML in Weebly.

Hope that helps!

Hi, as a school librarian I too have been doing th elow tech version for years. We are just entering the one-to-one device arena so I would love to see a working version of your weebly website to get some ideas. Can you give me the URL?

Also check out my Senior School Blog. Loads of good reading and research links throughout.

Cheers

SB
http://cabraseniorlibrary.wordpress.com/

A wondeful idea! And it’s so important to interest kids in reading books: it’s not something they normally do, and won’t unless you get them excited about it.

If you’re going to use their feedback to pick a book to read with them (I’m thinking class readers), Google Docs Forms (as mentioned) is a fantastic way to do so.

Think that might also be a way to get them to take it more seriously: what they say MATTERS!

Link is in the post :)

For children learning the basics of reading, there are a lot of good apps that read along with the child. A Jazzy Day app is perfect for learning and recognizing words at an early age, as it has a storybook within the app. In addition, it will teach a young child about jazz music; there is a game within the app in which the child must recognize certain instruments by their sight and sound. Here is the website:
http://www.themelodybook.com/a-jazzy-day

Write a comment

*