Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Do You Ever Have Technology Problems?


How are you utilizing technology in your classroom? 

Whether you have a classroom brimming with 28 iPads or you have two stone-age desktops, our job as teachers is to make sure students know how to best use the technology for learning during Literacy Work Stations or any other time of the day!

In their book Amplify, Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke say, ‘Using technology doesn’t mean that we throw out those strategies that we’ve found to be successful with students.  It’s not the tools - it’s what we do with them that counts.”

I couldn’t agree more!

When introducing technology in our classrooms, it is important to teach students digital citizenship, internet safety, and problem solving skills. 

And just like we do for EVERYTHING else at the beginning of the year, it is important to ‘train the troops’ when it comes to technology.  We spend countless minutes (hours?) practicing, modeling, and practicing some more... how to get from the rug to the desks, why shouldn’t we spend time practicing, modeling, and practicing again how to properly use the technology as well?  WE MUST!

If you have iPads (or tablets/devices) in your classroom, spend the first week or so with students practicing how to properly handle the technology.  

I like to get iPads in the hands of kids right away, BUT leave the device OFF!

First, we learn the handle and proper care.  And only when students have proven to me they can be responsible with the (oh-so-precious!) technology, can we turn it on!  

The first week or so of school is spent practicing how to carry the iPad from the desk to the carpet, how to practice ‘dark and down’ (a phrase I use when I need students attention on me instead of their device), and how to put away the iPads at the end of our learning time.  We go about our days, just like normal - with technology in our hands - but the technology isn’t ON just yet.  

My students need to prove they can be respectful of the technology before any on button is pushed!

Once students have the hang of how to properly handle the devices, we have a magical day of turning on the iPads.  (insert rainbow and unicorn emojis) 

JUST KIDDING.  It’s less ‘rainbows and unicorns’ and more ‘chicken with its’ head chopped off’.

You see, students are SMART when it comes to technology (way smarter than me), but sometimes the technology at school looks and acts a little different than the technology at home.  Which leaves students with a lot of questions - and needling a LOT of help. 

In order to save myself time later (and sanity now) I front load some problem-solving tips with my students.

We know that technology is technology.  Things will break, stop working, or just simply act funky.  It’s important for us to help students become independent with technology problem solving skills so that we can continue doing our thing at the guided reading table or whatever else may be happening! 

JUST like we used to teach our students what button to push at the listening center (cd player or tape player anyone?) we STILL need those charts but we need them to reflect the current technology.

I take time going over each ‘button’, modeling when or why you might need to push it and what to do if something doesn’t work. 

This saves me so much time (and headaches), if I teach these things up front.

I’ve included a free download for you to teach from in your classroom as well!

Click HERE to access the Technology Tips freebie!

Did I miss anything?  Are there other MUST TEACH buttons for your little techy learners? 

Feel free to add your ideas in the comments below!


Thursday, September 20, 2018

Guided Reading... with LEGOS?

What kind of tools do you use at the Guided Reading table to keep readers engaged and focused?

One tool I love using- are Legos!  Who doesn’t like Legos? 

Here are a couple of ways you could use Legos at the Guided Reading table to increase engagement and movement with your readers! 

While students are reading the text, they could monitor how often they are using a particular strategy.  Each time they use that strategy, they put a Lego on their stack.  I like this method because it encourages students to set a goal.  I usually ask students ‘What strategy are you using today as a reader?' and every time a student uses that strategy to reach that goal, they build their Lego stack.

For example, if a student is working on looking for word parts to solve longer words, every time a student gets to a tricky word and finds chunks they know, that reader gets to add a Lego to their stack. 

It could be, that a reader is focusing on rereading when they realize they stopped thinking about the text (we can all agree reading is thinking!).  So every time the reader realizes he or she doesn’t have meaning and goes back to reread, they add a Lego to their stack. 

It’s differentiated for each reader and allows great conversation while coaching individual students. Plus, it’s a great visual for you as the teacher to keep track of who knows they are using their strategy and who needs more support! Or when a Lego is added, you can ASK a student to tell you how/where they used the strategy. 

A second way you could use Legos would be during the after reading conversation.  Every time a student shares their thinking, the teacher gives that student a Lego to add to their stack or they take a Lego to add.  This is a great way to increase engagement with all students and get them to talk about their thinking! I saw Mrs. Ashley in Sweeny ISD do this and loved it right away! 

What other tools are a must for you at the Guided Reading table? 

Share below in the comments!