29 June 2017

Exploring Technology Tools in the Classroom - An Article Review 3rd Edition

The article titled “Incorporating Digital Tools to Support the Writing Process” focuses on two classrooms that use technology to create more authentic writing opportunities that will hopefully motivate their students. Both classrooms had students with some sort of special education needs.
In the first classroom the teachers used Skype and a Wireless Keyboard. The wireless keyboard provided the students and the teacher with more mobility. The teacher was able to move around the room with her students as they researched to become more engaged with them. The students were working on writing expository texts. For their final paper they had to write about if they wanted a class pet. The class discussed the topic together, follow by researching animals they wanted. Then, without having the ability to take her kids to a pet store, the teacher decided to Skype with a PetSmart employee. The employee was able to answer questions for the students while they recorded answers. When the interview was over the students asked to create a FAQs flyer for the store. They continued their research and eventually developed a flier for the store. Then they shared the file on Skype with the employee to get feedback.
The second classroom used Popplet and Book Creator. The students were working on recount writing where the students write about past personal events. The teacher first used Popplet to model her brainstorming. The created the plan and left the plan up on the board for students to see. Once students had come up with plans including a variety of pictures, vocabulary, labels, etc. they partnered up to share plans. Then they began using Book Creator to write their stories. They were able to draw and use pictures, as well as write their text. Once the books were finished the teacher was able to share the books among the whole class on their iPads so all students could read the stories during independent time.
Although both classrooms included students with special needs, these are all apps and tools that would benefit any classroom greatly. Writing is always a huge struggle, especially in third grade when there is a huge, dramatic jump from basic paragraph writing to multiple paragraph writing and researching. Once Common Core Standards came into play, it seemed like writing became mostly geared toward expository types of writing. This is the type of writing most students will do over their educational career. It is very hard to get students invested in their writing and realize how important writing will be as they continue through school. I also think it is important they see how writing is used. I never thought about using Skype as a research tool, especially with the lack of money to go on field trips. I personally have never used Popplet or Book Creator, but the idea of using a tool to electronically brainstorm sounds like a huge benefit. It allows students to easily move ideas around and revise their thoughts. I also love the idea of Book Creator so all students and I am assuming parents will be able to easily see end products once students are finished. Overall all of the ideas given in the article really seem to authentic, and extremely motivating ideas that would help students with writing.
Saulsburry, R., Kilpatrick, J., Wolbers, K. A., & Dostal, H. (2015). Getting Students Excited about Learning: Incorporating Digital Tools to Support the Writing Process. Odyssey: New Directions in Deaf Education, 16, 30-34. doi:EJ1064118

27 June 2017

Exploring Technology Tools in the Classroom - An Article Review 2nd Edition

In the article “The Wonders of Educational Blogging: Solving Classroom Issues with Edmodo” the author, Patricia Thibaut, explains the benefits to using the social networking sites in the classroom and more specifically Edmodo. Edmodo is a site that is basically an educational version of Facebook. It is formatted the same way and provides a platform for teachers and students to interact in a safer, more educational way. The author of the article did a study with a group of students and a teacher in a sixth grade classroom. The study ended up showing the benefits of students using social networking, especially on a school safe site like Edmodo. Thibaut mentioned that students often feel that interacting on social media sites is less stressful. The students can think about their answers or arguments and have more time to contribute. It also provides an opportunity for students who do not feel comfortable participating in class to give their opinions. The author continuously reiterated the idea that while students are communicating back and forth they are given more ownership of their knowledge. Most people learn better when they are forced to explain things to others and Edmodo does this exactly this. By students making posts, creating games, etc. they are having to explain or show their knowledge in a way that becomes more than just memorizing facts. The social interactions among peers is also a huge benefit and creates a collaborative environment where students are constructing their own knowledge. Another social benefit was that students were receiving feedback from other students, whereas in a normal setting students often only receive feedback from their teachers. This created a more motivating and positive environment in the classroom.

I personally have created an Edmodo account and I played around with it, but it never went further than that. I have also created a classroom blog to use for literature circles, but it was only for a short period of time and it was limited to only guided reading time. I absolutely love the idea of students commenting back and forth, similar to the twitter chat activity completed in class. Edmodo also provides a grading system along with games teachers can use as review. There are also opportunities for students to create games for their classmates. I think this is a fantastic way for students to show their knowledge, more than just answering questions on a test. I am also always looking for ways to let those quieter students shine, especially when they often have great ideas that go unheard. This is a great tool to support those students. After reading this article, I really was excited to go and start playing around with Edmodo to test it out in my classroom this upcoming year.

Thibaut, P. (2015). Social network sites with learning purposes: Exploring new spaces for literacy and learning in the primary classroom. Australian Journal of Language & Literacy, 38(2), 83-94. doi:103157128

Exploring Technology Tools in the Classroom - An Article Review 1st Edition

In the article “Twittering About Learning: Using Twitter in an Elementary School Classroom” the author, Jeff Kurtz, describes how he has adapted a favorite classroom writing activity to the technological age the world has become. First Kurtz (2009) describes how he used to have his students communicate about daily activities by writing about the day’s events on chart paper. Then each student would bring it home one day a month to share with their family what was happening. Eventually he decided to try this activity out, but using Twitter. Each day the class writes four to five tweets per day about the events happening in the classroom. He explained how he spent the first few months modeling this in front of the class. He would make the tweet too long which caused the class to have to revise the tweet together. Eventually he transitioned to choosing a few students per day to write the tweets that would be posted. Each student would write the tweet in their notebook before having it checked by the teacher. Then later, before posting, the class would review the tweet to revise, add, or delete.

When it comes to communicating with parents, I use primarily Class Dojo, but I also use e-mail. I enjoy Dojo, but if I am personally having a busy week I do not always update it. Having the students use Twitter to update would be extremely beneficial. Parents in my school always want updates, so this gives them numerous updates per day. If I forget to update the Dojo, this also helps keep parents in the know for what is happening. One of the biggest benefits I saw in doing this with the students is the importance of the revising. The author mentioned that students seemed to do very well with understanding the concept of revising when they had to change the tweet around to make it fit the right amount of characters. This is always a concept that third graders do not understand and most of us teachers find exhausting and a constant struggle. It also shows students how important communicating effectively is in the real world. In addition this is the perfect opportunity to discuss digital citizenship and the importance of internet safety. After this, I have officially added this to my list of things to try this upcoming year. It seems like a wonderful tool to use for not only communication and collaboration, but also helping my students improve their writing skills. 

Kurtz, J. (2009). Twittering About Learning: Using Twitter in an Elementary School Classroom. Horace, 25(1). doi:EJ859276