After watching Kristin Ziemke speak at the TAWL conference, I knew I wanted to utilize some of the great things she was doing with her students in her classroom. One of those was having students in the lower grades record their voices talking about the books they are reading.
She had this great idea for creating a recording booth for kids, where they can sit and record their conversation about reading on an iPad, or other recording device, and send it to the teacher.
I searched around for what app I wanted to test this out with, and settled on Educreations. I thought this would be a simple app for 1st graders to use, and I was right! I went in to a couple of classrooms, Ms. Sutter and Mrs. Hague were kind enough to share some of their kiddos with me, and worked with a couple students.
They were handed the iPad, took a photo of their book, pushed the record button, talked about either the plot of their book or their favorite part, and then rated it by drawing 1-5 stars on the image.
Of course they did a wonderful job! This would be a great tool to use for fluency checks and for retelling. I think about all those times that I would intend to get through 5-6 conferences with kids, only to get stuck on conference number 2 or get called away in the middle to tend to something else. If a teacher had a "recording corner" in their room and a rotation schedule, students could talk about their reading often and the teacher could listen to it when it best suited them, as well as have a recording to keep for student records.
Below, I have linked these videos for you to view. One thing about Educreations, to download the video you have to buy the Pro account. If you don't have the Pro account, you can copy the links to the videos to share them!
I had a teacher brave enough to try out a site called TodaysMeet. I had used it at a couple of conferences, heard great things about it, but had not had a chance to use it yet. But now, I have!
TodaysMeet is a website where you get a chance to have students back-channel. That is explained more in this post and this post.
Before the lesson, I showed students what TodaysMeet was all about, how to sign in, expectations, proper commenting, etc. We broke them into 3 different rooms with about 6 students per room. We did this to make the chat window a little less overwhelming. I highly recommend that for the lower grades and for just starting out, especially if you are allowing for free-talk throughout a lesson.
Students listened to their teacher, Mrs. Thompson, read a really interesting article about garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean (and if you have never heard about these, wow, look it up). They typed their thoughts as she read, but she also posed questions for them for two reasons. One reason she did this was so that students that were struggling to come up with something, had a prompt. Other times, she needed them to comment on a specific question.
In order to have students reflect back over what the others wrote, she asked for volunteers to read their comments OR the comment of someone out of their group. I liked this method because there were quite a few students that really liked what someone else said.
Students told me they really liked this because they were all able to have a voice and contribute to the conversation. Looking at the comments, it was awesome to see what some of their thoughts were. They were pretty profound and deep. I am going to attach some screenshots of their conversations below in the gallery.
I highly recommend this method of discussion in the classroom. Students and teachers could benefit from this resource. If you want something like TodaysMeet, you could also try Padlet.
In a classroom teachers spend a lot of their time asking questions. These questions usually result in 2-3 students adding input and then you move on to the next topic. One thing I disliked about this is that I always saw the same 4-5 hands up, didn't hear from all of my students, and lessons lacked engagement.
When I attended the EdTech Team Google Summit, I saw a tool used called TodaysMeet. It was said that the kids were backchanneling when using this website. Backchannel, hmmm, what does that even mean? Well, it is really just students using computers to take part in an real-time digital conversation as an activity is occurring in the classroom.
TodaysMeet is a great website for this. I love how user-friendly it is for me to go to and use. You can go, name your room, keep it open for a chosen amount of time (hours to weeks), and get a custom URL that lasts through that time period.
By backchanneling in your classroom, you are encouraging students to have a voice. It almost validates their thoughts and opinions, too, because you are asking for ALL of their opinions. This also opens up more meaningful conversations and can help students learn about each other more.
If you are a person who thinks they are "technically challenged" or want to use tech in the classroom but aren't sure how to start, I think I have your first solution.
Nearpod is a website that allows you to find or create interactive lessons that will engage your students. Here's a quick "how-it-works":
A veteran teacher I have used it today with her students. She told me she edited a lesson that was free and was able to add PDFs and questions with no problem. Her response to how it went, "It was one of the most engaging lessons I have ever taught." How could you NOT want to use this??
Students love being a part of the lesson with the tools available. I like that you can push a question out in the middle of a lesson if you feel students need something new. It is SO easy to insert something into the presentation, maybe a website link or a question to assess their learning.
I feel this is one of the easiest ways to infuse your teaching if you are uncomfortable at all with technology. This is a tool that would be very useful to you!
And their 360 cities lessons are amazing virtual tour lessons. I did these with some kids, and it was amazing! Students were squealing over the fact that they were able to go to Mars. Yes, Mars!
*They also send out a lot of coupons and specials for their lessons. Some of the packs are pretty pricey, but you do get a lot of content. Oh, and you sign up with your Google account, even better!
During a meeting on our work day before 2nd semester started, the website Educanon came up in the discussion. I had explored this site before, but many had not. So I thought this was an appropriate time to create an Under 5 installment to inform those of the awesomeness that is Educanon.
If you love using videos in class or want to create a flipped or blended classroom, this site is going to be the best thing to happen to you right now! Educanon is a site (and can be found in the Chrome App Store) that allows the user to insert questions throughout a given video. You can even create your own video, save it to your Google Drive, and do this process! I love it! It is also super easy to incorporate with your Google Classroom with the sync feature they have. Check out more about it in my Under 5 video!
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom