Think about your classroom. When it comes to writing workshop or responding to reading, how many students drag their heels and write as little as possible? Or worse yet, refuse to write? Or even worse, their behavior starts to go south?
Now, think about your classroom. When it comes to talking about topics, how many students will sit one-on-one with you and talk easily?
In my experience students do not want to write because it takes too long or because it isn't interesting. Another issue, especially with the younger students, is that they cannot put their thoughts on paper. Talking through it is more natural. It allows them to use vocabulary they may not be able to spell when they write, but they know how to say it.
Technology can become an important tool when you want your students to share their thinking. Each day it is impossible to have one-on-one talks with students during reading workshop. Getting to each student and really focusing on what they are saying is not able to happen when you have 20 or more students to get to. This is where technology comes in handy!
Pull out an iPad, or any device that has video capabilities. Take that device, set it up in a quiet corner, and let the students go! Yes, even Kinders can do it! If anything, I would trust they could do it far better than some adults. Our students live in the age of selfies and videos - most students are able to easily work a video program on a device.
You can let them just talk at first. Maybe set a timer next to the device so they don't talk for hours! Have them talk to you about a book they are reading. Other times, set specific tasks or talking points you want them to hit in their dialogue. Another great way to use it is to record their reading out loud. You not only have a recording you can listen to multiple times, but you also have an artifact to show parents.
For you to listen to them, you can take the device home with you and listen, taking notes. If you are using an internet capable device, an app you can use is SeeSaw. Students can upload it to their profile so you can access it. From there, you can share it with families.
Take a leap and see what video recording can do for your classroom!
Reading can take you anywhere. No matter where you are sitting, you can be transported to a school for wizards, a time in the past, or way in the future. Reading can not only take you to places in your mind, but it can take you so many places in life.
When a person says, "reading is the window to the world", it can take on a number of meanings. Some people take it to mean that a reader can be transported anywhere in the world, learning about places they may never travel. Others believe that it means that reading opens doors for you in your life. I feel both are true.
Opening Doors...and Windows
As teachers, it is our job to bring our students to the window. Not all students easily find their way. Some of them are content to sit in their house, without ever drawing the shades.
One thing I found difficult in the beginning of teaching was understanding how a students could DISLIKE reading. I have always loved picking up a book, getting lost in it for hours. Not everyone feels that way, by the way. For some students, it was like pulling teeth to get them to read.
I discovered it was okay if not all students were reading the same types of books, chapter books, or nonfiction. Like with all other areas of life, people can enjoy different things. I had one student who really loved nonfiction books about extreme sports, a girl in love with horse stories, a few that listened to books, a boy who was more interested in magazine articles. I finally figured out, it doesn't matter which window you are looking out, as long as you are looking.
Ideas for Opening Windows
In order to foster a love of reading, it can take some persuading on our part. Here are some ideas to help grow a love of reading in students:
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!
It's time for intervention time at school, you have a group of students who need enrichment, but you are tired of just giving them additional reading time. They are tired of getting additional reading time, needing more challenge or something exciting. Enter: The Global Read Aloud.
A teacher came to me wanting something new, refreshing for the students coming to her room. I came across, through the wonderfulness of Twitter, The Global Read Aloud - #GRA15.
Pick a book, sign up, find a class (or classes) to share your thoughts on reading with, and connect. The whole point is to share the book as a read aloud. Each book has a breakdown of the dates of how much should be read. It lasts 4 weeks, which is great for students! You can find books for all levels. The books this year:
Go to The Global Read Aloud website and get started today. The best way to get started is to go to the tab labeled "Info for 2015". I think we are looking to use Kidblog.com so our students can respond to reading, connect with other students, and then respond to each other's posts.
Have you heard of this website? If not, you need to go there ASAP! This is called Newsela, and it could be a game-changer in your classroom.
Imagine you want students to read an article on space. You know that Student A is reading at a 400L (Lexile) and Student B is reading at a 1010L. They aren't going to read the article the same, and they are going to get different information out of it.
What if I told you that Newsela can offer the SAME article at a student's reading level? You can customize articles to meet the needs of your students. Check out the graphic below where you can see just how easy it is to change the reading level.
Mind blown, right? This article can be read by all students, getting the important information, but differentiated to benefit all students.
If you go to their site to sign up, sign in with your Google account, then put in the Hallsville zip code to choose your school. Then you can create a class. This is pretty cool...you can assign and quiz students over articles in Newsela. Pretty awesome! They can make notes when they are logged in to their account, too. There is a PRO version that gives more options as far as collaboration is concerned, but there are other ways we can work on that if you don't have the money to spend on this.
It is also a Google Chrome app for Newsela. This is one of the most talked about apps at the conferences I have attended. This is great for grades 2-12.
Reading is Fun (RIF) is a wonderful literacy website for adults and kids. It is actually the oldest and largest nonprofit literacy organization in the United States. There are book lists, games, articles, brochures, and more! If you use the link from this paragraph, it will take you to the main site where you can find resources. These are GREAT for parents!
If you follow the Reading Planet link, you will go to the child version of RIF for 6+ years old. There is a 0-5 year old section, too. You can find this by following the top link, click on "Kids" in the top right. It gives more options.
Illustrate a story - download and then draw a picture to illustrate it
Bookplates - print, color, glue in your books
Reading Monthly Calendar - This appears to not work at this time!
Coloring Book - interactive online coloring book
Some games you find include...
Sink It 'n Solve It
Book Zone - Watch and listen to online books, get book lists, see and write reviews
Express Yourself - More of a social area that you probably won't use as much with younger kids.
Fifth grade teacher in a 1:1 iPad classroom, sharing my journey with technology in the classroom