Tag Archives: teaching

Day 5: Strategies for Working Together

This is the fifth post in a series about launching the use of the app Book Creator in a kindergarten classroom.  You can read the first three posts by clicking on the links below.

Today’s blog post is written by guest blogger Laura Meehan.  Laura is an Instructional Digital Age Learning Coach with a specialty in math and science. You can follow her on Twitter @LauraMeehan04

 

IMG_5198.JPGNext up in the “Katie & Laura are overwhelmed by kindergarteners” series…Strategies for Working Together!

We’ve been noticing over the past four days that our kindergarten friends are so excited to work on their devices that they are forgetting the basic rules of working with a friend kindly. Sometimes it’s just instinct for a five or six-year-old to grab an iPad from their partner and hurt a heart along the way so we felt like today was the day to bring back some reminders about collaborating on our devices.

We started with an anchor chart with three strategies for working together:
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We shared each strategy and then provided some dramatic interpretation of the strategy, performed by me and Katie. While the kids were quick to point out that we weren’t actually making a book on our screen during our performance, they were also quick to pick out that we were being kind, making compromises, and sharing. Before leaving the rug, each set of partners chose a strategy for working together and then head out to their iPads to get started.

The students found so much value in their work today. Their partnerships created a system of checks and balances that provided some needed accountability in this process. They identified the features of their science books that were missing because they were focused on what they would do when it was their turn. Also, Katie stopped them for a mid workshop teaching point to share her own science book about chicks. This check-in prompted the students to push their own thinking by adding audio buttons when they couldn’t express themselves effectively enough through writing, and to vary the size and quantity of photos for different purposes. To wrap up, we had kids complete a short Google Form to reflect on their work and choose the working together strategy that was their favorite using the stick figures from our anchor chart. So far, they like “talk & type” the most.

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My super favorite part was when some little guys who struggled earlier this week with partner work found comfort in the structures provided. The “stop, think, agree” strategy gave them the right to say, “We are arguing too much and we should stop touching our iPad and talk it out.” The “talk & type” strategy gave them permission to speak up to help with spelling and creativity. The “I do, you do” strategy gave them each a chance to have their voice heard 100% without the partner squashing their thoughts.

We’re going home this weekend feeling like a million dollars. P.S. Kindergarten teachers deserve a triple salary, a personal massage therapist, and bottomless Starbucks.IMG_5184.JPG

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Days 3 & 4: Interview A Friend

 

This is the fourth post in a series about launching the use of the app Book Creator in a kindergarten classroom.  You can read the first three posts by clicking on the links below.

During planning we thought that a great way to get the kids going would be to have them interview each other.  We wanted them to have an opportunity to talk about and connect with learning that they were already doing and to share some questions they had.  This was also a way to get them into book creator before their was much action with the chicks.

Day 3

I did a simple illustrated chart to try and support their efforts.  We discussed a few guidelines for contents and agreed that each student should say three things they knew about chicks and one to two things they wondered.  Our send off directions were “Think, Practice, Record,” and we chanted it a few times together before partners went off to their working spaces.  We also discussed what it meant to be professional so that they could elevate the quality of their work.

The recording was a bit bumpy at first as it was the first time they had recorded another student.  They found themselves rerecording a lot because their initial attempt was too quiet or focused on someone’s feet.

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This is my terrible chart.  Luckily Kindergartners are very forgiving.

The most exciting part of Day 3 was that one of the eggs started to crack!  The students gathered close looking at the crack and trying to take a picture for their book.

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The first egg begins to hatch
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Students work as a team to edit a page in their book.

Day 4

Several students still needed to record by day 4 and we also wanted them to go back and look at their work to see if they had done what we had decided on.  Laura typed up this little editing checklist for teams to use as they went back and reviewed their videos.  Many students found that they had said three things they knew but forgot to share a wonder.  To avoid frustration we suggested they just make a second video on their page with their questions.  This was also a helpful strategy for students who were struggling to get the whole thing done in one sitting.

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A checklist for video revision.

By the end of day 4 most students had completed their videos, revised their covers, and were excited to see that some of the chicks had hatched!  Just in time for us to get some content for our book.

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The first hatched chicks!  Complete with decorations for the box.

We identified two areas to go next; partner work and content.  Partner skills were getting rusty at this point and we found ourselves mediating a lot of disagreements.  On the other hand we also felt like it was important that they begin to use their knowledge of nonfiction features to get some meaty content in their books.  We discussed it with the teachers and they agreed that the social stuff needed to come first.  So we were left wondering…what strategies could kindergartners use to help them work together?

Come back tomorrow for a guest post by Laura Meehan, iDal Coach and my daily work buddy.  She will be blogging about Day 5: Strategies for Working Together.

Day 1: Let’s Play

This is the second post in a series about launching the use of the app Book Creator in a kindergarten classroom.  You can read the first post about our planning here.

So there I was…standing in front of a group of small people, armpits sweating, my eye twitching.  Well, not really.  Because today I knew they would be great, today we were going to PLAY!  Plus, Laura my co-coach would be there to have my back.  (A luxury we usually can’t afford, but when working with Kindergarten special arrangements have to be made.)

Before the lesson we talked through what supports students would need to play.  As strange as that sounds sometimes kids need permission to just dig in and try things out.  So we created this chart to help us focus our lesson.

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Chart creation is credited to Laura and her very neat handwriting.

For this lesson we brought all of the ipads to one room so students would have a 1:1 ratio for play.  We felt like this was important so that each child could develop a sense of independence with the tool.  (For all lessons to follow kids will be sharing iPads.)

After a very short lesson and some turn and talks we let kids get started and just play. Here’s what we noticed;

  • About half of students in each class were able to get started right away.  The other half were hesitant at first but after some encouragement that they could do whatever they wanted they were able to get going.
  • Many students went right for the draw function or taking photos and stayed with that one part of the app instead of exploring all of the different things they could do.  We addressed this through a mid-workshop teaching point and asking students to share things at their tables.  (mostly effective)
  • Several students showed transfer of learning from Writers Workshop, including drawings, text, and photos on one page.
  • One students asked permission to take another student’s photo and Laura stopped the class to have a great teachable moment about photography and respect.
  • At the end of class we revealed our big project and let the kids know they would be authors and they were ecstatic!

This last part is where the real value is in my mind!  Real purpose, real audience, excited kiddos.  I can’t wait to see how this project unfolds.

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Making Digital Artifacts Work: Part 2

This is the second post in a series about making digital artifacts of student learning work for you as a teacher.  In this series we will discuss the types of digital artifacts we collect, how we manage them, and what to do with all of those great pieces of evidence of student learning.  You can read the first post in this series here.

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A student uses Pic Collage to share their top ten favorite books with classmates and Twitter buddies.

What do I do with all of these digital work samples!?!?!

Unless you are an organizational wizard you probably already have some stacks of papers collecting in a basket or on a table somewhere.  It’s only September!  Digital artifacts are fantastic but what can we do when we have an inbox full of video responses to view instead of a stack of written responses to read?  Digital artifacts can and will often take more time to review, especially at the beginning when you are thoughtfully thinking through how you want to integrate them.  However, you don’t have to give up all of your time to devote to these artifacts.

  1. Impose time limits: Students can and will record a five to ten minute video if you let them.  Teaching kids how to create a media response is key.  We model for them, demonstrate how to plan (or not in some cases) and show how we are mindful of time. In the example below we see a student’s third attempt at creating a short and to the point video that captured her most essential questions from a short video the class had watched.  The process of limiting herself forced her to narrow her thinking to the most essential pieces to share with the teacher and class.  Additional questions were kept in her notebook and revisited when time allowed.
  1. Reflect on the task: If students are struggling with time limits we sit back and reflect on the task that we’ve asked them to complete.  What did we hope to accomplish?  What did we hope that students would learn or demonstrate?  I’ve left more than one class session thinking “that should have been done in 20 minutes, why did it take 50 and some kids still need more time?”  There is a time and a place for using technology as a reflective tool.  As you learn more about how and why you want to use these strategies reflect, reflect, reflect.  What opportunities provide the most information for you and benefit to students.
  2. Spot Check: Lucy Calkins once said that if she was able to sit down and read everything that her students wrote then they weren’t writing enough.  I will confess.  I do not always look at every single video, every single time.  There are situations in which we might spot check the class for overall understanding or focus in on a core group of students who we identified as possibly needing more support during a conference or lesson.  Yes you want to try and look at as much student work as possible, but you also have to be realistic.
  3. Engage Students in Self & Peer-Reflection: We teach students self reflection skills and partner feedback skills to help support kids when we can’t always be present.  This feedback is an essential part of the learning cycle as they work with and support each other on everything from giving effective video book talks to math strategies used in a screencast.

    A student uses a photo annotating app to self-reflect using a checklist the class brainstormed together on the whiteboard.
    A student uses a photo annotating app to self-reflect using a checklist the class brainstormed together on the whiteboard.

We all know teaching is a balancing act.  Hopefully, at the end of the day, we can find a system that works well for us and our students.  Remember, kids need to own the learning.  So teaching them to take on part of these responsibilities is both effective for you and them!

Check back next week for our next post in this series.  Three ideas for digital artifacts you can try tomorrow!