Monday, February 17, 2014

You want me to do what?!

I've really been taking a step back lately and looking at the way that I run my classroom. I've been thinking about how the type of assignments I give. I was coming up with a research assignment where I would give the students a graphic organizer for them to complete, filled with questions that I came up with. Once they finished, I would have my students create some type of product that I decided, whether it be a Glog or a Voki or some other type of multimedia. Yes, I was using technology. Yes, I was using research. Yes, I was using 21st Century web tools. But I wasn't giving my kids any real freedom. I was in control of every step of the assignment. Then one day I read a very interesting quote...

"When we ask all students to do the same learning task in the same way, we have no idea what individual children are capable of." ~Dr. Bertie Kingore

This hit me like a slap in the face! I had been asking all of my students to do the same thing! I decided it was time for me to let go of control. That same day I revamped the way I ran my entire classroom. My students are now in control of the learning. I give them an assignment, but they are the ones inquiring, researching, and creating a final product that best suits their information. I am trying to align my lessons to the Bloom's Revised Taxonomy and giving my students a variety of tools to use for each step in the process. I have to say that, though I have just started, I am amazed at the way my students are taking control of the wheel. It was a little scary, at first, for me more so than for them, just because I had to transition from being the teacher to the facilitator and sometimes even the student!

Have you had any moments like this in your teaching? I'd love to hear how you individualize your instruction in your classroom!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Celebrating MLK Jr. with Discovery Education & Tagxedo

Because it is Black History Month, I have been trying to incorporate famous African Americans in
my technology lessons. Today's lesson with my first graders was one of my favorites! First we used Discovery Education to find the video of Martin's Big Words. During the eight minute video we paused and wrote words that were important, positive, and reflected Martin's influence on the world. Once we got our words written, I had the kids navigate to, a great website for creating word clouds in any shape you could imagine! The students could choose at least 5 words to include in their cloud. They could then put the words in the shape of a speech bubble and work with their colors, layout, etc. They looked amazing! To display their awesome work, we took headshots and glued their speech bubble to each child's picture. Our version of "Martin's Big Words-2014" are now adorning my hallway!

I created this lesson using two of my favorite tools. Discovery Education is a free website but you do have to have a subscription through your school to create your account. It is filled with tons of videos, articles, images, sound bites, teacher resources, etc. Tagxedo is also free and there is no account needed to create your word clouds. Once created, you can print or save your work and even have it turned into t-shirts, mugs, all kinds of stuff! I love mixing various tools like I did in this lesson! What are some ways that you could mix tech tools in your classroom?