VSRA Session #1

podcast microphone

The first conference session that I went to was The Teacher Research Grant Award session.  If you know me, you know I love research – so this should be no surprise…the session was by a reading specialist in Montgomery County.  She had won the grant with her proposal on using podcasting to increase student reading fluency.  Her work was very interesting. She chose some 5th grade students who had issues with fluency and assigned them poems to read and practice.  She sow them twice a week after that once to listen to monitor their practice and once to record their podcasts. Podcasts were made available to others in the school using  iTunes.  At the end of 9 weeks she took some reading assessments to compare to the students’ reading prior to this intervention strategy.  She found that students had gained 20 wpm in fluency.  In addition the students had begun self correction which meant that the increased fluency had begun to effect their comprehension.  We had a very interesting discussion (there were only 7 of us in the session) about how this intervention might effect students if it were carried out for an entire year. 

The session led me to think about how we might adapt the process to work in my schools – or for that matter replicate it across several schools.  If one of the reading specialists would work with me, I think we could devise an intervention for both upper grade students as well as lower grade students.  If we chose maybe 5 students in the intermediate grades who needed fluency intervention, the reading specialist could assign them a poem (the following authors were recommended in the session: Paul Fleischman; Hoberman; Jack Prelutsky; and Bruce Lansky) and  work with them once a week to check that they were practicing.  Then I could work with the reading specialist and the students once a week to record the podcasts.  We can upload the podcaststo a blog (iTunes wouldn’t work for us) and then teachers in the lower grades could use the podcasts for a center ime activity along with the text that the students used for the podcast. We already have the microphone and software and probably some of the books…we just need some willing participants.  I guess I first thought of  Blount and Carey, but now that I am writing about this, I could see this working for some special ed teachers – namely Armstrong, Goolsby and Morris and even some speech applications , so I guess I’ll tag Moses as well…

Teaching Naked

What a title right?  I’ve seen about 3 references to this recently…I was slightly intrigued each time.  Today, trying to “get into” doing my homework for a PD class I am taking, I ran across Al Rowell aka locotech – a fellow learner in the class.  I decided that as a technology director who seemed interested in edtech training he might be a great source to add to my PLN. Looking at what Al’s been tweeting lately, I saw yet another mention of teaching naked and I had to bite.

 The Chronicle of Higher Ed published an article on teaching naked last month.  The article is about a Dean at a college who is removing computers from “smart” classrooms.  His premise – powerpointing students to death is not best practice.  Students come to class to interact with the teacher and each other and the crutch that PowerPoint has become is getting in the way.  Think about it – the most boring thing that you can have in a class is an instructor who reads to you from a PowerPoint presentation.  This Dean thinks a good professor will put the PowerPoint online along with a podcast to accompany it.  Students can take a short quiz online or in class that verifies that they have read the material.  Then they can take student knowledge to a higher level on Blooms taxonomy with the time they have in class through group work and discussion. 

 What if we did that for our elementary students?  We can’t make them read PowerPoint presentations and listen to podcasts at home, but we could at school. 

 What if we covered the recall and understanding portions of Bloom’s taxonomy using centers?  Students could watch video clips or listen to podcasts in centers.  We already have the equipment.  A teacher could use Discovery Education Streaming quizzes or lesson builders to deliver video and podcasts that would cover the basics.  RECALL could be tested, remediated, and the quiz could be scored automatically using a well constructed DE Streaming quiz.  Would you rather use a podcast?  You can create one yourself using a voice recorder or find a ready made one (there are tons out there).  Put together a quiz or worksheet for the student to fill in as s/he listens.  Moving up to UNDERSTANDING – ask your student to summarize.  Use a DE Streaming writing prompt, use a few questions on your blog: either can be easily done as a group in the school computer lab or on a COW or at the computer center in the back of your room. 

 When you are ready for whole group instruction you can break out the FUN!  Starting at APPLICATION now that the boring part is done – do that science experiment, practice as a whole group using your whiteboard/slate/wireless keyboard, work on an application assignment together at the document camera. Group discussion becomes ANALYSIS using your similarities and differences Marzano strategy – In what ways is this like or different from what we’ve studied before? Or make a connection – when I think about (insert your content here) I am reminded about…

 EVALUATING and CREATING can be a part of every class project.  Where your students can create a representation of your concept (create their own podcast, photostory, wiki page, animoto, voicethread, museum_box etc.) evaluating resources from DE Streaming or Freeplay music or some other source to decide what types of content is appropriate to add to their project.

Changing your style of teaching won’t be easy, but wouldn’t it be a great thing for our kids to operate at higher levels of Bloom’s taxonomy?  We don’t have to throw out our technology, just use it in better, more powerful and more appropriate ways.