I sat in on a World Book demo a few weeks ago (that was an experience I’ll have to comment on at another time). If you haven’t, you need to take a look. the new interface is really sweet, colorful and child friendly. There are some new interactive games and activities. There are drag and drop graphic organizers that allow you to compare continents, animals etc. Pictures have been updated. New interactive maps, atlases, map blackline masters…I’m VERY excited. Let me know if you would like me to give you at tour…this is a great way for our kids to be safe when they do research…
On February 10th the secondary TRTs and I held a work session for the Foreign Language teachers. I was very happy about the work we were able to do assisting most teachers individually or on small groups. I was able to work with April McKee from Churchland High School who was a really hard sell. Mrs. McKee has fully participated in every session that we have done with the foreign language folks, but she finds no use for technology in her classroom…I finally got her insterested in creating a review site for her students. We put together a wiki very quickly, and then used a digital voice recorder to create two podcasts for her Spanish 1 students.
What does this have to do with my 21Things?? Using a digital voice recorder with a teacher is number 21 on the list. Don’t get happy yet, I’m not done…I’ve skipped around a bit and still have 5 items to go…
You know how sometimes you’ll try something new and it really works well, so you try it again and then it slowly becomes your new “thing”? Well, the new “thing” in first grade at Brighton is to use technology in Math. This is how it works…Mrs. Taxson (my Promethean board power user) will ask for an idea on using KidPix with her class for math the SOL of the week. After we come up with an idea, she’ll ask for help with getting the task completed. Her kids use KidPix for creative writing/drawing independantly, so our goal for her class is to get the students to do more structured activities using templates. We’ll demonstrate to the class on Wednesday using the Promethean board and on Thursday the students will go into the lab and do the activity. So this week we worked on number sentences. We used a template from the KidPix Deluxe 4 book. The kids had fun. Those who were done first became peer helpers!
Then there’s Mrs. Smith. Mrs. Smith’s goal for this year is to have her students use Kidspiration for writing. We have a long way to go. The students are just learning Kidspiration and we’ve used it in different ways. They need more exposure before we get to writing and outlining. So after Mrs. Taxson hits me up for some time, Mrs. Smith usually asks for some as well. They do group planning, so it’s the same SOL, but given their goals and technology experience, it looks totally different in each class. So yesterday in Mrs. Smith’s class we used my wireless keyboard to practice a number sentences exercise in Tammy Worcester’s math book.
Today we took the kids into the lab and worked on the same activity individually. Between these two teachers, I teach 4 lessons a week. Mrs. Gamble likes to join in every so often. When she does it’s an additional lesson that is completely different, because she like powerpoint!! I miss Mrs. Perry-Wallace, but I’m glad she’s still out on maternity leave. I couldn’t handle all four in this grade group.
Given the teacher turn over in the building from last year to this year and the shuffling of positions, we had to revamp our Orchard strategy at Brighton. Professional development has been a little tedious these past few months, but persistance pays off. Mrs. West teaches 6th grade inclusion and we had a great session last Monday after school. We discussed ways to use Orchard for reteaching her small groups that would need help in Math. We looked at some reports that would be helpful and made some instructional decisions based on the data that we had from the benchmark simulation tests the students had taken a few weeks ago. (I used our pacing guides to create 15 item tests to assess what the kids retained from the first nine weeks of school.)
I am very excited to say that Mrs. West stopped me in the hall today to tell me how well her remediation strategy was working. She used an Orchard skill tree to reteach her small group some number sense concepts. All of the students experienced significant increases in pretest/postest scores for the skill tree. She’s sold on Orchard. I just hope that she spreads the word to all of the other teachers who are using Orchard for the first time this year.
Today was a great day!! I went to Ms. Brockman’s class to teach reading. Two weeks ago (maybe three) Ms. Brockman emailed me asking if I would do a reading lesson for her. She didn’t have the topic yet, but wanted to make sure that she got a spot in my schedule. (I am only at Victory Elementary once a week, so I get booked real fast.) We just had the projectors installed and Ms. Brockman wanted to get started using it. She’s shown some United Streaming, but wanted to take things to another level. So after my Kidspiration inservie, Ms. Brockman decided that the reading lesson should use Kidspiration. So at 9:30 this morning, I took my laptop and headed down the hall. I did my usual introduction – “I’m here to teach your teacher, we may have to stop the lesson to answer her questions, that will not be your signal to talk” – but I knew we wouldn’t have a problem. Ms. Brockman is one of the good old fashiond teachers who uses classroom management as the cornestone of her class climate.
So we used the Kidspiration template that I brought to sort words with the “oo” sound (too, juice, blue, group etc.). It was great. My focus was on demonstrating how to introduce the technology: Kidspiration and the wireless keyboard throught the lesson. She jumped right in teaching the lesson, “How do you spell ‘oo’ in that word?” “Let’s give him a firecracker cheer…” by the end, both Ms. Brockman and the majority of her students knew how to use the wireless keyboard. Then we sorted facts and opinions as a review again using a Kidspiration template. We talked about grading the sorting activity and allowing the students to complete it on their own during center time at the computers in the back of the room.
Of course there were problems with my templates – the print was too small, the colors were plain etc. Ms. Brockman wanted to make beter templates for next week. So during her planning time I came back and Ms. Brockman and I worked together to create templates for the next story making the changes that she had in mind. It was a great learning experience for both of us. She learned about Kidspiration, and I learned about the second grade reading curriculum. The repettitive nature makes it a great place to try out different types of technology. We’ve made some preliminary plans to create graphic organizers for use in a retelling activity for additional reading comprehension and writing practice. I look forward to working with Ms Brockman and her class again.
Ms. Davis at Victory asked me to teach a lesson on measurement. I’m so excited ’cause we’ve been talking about my coming to her class for years…so I’ve got this really cool plan: I want to use the ActiveBoard with one or two of the Flipcharts I found on http://www.prometheanplanet.com/ and then I think I’ll use this interactive I found at BBC!
Ok, add these two for science – Electricity!!