Hello again. It has been awhile since I’ve updated my blog with regards to my progression as a teacher trying to integrate technology into my classroom. Today I, and this blog, was mentioned in a blog by a grade 3 French Immersion teacher in Ontario that I have connected with on Twitter (http://www.funkylindsay.com/?p=796). We have been bouncing ideas off of each other for a few weeks now. It is nice to have a colleague (albeit one that is across the country) that is sharing the same journey as me, and knows some of the same frustrations of teaching in a second language. It was her blog mention that inspired me to update today.
Last weekend, I participated in a virtual 24-hour read-a-thon (http://24hourreadathon.com/). This was a very unique experience. Each participant (numbered in the hundreds) was reading in their own space, in their own time, and posting their progress through Twitter and their various blogs. During this event, various activities were posted around the net hourly in order for you to take reading breaks. Prizes of books and other reading stuff were awarded for these events. There were designated cheer-leaders who were posting positive words of encouragement and praise throughout the 24 hours. I posted a couple of these challenges to this blog and managed to read for about 16 hours, with a grand total of close to 500 pages read. This event takes place twice a year, in April and in October. I loved the experience and will be encouraging my students and families to participate next year! Maybe even having a mini-event in my classroom. It is something to think about.
Now, the whole point of getting the SMARTBoard in my classroom was for it to have an impact on my students, not just on me, right? So, what have I been doing with my students lately? Well, in my M.Ed. class this term, we have talked a lot about the teaching strategy of “I do, We do, You do” when teaching any new concept. First, I will do it to show you, then we will do it together, then you do it on your own. I have really taken this to heart this year and my SB has made this process both easier for me to accomplish and more engaging for my students. Using Notebook to create lessons has allowed me to create templates that can be used over and over again (I do, we do, you do). It also allows me to save our work so that we can refer back to it in later lessons. This has become a regular part of our daily lessons.
Many of my students have come into my classroom with little or no computer skills at all. The SB has allowed me the opportunity to teach the class basic skills like opening windows, saving, changing font, bold, italics, center, and many other simple skills. In the past, I would either have taught these things 26 different times to students on individual computers, or simply projected on to a screen. Now, I am able to show them as before, but then invite them to come up to change and manipulate as well before I send them to computers. It truly does make a difference for them. They recently finished “publishing” a French book report using Microsoft Word that will be proudly displayed around our library for the other students in our school to see.
Another project that we have been doing is a collaborative project with the grade 5/6 classroom. Our school is studying Virtues this year. Our students were placed in groups (with both grade 3s and grade 5/6s) and were each assigned a virtue. They studied their virtue, came up with a storyline that represented that virtue, took pictures of themselves “acting” out this skit, uploaded their pictures, and are now in the process of creating comics of their storylines using Comic Life. The older students are mentoring the younger ones. This project, so far, has been a great success! My students are learning so much and are becoming more and more comfortable around computers.
The last thing that I wanted to talk about is something that I introduced to my students as something they could do at home. I am constantly trying to find new ways to encourage my students to read, to find books that they like, to share what they are reading, to be proud of their reading… (A lot of these ideas are written about in a book I recently read called The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.) Since my students seem so taken with technology and the computer, I looked for a way to incorporate this with my goals for reading. I signed up for a Shelfari page (www.shelfari.com) and started putting the books that I was reading up there. I purposefully chose to put professional books, personal books, and books that my students were reading to set the example that all kinds of reading are valuable. I then also book talked about these books too. Almost half my class is now on Shelfari, updating their bookshelves, sharing with each other. They send me notes, they send each other notes. I also sent a note to the parents to ensure that their parents were the primary holders of their child’s site so they could monitor them. This online sharing has transferred to my classroom in real life too. I have students who are regularly doing book talks and often ask to share their bookshelves with the students who are not online. I provided all my students with notebooks that are divided as the Shelfari bookshelf are: Books I want to read, Books I am reading, Books I have read. This way all my students are involved in this sharing!
So, there you go, this is my latest update. Next I hope to find a way to promote physical fitness using tech. Ideas?