Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Moving Over Here

I mentioned that I've failed at blogging on more than one occasion. Below are some posts from a blog I started on my school site in the fall (07)when I began immersion teaching in a sixth grade language arts class. I'm re-ordering them so they are in chronological order, then adding my commentary.

August 21, 2007
I'm so excited to start the school year this year.
We're doing some new and different things with the laptops and reading and writing that are based on the research Mrs. Jones and I have been doing for the past year. I hope the students will enjoy this course.

Sixth grade is the first year of our 1:1 program, so that was a natural fit for this experiment in immersing the technology integrationist in the classroom.

August 29th, 2007
What's the difference between Google, Wikipedia, and a subscription-based online encyclopedia? This was the guiding question for today's classes as we looked for the answers to questions the students generated after reading about Eliza's escape to freedom via the Underground Railroad. This article by Roy Rosenzweig that originally appeared in The Journal of American History Volume 93, Number 1 (June, 2006) does as good a job as any discussing the academic validity of Wikipedia. My take on Wikipedia is that it can be an okay jumping off point for students, but it really serves as the "go to" resource for certain types of information, say information about old sci fi films and their special effects. Why? Think about the population intersection between Internet nerd and sci fi geek!

This was the beginning of our year-long effort to think critically about information sources. We did and still do a great deal of reading on paper (short stories, magazines, books) along with web research.

August 27 and 28, 2007
Today we introduced the Inspiration™ software to the students via my laptop as we created a KWL (What I Know, What I Wonder or Want to Know, What I Learned) in preparation for a guided reading activity with a short story about an exciting escape via the Underground Railroad. I think the students enjoyed the class. Even though the block is 90 minutes long, the pace changes as we move their desks to different formations (we'll have to do desk drills some rainy day) for the activities.

Inspiration is fabulous software. It's become part of our general productivity toolbelt. I want to make sure this spreads beyond the sixth grade.

September 17th, 2007
Wow--I am behind already! The students are really enjoying their laptops. Today we finished updating everyone's anti-[all bad stuff] software. I missed them while they were on their trip. Now we're finally doing the summer reading activities and benchmark assessments for reading fluency. We're using Read Naturally to evaluate/improve reading fluency with a particular focus on non-fiction text for the beginning of the year.

Aha, my first acknowledgment that I am a lousy blogger. More to come, I'm sure. Read Naturally was interesting, but what we really ended up using to evaluate reading comprehension and fluency:
DRA2, QRI and Scholastic Reading Inventory. None of them are tech tools, which speaks to my point about how difficult it can be to explain what I do.

November 27, 2007
Well, October was a great month. Busy. Now we're at the end of November and it is time to think about the skid into Winter Break that happens every year.

Ah yes, the final cry of defeat. Busy. It's my excuse for all sorts of failings, never mind that it happens to be true too. It reminds me that I need to be more sympathetic to those who tell me they are "too busy" to learn about technology.

Next post--tools I use and love this year.

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