Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Peahens and Frilled Lizards- How Tech Made A Difference!

I'm experimenting and trying to figure out how best to use our Chromebooks, class time, nontech activities, and all that we need to do in a jam-packed schedule. Plus, I have to work with kids coming and going all of the time for speech, resource, counseling, etc. It's a juggling act! Here's what I've done for the past two days.

I moved desks AGAIN. (Using student feedback, I'm trying to find the best seating arrangement for our class activities.) Now I have three large "tables" and two smaller ones. Each "table" is a learning center. The two small groups of desks make one center. The kids rotate to each center with their Chromebook so that they always have it available to them.

Today, one table was my reading group. Another was a math center where kids worked on Tenmarks math lessons and ixl for extra practice with fractions. They chose what to work on for ixl although I gave them some guidelines. The third table was was for working on Quill (grammar, keyboarding, spelling) and TypingAgent (keyboarding). The fourth center was using Edmodo to watch a StudyJams science video, read an article from Wonderopolis, and to work on their StoryboardThat project. In between each rotation, the kids chose a Gonoodle activity. Yesterday a center was independent reading and the kids hung out on the couch, yoga balls, and other comfortable seating. I also used SpellingVocabCity to practice our science words, and another center was for practicing handwriting, (something we really need to practice).

The rotations went beautifully, and I was lucky to have a parent help to moderate the centers for a whole hour today. Although, I must say that the kids were pretty awesome on their own. I didn't have any behavior issues, and kids helped each other with their accounts and other questions. It was quiet. My reading group didn't bother anyone because the other students had on their headphones and were engaged in their other lessons.

The BIG DIFFERENCE was that in my reading groups, the kids had Internet access at their fingertips! We read a book about animal adaptations. I started with my lowest readers first which is a whole group of boys. I started with them first because they are the kids that leave throughout the day for other classes and I needed to spend more time with them reading. The word peahen came up, and no one knew what the animal was and so we Googled it and looked at some pictures. They were able to discover quite a few facts just by looking at pictures and reading the captions. When we turned the page and saw a big picture of an Australian Frilled Lizard, the boys got excited! After talking about some keywords and text features, the kids read the page. While they read, I was quickly able to find a Youtube clip and added it to Edmodo. After reading the page, kids went to Edmodo and watched the clip and got very excited to learn more. We read the page again, this time as a whole group. Our whole discussion about animal adaptations took on a new enthusiasm. They boys wanted to read more! They wanted to find more details! And...because the rest of the class was busy, we took a few minutes to find some answers to their questions. I'm sure that at least one of the boys will choose to do his Genius Hour report about the lizards.

Each reading group was a little different. One group was interested in aardvarks eating termites and another was more interested in migrating butterflies. But, I had TIME to better meet their needs. We had the tech in front of us to help us find information together. I wasn't the source of knowledge. The learning was timely and relevant.

To have 30 kiddos in one class is a lot of responsibility- a lot of individual needs to meet. The system wasn't perfect yesterday or today. It was a lot of screen time to me. (The kids disagree with me and told me that they had plenty of rest in between each learning center block of 25ish minutes.) They loved it! They chose the activity in each center to work on first, and who they sat by for each center. In their eyes, learning with their own Chromebook, moving around to different places, and having choices was great learning. I agree, and it can only get better! This is another baby step towards making learning more differentiated and individualized. I still have a lot to figure out and tweak. I'd love to know your thoughts- especially if you have experience being 1:1 Chromebooks. Any suggestions?

1 comment:

  1. Your passion for your students comes right through in this post. I have no doubt you will figure out best system for your classroom. All the best, Sandy!