For the summer, I have decided to use my Tuesday and Thursday posts to reblog some of my favorite posts that some of my readers may have missed the first time around:
As a teacher, do you ever have a moment when no one needs your help, and you are standing in the middle of your classroom wondering what you should be doing? In my twenty years of teaching, I think that’s happened twice: when I was student teaching and had no idea what I was supposed to be doing anyway, and today. I showed my students Storybird, which allows you to choose sets of art to illustrate a story that you write. I meant for it to be a station on some computers in my classroom, but the students who started at that station didn’t want to leave. So, I started pulling out laptops until everyone was working on their own stories. For over an hour, there was silence in my room, and every child was engaged in creating his or her own story. We had been studying Figurative Language, and the assignment was to create a story with a winter theme that used at least 4 different types of figurative language.
After lunch, I thought the students might be weary of sitting in front of computer screens. I began saying, “Okay, you have a choice. You can either continue working on your Storybirds or – ” I didn’t even get to finish. They unanimously agreed that they wanted to continue.
Storybird is free. Register as a teacher, and you can add a class of students easily. The students do not need e-mail addresses to register or log in. You can view their work at any time, and they can also view the work of other students in the class by clicking on a tab at the top. They can comment, as can the teacher. It’s online, and easy to share, so they can show friends and family. The teacher can post specific assignments or the students can just create. Collaboration on stories is possible, and reading the stories of others is inspiring. The art work is charming and lovely.
Here is a sample from one of my 4th graders: (I apologize if some of the words are cut off – WordPress does not “play well” with embed codes!)
Ever heard of Speed Dating? The concept is to meet with a person for a few minutes, chat, and then move on to another person. The short discussion with the potential date allows each participant to determine if he or she thinks it is worth pursuing the relationship any further.
The other day, I saw a variation on this idea that, believe it or not, is perfect for education. It is called Speed Booking, and the students are given the opportunity to learn a little about a group of books so they can decide which ones pique their interest. If this post piques your interest, check out the details at iLearn Technology!
This idea is one of several provided in an article on Scholastic.com entitled Making Connections/Self-Monitoring: A Differentiated Learning Centers Unit Plan. You may want to check out the entire unit. Or, if you have less time, be sure to visit this section, which gives you suggestions for using the above reproducible to encourage your students to make connections to the text they are reading. The students could use this independently or in a game format in pairs. This lesson is excerpted from Differentiated Literacy Centers by Margo Southall.
I actually found the link to Beth Newingham’s blog post on another blog, KB Connected. When I clicked on the link, I was immediately impressed by the creative ideas and the higher order thinking skills each activity included. In addition, Beth Newingham provides photos of each activity and printables that are simple but attractive. It has links to her website showing several of the fiction genre lessons in action. This is the kind of classroom in which kids thrive!
S.C.O.R.E. Cyberguides is a site that was produced by Schools of California Online Resources for Education. It is based on California’s Language Arts curriculum, and offers a multitude of literature units at levels from K-12. The units include teacher and student resources. They could be used as supplemental materials, or as jumping off points for Literature Circles or independent study assignments. There is a disclaimer on the site that lack of funding has resulted in some of the units being out of date (broken links, etc…). However, it appears that even those units are still available on the site under “Retired” sections. This is helpful as a teacher could scavenge them for curriculum ideas or website suggestions.
This site, produced by Scholastic, is a nice tool to use in helping teachers to select books. It includes leveled searches based on the “Level System” your school uses. Another nifty feature is the “Book Alike” search, which allows you to look for books which are similar to certain ones the student already likes. For the latter, the teacher can even use a toggle switch to indicate whether to search for books at an easier, harder, or equivalent level to the book cited. A Book Wizard widget can be added to your website or blog for students and parents to utilize as well.