Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Tracking Our Thinking

This month, I've had the pleasure of facilitating a 3rd grade reading group for an hour each morning. We're reading Silverwing, which is absolutely an amazing book to read, and it's rich and complex and leads to great discussions.

After about a week or so, I realized our group had a ton of papers and sticky notes all over the place: a character chart we were all adding to, a paper for our new vocabulary and then a million sticky notes about our questions as we read. I started thinking of a more organized way to track our thinking.

Enter the Silverwing Readers wiki, a lovely little work in progress. One stop shopping for our growing character traits, vocabulary added to our 'batpack' and a place for us to document our discussions. I absolutely love it and see huge potential for it as a practical way of using technology in the classroom. Just imagine how authentic and organized a student-led conference would be if a student showed their parents how they are tracking their thinking this way.

The only downside to this that I see is the legwork involved in getting kids set up on the wiki and teaching them how to use it. My thought is to work with interested teachers and set up small groups of book clubs to get them started.

Here's one more example of a 5th grade teacher here at ISB, Chrissy, who is already using wikis for book club thinking.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

My Own 21st Century Kid

My two year old...
In her short life, she has only used Skype to talk to her grandparents.

She sees computers in ordinary things. A play garage becomes a computer station to her as she pulls up a chair and works at her 'computer.'

She builds them out of Legos.

And finally I found kid headphones for the plane. Trying them out here (big hit!).

What I wouldn't do for a kid-friendly Kindle for traveling with big color pictures and big font. Maybe someday soon...

Friday, 6 March 2009

Easy, Cheesy Book Reviews

Our school made the switch to the Destiny online catalog this year, and I am starting to work with classes to teach the students and teachers how to do online book reviews and ratings. It's one of the best features of the new system, and I am finding that it is also one of the easiest and most successful ways to teach some 21st century literacy skills. A one-hour commitment from start to finish, it's doable with a teacher's busy schedule and a very authentic way to have students communicate with each other.

I loved to see how the kids were so jazzed to get their reviews posted and approved by me. A 3rd grader put it best: "It was great to not have to work two or three days to finish something, but instead I got to finish it quickly and see it on the computer."

A little instant gratification does us all good every now and then.

Next stop, 4th and 5th grade classes. Ultimate goal: kids finishing a great book, grabbing a laptop and writing reviews. And I'm promising myself I won't get obsessive about correct spelling.