Technoliteracies: Sharing the Top Digital Resources to Support Student Readers and Writers

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Last year, my best friend Erin Olson and I started an Instagram account to share our love of literacy and technology. Technoloiteracies was born as a place where we could share the best resources, apps, and technology to support student readers and writers.

Instagram is a perfect platform to share resources and connect with other educators. Instagram is an example of microblogging; the sharing of short and frequent posts which made it ideal for us. Erin and I typically share resources a couple times a week. The resources and apps we share span the grades (K-12), cross platforms and devices, and focus on all things literacy. So if you are on Instagram, check us out!

 

Technoliteracies Top 9 Posts of 2016

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  1. Hypothes.isOpen annotation on the web. Hypothes.is allows users to highlight and annotate web pages. Converse over the world’s knowledge and share to public, group, or keep private! Also available as a Chrome extension. Great to support student thinking, research & curation.
  2. Pics4Learning Pics4Learning is a perfect resource to share with students and educators. Here, you will find images to use in all things for school and it’s safe search helps to keep it appropriate for all learners. From multimedia creations to digital portfolios, these copyright-friendly images are perfect and support student understanding in terms of image use and citations. As a bonus, you can also add to the growing collection by uploading your own images to share.
  3. PrismaPrisma is an incredible photo editing app which transforms images into works of art based on the styles of famous artists and periods. Share with students for use in multimedia projects and great for digital storytelling.
  4. 100 Word Challenge – 100 Word Challenge is an online resource which provides a weekly creative writing challenge for kids under 16. Prompts are posted and the community of writers made up of students and educators post and comment on student writing. Anyone can join and share their succinct writing to a global audience. Great to get students writing for real.
  5. Elink.io – Check out elink.io as a perfect tool to collect, curate, & share webpages. Perfect for newsletters sharing student creations or webpages of resources to launch kids into a new unit. Simple, easy, and free. Also available as a chrome extension.
  6. ThingLink – ThingLink provides users with an interactive and engaging platform, great for inquiry. Multiple student and teacher uses by linking and sharing content. Now, ThingLink offers a 360 picture view. Checkout out Thinglink.com for interactive images and videos! Easily create a collection of resources for students.
  7. Bubbl.us – Check out bubbl.us. A brainstorming tool perfect for students to organize thoughts and make their thinking visible. Color code topics, modify and move bubbles with a click, and share with peers for collaborative work.
  8. Dipity – An interactive timeline that has unfortunately shut down. Try TimeToast as an alternative.
  9. Read The World – Readtheworld.org is a site that helps you diversify your literature selections. It is an archived hand-picked book site which is divided by country, region, and state. Each title has a brief summary, quotes, length, and brief author bio.

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Erin and I wish you all a Happy and Healthy 2017!

 

A Challenge: We Have to Stop Pretending

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Tagged by my good friend, Beth Still, who took Scott McLeod’s challenge, which asked educators to create a top 5 list of things to “Stop Pretending” (in education) I offer my response:

When it comes to education we need to stop pretending…

  1. That literacy; modeling, practice, and teaching is confined to the ELA classroom.
  2. That letter grades are the best way to inform us of the skills and competencies a student possesses.
  3. That… Rewards + Compliance = Learning.
  4. That the climate and the culture of a building doesn’t affect student learning or teacher morale.
  5. That technology will fix bad teaching.

 

My list contained many more thoughts, but these 5 resonated with me, as I hope they do you!

 

I tag: Erin Olson, Jimmy Casas, Cornelius Minor, Rafranz Davis, Tom Murray, and Jeff Zoul

 

I challenge you to write about education and what we need to “Stop Pretending”. If you write a post, please tag it with #MakeSchoolDifferent

 

 

 

Digital News Sources for Students: A Companion to Investigative Journalism

Have I mentioned how much I love my job? This summer I had the opportunity to attend the Teacher’s College Summer Writing Institute in New York. Along with honing my craft, I had an opportunity to connect and converse with Cornelius Minor. (and although he compared our love of literacy and technology equaling a comparative job/education role, he is much, much smarter than I am and works at a Global level,,, but more about that in a later post)

Part of my duties this year include “coaching” (I use the term coaching loosely because I learn far more collaborating and reflecting with these 2 educators; Jen Paulsen and Megann Tresemer,  than I would solo) two 8th grade teachers that are implementing Lucy Calkins, Writing Workshop Units of Study. Currently, the students are writing as investigative journalists.

As the first sentence in this Unit of Study states, “Journalism is the literature of Democracy” (Mary Ehrenworth and Cornelius Minor). Investigative Journalism blends informative writing with narrative writing providing precise details and intentional narrative techniques. Students learn about the 5Ws found in Investigative Journalism (Who, What, When, Where, Why) refine skills in observations, details and craft, write their own pieces and push themselves to be better writers through the aide of mentor texts, instruction, and individual conferences with an expert teacher.

Today, after the weekly observation and reflective conversation, Megann and I were discussing the types of news sources current day students and adults read regularly. While we both acknowledge the role and preference of traditional print sources in many people’s lives, we both agreed exposure to and the study of multimedia sources was an essential addition. Megann and Jen work in a middle school which implemented a 1 to 1 educational environment this year, meaning that they gave every student a Chromebook to use in school and bring home with them every night. (So, with my 6 years experience of teaching in a 1 to 1 setting I was a perfect fit for this district).

Our conversation spurred a retrieval of digital  “News Sources” I have collected throughout the years providing a starting place for Megann and hopefully an addition to your own collection.

1. Newsela – A nonfiction site that is updated daily for with real-world news and differentiated by reading level. Students can become part of the global conversation!

2. Flocabulary Week In Rap – Fostering a love of learning in a mode that students love! Videos and Hip Hop keep students informed.

3. Kicker – Getting up to speed quickly and easily with the current happenings of the world. Accessibility for all readers on top stories!

4. 10 X 10 – Shared to me by my friend Erin Olson, 10X10 appeals to the visual learner. It is described as “an interactive exploration of the words and pictures that define the time.”

5. New York Times Learning Network Blog – A place for students and teachers to read, write, collaborate and share based off of the content in the New York Times!

Finally, don’t forget to collect and share student writing examples as well. Megann directed me to the high school’s online News Source called Tiger Hi-Line, a perfect, local example to inspire her middle schools students!

 

 

Connected Educator: The Why!

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October is designated at “Connected Educators Month” (initiative of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education ) which has sparked reflection on my own journey of becoming  connected. Five years ago, I was a high school English teacher embarking on a new a district shift; an educational environment with ubiquitous technology access for students and staff. Every staff member, district wide, along with all students in grades 9-12 were given laptops.

My first year as a 1:1 educator was a “normal” progression in learning the educational device (laptops) and taking small risks of incorporation into daily routines. The second year of teaching in a 1:1 environment shifted my pedagogy and curriculum from substitution to redefinition. (SAMR model) Spurring this shift can be attributed largely to relationships built by becoming a connected educator. No longer was my classroom limited by time and space, instead my students were creating and collaborating with others around the globe. Participating in meaningful and relevant opportunities that allowed for deeper understanding of content, engaging and relevant project based learning, and understanding their unique voice and contributions to an online global community.

Last week I reconnected with Erin Olson , Bev Berns, and Nancy Movall. Erin, Bev and I initially met on Twitter. We connected our classes and met virtually before paths crossed later that year, providing a face to face opportunity. The blogging community we formed was one of my earliest and most meaningful collaborations as an educator. Our students were forming a virtual writer’s workshop, honing communication and collaboration skills. Students wrote and responded weekly to each other, participated in many local and national events (NYTimes Learning Network Blog)  and even added their voice virtually as Problem-Finders, not just solvers, to the ITU Telecom World 2011 Meta Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. The love of writing, and the value of connecting from the blogging community is still communicated to me through student posts, tweets, and messages!

Our collaboration  turned to the state level when we were introduced to Nancy Movall, a forward-thinking leader whose motto, Better-Together to do the Right Work for Kids, has become a guiding compass for many of us! Nancy’s vision, which is still being shared, evolving, and refined is providing the best opportunities for students through the sharing of blended education via technology (this is over-simplified of course, but a short explanation). Iowa’s Communities of Practice provided opportunity for us as educators to share our passions and talents to develop blended curriculum for Iowa Student! Nancy believes in the power of a collective group and has championed for me personally countless times! Forever grateful!

So, how do the previous examples illustrate the power of being a Connected Educator? Consider the 4 Goals of Connected Educator Month:

  1. Helping more districts promote and integrate online social learning into their formal professional development

  2. Stimulating and supporting collaboration and innovation in professional development

  3. Getting more educators connected (to each other)

  4. Deepening and sustaining the learning of those already connected

Without drawing the obvious parallels between the Goals and my personal examples, the success of student learning found within my own classroom was fostered and enhanced by “getting connected”! Content understanding, transformation of knowledge to demonstrate one’s own learning, and searching out connections via social media to support their personal learning were the immediate student transfers.

October may be designated as Connected Educator Month, but building connections, sustaining relationships, and promoting the power of online collaboration should be part of every educator’s daily life! And if you already are a Connected Educator, do your part, get more educators connected!

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