Amplifying the Writing Process with Technology

 

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Yesterday marked the 8th year of the Iowa 1 to 1 Institute. A conference that is close to my heart, and has provided support, inspiration, and opportunities to me throughout the years. It is also one that I help to organize and run with an amazing team led by Nick Sauers.

This year, over 1000 educators gathered in Des Moines for the 2 day conference.  Dr. Robert Dillon kicked off the first day leading the learning on Leadership Day. The second day provided attendees with over 100 sessions to attend. My session focused on the influence of technology on the writing process and the changes that have occurred because of this influx. These changes have helped to amplify student writing in multiple ways. I have included my slides which highlights these changes, provides brief theory, as well as technology resources and tools to amplify the writing process.

Amplifying the Writing Process

Link to Slides found Here! 

5 Google Resources to Support Student Writing

Pathways to the Common Core- Accelerating Achievement (2)Supporting students in the writing process involves explicit instruction, modeling and utilizing resources to support their development. Sharing high-quality, digital resources with students will increase accessibility and independence in all student writers. Writers, professionals, and adults use digital and non-digital resources to improve their writing, so why wouldn’t we provide the same experience and guidance to our own students?

This list of 5 Google resources are practical and easy to use with all writers! They support a wide-range of ability, mimicking what is commonplace in the classroom. From the struggling writer, English Language Learner writer, and the gifted writer; Google resources can support all kids!

  1. Google Doc Research Tool – Search on Google, Scholar, Images, Tables, and Dictionary to access the information you need without leaving Google Docs. The Research tool allows users to cite information using multiple formats.Pathways to the Common Core- Accelerating Achievement
  2. Google Keep – Google Keep captures your thoughts via text or voice. Create lists, add images and access across multiple devices. Notes are shareable to friends and teachers making brainstorming, tasks, and source collection easy with this resource. Students can set reminder notifications as well! Google Keep
  3. Grammarly – Grammarly is an App that can be added to your Chrome browser. This app detects plagiarism, and helps to improve your writing. It recognizes spelling mistakes, as well as errors in Grammar Usage and Mechanics. It offers suggestions to users. A great app for students to utilize as their first support in editing. Grammarly
  4. Read and Write for Google – Read and Write for Google provides accessibility for docs., the web, pdfs., and epubs. Options provide support to all students! Struggling readers and writers can use the Google Docs tool bar to read aloud and highlight text. Use the picture dictionary to support emerging readers and writers. The translator option supports ESL students as they write and struggle translating ideas in another language. Free for teachers and can be pushed out to your entire domain! Read and Write Google
  5. Voice Typing Tool – Google voice typing allows writer to easily put their words on a page by speaking them instead of manually typing. Voice Typing is located under the “Tools” tab in Google Docs and appears as a microphone symbol, on the side, once selected. When trying out for my own use, I was surprised on the accuracy and would recommend this to teachers and students without hesitation. Pathways to the Common Core- Accelerating Achievement (1)

8 Google Resources to Spark Inquiry-Based Learning

The best inquiry-based essential questions spark more questions!

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Inquiry-based learning often begins by posing scenarios or questions in which students investigate the collected artifacts to determine more questions, as well as research directions in which they will pursue to gain further knowledge on the concept or topic.

In he article titled The Many Levels of Inquiry by Heather Banchi and Randy Bell (2008) the authors clearly outline four levels of inquiry.

Level 1: Confirmation Inquiry
The teacher has taught a particular concept, theme, or topic. The teacher then develops questions and a procedure that guides students through an activity where the results are already known. This method is great to reinforce concepts taught and to introduce students into learning to follow procedures, collect and record data correctly and to confirm and deepen understandings.

Level 2: Structured Inquiry
The teacher provides the initial question and an outline of the procedure. Students formulate explanations of their findings through evaluating and analyzing the data that they collect.

Level 3: Guided Inquiry
The teacher provides the essential question for the students. The students are responsible for designing and following their own procedures. Students communicate their results and findings.

Level 4: Open/True Inquiry
Students formulate their own research question(s), design and follow through with a developed procedure, and communicate their findings and results.

One “Best Practice” in teaching is Gradual Release of Responsibility. GRR provides a scaffold for learning in which as the teacher’s support lessens, the student independence increases. Aligned to this practice, Banchi and Bell (2008) explain that teachers should begin their inquiry instruction at the lower levels and work their way to open inquiry. Open inquiry activities are only successful if students are motivated by intrinsic interests and if they are equipped with the skills to conduct their own research study.

Consider the following Google resources to aid in inquiry-based learning.

A Google a day – Typically used as a bell-ringer or to reinforce search skills. A Google a Day could provide the spark in inquiry-based learning. New questions are posed daily. 

Google Feud – Google Feud compiles algorithms for most commonly search words and phrases and places the answers on a “Family Feud” type board. Google Feud not only sparks the inquiry into algorithms, but also has students consider bias in on-line searches based on location and history of your previous searches.

Smarty Pins – Smarty pins incorporates Google Maps and “drops” you anywhere in the world. Your charge is to guess where you are based on context clues found around you. Smarty Pins would be a great resource in Social Studies classrooms, begging the students to wonder – Where am I? How do I know?

Google Night Walk – Explore the sounds, streets, and soul of Marseille on this immersive digital Night Walk with GoogleAlthough Google Night Walk only as one adventure in Marseille, the sounds and sights make students wonder – What is this telling me about Merseille? How does the backdrop of night change perceptions? How can I create a Google Night Walk based off of my own location.

My Maps – My Maps is allows users to create and share customized maps. Located in your Google Drive, My Maps is perfect for literature tours, geography, history, etc. Connect multiple locations together and allow students to explore the world, gathering questions as they go. 

Solve for X – Solve for X is a community of scientists, inventors, engineers, artists, thinkers, doers, the young, the wise, men and women from every background across every geography connected by a shared optimism that science and technology can cause radically positive things to happen in the world.

Google Experiments – Google Experiments is a “showcase of web experiments written by the creative coding community”. Not only will students get lost for hours in the awesomeness that lives on this site, but it also allows students to develop questions as to how and why these experiments were developed.

Google Science Fair  – Google Science Fair is an online, global science competition for students. Not only can students design, test and share study results on through this competition, but they are able to hear from past winners.

9 Google Resources to Support Reading

 

 

Google Read

The doubling of knowledge will happen every twelve hours, according to IBM, because of the “internet of things” and the ease in which we have the capacity to publish and share. With this dynamic pool of information available to students, it is essential to equip them with skills necessary to locate reliable and relevant information. Over the past two years, I have collected digital resources, apps, and extensions that will assist educators in this endeavor, as well as in the areas of inquiry, writing, and multimodal creations (all will be subsequent posts).

The following are 9 of my favorite Google resources to support reading (**Bonus 3 at the end):

  1. Google Cultural Institute – Google Cultural Institute makes the “world’s culture accessible anyone, anywhere.” Students can explore collections and exhibits from around the world.
  2. Google Trends – Google Trends helps users explore the world’s information through the data it generates. Search trends, YouTube views, to patterns found in correlating terms and topics are all available for analysis.
  3. Google Scholar – Google Scholar helps students find relevant and reliable scholarly literature. Search across disciplines, types, and research to access peer-reviewed sources. Add to your personal library and automatically cite information correctly.
  4. Google Books – Google Books works just like a search engine. Search by topic, grade level, and even author. Download and read books on any device. Google Books also allows users to upload their own documents, bookmark while reading and add to their personal library.
  5. Newsela – Newsela is a unique way to increase reading comprehension by providing student access to nonfiction news. Every article has 5 levels, allowing readers to access the same information at their independent reading level. Access to Common-Core aligned quizzes follow the articles, allowing comprehension learning targets to be met with confidence.
  6. Google Primary Sources – Google Primary Sources is a custom search engine which allows users to search thousands of primary sources. Search by topic, date, name, etc. to locate primary sources.
  7. Read & Write for Google – Read & Write for Google is a Chrome app which supports reading, writing, and research. Select text to be read aloud, define highlighted words, and translate text into other languages, and summarize text on web page.
  8. Google Similar Pages – Google Similar Pages is a Chrome app that helps students locate additional web pages similar to the ones the have found valuable. Accessing additional information and sources aligned with previous sources.
  9. Google News – Google News is a personalized news site aggregated with headlines from news from around the world. This comprehensive source customizes information according to reader’s preferences and offers diversity from around the globe.

3 Bonus Resources for our younger readers. Kid-friendly search engines, perfect for elementary students!

  1. Kidrex
  2. GoGooglians
  3. Kidz Search

 

 

Uncovering the Why: the Importance of Beliefs

BeliefsFor many years, my professional learning consisted on the “what” and “how” in the classroom. What were your kids reading? writing? discussing? What tech were you using? How are you using portfolios? How do you grade? How do you differentiate? 

While all of these questions are important to answer, it wasn’t until I drilled down the Why, that I truly appreciated learning. Understanding the why, helps provide a framework in which all other decisions can be based upon. Why do I teach Shakespeare? Why do I have students blog? Why does it matter that students publish to  public audience? Why do I prefer the workshop framework over traditional instruction?

Currently, I am reading Read, Write, Teach by Linda Rief. The introduction provides insight into the purpose, design, and the Why for writing this book. She starts with the Why because it “grounds her choices of the what and how.”

The following are images of my own Whys on Literacy, inspired by the work of Linda Rief. I encourage you to not only explore your own beliefs on teaching and learning, but also to bring the conversation back to your departments, buildings, or even districts. Do we have similar beliefs? What is gained and what is lost when staff members have the same beliefs? Is a common set of shared beliefs necessary for our students?

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