Wednesday, March 30, 2011

An apple a day will keep SINA away?

*As a disclaimer-I want to note that in our classroom we are working on the power of persuasion and opinion.  We have been focusing on how to capture an audience with text features. (You may be here right now because of the title :) if so..I guess it worked ) We then had a discussion on once we get our audience, how do we hold on to them with our words. This is the story of how I am trying to convince my wife that I don’t want, but I need an iPad2. :)

It is amazing how engaged students can be in the writing process when they know their audience and have a clear purpose. I have made an effort to bring both to every piece of writing we have done this year.  Not only has this been outstanding in planning and meeting the needs of all students, but it has certainly helped to frame our learning from the beginning of each unit.
I make an effort to post clear learning targets in all subject areas, and have tried to add relevance underneath each.  Students help me create bodily kinesthetic movements to represent the targets, which seem silly, but they have been very effective. The relevance has not been too challenging, but I am finding that students can tell me what we are learning, and have a difficult time telling me why we are learning this.

Our Persuasion Process
Our unit has been focused on these three essential questions:
1.       What are effective ways to change your audience’s perspective?
2.       What features of your message help draw a reader to your message?
3.       How do you grow and receive feedback from your audience?

The process of persuasion we have focused on has been:
1.       Take a stance
2.       Know and read your opponent
3.       Find support
4.       Develop your argument or opinion
5.       Present your message in an engaging way.


Here is what my students have helped me create:
Opinion: I don’t want, I need an iPad2
Audience: My intelligent, beautiful, fun-loving wife. (Thick enough..I think.)

If a school does not meet the annual AYP state participation goals or state Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) in reading or mathematics assessment in either the “all students” group or any one of the subgroups for two consecutive years, it is designated as a school in need of assistance, which is also referred to as SINA .
My students thought this was too harsh of a hook because it didn’t speak to my wife, so they helped me create this introduction paragraph:
Although we have many wants in life, I need an iPad2. If I am fortunate enough to save enough money to buy an iPad2, it would help our family and improve my job. I realize how expensive they can be, however I feel with your approval and my dedication to saving money, we can make this happen! (They liked the team and taking responsibility approach)

I will not bore you with the rest of our draft, but what I did want to share about this process was the power of collaboration and technology.  I couldn’t believe the responsive feedback I got from all my students.  They were so charged about this assignment, they had me share it with them in Google Docs. They gave me endless feedback and possible revisions in hope that I would get an iPad2.  They have suggested pictures to use and various ways to present this to my wife.  I shouldn’t be, but was completely amazed by the level of deep thinking and planning they were doing over a written assignment.

            When we are all finished self-assessing and peer assessing in our Google Docs we are going to upload them to our so we can attempt to gain feedback.  Students are hopeful to receive feedback since most of them hope to approach their audience soon to see if they can persuade them to take action.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

One small step for Skype, one giant leap to tech intergration.

A few weeks ago was World Read Aloud Day.  It was one of those times where I wish I had been paying closer attention to my Twitter feed. A fantastic local author Angela Maiers, @AngelaMaiers brought to my attention that this was taking place.  She and others suggested Skyping with other classes from around the world.  Unfortunately, I caught the memo too late to partner up with a class from another area, so I did the next best thing.  I partnered with an outstanding Kindergarten teacher in our building, who has a phenominal passion for learning and teaching.  We decided to make it a special day!

Students from our classroom read aloud their favorite books to students from the Kindergarten room, and students from her room reciprocated the favor.  We shared stories via Skype.  It was amazing to watch how engaged and supportive my students were of Kindergarteners' reading with fantastic fluency.  I would hear comments like, "That student read with wonderful expression!"  and "I can't believe how smooth that kids' fluency is!"  We Skyped three times that day.

At the end of the day we visited our buddies down the hall and got together to read aloud in person.  The Kindergarteners gave us a snack and we read books from their read-to-self tubs.  It was a great day filled with great learning.  Since then we have decided to continue the tradition of reading aloud to each other.  This Friday will be our second time our classrooms will share stories.

The Spark has become a Fire!!!

Day 2 of dream school.  Yesterday students discovered the perimeter and area of our school in meters.  We used existing maps to talk about future possibilities.  Today we pretended that the school was to be torn down, but we had to build a new school, with identical perimeter on the current site.  What students designed for the inside of their school was up to them.

Students had the task of taking yesterday's measurements and re-drawing the perimeter of the school to scale.  Scale can be very confusing, however since we had purpose, student's were fully engaged.  My brief assessment showed that all students were capable of drawing large objects to scale.  But that wasn't the fire, that was the spark.

The fire turned out to be the conversations about what to put inside.  So many great, and many unrealistic ideas were said, but who am I to judge?  We decided that this conversation would be ongoing and needed to be recorded.  Yesterday we opened up Edmodo accounts.  So, we created a new small group dedicated to sharing ideas about our new school designs.  This afternoon those ideas will start showing up so that our conversations will continue.

I am uploading one student's current draft.  They are in the process of finalizing their plan.  They have chosen to create and share using Google Docs.

I LOVE MY JOB!  I love how flammable these kids have been.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Finding that spark coming back from break!!!

As the children walked in this morning, you could tell they were excited, yet exhausted!  As a teacher, and a human, it is important to remember to be responsive to your students, but don't lower your expectations. we decided to incorporate our learning of perimeter, area, and scale into bringing a dream to life.  We discovered the perimeter and area of our existing building, and students a designing what they wish their dream school to look like.  We created some parameters, with the largest being they had to create this new school the same as, or smaller than their current school.

You could feel the current in the classroom build up, the way the hair on your arms rises when you have goosebumps!  I am so excited to see where this goes.  It is amazing what can happen when you respond and challenge your students.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Perspective Reading

During read to self today, our class chose to respond as a reader, or as a writer.  They responded by posting to their accounts.  If they were responding as a reader, theyposted a summary from a particular part of a book they are currently reading.  We discussed the relevance of this is to read for understanding, and to possibly connect and reach a larger audience.

If students were responding to reading like a writer, they were focusing on locating and citing subordinate conjunctions they found in their text.  They were to reference passage, title, author, and page in their post.  They would much rather call these AAAWWUBBIS sentences, than subordinate conjunctions.  Who doesn't love to say AAAWWUBBIS?  (Thank you Jeff Anderson...AKA the Write Guy for this)  Here is a short video of one of our students engaged in the process.

Later on, in school or at home, students' posts will be open for comment.  Here is a link to our Kidsblog page.