Grammar and Writing Differentiation

Grammar and Writing Differentiation

Previously posted in May of 2016 on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

For differentiation in the ELA classroom, No Red Ink is a godsend.  Although it has always been available via the noredink.com website, many teachers learned of it through Edmodo as an app. However, it is migrating completely to its website on June 30, 2016.  See the company announcement below.

As you may have heard, NoRedInk will no longer integrate with Edmodo starting June 30, 2016. On that date, we will transition your account to the NoRedInk website. Your data and classes will travel with you, and the site will look and behave just as it always has. The only change is that you will begin logging in at noredink.com rather than through an Edmodo app.

On June 30, we will send instructions to this email address. If you’d like to use a different address, please launch the NoRedInk app and go to your settings page. You can learn more about the change here. Also feel free to reach out with questions.

Thanks for all that you do,
The NoRedInk Team

If you haven’t already been using No Red Ink, now is the time to go to their website and set up an account.   This app offers grammar practice with parts of speech, sentences, commas, parallel structure, MLA citations and more.  This app could take you from 3rd grade through college.

If diagramming sentences did not excite you, try No Red Ink on for size.  It just might surprise you.

Organizing Thoughts Through Voice

Organizing Thoughts Through Voice

Previously posted on April 7, 2016 on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

As an English teacher, I saw my job as teaching people to think well and write well.  The thinking was not nearly as difficult as the writing portion, and after leaving the classroom to coach teachers on how to effectively integrate technology into the classroom, I realize that writing was just a byproduct of what my real job was: to teach people how to communicate effectively.  Writing was just one way to effectively communicate.

With technology becoming ubiquitous in our personal, professional, and now educational lives, we have so many opportunities to communicate; learning how to communicate effectively is becoming more important than ever with the organization of ideas and the quality of speech and text being the main focus.

If organization of ideas is one of the big three factors, why does written text take precedence over spoken word?  Perhaps it has been that way because writing is permanent and digital writing is searchable.  However, things have changed.  Now, video is streaming live through Facebook and it is searchable on YouTube.  Audio is also more prominent and is also searchable.  While writing used to be more permanent, it is now just as temporary as audio and video because most of it is saved digitally.  So then, why are we still focused on writing as the apex of communication?

Organizing ideas for verbal communication such as a speech or a podcast is just as challenging as the written word save the grammatical hangups.  For our more verbal students, organizing thoughts for speech might even be a stepping stone to better writing because the student will process the information in a way that is his strength.  Just as with scaffolding, this could scaffold for a hesitant writer.  Check out this slidedeck by Professor Tamika Taylor with instructions for how to prepare for a speech.

 

That’s where podcasting comes in.  Podcasting is much like a radio broadcast.  There are no images or written text. Everything is recorded in audio form.  Some great examples can be found in iTunes and on StoryCorps.Org  1100+ of which have been shared on NPR.org.  There are free audio apps available on all mobile devices from regular phones, to smartphones, to tablets.  Apple or Android – it doesn’t matter.

Apps and Websites
For Apple users, the Voice Record Pro App is free and powerful.  Among the many features it offers, it allows you to import and export from Google Drive, offers editing, and saves into multiple formats.  The age  label is 4+ which means it is easy enough for kindergarteners to use.

For Chromebook users, Vocaroo.com is a simple, web-based voice recorder that offers a simple record, pause, and stop dashboard.  The recording is saved on Vocaroo’s servers for 2-3 months and then is deleted.  It offers the user a link that can be copied and pasted to share with others.  I love this app for simple checking for understanding especially for the younger children who can speak more easily than write.  I have used this successfully with students as low as first grade.

The world is changing, and the good news is that it now offers us many new ways to interact and assess our students.  Check out podcasting for a new and different experience.

Up Next: Changing Tides – Take 1

Up Next: Changing Tides – Take 1

Previously posted on Thursday, February 4, 2016, on Digital Learning Cohorts – CCSD Ed Tech

How exciting are tides and currents?  Very exciting when you have an awesome 5th grade teacher and a set of Chromebooks.  Students in Keith Pridgen and Francine Brewer’s 5th grade science classes are researching tides and presenting their information in various formats.  They are working both independently and collaboratively to complete the task.

To prepare technically for the unit, all users installed the Screencastify extension from the Google Web Store.  This was done whole class and was completed within 5 minutes.  According to the Google Web Store, “Screencastify is a simple video screen capture software (aka. screencast recorder) for Chrome. It is able to record all screen activity inside a tab, including audio. Just press record and the content of your tab is recorded. So you can easily create a screencast for video tutorials, record presentations, etc. (Learn more here). Students were directed to explore the app and then were walked through some settings to make sure it will properly download and save into Google Drive. These settings will differ based on your school’s filter settings, whether you are a GAFE school, and whether students are using Google Drive.

 

The unit began with a rubric for their presentation which provided voice and choice: choose your group partners, choose additional information to share, and choose the format of the final presentation.  Instruction began with a brief overview of the most common terms the students needed to know.  Because the teachers were using this unit as a jigsaw in which students will learn from one another, they provided the students with questions to be answered.  The students completed their research independently and then collaborated to create the final presentation.

Students were given the options to present live with a slideshow (Slides), verbally through a recording (Vocaroo), or in YouTube fashion (Screencastify). Not surprisingly, this generation who cut their teeth on YouTube videos unanimously chose to do screen cast presentations.

 

Because the students worked at their own pace, each group progressed to different stages at different times.  A group of boys was ready to attempt the screencast using Screencastify.  They wanted to be the stars of the show, so they set up their Screencastify settings using the CAM tab with the built in microphone and the built in camera turned on.

After getting the webcam lined up properly, the boys started their first take few takes.  See the video below.

After watching the preview, the students came up with the idea to use a second Chromebook to run as a teleprompter, so they wouldn’t be looking at their paper while recording.  To complete this, the students were shown Google Docs and shared a file with one another.  The next step is to complete the teleprompter file and then practice and record again.