As an English teacher, reading as always been a love of mine personally, as well as a focus of mine professionally. As a high school teacher, though, I have not been taught HOW to teach the reading skills. My expertise is in the analysis and comprehension of texts, so when the district begins to talk about having the English teachers facilitate reading intervention, I throw up my hand to point out that I have no literacy training. I'm probably not the only teacher this has happened to, and if we're being honest, it is up to everyone in a district to ensure all students can read and have the tools necessary to help them be successful readers.
My hat is off to all educators out there who just survived one of the hardest years, if not THE hardest, in education to date. If we never hear the words “flexibility” and “pivot” again, life would be grand. However, as we look ahead to the 2021-22 school year, there is still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over it.
While there are a lot of ways to promote SEL and prosocial behavior in the classroom, one powerful way to do so is by leveraging the creativity of educational technology tools. Creative tools like Buncee can be a powerful resource for teachers wanting to embed SEL practices into their regular curriculum.
Let's talk assessment! Before we dig into a few tools, let me just remind us all that any tool that students can use to create something are also tools that teachers can use for a formative assessment. So before you begin digging into these fabulous tools, keep in mind that the main focus is what you want students to demonstrate that they know. Once you have that firmly fixed in your mind, then contemplate which of these creative tools can help students show what they know the best. Where possible, allow students some choice in the tool they use also. Okay, with that out of the way, let's get to it!
As state testing (for some this year and for most or all of us in a normal non pandemic year) looms in the near future, days get warmer, and the school year winds down, many educators are thinking towards next year. Sure, a lot of thoughts are also aimed at the summer and vacation plans, but some thoughts are focused on the next school year. We have almost completed what might very well be the toughest school year of all time. One for the record books for sure, so naturally we need a summer break, but thoughts of next year still linger.
Life has been busy, as you may have noted from the fact my last post was from the middle of February. As I pondered how to bring some fun into my classroom for my students in my last hour Spanish class (I teach English II, Mythology, Yearbook, and Multimedia Communications the rest of the day), I thought about making a game. Then I recalled how much fun my students in other classes have had creating their own games to help them learn the content, and that settled it for me. I would have my students create the game or games.
Reaching the deeper levels of rigor and getting students to think critically while learning a world language can seem difficult. A lot of what students have to learn initially is that surface-level knowledge, but using pictures without words is one way you can get students swimming in the deep end of the thinking pool. At this point, those of you who aren't language teachers are now thinking of jumping off my post and dusting your hands of it since it clearly doesn't apply to what you teach. But wait! There's more! This gem can actually be used with any content and at any level. It is presented as an world language activity, but it is easily adapted to whatever you teach.
Right now, you are thinking I could be a bit off center or right on target for talking about blogging with littles, but hear me out. Even if your students can't write or type yet, they can respond to a prompt with visuals, clipart, or drawings. You can do that without any setup or prep when using Buncee, but if you don't have an account, then Slides or Powerpoint make good free options with a bit of work up front. Whichever tool you choose to use, giving students another way to share their voice and ideas is always the right thing to do
I have written two previous posts where I talk about how to use Google Classroom as the hub for student blogging and authentic feedback in a safe place. My original post, Blogging with Google Sites? Google Classroom to the Rescue! Let the Commenting Begin! focused on using Google Sites with Classroom to connect students and give them a platform for authentic feedback. More recently, I updated this idea in Google Classroom STILL to the Rescue: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting! where I broadened the scope of how students can express themselves through the various tools now available. Continuing to broaden my own horizons, I explored Microsoft Teams as a hub for students to receive authentic feedback from peers and am very excited about the amazing potential that it has.
Yes, I do mean the card game, UNO, and no, I don't intend for you to play UNO in your classroom instead of teaching your content. However, my high school students did figure out a way to leverage it within our activity. Here's how we did it.