Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Tried it Tuesday - Comprehension & Technology

For my Tried it Tuesday, I'm jumping the gun and delving into a teaching manual.

Kristin Ziemke was recently a keynote speaker at a staff development I attended. She's a first grade teacher in Chicago and teamed up with another favorite author, Stephanie Harvey, to create the Connecting Comprehension and Technology teacher manual.

From the Heinemann website:
“Technology does not make teaching better, only teachers do that. However, technology can challenge us to reflect on and enrich our instruction in a variety of meaningful ways. We collaborated on this book to support teachers in active literacy environments to envision and reimagine how technology can enhance children’s learning.”—Stephanie Harvey, Anne Goudvis, Katie Muhtaris, and Kristin Ziemke

She made such a great presentation about using technology in her classroom. Now granted her school has a set of tablets that they share so at times she can have a whole class set to do these things with. I can see how it would work with a few tablets or a small group set. These first graders in an inner city school were blasting away my fourth graders in their insights and comprehension skills. It was amazing.

Just watching her students comment LIVE as she is reading a text on things they notice thrilled me to the core. I think technology has a place in the classroom and the way that Kristin was showing us struck the right cord with me! Her students had Twitter accounts where they corresponded with NASA or oceanographers on boats off of Hawaii. One of her students became a impromptu weather forecaster when he was stranded during Hurricane Sandy. He took videos of damage and posted it online with his running commentary. It was awesome.

I quickly bought the book and am reading it to see how I can start it off with my new class in August. One of the quotes really sticks out:

"It's essential to ground your technology use in authentic and essential skills that students need."

The book is broken up into four lessons for each strand. The first two are for primary elementary and the latter are intermediate. Then the first lesson in each level is a basic skill while the second delves into a higher thinking skill. Each is a complete scripted teacher dialogue with student interactions.

The strategies offered raise the comprehension standards throughout the book. They include monitoring comprehension, activating and connecting to text, asking questions, inferring and visualizing, determining importance, and summarizing and synthesizing.

What I like is they have tons of technological ideas but they don't expect you to do EVERY single one of them. They want you to use your professional intelligence (imagine) to decide which your students actually need and become proficient in their use. That's sometimes my problem. I want to do it all. Maybe this will get me to slow down and really delve into one idea so that students can use them without having to think.

I'll keep you posted on how the reading is going. Happy Tuesday!

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