Tuesday Tech Tip #2 — Digital Storytelling 3-8

Stefanie’s helpful series continues — look for it every other week.

Just like storytelling is important for our K-2 friends, it is equally as important for older students, just for slightly different purposes and in slightly different ways. It’s important to consider engagement in upper grades, and finding ways to get students excited about writing. As Kylene Beers discussed at the Saturday Reunion, it’s crucial that we as teachers begin to think about helping our students develop their digital footprints.

Story Jumper is a wonderful way to start storytelling digitally and build a record of work online. Story Jumper is a web-based tool, meaning you access it on the Internet! The good news is: Story Jumper allows you to create as many books as you’d like online for FREE! Then, later down the road, if you so choose, there are publishing options to receive a copy of the books you and your students generate in print. Story Jumper allows you to add a cover, title page, text, and images. It has a lot of customization features to change colors, sizes, and to add pictures from your personal library.

In a college elementary methods course, an assignment of mine was to create a presentation about Rosa Parks after reading, Rosa Parks: My Story. The group I was working with wanted to write a poem, and I suggested we turn our poem into a storybook. Here is an example showing just a few features Story Jumper has to offer.

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To access Story Jumper visit this site!

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Friday Book Favorites – Professional Texts

Guest post by Hannah — thank you!

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“You may not always realize that you are doing these things, but that is just the point – we already know how to study what we love closely, it is a process, a method of falling in love.” (p. 8)

In Falling in Love with Close Reading, Lehman and Roberts describe a simple process and method to teach close reading to upper-elementary, middle school and high school students. They do so by inspiring the reader to study texts deeply, as if they were the people and places they love the most. For a teacher like me, with a limited background in English Literature, the book provides an extremely helpful review of the literary elements and structures that we need to teach our students.

Lehman and Roberts suggest following a ‘ritual’ when close reading texts.

  • Read through lenses (ex: relationships, setting descriptions or time period)
  • Use lenses to find patterns
  • Use patterns to develop a new understanding of the text

Throughout the book, the authors return to this ritual each time they embark on close reading, regardless of the focus of the reading. This ritual is very user-friendly for both teachers and students because it outlines a path of specific and consistent steps to follow.

Along with providing a general framework for close reading instruction, the authors provide lesson plans and practical tips to use with students. For example, they offer ideas for tangible scaffolds such as sentence stems and anchor charts to help students with abstract concepts. The authors also make suggestions for ways to increase student engagement such as by incorporating pop culture, students’ interests and video clips into close reading instruction. Connections to the Common Core State Standards are present throughout the text and are very helpful. This is an exceptionally practical and clearly written text. It’s a must for all upper-elementary, middle school and high school ELA teachers.

It’s THIS Saturday!

Don’t forget the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s Saturday Reunion is this weekend, March 28th, beginning at 9 am.

Educators come from all over the country to attend this free, fantastic professional development!  Keynotes by Patricia Polacco and Kathy Collins, hundreds of sessions for all grade levels and topics, book vendors galore, and dedicated teachers eager to share and expand their learning…what could be better?!

No registration required.  Hope to see you there!

Confessions of a Title I Teacher

Guest post by Shipnia — thank you!

Whenever people who are not familiar with low-income communities in New York find out that I teach at a Title I school, their responses are most often shock—then, sympathy. Actually, I could write a book of awkward things to ask teachers who serve in low-income communities, including: “Are you doing okay?” “Do they listen to you?” “When are you going to…uh…do something different?” While I ponder the question asker’s sudden concern for my (Mental? Emotional? Physical?) well-being, their “othering” of my kids, and assumption that I must be planning on doing something bigger, better (and maybe safer?) sometime soon, I muster enough polite energy to smile big and assert, “I love my kids. It’s really great.”

I always feel forced into a corner in these situations—it seems that my only option is to smile and tell them it’s great. Why? Because they clearly already think that teaching at a Title I school is a teacher’s nightmare. It hurts to imagine the kinds of things they might be imagining are going on in my classroom and with my scholars. I discussed this recently with colleagues; they expressed that many people think teachers in Title I schools “don’t have a lot to work with.” Well–this I could build on, I thought—hm, what is it that we unfortunate Title I teachers have to work with? Continue reading

Wise Advice from Anna-Kay

Guest post by Anna-Kay — thank you!

As teachers we play many different important roles. We’re nurses, mathematicians, scientists, historians, meteorologists, and sometimes stand in mommies. We wipe tears, tie shoes, halt arguments or fights and must always keep it all together (and we do). We are practically real life superheroes! But what do we do on those days when it seems everything is falling apart? As with many superheroes, teachers often forget to take off their superhero cloaks and put on their bathrobes and fluffy slippers. Even superheroes become overwhelmed and must retire to their fortresses of solitude in search of methods to tame their stress. Here are some tips and tricks that have been successful for me when I feel I am being taken over by the stress monster.

For a picture… Continue reading