Monday, December 16, 2013

Getting Our Tech On...

This week I broke out a cult favorite. Dawning the Pinterest boards of everyone and their mother, here you have it. 
Super difficult to photograph true to color, but it's a beaut and everyone should have a taste of Ski Teal We Drop. 

I've been tinkering with the idea of alternative assessment this year. My group is not overflowing with strong test takers. So as I realize the importance of teaching them test taking and study skills, I also truly believe in creativity and letting them show me what they know through multiple modalities, not JUST a test. So as I differentiate to lengths for my reading tests (three versions to be exact) I decided not to test for Mesopotamia - Ooooh Ahhhh, yes Mesopotamia doesn't even exist anymore. I decided to make my sixth graders (sort of, OKAY serious) published authors.

Now I'm a tech addict so utilizing our 12 classroom iPads was a must. I gave my students a pretty simple outline for what their book should consist of. They had to have a graphic and text for each of the BIG 5 we study in 6th grade Social Studies. GRAPES: Geography, Religion, Achievements, Politics, Economy, and Social Structure. All of these aspects are apparent in each ancient civilization - nifty I know!
 Let me tell you, these kids SOARED with the project. Now one of those friendly little Common Core State Standards talks about my scholar students being able to display information including graphics and sound. Each student recorded their voices along with their text in the Book Creator app, while creating their awesome graphics in PicCollage.

We gathered 'round with headphones in hand, and just read/listened/discovered/learned through each iBook. As the students read they passed along a "compliment sheet." I really wanted to keep the discussion positive, so as they tapped through the pages of their classmates' books they were required to write one compliment and one new thing they learned from the publication. It was one of those moments where I just sat... and sat... and sat in awe. The lesson was student AND assessment driven, while they were engaging in positive academic conversation. TA-DA!

And lastly... if you have not tried Padlet (website) in your classroom, it is a must. While 11 and 12 year olds have a million and one of their own reasons why cell phones should be used in school and uniforms are a no-no, it is not fun when we all share out at once... UNLESS we can all share at once in an organized manner with our iPads. Hello Padlet! My outstanding (and I mean seriously outstanding) bilingual resource co-teacher showed the students a video and they had to defend their arguments with evidence. Padlet = Argumentative/Brainstorming Perfection. 

I projected their thoughts on my big screen as well as each of them popping up on the ipads as they typed. Genuis I tell ya, genius.

Stay chip free and standards based!

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