Saturday, February 08, 2014

Reshaping the Language Arts Classroom

With all of the crazy weather we've been having this winter, my students have practically forgotten what it feels like to be in school for a full week! As I reflect on the teaching and learning that has been taking place in my classroom, I see more and more how the 1:1 devices can truly elevate the learning experience for students. Most of my current lessons and activities in the areas of reading, writing and language study were impossible before going 1:1. To capture these shifts, here is a little taste of how the Chromebooks have reshaped my language arts classroom.

This week, students read a passage and came to class ready for a discussion, but the 1:1 devices played a large role in how I incorporated each student into the activity. I used a discussion strategy known as Socratic Circle, where students in an inner circle discussed the text, while the outside circle observed the discussion. Instead of students passively watching the discussion, all participants in the outside circles held their own discussion using a real-time backchanneling site called Todaysmeet also provides a transcript, so after the discussion, students could reflect on what ideas were discussed and how actively each student participated. Today's students cannot take a back seat in class; the technology gives a voice to all.

A recent writing assignment asked students to create a graphic narrative either by hand or on a comic-creator website of their choosing. After students reviewed the CCSS for narrative writing, we worked together to develop a set of criteria to include in their creation. In just one assignment, students reviewed narrative writing elements, found a way to produce the assignment, and then began publishing their work to their blogs for feedback from peers and outside observers. Take a look at Emma's blog for an example of her graphic narrative. Today's students write for a greater audience and they want their work to be worthy of the public's eye.

My days of teaching grammar at the board and handing out worksheets are over. Thanks to 1:1 Chromebooks and a website called, students practice grammar skills at their own pace and then take quizzes which are graded immediately to provide instant feedback to the students. My favorite features of this program include a student customized profile so that sentences are tailored to the individual interests of each student, a color-coded progress screen that shows areas requiring the most practice, and most importantly, it is absolutely free! Students love the program and many keep practicing just to try to beat their score. Today's students see the relationship between practice and performance, finding motivation from within.

This is such an exciting time in education as we transform teaching and learning in our classrooms!  Ever since putting devices into the hands of each learner, the level of engagement and motivation is unparalleled. If we continue to push the bar and reshape the way in which we teach our students, today's students will be ready for an unknown future that is full of possibilities.


Brian Bullis said...

I love the innovation going on here Marcie - keep it up!!!

Justin Mann said...

I like how you're using TodaysMeet, and the student reflection component. Giving my some good ideas of my own! Have you checked out ?

Marcie Faust said...

Thanks Justin. I'll check that out!