Sunday, March 22, 2015

Reign on Ed Tech Baton

I have been given the absolute pleasure of guest posting for Ed Tech Baton tomorrow morning. They're a finalist for the 2014 EduBlogs Awards for the Best Educational Use of a Social Media.

 If you've never heard of it, then you are in for a treat! It's a community-run Instagram account for teachers to share pictures of how they use technology in their classrooms.  Since tomorrow will be my day to post, I will take full advantage of posting effective lesson plans, innovating apps on the Chrome Books, and anything else that happens in my classroom that I feel other teachers might benefit from.

For more information, click here for their website.

Make sure to check out my Instagram posts on @edtechbaton tomorrow! Here's to an excellent week!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Writing Rubric for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Graders: Self, Peer, and Teacher Review

I love teaching writing, especially to my first graders. We had our little routine going, but I think my favorite part was seeing my students grow from writers to peer-editors.  Towards the middle of the school year, my students were used to writing and then getting their work checked.  First they would check their own work, but then they would find a partner to check their work.

It definitely took a lot of training in the beginning, but it paid off because my students owned their writing!  I even created a rubric for them to go through, and this made things a hundred times easier. 

This document makes it so easy to provide feedback and a score for the students to see. If you want it, I have it for free at in my teachers pay teachers store.  Click here for the freebie.  

I also have this rubric in a book report I created for my first graders. They enjoyed filling out book reports using this, and the more they did, the better they became at identifying story elements! 

Friday, March 13, 2015

What Does Guided Writing Look Like?

Writing is one of the hardest things for students to do.  It's hard for some students to start writing, and it's even harder for them to write effectively.  Unfortunately, most teachers don't spend enough time teaching how to write. Young writers need to experience successful writing over time, and this strategy helps the students grow as young scholars.  Guided Writing allows for this to happen. 

Ask yourself- what are your students' writing needs?
How Do You Begin Guided Writing?

1. This strategy usually starts with a mini lesson, and they can be done in a small group environment or in front of the whole group. 

2.  Mini lessons can be created on the spur of the moment when you realize your students are having difficulty with something specific.  You can also follow a yearly plan of guided writing lessons.  

3. You need to create groups of students, and it would be great if the groups are divided homogeneously.  

4.  Choose when the the mini-lesson will be delivered.  When I taught kindergarten and first grade, I taught the mini-lesson right before I had Daily 5.  The Daily 5 are literacy centers, and if you want to read more about it then click here for my previous blog post. 

5.  Create a space where you can store student writing because student writing growth needs to be documented.   The parents and students love seeing the growth, and admin loves seeing effective teaching strategies in action too!

Mini lessons include shared writing, and this is an example of shared writin.

What Should be in the Mini-Lesson?

1. Shared Reading: read informational text, and prompt/question the students about the way the text is written

2. Teach one strategy of writing: As a teacher, you need to know exactly what your students are being troubled by most.  Pick that concept, and it can be anything from punctuation, grammar, sentence structure, spelling, or composing paragraphs. 

3. Independent Practice:  The students need time to practice their new writing skill. At this moment, you should be walking around and giving feedback for almost every students' writing. 

4. Share! Share Share!: This is the students' favorite time. Provide ample time for the kiddos to share their masterpieces to their peers.  Writing does have a purpose, and students should know that. :) 

What Do You Need?

1. Table to sit at with a small group of students

2. Organization to store students writing

Watch This Video for Guided Writing 

If you want to see an excellent example of guided writing in action, then click this link!  It shows what the teachers and students look like as they are in the process.  

Comment below and let me know if you currently have guided writing in your classroom. I would like to see how real teachers implement it! 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Kahoot in the Classroom: Educator Review

What is it?

Kahoot is an online based computer program that students and teachers use to gauge academic standing. It's a response system, similar to iclickers (if you've used them in college), but it is more game-based. The students feel like they are playing a game against one another. The students all need a piece of technology to participate.  

How Does it Work?

This is an incredibly easy program to use for teachers and students. Teachers need to first go to the website, and create a free account. Then teachers can either choose an already created Kahoot game by searching for whatever they are looking for, or they can create their own. 

Screenshot of a quiz being created

How Can Teachers Use it?
Teachers can use Kahoot a couple of different ways. It can be used as a quiz at the end of the lesson for an understanding check.  Games of 10 questions or less usually last less 10 minutes, so they would be a great end of class assessment. It's super easy to set up or start up, and it's even easier to see the results. You can view them on the website, or you can download the results directly to your Google Drive. I usually do this at the end of every quiz because I like to compare my different periods. Kahoot can also be used as a review after a unit. 

Student Rating: 95% 

Teacher Rating: 90%

Is it Good for Learning?
Kahoot is not good for learning, but it is excellent for review, practice, and assessment. It's a great supplemental item, but it will not teach the students any new concepts they haven't previously been taught. 


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Should we Teach Students How to Take Notes?

“Different students might prefer different note-taking formats…it is advisable to present students with a variety of formats.”  -Marzano

Sometimes teachers assume that students know how to write notes to study for exams, but most of the times they do not know the correct way to write notes. Some may write notes verbatim, every word the teacher says. Some may not know how to write any notes at all. 

When I first asked my students to take notes while I taught during my Cahsee prep class, my students were in disarray. They had never written notes before, nor did they know how. Their was only a very small percentage of students that actually knew how to take notes!

students taking notes during CAHSEE prep 

I was torn, because my students were still learning the basics of the English language, and I didn't know what to focus on. Is teaching how to take notes important enough to spend so much time on it?

Well, research shows that the more notes a student takes, the better they perform academically (Nye et al., 1984). I needed my students to perform better academically, so you know that I got on that note-taking band wagon. The following are the many note taking styles that students could learn:

Types of Notes

Verbatim: writing everything the teacher says
teacher-prepared notes: clear and to the point, it models for the students how to take notes.
informal outline: the use of indentation to show the main ideas and the topics underneath it
webbing: students put major ideas in circles and connect those ideas with lines to smaller circles or other related circles.  
combination notes: has various forms of notes on the same page. the left hand side is for the notes (words), the right side is for symbols, webbing, charts, and the bottom is the summary of those two sides.

    My note-taking, note-teaching lessons will continue, so I will make sure to post any updates. Don't forget to share your experiences! Post them down below!


    Monday, March 9, 2015

    Secondary ELA Test Prep Vocabulary

    I currently teach one period of CAHSEE PREP for 11th and 12th graders. I work with students that have incredible difficult passing the High School Exit Exam.  I try to prepare them as much as I can, but some of my students cannot seem to get through it.

    As I reflect on my teaching and what the students say, I can't help but come to the conclusion that the students not passing are the ones that have a less extensive vocabulary  than the students that pass the exam.

    Now, I do everything in my power to focus on the vocabulary in the CAHSEE. I created games, worksheets, group activities, and worksheets so the students can get many forms of practice of the CAHSEE vocabulary.

    If you want to implement some of these strategies in your planning, just go on over to my TPT store or just click here for a few of the activities.