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Friday, June 19, 2020

Amplify- Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom

I had sought out to find various ways to foster most student ownership in the classroom. What were some simple ways to turn a classroom into a collaborative space, where students have just as much input in the learning as the teacher?

I came across the book, Amplify- Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom By Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke one day while browsing aimlessly at Half Priced Books. What caught my attention was on the back cover blurb, Stephanie mentions that the book will discuss ways to connect technology in the classroom to "amplify" your curriculum, but she also mentions that the book will help you to, "emphasize student ownership and creativity." And here we are, $7.99 later, I want to showcase for you some of the highlights I took away from the chapters read!

Chapter 1: Getting Started
1. Classroom Recording Booth- a homemade recording booth with a laptop/iPad (with a webcam), a shower curtain for privacy, a desk, discarded pieces of packing foam. Here is where students can record what they know, their reflections on their learning, and their passions and interests.

2. 'Vlog'The teacher and students can use a Vlog (video blog) to record and create authentic, natural book reviews with some thoughts to recommend to others. These can be linked to SeeSaw, QR codes posted in the classroom library, or added to a class Padlet of book recommendations.

3. Online Informational Reading as Bell Ringers: When students come arrive in the morning, have them come in and settle into their day by increasing their daily reading minutes AND increase the amount of informational text they read. Websites to try are:

4. Digital Bulletin BoardCreate digital boards where students can view, respond, and interact together. I loved how in the book, when the teacher finished reading the book, The Little Read Hen, she gave students a Padlet link for them to respond to the question, "Did The Little Red Hen do the right thing?" This was a great way for them to interact and for the teacher to formatively assess to see if they could apply the days learning from the minilesson. 

5. BloggingHelp your students create a blog, where they can share books they have read, curricular inquiries, mathematical thinking, and writing. Imagine having a blog for each student where they post nearly all of their items used for assessments or student work. Having a resource as such to showcase as evidence of learning could be so powerful!

Chapter 2: Journey of Discovery
1. Video Conferencing: Want students to be able to connect with experts in the field to amplify their learning?! Tired of just 'telling' students what experts do and want to SHOW them. It is recommend in the book to use video conferencing as an avenue to do just that. Connect with authors or other experts on Twitter and ask them to virtually join your class! Students can generate questions for the experts before hand, then get to hold a live conference with them using FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skpe.

2. VimeoVimeo can be used to house classroom videos.

Chapter 3: Connecting Technology to Existing Classroom Practices: 
1. Digital Visualizations: Want your students to create mental images? Do you have them do Stop-and-Jots on sticky notes of what they are visualizing? What if you had them use an iPad drawing app, while snuggled up on the carpet, to capture their thinking as you conduct a read aloud? You could stop periodically for the students to do a turn and talk and share their visualization with a partner?

2. SonicPics App: Could students us an app like SonicPics to create a slideshow of their visualization images THEN enhance the images by adding audio recordings and captions?

3. dotEPUB: This is a tool to pull text off a website and put it into a format (or ebook) where students can highlight and jot notes on their device.

4. Wonderopolis: Each day on Wonderopolis, there is a different wondering posted for students to ponder. This is a great way to foster curiosity in your classroom and have students conduct written responses. Maybe post these to the class Google Classroom and have students add comments of their thinking.

5. App Reviews: Kids these days use so many apps. They find useful ones, but some that may not meet their needs. Would students be inspired to write their own app reviews of apps they are using in school? They could research the app, plan, write, revise, and publish their reviews to their own blog pages. Imagine if students could do this and share with the school for others to be informed by!

6. Student Blog URL Business Cards: The audience of our students starts in the classroom, extending into their families, the school community, then others around the world. What about sending home 'Student Business Cards' containing the student's blog URL and/or QR Code for families to share their child's learning beyond the classroom walls?

7. School Blogging Buddies: How might you connect classes within the school? What about having classes join together to foster school/classroom blogging buddies? Is there a shared topic being discussed in the school or grade level that you could all be working on? WHAT IF a 3rd grade class did an online demonstration or experiment for a kindergarten class to watch later on a blog or LIVE feed!?

Chapter 4: Foundational Lessons for Independence:
1. Troubleshooting Charts: When using technology in the classroom, there are so many things that can go wrong. Do you need ways to help students fix technology issues themselves? Elicit students as your experts on certain issues when things go wrong. Create flowcharts of the steps to take in troubleshooting frequent tech problems.

2. Specialist Bulletin Board:  Have a space with student photos where they can use index cards to name what they are experts on. Whether they're an expert in technology or in content, this will be a place other students can go to when they need help with something and know who they can go to to get the assistance they seek.

3. 'Weekly Tech Slams!": As students become familiar with technology in class, they tend to learn from their mistakes and playful exploration! Have students showcase the shortcuts, mistakes, and take aways they have as a way to teach other students how to better navigate certain digital tools (i.e., learning from each other).

4. Tech Classroom Signal: Create common signals to help in device management. When giving students their VBT (voice-body-time) expectations, why not have a signal that shows them what you want them to do with their devices? Some signals to think about are, a signal for screens-down, tech isn't working, or a ready signal.

5. Informational Sites: With the students, create an anchor chart of, "Where Can We Go to Find Information, " listing sites such as:

  • Brainpop/Brainpop Jr. 
  • KidRex
  • Wonderopolis
  • School Library
  • Animal Planet
  • National Geographic
6. Technology/App Symbols: When we look at a remote or app, we know what certain symbols mean. Why not make an anchor chart with symbols students will encounter while using apps, so that they don't have to ask you what every symbol means! 

Chapter 5: Reflection and Assessment:
1. Digital Exit Tickets: Moving beyond the sticky note or index card exit tickets, students can use apps and websites to respond to or post an exit ticket. Some examples are:

  • ChatterPix app
  • Google Forms
  • Snapping a class photo of students giving a thumbs up/down to reflect their understanding
  • Snap a photo of student faces or 1-4 fingers showing how well they got the lesson

2. Battle of the Apps: Students debate and battle why two apps that are designed with similar purposes are better than the other. Great way to tie in opinion/argumentative text writing.

3. Ways Students can Reflect: Establish a daily reflection prompt system. Empower students to track what they know, what they don't know YET, what they are good at, and which skills they can target next time. A simple goals folder can have three columns named: working on it, almost there, got it. A student notebook can serve where they respond to daily prompts such as:

  • Today I was proud of...
  • The most challenging thing for me today was____. The strategies I used to overcome it were ____.
  • I have a question about...
  • The steps I took to reach my goals today were...
  • I was successful in ____. I still need to work on____.
  • Next time I think I should try...
  • I need help with...
Imagine having a back and forth journal with your students where you could respond and affirm them!

4. Capture Student Thinking & Work: Capture student thinking processes by snapping photos and a short bits of their conversation audio.

5. Student Goal Setting with Digital Tools: Students can see their work over time on their student blogs and look for patterns to set instructional goals. Picture this. A student has previously recorded a video of themselves (made in the classroom recording studio), then uses a teacher-created checklist of look fors to self-check and reflect.

For Example:

  • I can hear all my words. I spoke loudly and clearly. 
  • I can see my whole face framed in the video. 
  • I showed the book cover and gave important details. 
  • I told what happened in the book step-by-step.
  • I shared at least three pieces of my own thinking about the book. 

6. Archiving Student Work: Harness the power of technology to curate and reflect on student work. Take pictures and video of classroom discussions noting student learning preferences, student understanding, where students tend to sit and with who, etc. Brief recordings can capture student thinking.

Chapter 6: Power Up For Connected Learning: 
1. Photo Annotated Book Reviews: Capture a students thinking and understanding of a book s/he is reading with an annotated photo. Apps such as Skitch or Drawing Pad have the drawing and annotation ability.

2. Video Book Reviews: Have students summarize their thinking about a book using video, photos, and music. Allow the students to talk through their thinking of a book. Post these to the class digital book shelf or add QR codes to the inside covers of books in the classroom library to cultivate book buzz!

3. Digital Reading Walls: Instead of paper reading logs, move towards digital 'reading walls'. Using a platform like Padlet, students can have 'walls' titled, "Books I've Read," where they share videos, images, links, etc. with audiences of their choosing. Imagine the community of readers that will start to form in your classroom!

4. Wonder Wall: Create a space digitally or in the classroom where students can post their questions or wonderings. This will be a holding place until they have the opportunity to research their interests.

5. "The Kid Should See This": This site contains many student-friendly, interesting media clips.

6. Digital Book Clubs: Keep your normal face-to-face book clubs, BUT maybe some days they checkin and meet digitally. Students can respond to posts in their book club Google Classroom or collaboratively work on a Padlet or Google Doc with reflective questions.

7. Cross-Classroom Discussions: Host digital discussions with other classes in the school or around the world. Use Twitter, Edmodo, a blog, or some other platform where classes can collaborate. What if two teachers read the same book, then students from different classes respond and discuss?

Ideas from: Muhtaria, K., Zieme, K., & Harvey, S. (2015). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


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