Thank you for welcoming me with open, or “virtual” arms.
Thank you for sharing your insights.
Thank you for questioning me and challenging my thinking.
Thank you for forcing me to think on a deeper level than I ever have before.
Thank you for sharing your incredible wisdom and knowledge.
Thank for you sharing your resources.
Thank you for making me a reflective thinker.
Thank you for reading my blog posts and commenting so thoughtfully.
Thank you for working tirelessly to ensure our students get the best education possible.
Thank you for keeping me inspired and motivated.
Thank you opening my eyes to thoughtful and purposeful technology integration.
Thank you for making me realize that it’s ok to be wrong, admit it, and that I can learn from my mistakes.
Thank you for encouraging me to take chances in the classroom.
Thank you for organizing chats so passionate educators around the world can collaborate and connect.
Thank you for introducing me to the Ed Camp “Unconference” model.
Thank you for sharing pictures of your students working collaboratively in their respective classrooms.
Thank you for your book recommendations and ways to instill passion and a love for reading into my students.
Thank you for sharing ways to help engage parents in their child’s education.
Thanks you for making me laugh.
Thank you for letting me participate in web-chats, via Skype and Google Hangout, to extend learning outside our four school walls.
Thank you for helping me forge new friendships, as well as reignite past working relationships.
Thank you for showing me the power of what global collaboration can lead to.
Thank you for sharing your well thought out blog posts.
Thanks for encouraging me to set goals for professional growth.
Thank you for helping me become a connected educator.
I was driving to school this morning, blasting music, and having a period of reflection. I could not let another day go by without saying thank you. I am currently in my ninth year teaching. While I have grown each and every year, this past year has been one of incredible personal and professional growth. I have learned more in one year then I have in nine years by forming such a wonderful PLN, and having access to 24/7 PD via social media. Gaining a perspective of educators around the world has shaped the educator I always wanted to be, but never knew. I am a stronger educator because of you all.
So, “Thank you.”
Ok. So it’s actually working, not that I had too many doubts. I am currently in the midst of parent teacher conferences. I love to catch up with parents to discuss their child’s academic and social performance. On top of communicating with parents as needed during the marking period, conferences provide a chance to showcase their child’s work. It also provides me with an opportunity to hear their feedback as to how they feel the year has been progressing, in addition to the parent surveys that I create for parents to complete via Google forms twice a year.
The common theme that kept reoccurring was how they felt their child has grown with their love of reading. Many have commented on how their child comes home and wants to talk about the books they’ve been reading in class, as well as the current book I am reading aloud, “The False Prince.” As was the case with “The One and Only Ivan,” children are so enthusiastic about this book, many have visited the local library and/or purchased the first two books in the series.
In addition, many parents have commented about how useful blogging has become because it gives them a glimpse into their child’s mind about what types of books their reading. You can read some sample book recommendations by going to our kidblog page.
The feedback was also very positive because I did not require children to complete reading logs. The parents, as well as myself, felt the logs did not intrinsically motivate their child to read. They felt it was a “chore,” rather than reading for pure enjoyment. Parents were jubilant I did not utilize this practice because they felt they always just signed the book log, but truly did not know if their child understood what they read, or even read. Thus creating a vicious cycle because if a child knows their parent can’t validate what they read, doesn’t that create an ideal in the child’s mind that no one is holding them accountable? As a teacher, I can’t imagine why I assigned reading logs. There was no follow through on my part, which I admit, I could have done a better job with. The students would hand them in at the end of the week and I would put a check mark on the log. As I type, I cringe about how I used to require reading logs, or provide no purposeful feedback.
After reading so many thoughtful and insightful blog posts by the wealth of talented teachers around the world, I’ve changed. Think about it. Children are motivated because they’re being exposed to a variety of genres, authors, and books. No rewards are given when finishing a book. Students celebrate with one another by writing book recommendations on their blogs, create animoto videos, or just slip their peer a note telling them they “HAVE TO READ THIS BOOK!”
I acknowledge that I have a long way to go and still have so much to learn, but based on the feedback and enthusiasm I see with my parents and students, motivation is built and the love of reading has been instilled. The ultimate goal is to channel this enthusiasm to go from a classroom or readers to a school community of readers.
Continuing with the recent posts about my affinity for Edmodo, this post will focus on using Google forms and Edmodo. The more and more reading I’ve done regarding purposeful implementation of Google forms in an educational setting, I decided to dive in. To read more about Google forms, check out the links below, or just do a quick Google search.
80 + Ways to Use Google Forms (Huge List, but worth a quick glance)
Holding students accountable for their work is always an uphill battle for teachers. How can we possibly correct everything? Do we really need to correct every piece of work? How do you deal with a mountain of paperwork? I often have struggled with these questions throughout my short nine year career.
One way to alleviate paperwork is the attempt to go paperless in same areas. I am very fortunate to have access to six iPads in my room, as well as three working computers, so having this technology is essential to my success to go somewhat paperless.
How I Use Google Forms:
The most impactful ways, SO FAR, that I have been using Google forms in my classroom is during math centers and reading conferences. To read how I structure math centers, click this link. Because of the large amount of data collected daily for the Everyday Math program, it gives me powerful information to guide my instruction and use Google forms to meet the needs of my students.
In addition to Everyday Math curriculum implementation, we are currently preparing students for the Connecticut Mastery Test in March. Because our math department embedded CMT type questions into each unit, we have collected valuable data. If I notice a large amount of students not performing well on a specific CMT skills, I will create a self correcting ten question Google form for students to complete at a center. (Note – Directions to creating a 10 question self correcting Google Form can be found here. (Credit for creating the Google form goes to Kern Kelley.)
The link is sent to all students who need support through Edmodo. The power of this approach is that it holds the students accountable for their learning, and gives me important data, while eliminating paper. I can then use laser-like-focus to ensure my students are getting help in the areas that they need. If students don’t need assistance on that specific skill, they can complete unfinished math boxes or journal pages, use the various EM apps available, or become content creators using EduCreations app.
I would be doing you a disservice if I did not mention that this does take planning, but I feel it’s my moral responsibility to give students what they need. The way I look at it is it takes time to create a form, maybe 10 minutes or slightly less. By the time I walk to make copies, pass out the work, collect the work, and correct the work, it is much longer. So, viewing it from a global perspective, it actually takes less time AND you have that form for future use to tweak in anyway you see fit.
Furthermore, I can also assign Google forms for homework, using Edmodo, to students who need assistance in certain areas. Of course, as I have mentioned in past posts, if students do not have access to technology at home, I will provided a paper copy for them.
Reading Conference Checklist:
Another way that I have been using Google forms is for conferencing with students. The photos below will give you an example of how I set up the form. I have already made numerous changes to it, so feel free to customize it to fit your needs.
As I am conferencing with students I check boxes of things I noticed he/she is doing well. I will also type down a sentence or two in my observation and compliment box. Collectively, the student and I set a teaching point or goal for themselves to become a better reader to revisit after a few weeks. Additionally, once I submit this form, it automatically populates to a spreadsheet for me to revisit for future use to drive my instruction during small group time.
I realize this post only brushes the surface of what’s possible with Google form integration using Edmodo, so I’d love to hear from you about how you utilize Google forms in your classroom. As always, any feedback and/or questions is welcomed. If you’ve made it this far, feel free to follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach
How many of you have ever felt that you were not meeting the needs of students in your literacy block? Do you have difficulty engaging all types of learners in reading? Is differentiation a challenge? If you answered yes to any of these questions, here is my methodology to meeting the varied needs of students in my classroom during literacy.
Enter Edmodo for Book Clubs
This post will cover how I meet the needs of my higher level readers, but can be adapted for all reading levels. The first step to a purposeful book club is giving students multiple choices of books they can read. I usually give three options for students to review over the course of a few days and have them discuss which book might be the most engaging. It’s valuable for students to have a voice in what book they’d like to read. Students then create a list of rules they will follow for the duration of the book club.
SIDE NOTE: I know what you’re thinking, what if they don’t agree. A consensus must be made in a respectful way. I’ve been doing book clubs for five years and have yet to run into an issue.
What are the jobs?
When students participate in a book club there is 5-6 main roles and responsibilities. The sixth job, if applicable, would be the story sketcher. They can sketch their visualizations of what they read on construction paper or using an app like Skitch of Educreations.
The next step would be to create a small group in Edmodo within the larger classroom group, so only students I assign to the book club will have access to the materials. Then I create a folder to house all the required materials in the small group, as well as the book club job google docs.
Each job has a specific google doc the students type in. This becomes a digital notebook, where each student contributes to when they are assigned that specific job. Jobs rotate after reading a predetermined amount of pages/chapters. The students, as well as myself, find it very powerful to be able to see other’s ideas ,build a true collaborative learning environment, and maintain a digital footprint.
My role and responsibility is to meet with the group once a week. If I notice students are not comprehending what they are reading, I will meet as nessesary to clear up any misunderstandings. During the meeting time my job is to be a participant, not be the leader. I usually read the books with the students as a way to ensure they are understanding what their reading and for my own enjoyment. I also question and comment, as I see fit, to deepen understanding.
My other main role is to provide purposeful feedback on their google docs. As I mentioned in this earlier post, I can’t stress the importance of providing explicit, focused feedback to augment understanding and ensure students are reading the text “closely.”
If a student does not have access to technology at home, they can write out their responses in their Reader’s Notebook.
UPDATED: 3/23/2013 – Based on student feedback, students felt they would like to respond only 50 percent of the time because they felt they were too focused on completing their job and it was hampering their comprehension of the story.
As with any blog post, any feedback would be greatly appreciated. I am always looking to connect with others and learn from your perspective and experiences. I am also very open to the idea of connecting classes for a remote book club! So drop me a comment to inform me how you run your book clubs!
If you’d made it this far, feel free to follow on Twitter @mrsapia_teach
Thinking about the many adjectives to describe my experience with the 2012 Global Read Aloud would be an insurmountable task. It was an experience that I look forward to participating in again next year, and the year after, and the year after that. You get the idea.
The Global Read Aloud came to fruition from the vision of Pernille Ripp. I’d like to publicly thank her for making her vision a reality, and providing the necessary support and blog posts to get us “rookies” up and running. Additionally, how about a hand for Katherine Applegate for writing an amazing story that tugged at our hearts and souls!
How it Was Done
My students used Kidblog, Edmodo, and Skype to purposefully connect with others around the world. We connected with a class in Switzerland, Chicago, Texas, and California. Students developed relationships with others through this incredible shared experience of reading the same book. Teachers shared resources aligned with Common Core Standards in the Edmodo One and Only Ivan teacher group. Many connected educators from around the world created Scoop.it with links to informational text about the story of Ivan. You can read about it here. The One and Only Ivan Scoop.it
Social Studies and geography were tied into the Global Read Aloud by using Google Maps to drop pins on the locations where collaborations took place. Math was integrated as well, because we charted and tracked mileage from Connecticut to all the states and countries mentioned above. We also discussed the importance of animals living in habitats that suited their needs, such as their natural habitats or zoos. STEM, at it’s finest.
The rich conversation, exchange of ideas, and global collaboration was so refreshing. The collective spirit of assisting others truly benefited the students and teachers participating. While reading through my student’s blogs, my administrative team was floored by the in-depth nature of their responses and the focus and purpose in which my student’s were exchanging comments with others around the world, while building a global mindset through purposeful collaboration.
Creating a Culture of Readers
After the first day of reading, I had over half of my students in our classroom visit the local library and/or book store to pick up a copy for themselves. Think about it. When is the last time that happened? Sure we have student’s who recommend and share books, but it’s been quite sometime since so many student’s collectively, and without me even asking, bought the book. That’s the power. No rewards were discussed. There was no demand to assign homework with this project. Students, on their own accord, blogged and discussed the text because they wanted to, not because they had to. Can you say intrinsic motivation for reading!
The other thought that kept running across my mind during the Global Read Aloud was how all students “were on the same page.” Like many of you, I have students who vary in their reading ability. To be able to equal the playing field in such a collective environment brought chills to my body and confidence to all students.
Can We Write a Song Mr. Sapia?
Finally, in conjunction with our wonderful music teacher, student’s wrote a song summarizing The One and Only Ivan in collaborative groups, ensuring everyone’s voice was heard. I have posted a thirty-second preview below. I can’t wait to watch this song grow into a masterpiece and have my students sing it in-front of our school community. I will post the final version when it’s done in a few weeks.
If you’ve made it down this far, feel free to follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach
I am incredibly elated to announce a service project that my class is in the process of organizing for the Springdale School community. Because of our participation in the Global Read Aloud (The One and Only Ivan), and due to the catastrophic events cause by Hurricane Sandy, students are having conversations about ways to help others, especially animals.
During the first few weeks of December, Mr. Sapia’s Superstars, alongside the Springdale Service Team, will be collecting monetary donations from the Springdale School Community to raise money for Outreach to Pets in Need, which is located in Stamford, CT.
Students will be participating in the following activities:
Creating a song about The One and Only Ivan with Dr. Errico to sing to the school to make them aware of this project.
Creating student posters encouraging donations to a worthy cause.
Creating QR codes, linking to student’s Google Newspapers, to have an online presence.
Ongoing reflection through the use of Kidblog to express themselves through the process of helping others and to have their voice be heard.
Awareness will be raised through the use of social media and creation of videos explaining the mission of the project. Videos will be posted on our classroom website, school website, PTO Facebook page, and Mr. Sapia’s Twitter feed.
We all believe it will be a valuable lesson for students to participate in this type of project to see what a committed group of individuals can do to make a difference in the world.
Side Note – Navigate over to our Kidblog site and scroll to pages two and three to see all the thoughtful and insightful responses students have typed.
A tool that has simply transformed how my classroom operates is Edmodo. If you are unfamiliar with this platform do yourself a favor and follow this link. In short, Edmodo is a secure learning management system that can be used to form groups, share links, embed videos/projects, track progress, organize uploaded content, join support communities, share folders and resources, distribute parent codes, connect with others around the world, back channel, and so much more. Many teachers and students from around the world have dubbed it “Facebook for Education.” While I use Edmodo for many reasons in my daily routines, this post will only focus on differentiating homework using Edmodo.
How I Use Edmodo to Differentiate Homework:
Meeting the varied needs of students in any classroom is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching. Teachers work tirelessly gathering resources, analyzing data, collaborating with grade level peers, and connecting with their Personal Learning Network on Twitter to meet the needs of their students. Needless to say, differentiation requires hard work and a significant time commitment to implement it effectively.
Each student in my class has a teacher created username and password. In addition to having individual student accounts, I also created a google doc for each student, which are housed in their “backpack.” The “backpack” feature is available to all students and provides a great way for students to maintain organization of materials they upload or save. Students are the only ones that have access to these resources, so privacy is maintained.
The google doc acts as their online notebook. Literacy homework usually consists of students responding to reading in an open-ended format, answering text-dependent questions, and typing reflective entries. Homework is strategically assigned and aligned to meet student’s needs. The power of using the google doc comes from students having an ongoing record of their responses, with purposeful feedback given by me that always highlights strengths, as well as offers suggestions for improvement. I can’t stress the importance of giving purposeful feedback to students. Gone are the days of just saying “Good Job,” or “Nice Work.” With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, it’s imperative purposeful feedback becomes a daily part of our practice because of the heavy focus of text-dependent/evidence based questions being asked. Furthermore, parents have unprecedented access to their child’s work, via google docs, with teacher feedback, to assist in building the home/school connection to help their child grow.
Teachers can create small, flexible groups to send homework assignments to. For example, I have 3
“Teams” in my class. Depending on the needs of students I can send three different homework assignments to those individual groups. It’s as simple as uploading a file from my /Edmodo library/desktop/flash drive/Dropbox, or a link from the internet, and sending it out to the appropriate teams. After students complete the assignment, they click “Turned-in,” and I have a record of who has submitted their work. Diving deeper, if a student needs significant readiness or enrichment activities, I can also send assignments to those students individually and not as part of a team.
SIDE NOTE: Thanks to some great questions, I will clarify most post even further.
NO ACCESS TO TECH AT HOME:
If students do not have access to tech at home, I give them the assignment in their response notebook or worksheet.
AMOUNT OF TIME PER ASSIGNMENT:
Depending on the complexity of the assignment, I determine the length of time per assignment. However, it is usually one day. Once I begin literature circles, the time to complete assignments will increase.
IF STUDENTS ARE NOT COMPLETED REQUIRED HOMEWORK ON EDMODO:
If a student does not hand in their Edmodo homework because they could not log in, I will forgive them a couple of times. If it becomes a greater problem after that, I will call the parent and speak about this method of homework delivery. If it’s becoming problematic or not feasible to complete because of after school activities, or inability to log in to Edmodo, I would revert back to having students complete homework in their notebook or worksheet.
If you have any questions or need clarification, please drop a comment below. I am always looking to improve my implementation. I’d also love to hear about the exciting ways you’re using Edmodo to reach the varied needs of your students.
Follow me on Twitter @mrsapia_teach
Updated Post! 2/28/2013
Google Forms: As I dove deeper into my understanding of Google forms, I decided to make them a part of my math centers. Based on the data I collect from RSA’s, Progress Checks, exit slips, etc, I create a quick 10 question google form. I send the Google form to the students via Edmodo, and it provides me with valuable data to drive my instruction even further. What’s great about Google forms it that it presents the data in a variety of ways. Below are just two types of examples of how data is organized. Of course, there is more ways to visually present the data.
For about a year I’ve begun the practice of implementing math centers in the daily routine of my classroom. Our district uses the Everyday Math program for our mathematical instruction. We are in our fifth/sixth year of implementation, so many students are familiar with the structure of this program.
Why Math Centers?
Upon first hearing about the idea, I was quite dismissive. Why change my approach? My students, for the most part, were successful during daily RSA’s (Recognize Student Achievement) ,preformed well on unit ending progress checks, as well as state standarized testing. For the students who did not meet the required standard, I used the abundance of data to help meet their needs and improve their skills.
For those unfamiliar with the Everyday Math model, there are three parts to each lesson. Part I focuses on the learning objective for the day, Part II can either be a game/math box/journal page, and part III focuses on a readiness/enrichment piece. In the interest of honesty, I always had a difficult time reaching part III, due to time limitations of our math block.
Reflecting on what I could make better, I felt like I could improve when challenging many students who need additional enrichment, as well as students who need basic computational review . Enter math centers.
What do Math Centers Look Like?I begin every lesson the carpet. Student objectives are written on the board, so they are clear about what their learning that specific day. Essentially, the first 15 minutes of the lesson is teacher modeling, student participation through usage of their whiteboard for slate math/math reflexes and/or use of Activ-Expression devices. Conducting quick “formative check-ins” allows me to see what students grasp the day’s concept and help drive my instruction. After this 15 minute block, students are assigned to centers. I usually have 5 centers per day. They may vary between the choices below.
Math Box Center/Journal Page Center
Ten Marks/Xtra Math Center
Scootpad – iPad App that tracks data and is aligned with CCSS.
Google Form Center
Students usually spend 8-10 minutes at each center. The powerful piece to conducting centers is the ability to differentiate on such a deep level. If a student has mastered a skill, I can push them forward like never before during small groups. Additionally, students work in collaborative groups, so they are building the foundation of working in teams. The groups are very flexible and data is always used to justify changes to groups. Furthermore, student’s work is differentiated in the form of Tenmarks and Xtramath. Let me be frank, Tenmarks is amazing! It keeps student data, provides parent codes, provides video lesson and tips, which act as a “second teacher” if I am with other students. There is much more to the platform, so check it out for yourself! Xtramath is also fantastic because it provides students with an opportunity to have automaticity with basic facts, all while keeping data. Both programs challenge students and enable me to hold them accountable for their work to track progress and show growth.
After the 50 minute work period, we reconvene on the carpet and review the learning objective and I answer any additional questions students have. At this time, I can also have students revisit using their Activ- Expression as a quick “exit-slip,” which can be used to drive the groups the next day.
Feel free to comment and/or ask questions. and give me your thoughts. I am always looking to improve, so ideas are very much welcomed.
Everyday Math Center Video Tour:
The premise is students connect with other classes in the USA, as well as the world, and try to guess where the other class is located. I learned about mystery Skype through my PLN (Personal Learning Network) on Twitter.
Students researched facts about the state of Connecticut, as well as various other “tidbits.” Each student was given a specific responsibility during the Skype call. All students were actively engaged in some manner, and collaboratively, put the clues together to make a logical guess. Some of the jobs were inquirers, questioners, opener, closer, photographers, google mapper, clue hunter, back channeler, mappers, and problem solver.
I was absolutely amazed at the way my students handled this responsibility. The idea is very student centered, with minimal participation from me. What’s truly incredible was listening to my students as they discussed facts about the state of Pennsylvania and what they learned during the call. It’s a creative way to engage all students in a collaborative activity that leads to a deeper understanding of map skills, teamwork, and an appreciation for others. This post, written by a member of my PLN was very helpful as well.
Click the link below for the article written by Maggie Gordon when she visited our classroom at the end of May.
Additionally, click the link below to see 15 photos taken during her visit. You will need to scroll to photo number 12.
Here’s a five minute video of my students in action.