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Posts tagged ‘literacy’

Tip of the Week: Powerful Online Tools That Integrate Literacy Skills & Contemporary Events

Need a place to connect past with present? Need writing prompts? Need hundreds of articles about current events in an easy to access place? Need articles with leveled reading? Need a searchable databases that filter by keyword, grade level, Common Core reading anchors, and articles with machine scored quizzes?

If your answer to even one of those questions is yes, then I’ve got a list of tools just for you. All of them are web-based tools that use current events and contemporary topics to engage kids and all provide the chance for you to to encourage the development of skills required by the ELA literacy standards for History / Government. While at the same aligning to state standards that ask us to connect the past with contemporary events.

So why should we worry about current events? The simple reason is that connecting past and present is good for student retention and encourages critical thinking skills. Not to mention our state standards are asking kids to connect past choices, rights, responsibilities, ideas, beliefs, and relationships to “contemporary events.”

So today you get a few online tools and some helpful strategies that focus on current events: Read more

Google Keep – Note taking alternative, cross-platform sharing tool, and all around nice guy

I waded into the shallow end of the Google Apps / GAFE / Chromebook pool last summer. In November, I dove off the high board as my office went all Google – mail, calendar, documents, the works.

I’ve been using Google Docs forever so it’s not like the stuff is completely foreign to me. But going all in . . . with all my stuff, emails, contacts, online? Yeah, there was an adjustment period.

But after a few months, I really am falling in love with the syncing of info and materials between all my different devices. I’ve also had a chance to start playing around with all of the different Google tools buried in my account.

My latest favorite? Google Keep. Basically Keep is Google’s version of

Read more

#METC15 sessions – Google, close reading, and other assorted tech goodness

I’m in the beautiful state of Missouri at the 2015 METC in St. Charles. The #METC15 folks do a great job of creating a very positive learning environment centered around the idea of technology integration. So a good time for me to share some ideas and gather new stuff from others.

(I’ll be live blogging here throughout the day so be sure to refresh for most recent version.) Read more

9 history podcasts just for you: Getting smarter and having fun at the same time

Podcasts used to be a big deal. Then they weren’t. Now . . . they’re back. Yup. Podcasts are a thing again. Ten, fifteen years ago, podcasts were the shiny tool that was going to change the world. Replace sliced bread. Find a way for the Kansas City Chiefs to make the playoffs.

And for a few years, the podcast did all of those things. Then, maybe because of the learning curve needed to create them and a lack of mobile devices that made them easy to listen to, podcasts sort of just went away. But with the rise of easy to use creation tools and the huge growth of handheld smart devices, the podcast is making a comeback.

That’s good news for history and social studies teachers. We can get smarter listening to them and our kids can get smarter when we use them as instructional tools. (Plus you get to align your instruction to Common Core literacy skills such as speaking and listening.) Not sure what podcasts really are? Or not sure how to use them in your classroom? Or what it might look like if you did?

If you aren’t already listening to and using history podcasts, here are nine pretty good places to start. You’ll get smarter and have fun all at the same time.

Read more

Storybird: Free digital storytelling

Over the next few weeks, I get the chance to spend a lot of time having conversations with teachers about integrating literacy into the social studies. Reading, writing, and communicating. ELA literacy standards. My C4 Framework. The NCSS Inquiry Arc.

I love these kinds of discussions. Teachers brainstorming and sharing ideas. Thinking and talking about effective strategies. Good times. So part of what I’ve been doing the last few days is exploring different tools that support literacy in the classroom. And today, one of my finds.

Storybird.

An online tool that encourages the creation of visual stories in seconds. It’s a simple idea that has attracted more than 5 million stories – making Storybird one of the world’s largest storytelling communities. Read more

Holiday Goodie Rerun VIIII: 8 tech tools that encourage literacy skills

I’m sure most of you are doing the same thing I’m doing right now. Spending time with family and friends, watching football, catching up on that book you’ve been dying to read, eating too much, and enjoying the occasional nap.

Between now and the first week in January, you’ll get a chance to re-read some of the top posts of 2014. I may decide to jump in with something current but if I don’t, enjoy this Holiday Goodie rerun.

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Some of them are low tech. Some are more sophisticated. Some are mobile apps. Some are not. Some are completely free. Some start free and allow for upgrades. None of them are silver bullets. None of them are going to save the world.

But I think we need to be using them more. These eight tools, and others like them, can change how we teach and how students learn. And I think any tool that does that – whether it’s paper and pencil or a mobile app – is a good thing.

In a recent article over at Huffinton Post, Dylan Arena, Ph.D., co-founder and chief learning scientist at Kidaptive states that

Technology by itself will almost never change education. The only way to change educational practices is to change the beliefs and values of teachers, administrators, parents and other educational stakeholders–and that’s a cultural issue, not a technological one . . . It’s about processes and people rather than bits and bytes.

These eight tools seem particularly effective at encouraging and supporting literacy skills. I’ve talked about many of these before but I think when they are clumped together, they become especially powerful in helping kids read and write in new and impactful ways.

There has been, and continues to be, a lot of conversation about reading, writing, and communicating skills. When I get to be a part of those conversations, I share the following lists with social studies folks. Pretty sure they’ll work across a lot of other content areas as well.

Reading so it’s possible to

  • evaluate an argument or claim
  • determine the main idea, identifying and analyzing evidence, relationships, and supporting details
  • comprehend complex and difficult text
  • identify and evaluate critical information communicated in multiple forms of media

Writing clearly and coherently

  • to make an argument using evidence, logic, and reasoning
  • to tell a story
  • by applying the appropriate technologies for the purpose and audience
  • by gathering multiple sources of information and integrating them into short and long term 
projects

Communicating effectively by

  • preparing and collaborating with diverse partners
  • designing and delivering a presentation on a specific topic
  • presenting information and evaluation to others in a manner that is not totally written text
  • using multiple modes of communication

I know that these lists don’t include the entire package of skills that some states and districts are asking us to check off. But they cover a lot of ground. And the following tools Read more

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