Thursday, March 24, 2016

Learning Together at #MACUL16: Don't wait to try something new!

March is a hard time to try something new in your classroom.  You already have your routines set, your expenctations are crystal clear, and your curriculum is rolling along at a steady pace.  Breaking that flow and trying something new can not only be challenging, but also intimidating.  Our next guest blogger, Kitty Broderick - Third Grade teacher at Woodland Elementary in Portage Public Schools, shows us all why it's okay to make the leap in March and try something new... your students will thank you!
"This year at MACUL I was ready to take something back and implement it right away!  That was my goal.  No longer would I say, "Oh that's a great website.  I'll plan on starting it next school year.  I don't think I have time for it in my schedule at this point in the school year."
Starting something new in March is hard (for teachers).  We already have a set routine, students know the expectations for each part of the day, and teachers are busy trying to get in assessments (dare I say,"M-STEP") and papers/projects completed before the end of the year.  Adding something new as we are gearing up for spring break and the end of the year sounds like a lot of work, right?  WRONG!  What I added into my schedule has actually made things easier for me!
For 30 minutes of the day, students have PAW reading time (may be referred to as WIN (What I Need - Tier 2 Intervention) time in other buildings).  I have 10 students in my room who I often have reading a National Geographic magazine and responding to questions in their journal during this time.  While I love these nonfiction articles and the kids enjoy learning about tornadoes, wolf packs, and different types of pollinators, we needed a change of pace.  Enter:   Google Classroom and DOGOnews.
This match up has been a breath of fresh spring air in my classroom.  I have only been using it a week and the kids love it.  Not only do the 10 students from the one group I introduced it to love it, the other students in my room kept coming up to me and asking if they could do it when they were done with their own work.  All I had to do was give them the Google Classroom code and they picked it up in no time.
Google Classroom was something I wanted to do.  Let's face it, I was the only one in my Chromebook Pilot 1-1 Teaching Group NOT using it.  I felt that with the group of third grade kiddos I had this year, it would be too much.  I was wrong.  
DOGO news is a website where students can read up on current events in a kid friendly manner.  A little bit of text, a related video, plus short answer questions ALREADY made up for students to answer.  This is great practice for students to work on their RACE strategy for short answer questions.  Not to mention, you can share all of this directly to your google classroom!  My students have done NEWSELA, as well as ReadTheory, but this ranks right up there with them.  
Here's how I do itAlthough you can find an article quickly and easily on DOGO news and share it immediately to your Google Classroom, I found that it was too much text within the assignment description.  Also, I wasn't sure if my 3rd graders were going to respond to the questions as a comment, or did I want them to create their own Google Doc and copy and paste the questions into it?  
To make it a little easier on them, I first  copy and paste the questions from the article into my own Google Document and increase the font size so it's more third grade friendly.  I then creat an assignment in my Google Classroom, attach the google doc I just created and make sure to have it make a copy for each student.  Finally, I copy and paste the link from the DOGOnews article to my assignment as well.  This takes me all of 5 minutes (tops!).
So what are you waiting for?  Go try it out!  Or you can wait until the beginning of the next school year. ;-)" ~ Kitty Broderick

Thank you, Kitty, for inspiring us all to jump in and try something new with our students!

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