Over spring break I am taking some time to create some lessons that I will try out in different teacher's classrooms and share with others to try. One that I created is a writing web quest of sorts. As a fourth grade teacher in Texas for 5 years I know all too well that students struggle to explain themselves and what they are talking about. It is like pulling teeth when trying to get students to describe how they feel or what they think about something let alone to write those things down! I used the free website smore to create a flyer that includes a couple of activities to help students practice their writing skills. Part of the lesson is to use the online activity from Scholastic called Story Starters where the students spin a wheel to randomly give them different ideas for a story. The students will use this to give them ideas of things to describe. Then at the end they can choose from 3 prompts to write a full story. Of course it can be adapted for any classroom but the idea would be to have the students type their story into their Google drive so it is automatically saved and can be easily shared with their teacher. This makes it easier for the teacher to keep track of student work and helps students and teachers get use to using technology in their daily class work. Activities like this are simple to make and will help make your lessons more interactive instead of you doing all of the talking all of the time. You can find the lesson on my Web Quest page on this website, or you can go directly to the flyer here.
This is a great week for me as a teacher, because it is Spring Break!! I get a chance to catch up in things I haven't had time to do and prepare for 'testing season'! Now of course the latter part is not my favorite, because as a teacher I kind of despise the whole testing debacle. Yes of course it is a necessary part to the education program but in some schools, cities and states they take it to the extreme! When a 3rd or 4th grader is scared about 'the test' then you know something is wrong! School is meant to develop the minds of our youth and help them grow into fine young men and women. Instead we are brainwashing them to think that taking a test is the end all be all! Why? I understand we need to show what students have learned and if teachers are effective, but is testing students 30 days out of 45 in a 9 week period the answer? Does weighing a pig more often make them fatter and worth more? The answer is obvious, but for some reason we continue on the path that we are on. At some point we need to find a better alternative to the 'test, test, test' idea that is stuck in so many administrators and law makers heads. If we expect teachers to change the way they teach and have more interactive lessons, why not test the same way? Why not do performance based tests? Why not do online testing? Teachers have to take online tests to become a teacher, so why can't students do it? Wouldn't it save time, money, and the chance of mistakes? Or is it not really about what makes sense, but about what makes more money? Teachers need to be the change. Otherwise, there will be no change!
Matt, Josh and I discuss digital portfolios, the death of the computer lab and a few interviews from the floor of TCEA 2014! Make sure to stop back next week for our first interview on set with Brian Kennedy!
Jacob has been teaching for 9 years. 5 years as a 4th grade teacher and 4 years as an instructional technology specialist (iTech). He is sharing some of his experiences and technology that could help other teachers in the classroom.