I’m really excited to be starting a new novel study class about “The Giver” by Lois Lowry. It’s a book I’ve read many times for pleasure, both as a teenager and as an adult, and this will be the first chance I’ve had to teach it.
This semester, I’m experimenting a little bit in my novel study class with technology and student autonomy. Here’s the course syllabus I’ve posted on our Classting safe social media platform for my students:
I’m providing homework resources to my students for self-study as they pre-read chapters before class, but am not enforcing their completion for homework. Students will have choice in how they wish to use the worksheets as a study guide. In fact, I’m posting the answers online for my students a few days before we meet in class so that they can check their learning.
Another way I’m supporting student autonomy is by allowing students to select their own way to reflect on the reading they do each week. They can post an audio or video response online, share their thoughts as a reflective blog post, or share an image of a sketch quote on something they read in the chapter that interests them. Here are some sketch quotes from this week’s class:
In addition to our Classting class social media feed, we’re using todaysmeet.com to run a backchannel discussion during Socratic circle question and answer periods each week. While one group of students debates and discusses questions orally in class, students in other groups can participate in the discussion by commenting on screen using their smartphone or tablet. Throughout the discussion students are given the chance to participate verbally as well. Here’s a screenshot of our most recent backchannel conversation:
After two classes together, the technology seems to be integrating well into the classes and the students are quite engaged for the hour-and-a-half we are together. I’ll update this post with more student work as we go through the novel.
Here is a free download of my vocabulary and comprehension questions and quizzes for every chapter of The Giver. Feel free to use my work in your class and share it with other teachers in your school if it is useful in your classes. The PDF file is 140 pages and includes answer keys for all of the worksheets and quizzes.
Before the summer vacation, a group of teachers in my school got together to create a vision for our program and our new, aligned curriculum. To start actualizing our vision right now, I’m writing this post to tell you about a project I’ll be leading to get our school Digital Citizenship Certified by Common Sense Education. Give it a read and see if you’re interested in doing the same at your school! For more information visit the Common Sense Education Website.
Making our Vision a Reality
One part of our vision is to create globally conscious citizens, and to provide kids with authentic learning experiences. To do this, we’ll likely find ourselves and our students making use of digital media more often in the near future. It’s important that our students (and maybe we teachers, as well!) know how to use web 2.0 resources safely.
Opportunity for Teachers
To do so, we’re going to get our school Digital Citizenship Certified School status, and in the process, some of our interested teachers will be able to become Digital Citizenship Certified Educators. They’ll get a badge to stick on emails and websites and can call themselves Digital Citizenship Certified Educators on their resumes. You probably won't get a raise for it but it's proof of continued professional development and experience in teaching this aspect of a 21st century curriculum.
Common Sense Education
Common Sense is a non-profit organization that has developed a curriculum for students and PD resources for teachers about digital citizenship. In addition to printable curriculum units for each grade, they’ve got online learning resources that kids can use in a 1:1 or BYOD classroom. Here’s the breakdown.
Connecting with Parents
Part of getting the Certification involves communicating with parents about digital citizenship. The easiest ways to implement this would be sending out a provided fact sheet electronically, as well as embedding a few links on class webpages and the front page of the school website. Other options include hosting discussion groups with parents, but since my school is in Korea the language barrier might make that a bit difficult.
What You Need to Do
The last thing to remember, is that you need to document your teaching as you work through the curriculum. It’s not that intense. You just need to take photographs or short videos of students at work on the Common Sense curriculum materials, make a blog post, show some sample work, or make a short video
Interested teachers need to teach 5 lessons on digital citizenship. A key point is that the entire grade must take part. That is to say, all of the 5th grade students have to learn the material, not just the kids in one class. If your entire team doesn't want to get involved, you can work out a way to teach it to their students for them. Teachers also need to be involved in a bit of PD. There’s a one hour webinar online, and you need to set up an account on Common Sense.
After you’re done, you can apply for the school’s certification and your teacher certifications will be included. Simple!
I’ll update as we make our way through the process. Over half of the grades in our school have signed on to participate already. I think it will be lots of fun!
It's been a couple of weeks, and after a few meetings with individual teachers and the entire staff, we have 100% participation in the Digital Citizenship Certification project! Students are engaged and parents and already writing in with positive feedback about the curriculum. It looks as though it will be a great success!
Grade teams are fitting in digital citizenship instruction when their long range plans allow, but we should be ready to send in our application by the end of November! For now, here are some students working away on Common Sense Education's free Digital Citizenship resources!
It's official! Our school has become a Digital Citizenship Certified School through Common Sense Education.
All of our teachers did a great job of working to teach students about how to be safe and positive online citizens over the past few months, and the program was a great success. Almost all of our teachers enjoyed using the Common Sense curriculum and found it to be relevant and appropriate to meet our students' needs at Uchon Elementary School.
The Common Sense Education Digital Citizenship resources will become a part of every grade's curriculum in the coming school year, and teachers are already discussing how best to implement it and improve on the work they've already done.
A big thank you to Common Sense Education for their excellent Digital Citizenship Certification program and to all of the hard working teachers at Uchon Elementary School who made this happen.
I struggle to think of a time in the past that I have seen in person a lesson that qualifies as an example of redefinition. For most of my career as an educator I’ve dealt with crumbling tech infrastructure, and haven’t really had (until now, thank you Steve Katz!) a mentor to introduce me to the possibilities that can be realized with technology in the classroom. I’m keen to get started creating lessons that rate high on Puentedura’s scale.
My fifth grade team has created a project for our students to take on over summer break (sorry kids, school summer homework policy) that probably qualifies as modification or redefinition on the SAMR scale. The idea came from an article we read in class about 'catephiles' who have repurposed the catacombs beneath Paris as museums and community spaces. What follows is a brief visual description of the urban renewal/renovation project that we will assign them:
I’m really excited to see what our students are able to produce! And, I’m excited to spend some time before vacation showing them how to use some of the technology that they’ll need to complete their project. I’ll update this post with new information as we work on the project.
This project is intended to be used in my 5th grade novel study class as a capstone project. The students are all Korean and speak English at an Intermediate level. The purpose of the course is to provide integrated language arts practice via the medium of the novel Coraline by Neil Gaiman. Students gain content specific vocabulary, work to increase their reading comprehension, and discuss, interpret, and reflect upon character motivations and themes in the story.
The aim of this project is for students to create a short stop-motion animated film to illustrate one of their favorite scenes from the novel. The project is intended to engage students while promoting reflection on the novel and providing an opportunity for students to develop and display proficiency speaking English with correct tone, expression, and inflection.
Students will work in groups consisting of 4 or 5 students and be given 4 class hours to complete their stop-motion film. They will be expected to create resources prior to class for homework.
Before beginning the project, a brief lesson on how to create stop-motion animation will be given. I will show the following YouTube video and slide presentation to help my students get organized to create their movies.
Students will be tasked with creating a stop motion video that is 15 seconds to 1 minute long to share one of their favorite scenes from the novel Coraline. They will be graded based on their adherence to the time limit, presence of a title screen and credits, use of vocabulary from the chapter, organization of their movie, and the dialogue that is included. All students will be provided the following rubric prior to beginning their project.
Finally, students will be shown the following exemplar that I created in order to inspire their creativity and provide them with an example of an animation that would get a perfect score according to the rubric.
Matthew Boomhower is a mid-career educator with 15 years of classroom teaching and educational leadership experience. He is Head of Innovation & Learning at an international school in Malaysia and is a proud husband and father.