I teach 6th grade in a school embracing the second year in a one-to-one laptop environment. Currently in our division, our technology facilitator regularly coordinates TTTT’s – Teachers Teaching Teachers Technology. These occur on student-early-release professional development days and sometimes on Wednesday afternoons in lieu of a faculty meeting. The name says it all. Teachers are given the opportunity to attend 2 or 3 short presentations which focus on some teaching innovation that incorporates the use of technology. This has proven to be an effective way to “get the word out” regarding possible classroom applications. I have found these sessions to be extremely useful and I’m always impressed by my colleagues’ creativity and how they are incorporating tech ideas into their teaching. After the latest installment of TTTT, my team came away with 3 very useful tools which we immediately applied to our current teaching. VoiceThread, Socrative, and TodaysMeet offer unique ways for students to present their own work and respond to the work and ideas of others.
Voicethread allows users to create and share slides which hold photos and videos. Comments may be created through voice using a microphone or telephone, audio file, text, or video. Next week, as part of our study of Japanese culture and the novel, The Master Puppeteer by Katherine Patterson, sixth graders will be visiting Sensoji Temple in Akasakusa, Tokyo. A requirement for the field trip is to research and photograph several topics. I’ve embedded the student activity sheet using FlipSnack. (Thanks Madeleine!) Afterwards, students will create slides, with comments, using Voicethread which they will then share with other students. It is great way for students to chronicle their work and to present and share new understandings.
Socrative is a student response system that can be used with smartphones, laptops, and tablets. It allows students to respond to content in real time with graphic display options available for short answer, multiple choice, and true/false questions. Teachers can view the results of quizzes online or have a spreadsheet emailed to them. The spreadsheet tallies the results of the quiz including all responses, correct and incorrect, along with the percentages. I have been using this to create reading comprehension quizzes for the novel I mentioned earlier, The Master Puppeteer. The quiz is graded, the email results are sent to me, and I plug those results straight away into my digital open grade book. My colleagues and I have also found this to be very useful for quickly checking understanding on topics covered in class. We recently began a study of Japanese feudal society and the different levels of the caste system during the edo period. I created a multiple choice quiz to assess understanding of the topics I had covered. The graphics display feature of Socrative allows anonymous reporting of responses which I projected for the class. This generated lots of excitement and guided the class discussion in a way that reinforced concepts that had not been fully understood.
TodaysMeet basically allows students and teachers to “connect” with their audience in real time. The applications to teaching and learning here are numerous and I’ve just begun experimentation regarding ways that my students and I can utilize this tool. Recently, in Writers’ Workshop, we were focusing on word choice as it realted to our biography writing unit. The focus of the lesson was on choosing strong verbs to improve the word choice of the student biographies. In advance, I prepared several sentences with weak verbs and then asked the students to revise them by changing the weak verbs for better, stronger ones. Afterwards, students posted their revised sentences in TodaysMeet. The class discussion that followed offered timely feedback for the students, and again, helped me to determine immediately which students had understood the concept.
The TTTT’s, in my opinion, are an effective way to share information. I see my colleagues as valuable resources and, through TTTT’s, I’m able to capitalize on that. As we continue to nourish a school culture that focuses on 21st century skills and learning, I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn from teachers across my division in a true collaborative setting.
The Master Puppeteer Photo: http://i43.tower.com/images/mm101750489/master-puppeteer-katherine-paterson-paperback-cover-art.jpg
TodaysMeet Photo: http://www.edutecher.net/link_images/todaysmeet.jpg