Over the past few months, I have been attempting to integrate technology into my Learning Resource Teacher role. I work with Grades 3-6 in pullout programs such as reading groups and in-class assistance for primarily reading and writing adaptations.
Reading Fluency – using iPhone recorder
I created voice recordings (such as this sample) for students and families to reflect upon. We learned how reading fluency helps you to become better readers. If you are unsure how to use this feature please follow the instructions here.
This article on “7 Ways to Improve Reading Fluency” by Gunny Osewalt gives simple ideas such as:
- Model fluent reading
- Guided practice
- Reading together
- Repeated readings
- Perform your readings
- Graph your reading practice
- Praise meaningfully
Articles like this one “These Strategies are Drivin K-3 Literacy Efforts” by Jessica Brown, gives the fuel for creating an atmosphere of ‘reading to learn‘. The article gives valid points on how to create this love of reading:
- Giving students ample time to read and write
- Giving choice
- Encouraging students as ‘storytellers’
- Monitoring progress
So by recording their fluency and then reviewing recordings over time, I created the importance of self-assessment and gave students motivation for improvement. We discuss our improvements, how we pronounce words, how loud/quiet we read and how fast/choppy we read by comparing our recordings. I also increased this motivation and engagement by sharing their recordings with families through an app called Class Dojo.
Class Dojo – for family engagement
I have to admit, I did not love this app for family sharing. I would love it if I was a class teacher, as it gives incentives/points for particular jobs, and a way to send messages both as a whole and in private. I can also see why young students love it – with the bright colourful cartoon monsters. However, in terms of engagement when it came to reading, uploading recordings took forever and I rarely heard back from parents.
Part of the reading program is having students take levelled books home every day, read them with a family member and then have someone sign the reading log. I find this process frustrating because a lot of students don’t read at home. My goal was to motivate parents to incorporate technology into home reading, but I didn’t find Class Dojo successful in solving this problem.
When it came to reading accountability or motivation, the engagement lacked significantly. Perhaps moving away from Class Dojo and simply using direct email would have worked better. Sometimes less is more.
I also believe that switching to a Divison supported app like Seesaw may be effective across all grades, as it does the same thing minus all the cartoons. In the future, I plan on using this app and comparing my results.
Google Classroom and Google Docs – for student engagement
In researching all the things teachers can do with Google Docs, it seemed the possibilities were endless. This 2013 article showcases 20 of those elements for teachers and students to try – such as:
- Documents accessible from all mobile and desktop device – for free
- Up to 50 people can simultaneously edit/access a spreadsheet, presentation or document at one time
- Create forms
- Create slideshows
- Chat with others within documents
- Track edits and changes to any document
As an LRT I can’t always be in every room at the same time. Knowing that all students have a Google account, again I took what was already working and weaselled my way in! When I visited those students on my caseload (those who need adaptations and assistance usually with reading and writing), I felt frustrated because our time was limited. Together, we could start on a project, but then I wouldn’t necessarily be around to help them complete it. That’s where Google Docs came in!
Students in Grades 3-5 started sharing their work documents with me and I could help them edit, make comments and suggestions, encourage them to keep going, gather work samples for assessment tracking and also share their documents with families! It has been brilliant! Periodically, I’ve taken some of these students to teach them how to organize their documents.
Google documents are your online binders. They can be overwhelming if they are not organized- with pages and documents without titles, dates and proper storage. Our next steps are to learn proper storage of these documents so work is easier to find and share.
Overall – this project was just what I needed. New, yet practical ways for me as a Learning Resource Teacher to incorporate technology into my job. I plan on sharing my voice/reading recordings with my staff during my next staff meeting, so they too may be inspired to try such a simple trick for motivation.
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