I'm sorry I haven't posted in a long time! It was report card season and shortly after that life just got super busy in my classroom, tonight I finally have some down time and want to get back to the blog. I want to thank everyone who is reading/supporting/pinning my blog. It's the best feeling in the world!
So what is new in Room 108?
The newest activity we've taken on is using Twiducate, a program created by a teacher from Blenheim Ontario, you can follow him on Twitter at @MrAspinall. The program I stumbled upon after it was suggested on a resource board I follow. I had spoken to my students about twitter after we looked at a reading from Teaching Kids News (one of my favourite resources at the moment!) about protests, including Idle No More. We discussed how the movement got its name and what the movement is truly about. We also discussed how various movements can be confused because of the media and what we have to do to ensure we get the whole picture. Long story short we ended up discussing hashtags on Twitter, leading to a discussion about social media and pros and cons as students. After mentioning Twitter I harmlessly mentioned Twiducate and that I was considering using it in the classroom. Students immediately were hooked and began inquiring as to when this would happen, I signed us up a week ago, sent home a permission form allowing students to bring in phones and other electronic devices to use and dived in! (We are using classroom computers and school netbooks for students who do not want/have an electronic device to bring in).
Twiducate is a twitter like program that creates a "walled garden" where only students in the class are allowed. No outsiders can join, the teacher controls passwords and can monitor all discussion and look up what each student has typed. I set mine to not allow edit and deleting to teach students how their comments and statements on the internet can not be taken back. We have only used it once, allowing students to try it out, with several persuasive prompts to start a conversation. I am in the process of figuring out how I can weave it in to class more often. The good and bad: my students LOVE it, are totally hooked, love that it is a spot for just our class to chat and have conversation. I have been able to explain that comments on Twiducate are similar to classroom discussions. If you wouldn't say it in the classroom then you should not say it on Twiducate. The bad? They LOVE it, if I had a dollar for every time a student asks if we are using Twiducate each day I would be a rich lady! I will keep you posted on how it goes this week!
Okay here is the part of the post with the pictures! (The next time we use Twiducate I'll post some so you can check it out :) ) We have been working very hard on our persuasive writing. I have really been making an effort to use the gradual release of responsibility. We examined persuasive writing pieces, created a success criteria for our persuasive writing and then created a rubric for our persuasive writing. Sidebar: A great way to create a rubric that students take ownership in! So the next step after co-writing a persuasive letter was to write one in groups, students used their success criteria and rubric to assist them, you saw those letters in an earlier post. So the next step was to write one in pairs (or the odd group of 3). Students were again reminded to use the success criteria and rubric as a guide. Groups were allowed to choose whatever they wanted and wrote their persuasive writing either on chart paper or letter size. Groups then handed in their work, I then took the rubric we co created and shrunk it so there was four to a page. I placed the pieces of work around the room, each with a envelope, pieces that were on smaller paper I put in plastic sleeves to keep from ripping. I instructed students to go around and choose 4 other pieces of writing other than their own to mark, using the rubric we had created. After they had marked a piece of writing, they put their rubric in the envelope and placed a checkmark on the outside of the envelope to let people know how many rubrics were done on that piece. This was to ensure that each work had many "markers."
This feedback activity was two weeks ago and we are one week in to our final work, we've had two days in the computer lab to look for info to back up our opinions, and 2 days of writing workshop, students are to have their argument organizer completed for tomorrow as we move on to the draft/conference phase of writing.
I will admit that it has been difficult to be patient with the process. I will be the first to say I am usually someone who probably taught writing styles too quickly and let students be independent too fast. After speaking with a colleague with their approach I am taking a much slower approach but I am finding the quality of work is much better and students have a much better understanding of what their work needs to achieve a Level 3 (B).
I'm sorry about the big break from blogging but I'm hoping that life has got a little more calm and I can get back to sharing my classroom adventures!
Have a great week :)
PS I would love to hear any ideas you have for Twiducate or feedback for your writing program!