Thing 7b: Using Technology to Differentiate

Reading Clay Burell’s blog about how students who took courses through technology could move through the material faster than the conventionally taught students and then scored higher than the conventionally taught students made think.  While we (middle school teachers) are restricted by a semester schedule, using technology to allow students to work faster and move through more material if they can  would certainly help differentiate for higher achieving students.  This is a concept that I definitely need to consider when developing my lesson plans.

Thing 7a: Annotating Books On-Line

I ran across a blog about e-books and a web site called BookGluttons.com.  I am wondering if there is a way to use this site to help students improve their reading comprehension.  I have tried to teach the students to annotate their texts but they put up a lot of resistence.  If they can tead the book on the PC and then make annotations along with other classmates who are reading the book, they might be more willing to annotate and get more use out of it.  The whole experience will be much more interactive.  There aren’t a lot of book choices on the web site, but I have been thinking about asking them to read some middle school classics and the web site has a few, such as Alice in Wonderland, Little Women, and on more advanced reading levels, Jane Eyre and Sherlock Homes.

Thing 5: Recent Blog on Friday’s Five

Great links available in the Friday Five – Tools for Teachers Blog posted by Lucie deLaBruere.  If you are a teacher, you may or may not be able to take advantage of the google mail organizational tools since most schools use their own school addresses.  However, the web links to tools for creating screen capture presentations of your PC look fantastic.  These presentations could be viewed later by students who were absent.  They can also be used to show students how to complete a project using a software program they are unfamiliar with.  Additionally, in lieu of taking a test, the students themselves can create short presentations to demonstrate they understand a concept.  And if you have  a SmartBoard or projector set-up at school, she also provides links to web sites which offer zoom-in tools to make it easier for students with vision problems to see what you are demonstrating on the board.

Thing 4: Commenting on Blogs

In the interest of brevity (see blog by Morgante Pell on teaching students to say a lot using a little), I will comment quickly. Blog reading is different because it is chaotic, somewhat non-linear, repetitive, and sometimes interactive (if the blogger responds to comments).  Similar in that it’s an exchange of information. Blog writing differs because it’s somewhat short, shares similarities because it’s written in paragraphs. Commenting equals more viewpoints.  See Dan Meyer’s blog on why teachers shouldn’t assign homework. Blogging helps learning by giving people a chance to experience those different viewpoints and then synthesize and express their own opinions.