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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Are You a Techie-Kind of Teacher?

On a scale of 1 to 10, how techie would you say you are as a teacher? Personally, I'm pretty tech-savvy. I use Google for a lot more than questions, I handle Adobe like a boss, and at this point, Siri might know more about me than any actual human being!! But, technology in my classroom? Well, let's just say that it's not nearly as advanced as I think it should be!!

Now, it's not for lack of technology! My school is super tech-immersed! We have access to lots of computers, laptops, iPads, etc. whenever we need them. We also have a great technology teacher in the building and helpful tech support throughout the district. So, why so little digital happenings in my room? Yup, you guessed it! TIME!!!! The time it takes to put together tech-dependent lessons is unreal and frankly, nonexistent!!

(Why, oh why, is TIME always such an issue? I was recently reading an article (on my iPhone!) about how "busyness" is a sickness. So true, right!? I suffer from chronic busyness. All day long, I run from one thing to the next, cram as many tasks into a minute as I can, make and make and make "To Do" lists just so I don't forget to do all.the.things! And at the end of the day, when I collapse on my couch literally as soon as my kids go to bed in the evening, do I really have all that much to show for my relentless "doing?" Ugh!)

Anyway... for the last two weeks, my classroom has been the super tech-savviest!! We have been participated in literature discussion via SKYPE!! We've teamed up with another 6th grade from a whole state away, and every few days the kids meet up for discussion about the book Maniac Magee.



So far, the kids have loved it! The first day, we had the students do a getting-to-know-you activity. After they were finished, my students were all abuzz about their conversations. The biggest revelations: the students in the other school get to go on field trips (our district does not have field trips), BUT they don't have dances (they have to wait until they are in 7th grade to attend school dances, whereas my students have a 6th grade dance once a month).


At the end of class the day of our first meeting, one of my students came up to me and said, "The kid in my group plays soccer! I play soccer, too! I never though I'd have so much in common with a kid from Pennsylvania!" (It's that the cutest!?!)


Anyway, we've had two meetings so far and are hoping for two more before the end of the year. It's really been the best experience... the kind of experience that I'd plan all the time if only I had more TIME!! (The only reason this has worked so well is because the teacher of the other class is my best friend, so we were able to coordinate it through a series of late night phone calls and text messages!)


So, how techie are you? If your classroom is not where you'd like it to be, why is that? Lack of resources? Lack of confidence? Lack of time? I'd love to hear from you!

Congrats to all those who are finished (or almost finished) your school year! We still have about three weeks to go!

To all those still at it, Happy Teaching!!

34 comments:

  1. This is an incredible idea! Do you use a format of questions for them to follow or some other system? I want to do this!

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    1. We broke the book up into four sections and set the meeting dates prior to starting. For each section, the students were told they needed to come to their meeting with three "thick" questions to discuss and one passage to share that they found awesome/interesting/confusing/etc. This gave them plenty to talk about at their meeting!!

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  2. Such an awesome idea! Thanks for sharing :) I'm always looking for ways to make Lit circles better.. now if only you had a best friend who teaches 9th grade who'd be game ;)

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  3. Fabulous idea, kudos to you and your friend for making it work! It looks like the students are working in small groups via Skype, does each group have its own Skype account?

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  4. Fabulous idea, kudos to you and your friend for making it work! It looks like the students are working in small groups via Skype, does each group have its own Skype account?

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    1. Hi! So, we had three groups going at once (the other students worked on another activity) and each of those groups had a separate Skype account. Then, after 20 minutes, the groups switched and used the same accounts the previous groups had used. So, in a 45 minute period, six groups were able to meet on 3 separate accounts. Does that make sense?

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  6. I love this idea! It would be great to have another teacher to coordinate something like this with.

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  7. Thanks for the inspiration. Perfect for sixth grade!!

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  8. I love it! Where can I find a teacher with kids reading: Freak the Mighty, The Giver, and more??

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    1. Mrs. Nelson, I am trying to get the Giver going in my classroom. We are right outside of Chicago. Email me if you want to partner up: mirle@prsd1435.org

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    2. Mrs. Nelson, I am trying to get the Giver going in my classroom. We are right outside of Chicago. Email me if you want to partner up: mirle@prsd1435.org

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  9. Any suggestions, since I don't have a best friend teacher in another state to implememnt this with, how I would go about researching to find a teacher to partner with for my classroom?

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    1. I'd try some social media avenues... find some teacher groups on Facebook and Instagram? That might work!

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  10. Great idea. I am going to see if I can do something like this at my school. I teach 5th grade and they would love this. I too will need to find another teacher to partner with.

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    1. J&B Photography I would live to Skype with your 5th grade class. I teach 5th grade in Kansas. I will contact you here and at your photography site.

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    2. I will partner with you. Email me Misty.Vaughn@cobbk12.org

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    3. I teach grade 6. I'm in Chatham, Ontario, Canada. I'd be looking for people to Skype or Facetime with in fall. diane.duncan@lkdsb.net

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  11. Great idea. I am going to see if I can do something like this at my school. I teach 5th grade and they would love this. I too will need to find another teacher to partner with.

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    1. Hi J&B Photography. I'm a 5th grade teacher who would love to partner with someone. I could not have done it last year, but am totally up for it if you are still looking for a 5th grade teacher. Email me at kwade@w-usd.org

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  12. There are some great ideas in here, but I can't help but notice a few concerns. The technology used here is Skype, iPads, and laptops. These are all at least 5 years old (which can be old in the technology world). For example, the first iPad was released in 2010. Skype, however, is older than we think. It was released in 2003, making it 13 years old. I'm not criticizing your use of this in the classroom; I'm actually extremely happy about it. I'm curious as to why you think it has taken this long to get this technology into the classroom. Is it a lack of funds? Time? Commitment? I'm an upcoming teacher (in my second year of college) and wanted a current teacher's opinion.

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    1. Hi Faith! Well, as you will see when you enter the classroom, funds is the primary reason... and it will be the primary reason for everything always! Our district has a lot of technology... way more than the average district, but it is far from one-to-one. Funds will always be the reason! And as for Skype, well, nothing really works better! Thanks for reading :)

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    2. And being cautious. Our district has been very cautious about the use of technology in the classroom even though they try to be "cutting edge".

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  13. I am really excited to try this in my 10th and 11th grade ELA classes! Can you share a little bit of your lesson plans with me (first year teacher!) What questions did you have the groups ask? What other activities did you have the other students doing while each group was skyping? Could you email me at theenglishteacherwhocould@gmail.com?

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    1. Could I see your lessons as well? Great idea!
      tbachmann@guhsd.net

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  14. Thank you Jenna Smith you rock!
    Hi Everyone, I love this idea, but I need a teacher to partner with. I teach 5th and 6th Intervention Reading ESL & bilingual Grades 5 & 6. We are doing literacy circles with the following books, Taking Sides by Gary Soto, Number The Stars by Lois Lowry, and The Loser List "Revenge of the Loser" by H.N. Kowitt, and Tales of Despereaux. Would love for someone to partner with me, I'm located in Houston, Tx. Look forward to hearing from someone soon. Thanks!

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  15. This sounds awesome!! I teach 9th grade English in Columbus, WI. I'm teaching Night by Elie Wiesel in September, Romeo and Juliet in October, and To Kill a Mockingbird in December. Is there anyone who teaches the same level or in high school who also reads these books who would like to partner with me?

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  16. Love this idea! I would like to see your lesson plans also. Please email me at demetress.butler@mcssga.org

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  17. Love this idea! I would like to see your lesson plans also. Please email me at demetress.butler@mcssga.org

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  18. Love this idea! I would like to see your lesson plans also. Please email me at demetress.butler@mcssga.org

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  19. I am a 9th grade English teacher in NW indiana right outside of Chicago. Any other 9th grade teachers using "The Odyssey" the first couple months of 2017?

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  20. Good Evening! I teach 6th grade, and would love to do this with another 6th grade class. I'm open to suggestions for a book, we just ended our first set of lit circles for the year..please don't hesitate to contact me if you would like to set this up with my class!
    nataliemarkey@gmail.com

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