First, I’m going to get on my soapbox for a second. Technology should never be a babysitter. It should be a tool for creation! Especially with the new standards, it’s so important that our kids are college and career ready and technology is an important part of that. Okay, okay, I’m off.I use technology with my students every day. I truly believe our students need to have these skills under their belts in order to be successful in today’s world. Here are the best web sites that I use with my students:
One of the best tools I use is Edmodo. I’ve used it for a few years and every year it just gets better! It is an extremely versatile platform.
First, the basics: Create an Edmodo account for yourself. Then you create a group. I create a cute name like “Fabulous Fourth Graders.” Edmodo will create a group code for you. Students can then sign up using the group code. It looks like this:
Students don’t need an email. I also tell kids to just use an initial for their last name for safety’s sake. Easy, Peasy! Once the group is set up, the fun begins.
Ways to use Edmodo:
- Book Clubs: You can create sub groups to allow students to collaborate. My kids call Edmodo their “Facebook.” I’m always a part of the group, too, so I can see their dialogue. I usually ask a focus question to help guide the conversation.
- Writing: When students finish writing a document in Writer’s Workshop, they can upload it to Edmodo. It allows their peers to read it and provide constructive feedback. I teach my students two stars and a wish: two compliments that are clear and specific and one wish that would make the work better.
- Differentiated Instruction: The small group component allows teachers to send specific content to specific groups of students.
- Professional Development: It’s also great for you as a teacher and a learner. There are so many professional learning networks you can join. My favorite is the Global Read Aloud. If you’d like more information about that, click here. This year I’m reading Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt with my students for the GRA. It happens in the fall, so sign up ASAP!
A great way to get kids motivated to write is Storybird. They call it “artful storytelling.” It’s a platform for writers to get creative. It’s full of beautiful art that the students can use in their own stories. Storybird curates the artwork, and students use it to inspire them to write. Here is a link to a story I created to model for the kids. The stories are easy to share through email, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, or they can just share the link. If the parents would like to keep a copy for themselves, they can download it for $1.99 or pay more for a bound hard copy. You will love, love, love the art. It’s amazing.
One assignment we did was to create Mother’s Day and Father’s Day stories. Here is a link to one of their stories. It’s easy to add students with the access code they give you. They do not require a student to have email.
You know how there has been a shift to more informational text? Well, Newsela is a great way to incorporate it into your curriculum. It is chockfull of informational articles on topics such as war, health, science, kids, law, money, arts, and sports. Each article can have the Lexile level adjusted for readability. If it’s too hard, adjust it down. If it’s too easy, go harder. The kids get the same information. Some of the articles even have quizzes at the end.
My favorite ones are the articles that say “Pro/Con.” I divide my class into two parts and assign them a side. They read the articles and gather evidence. They meet with their side and decide what the best evidence is for their case. Then, they have to pair up with someone from the other side and present their case. After discussing the best evidence, they caucus with their side again and try to rebut the others’ arguments. Here is a link to the Argument Talk Protocol from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP).