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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Amplify Your Instruction with Kristin Ziemke and Katie Muhtaris!

Good morning! If you weren't already aware, my school district participates in biweekly Twitter chats using the hashtag #D100chat. I love participating in the chats because they promote professional growth as an educator and bring the colleagues in my district closer together. As you know, collaboration is viewed as one of the keys to success! Our Twitter chats focus on a variety of topics, including district-wide professional book studies, content-area literacy, ELL resources, SAMR & TPACK, genius hour, CCSS math practices and more.  

I know it's late notice, but our next chat is today, May 3rd! The topic is all about amplifying your digital learning and instruction. Can you guess who our guest moderator will be? Kristin Ziemke!  Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke wrote the book Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom.  If you don't own it, I highly recommend the purchase. It's filled with tons of useful tips, tech resources and great pedagogy.  


A group of teachers in my district decided to try some ideas from their book to prepare for the upcoming chat.  The book has specific sections called Three Things to Try Tomorrow. The ideas in these sections are easy-to-implement and could dramatically enhance our teaching and students' learning. Why not give the ideas a try, right? If you feel you're not a "techie" kind of teacher, don't fret. You don't need to be when putting these purposeful ideas into practice!



The Challenge: Try Something!
I decided to try two *somethings*, but I have a feeling, little by little, more and more ideas will be incorporated into my class. In recent weeks, I've created a Recording Booth and Digital Bulletin Boards for my students. Both of these ideas are found in the first chapter of Amplify. According to Ziemke and Muhtaris, "A class recording booth is one of the easiest ways to capture student thinking. You can create a recording booth with practically any device... Once you have a device, find a quiet corner in your classroom and start recording!" It truly is that simple. Really!

The digital bulletin board is considered any digital collaborative space you create for students to gather feedback or allow interaction among each other. There are a variety of options, but Padlet was mentioned as a favorite by the authors. Padlet is a purposeful tool that can be manipulated by students with ease. As mentioned in Amplify, "Padlet walls support images, videos and links."


The Lesson:
Since my students are already used to recording themselves in my room, I thought adding a makeshift recording booth would be simple enough. Generally, my students find a spot in the room to record various tasks, such as book trailers for their books (accessed through the use of QR Codes), their thinking about what they're reading, and even themselves reading books aloud to reflect on their fluency. The step-by-step introduction and modeling of how to record oneself was launched at the start of the year, so I was able to quickly move through the suggested tips by Ziemke and Muhtaris. Because I am in a 1:1 district, K-5 students have become well aware of the procedures for recording themselves. The management piece isn't a big focus for me, since I provide interventions for groups of 3-4 students at a time. However, two of the suggested starting points from the book are:
  • Start by modeling for students what the video should look like.
  • Add supports like a chart depicting how to start, record and stop the camera. 


For the digital bulletin board, Padlet is a great way to go.  I've been using Padlet (as well as TodaysMeet) with my students for a few years now with different intentions in mind.  Amplify gave me additional ideas for using this platform with students, such as shelfies.  Students post comments on the Padlet wall about what they are reading.  This idea ties into Donalyn Miller's  Status of the Class, where students are held accountable for independent reading.  As Miller states in her book, Reading in the Wild,  "Students practice discussing books in concise, low-risk ways; Everyone reads, everyone shares; Students hear about many books they may potentially read."  The same goes with the Padlet walls!  The images below are from our "What are you reading?" and "Padlet Pride" digital boards.  
My Reflections:
As I reflect, the recording booth was a *bestseller*, in the eyes of the students. They smiled when seeing the sign leading to our makeshift booth, as well as enjoyed the comfy pillows and colorful, green-screen background. I intend on upgrading the booth little by little with a shower curtain and other welcoming details mentioned in the book. If you don't already know, I share a small room with our talented Literacy Coach and part-time Reading Specialist, Courtney. She also pulls kids at the same time as me, so our room can get a low roar of voices at times, but nothing that disrupts the students' learning. Having the recording booth area dedicated in a space removed from other students has been very helpful. Nevertheless, I'm looking into an attachable microphone for the recording booth device, to help improve the sound quality of students' recordings.

The digital bulletin board is a fun way for the students to get ideas and inspiration from their peers. The students are loving the Padlet walls. Even though it's a digital board, I printed out a set of the students' shelfies for the passers-by in the hallway.  Yes, I decided to go *old school* this time and print their shelfies on paper (no throwing rocks, please!). Of course, digital bulletin boards can be shared with others via Schoology, Google documents, or even through the use of QR codes.
Your Turn to Take the Challenge!
Do you integrate tools into your classroom that enhance instruction while using technology, either from Amplify or beyond?  Or do you want to try creating a recording booth for students to document their thinking and/or share their favorite books like I did? How about testing out a digital bulletin board with your students?  We would love if you share your idea with us, either on your blog, by adding a quick idea to our Padlet Wall or linking up below!  We will officially challenge our district (and YOU, if you're outside of Berwyn South District 100) after the #D100chat on 5/3/2016, but you are free to take a sneak peek!

Happy Tuesday!


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