Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ten Minutes or Less

I remember the first few years I began implementing a workshop model. No matter how much I or the kiddos enjoyed it I always felt overwhelmed. Those of you who do workshop model probably know exactly what I'm talking about. And it had nothing to do with implementing the workshop model.

Every night I carted home twenty or so notebooks. If it was your book shopping day I was collecting your notebooks. Your Readers' Notebook. Writers' Notebook. Math Notebook. Inquiry Notebook. About five kiddos book-shopped each day, so about twenty. There's the obvious strain from the weight of the notebooks on my teacher bag and shoulders.

But the strain I felt the most was on my time. Each night I carted those notebooks home. And each night I would spend hours reading the notebooks. Searching for the most recent work. Reviewing student work. Assessing student work. Hours. And some nights I couldn't possibly get through all of the notebooks so naturally my work load would increase the following evening.

These last two years, since implementing technology into my classroom, all that has changed. There are numerous benefits for my students, but to my free time...Woah, Nellie! Ten minutes or less. And that is for my entire class. Yes, my entire class. Each day my students read and respond to text. Each day they solve complex mathematical problems. Each day they reflect on scientific, geographic, or historic concepts. Each day my students write. That creates approximately 100 pieces of writing for me to review. But with the technology I use, it takes me about ten minutes to read the writing of my entire class. In about ten minutes I can review my students' mathematical thinking.

It started last year when I began to implement a blog during Math Workshop and Inquiry Workshop and Twitter during Inquiry Workshop. Using these tools I was able to quickly see where my kiddos were at. The blog I use through Weebly allows me to see all the comments in one shot. Twitter allows me to create a list so I can view a stream of only my students. This year I have been able to expand on this with a couple of other tools.

Goodreads. I can not say enough about this virtual bookshelf. Goodreads is good stuff. not only can my students create bookshelves of what they've read, are reading, and want to read but they can also rate and review books. Every day I can see what my students are reading and thinking about the books they are reading. The one thing that Goodreads let's us do is the thing I love the most. Have book talks. I've created a group for my class and pose questions for them to respond to; just like a stop and jot. Just like a blog, all of these get sent to my feed and I can immediately see what's my kiddos are thinking.

Goodreads also has a writing option, but I am leaning towards Notes on the iPod. First, because Goodreads is working on having that option available on mobile devices as they do in their desktop application. Second, because my students can use Notes as an ongoing Writers' Notebook, and then email me selected entries that they are working on. In addition to being able to meet with half to all of my students during learning, I can review and reflect on the day's learning quickly.


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