Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Practical Practice



For the past couple of years I have really made an effort to go paperless in my elementary classrooms (even though I am a huge fan of using notebooks in all content areas).  There have been varying degrees of success and challenge in this journey, and I often find myself in a quandary.  Tonight is one of those nights.

My kiddos quickly learn how big of a fan I am of tech and that I prefer tech over paper.  (They jump on this by the way.)  So I was THRILLED when a kiddo requested I put as many things online as possible, in particular the homework.  (I know..I know..I'm not a fan of homework either, but it is an expectation where I am right now.)  This got me thinking...there are not only a variety of tools to do this, but also a variety of ways. 

I began with the FLOG (Fact Fluency Log) and my teammate created a Reading Log that are required for the grade level.  The kiddos have the option of completing these logs online or in paper (copies available in the classroom).  In just two weeks there has been a pretty good response to using them.  At least half the kiddos are accessing both.

One of the things that I have noticed (and is typical) is that while in the classroom the kiddos are good to go and require limited re-teaching when working independently.  But then once they get home and/or we build upon the previous day's concept(s) they are lost.  Taking cue from one of my famous Evernote stories I have realized how beneficial it is for kiddos to have something to refer to once they leave our mini-lesson or conferring circle.  So...I've decided to start using Educreations and YouTube better and more often.   

Alright...so back to my quandary of this evening.  Homework.  I've been thinking and thinking about how I can meet this request of my kiddos to somehow get homework online.  The request was that it be either to complete it online, download it online, and/or submit it online.  I was able to do this with some of the Word Study homework.  When they do Spelling City, it submits online and I can see what they did.  I was also able to create an assignment form on my site for when (if) they decide to create vodcasts or podcasts.  I'm still working on alternatives if their file is too large to submit on my site (happened already). 

But...I am pretty anti-worksheet.  Often times, this is the form that math homework comes in.  And although I'm not a fan of using tech to be a fancy schmancy worksheet in this circumstance it makes sense.  My quandary?  Whether to use Google Forms or Socrative.  Both are good tools that have value for a variety of things in the classroom.

Google Forms
☺ would allow me to keep track of the kiddos work.  
☺ could easily be linked to my website; hyperlinked each time I create a new form.
☺ could be customized for the assignment. 
☹ does not provide the kiddos with immediate feedback; they'd have to wait until I corrected it to know whether or not they are on track.
☹ would require me to paste a link to my website each time I create an assignment.
☹ doesn't allow me to include images.

Socrative
☺would allow me to keep track of the kiddos work.
☺could be linked to my website; hyperlinked one time and provide kiddos with the room number).
☺will provide the kiddos with immediate feedback.
☺will allow the kiddos to re-do the assignment as many times as they need to so that they can master the content.
☹ doesn't allow me to include images.
☹ would require me to remember that I need to run the assignment.  (That may be a challenge for my tapped memory!)

In the end, I'm thinking that Socrative is the way to go because I want my kiddos to learn the content and concepts.  The fact that Socrative provides them with immediate feedback on the assignment is a major bonus.  And I am so grateful to @mbfxc and @JudyArzt for helping test Socrative's ability to run from a distance!  Huge SCORE!!!