Ed Tech In the SpEd Classroom

Using Technology to Help Bridge the Learning Gap

Classroom Updates

December11

No, I promise I haven’t broken up with you. I just finished the two Master’s classes I’ve been taking, with the last major assignments due this past week. Priorities, man. Priorities.

So, Miss Rivas, what has the wonderful world of Extended Core been up to lately? Let’s start with our class blog, Operation X.

The students are progressing nicely. The first few entries were a little shaky, but that was expected. I was trying to teach the concepts of using a blog, how to edit their blog entries, and how to add more “meat” to them as well. After reviewing previous entries as a class, I think the students have a better idea of what I’m looking for in their blog entries. I have been trying to keep the topics interesting in order to motivate them to write. Their topic for this week’s entry is about their New Year’s resolutions. I’m still struggling a little with those students who aren’t giving me much to work with. For example, one of the questions they have to answer for their blog entry this week is: “What do you think are some good things about starting a new year?” Right away, I had one student answer out loud after I read this to the class, “There’s nothing really good about it, Miss. It’s just like a regular day for me.” This, of course, made me rephrase the question and urge him to think deeper in to it. Besides, “idk” is not an acceptable answer to this. I’d like them to focus on actually checking their spelling with the spell check (versus just checking the box on their blog checklist) and adding more to their peer comments. Most comments are very short. I’d like them to expand on their replies.

Next, our E-Pal project, which we do every other week. We’ve hit a few bumps along the road with this. As I’ve stated before, this is my first year doing E-Pals with my students as well as our partner school in New Jersey. Since we’ve started, I’ve had two students exit my Extended Core class, leaving two students on the other end with no E-Pal. Two of my X-Core students volunteered to take on two E-Pals, which was very thoughtful of them to do. Also, between my class and the other class, there are some e-mail addresses that got screwed up along the way. This prompted a mini lesson on saving contacts to e-mail. While most students have yet to get a response, the ones that did were excited to read their e-mails. Today I had one of my students check his mail and see that his E-Pal wrote back to him. Coming from the same student who griped about this ongoing assignment earlier in the year, he was very excited today as he read his letter aloud to the class. After he read it, the discussion went sort of like this:

Student: “Miss, can I write him back?”

Me: “Yes, we will be writing them back next week. This week we’re doing blog entries, remember?”

Student: “I want to write him back, though.”

Me: “That’s good, and you will. You’re supposed to be working on your blog right now.”

Student: “He’s gonna think I’m being rude if I don’t…”

Me: “I promise he won’t think you’re being rude. Now get to work.”

I have to admit, however, I was excited that he was excited about his E-Pal. His view on this assignment has done a 180. I think once we get over these little obstacles, they will enjoy E-Paling more.

Last update is on the flipped classroom components I’m doing in my room. So far, the students have all been working on the same unit, all at their own pace. The majority of students are testing out and passing, and for those that don’t, they’re going back and re-learning it until they’ve mastered it. We’ve been taking baby steps with this and I’m comfortable with that. I’m teaching a new process and content at the same time, for the first time ever. I’m pleased with the progress they’re making. The Parts of Speech unit was given to them not only because they all desperately need it (especially with some major essays coming up in English class), but because it was a good way to intro the flipped classroom. Since my last post, I’ve gone from posting individual videos on Edmodo to creating tutorials on Sophia.org. What I love about Sophia.org is that I can create a group of activities for students to do pertaining to the lesson they’re learning. For example, with their adverbs lesson, I uploaded an intro video of an adverbs song being sung by a band. After that, their next step was to view the actual screencast done by myself, explaining what “how” adverbs were and how to identify them. Students are stilling filling out their SSS Packets as they watch the videos. Next, I posted a “how” adverb quiz via Google Forms for them to fill out. Last, I posted a link to another website which allows them to practice adverbs in a game format.

A student listens to a tutorial on Sophia.org

Another student fills out his SSS Packet while watching my tutorial.

The videos I’m making are slowly morphing into a better product. When I made my first video (*cringe*), I carefully scripted it out, timed the presentation just so, and recorded it very seriously (an adverb!). Since then, I’ve let that go. The script idea went to the wayside. I felt a lot more comfortable just presenting it on the spot. I’m able to let my personality come through more doing it this way, which the students have noticed (either that, or their giggles that escape while they’re watching mean that they’re laughing AT me. I choose to stay in denial). The one major discouraging part about doing this is, again, the technology we have in the class. The laptops are in bad shape, are slower than molasses, and are in dire need of updates. I’ve contacted our “Help Desk” several times, only to get chewed out and asked why I’m not taking better care of them. Whatever. That’s another entire blog post in itself. I would’ve liked to have the kids create a Wordle on the “how” adverbs they’ve learned so far, but unfortunatley, some laptops don’t have Java/Flash updates, so there went that idea. What sucks is that I demonstrated on my teacher laptop how to do it and they were actually looking forward to doing this activity.

$%#@&!

So anyhoo, that’s the latest and greatest on the Adventures of Extended Core. Tomorrow the students should be finishing up the “when” adverbs tutorial and solidifying what they’ve learned by playing some adverbs games in class. Hopefully, I’ll remember to post how I’ve been incorporating flipped videos with student IEPs. This is, after all, the focus for this year.

Wish me luck. *heavy sigh*

 

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