One of the challenges we educators face today is the incorporation of technology in meaningful, authentic, and effective ways. Our students’ lives are full of technology; it only makes sense to integrate the games, devices, and styles of communication they enjoy (and may already have some proficiency with). There is extensive research on technology use in the classroom, yet I do not work in a typical classroom. I work with individuals and small groups in a pull-out setting. Fortunately, many of the strategies supported by the research can be applied in one-on-one or small group instruction.
So, for your consideration, here is a digitally-mediated activity to alter/advance/update literacy interventions for upper elementary grades – specifically interventions for writing.
Who is involved and what will they do? Students grades 3-6 in intervention groups will participate in and maintain a blog. I chose kidblog.org to host mine, but several free options exist. Introduction to the activity includes instruction in how to blog and appropriate online behavior (blog etiquette). Blog submissions will incorporate writing, video, images, and audio. The specific content of the post is up to the student, but it must have a foundation in literacy. They can write a book review, discuss themes or questions, write alternate endings, interview characters or authors, whatever their creative little minds can think of. What’s the point? The ultimate goal is for students to improve their writing conventions.
Great – so your students are blogging. How are you going to tell if they’re improving? Using the school’s existing writing rubrics, and with guidance and feedback from the teacher, students will self-assess and peer-assess in multiple conferences before posts are published. The published post itself is clear evidence of their knowledge and application of writing conventions. And, as always, the intervention teacher keeps in contact with the classroom teacher to monitor students success outside of intervention groups. But let’s not forget student input! If they’re not engaged and enjoying the activity, they won’t get anything out of it. Use a survey to gauge their thoughts, feelings and reactions to the activity. This is solid information to help you adjust your teaching (if needed). The 4-level Kirkpatrick Learning and Evaluation Theory is a great foundation for developing a survey (see link below).
In the spirit of sharing and openness, here are links to resources I found very helpful in designing this activity:
Background on the Kirkpatrick evaluation theory and a super helpful sample survey (a downloadable Excel file).
Or, how about this video on blogging in the classroom – straight from the horses’ mouths!
If you prefer, here is the paper. It gives more details about the activity, the theory behind it, and the assessment practices.