Sunday, July 27, 2014

Core Tech for Learning with ELA Common Core #ISTE2014

One of the #ISTE2014 sessions I attended was "Core technologies for the Common Core" by Kyle Brumbaugh and Elizabeth Calhoon. They had a great introduction to the Common Core and a plethora of helpful tools.

In this post, I will share some of what I learned from them, and add in a few more resources, ideas, and tools.

ELA Text Complexity

Readability levels are an important ingredient for figuring out text complexity. Reading Standard 10 specifically states that students must read complex text, "Read and comprehend complex literary and informational texts independently and proficiently."

Text complexity reminds me of a s'more. It contains three main parts, and while you can talk about each ingredient separately, it's not really a s'more until you put them all together.


Tools for readability

Have you ever wondered if the text on a website is the appropriate reading level for your students? Here are some tools for assessing the quantitative measures of readability:
  • Online-Utility.org: Determines the Flesh-Kincade Reading Level by copying and pasting the text into the box.
  • Lexile Analyzer: You can scan your text (or type it in) to see the complexity of what you've written (or text in any website). Note, you'll have to register to use this site.
  • ATOS: Determines the ATOS reading level by copying and pasting the text into the box.
  • Lexile: This site helps you find the lexile range, and recommended books for that range.

Table: Supplemental Information for Appendix A of the Common Core State Standards

Writing readability and editor 

Sure, you can use the tools mentioned above to assess the readability of a student's writing, but the following tool also includes editing.
  • Hemingway app: This tool color codes sentences with editing suggestions for lengthy sentences, passive voice, etc. Note: This app currently costs $4.99.

Text with adjustable readability
  • Google advanced search: Set the readability levels in the advanced search.
  • ReadWorks: Reading passages, lessons, and units with comprehension questions for K-8th and by select domain or standard.
  • Newsela: You can find current events by content area. Create student accounts and it will provide different copies of an article with various reading levels.
Here's an example of the Newsela teacher dashboard

Online books
  • Project Gutenberg: Free ebooks that are available for free download (in the USA). They can be read online or through the Kindle App. (The Kindle App is a free app, and it allows you to read texts in a variety of formats on a variety of devices -- not just on a Kindle. You can highlight and annotate with this app, and the selections can be saved using a student's free account at Amazon.)
  • Oxford Owl: Free ebooks that are tablet friendly. 
  • Google books: This is a great research tool for online books. I recommend looking at this tutorial on Free Tech for Teachers by Richard Byrne.
  • Open Library: Borrow and read books.
  • Bookshare: An accessible online library of books with large print, great for people with print disabilities.
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art and Getty Publications: Read, download, or search online art history books for free.
 
Online portfolios

There are many tools that can be used as a portfolio. The beauty of a portfolio is it shows growth over time.

Have you considered these tools for portfolios?
Final thoughts

There are many resources available for learning the ELA standards. Technology is included in those standards. We are no longer in a day and age of putting technology off as something we didn't get to. Technology is essential for students to be prepared for college and careers, and it is built into today's learning standards.
  • What ELA tools and resources would you add to this list?
  • What other thoughts or ideas from this post would you like to challenge, add to, or share?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My #HackEd2014 Summary and Reflections

One of my favorite conferences is ISTE Unplugged / Hack Education. The schedule of the discussions is decided the day of the conference based on the interests of the participants.

What is appealing to me about Hack Education is the small group setting that fosters deep discussions, and the organic nature of the conversations that are completely based on the group's expertise and ability to ask probing questions. I always feel like I walk away smarter.

My notes for some of the sessions are illustrated below as sketchnotes with thinglinks/interactive links, bullet points, or as the main points I Tweeted out.

Personalized Learning - facilitated by Barbara Bray

Click here to view above image with thinglink

1:1 Deployment

Click here to view above image with thinglink

Smackdown

Community, Global Connections using tech to build relationships

Click here to view above image with thinglink

Agency & Self-Direction in Education - facilitated by Steve Hargadon
  • Focus on the pedagogy -- it's about the learning and not the shiny object.
  • Don't underestimate the power of building relationships, especially when it comes to being a change agent. 
  • Remember to focus on the learners, and why the change may be beneficial; and keep in mind what's in your control.
  • What's your elevator pitch? Carefully choose your language and the message you craft.

Final thoughts

The last session of this day really amplified that technology in and of itself is not the key to success; instead, focus on learning and pedagogy.

All of the other sessions I attended: Personalized Learning, One-to-One, and Global Collaborations are not the silver bullets for success. Each and every one of them can fail without the leadership, vision, and focus on the students' learning... and each of them can be successful ...

However, what works in one environment might not work exactly in another environment. So, keep your eyes open. Listen. Learn. Unlearn. Relearn... and focus on what's best for the students.
  • What ideas, resources, or challenges could you add to this post?
  • How else did this post connect with you?