Thursday, August 30, 2007

Reading to Learn

Our work with teachers of elementary students and the students themselves is constantly in development where technology is concerned. Our focus, as the title of this blog suggests, is to empower student learning through the use of technology. We also know that there are certain grade levels where our focus is still on learning to use the technology itself. As their skills develop, these same students will eventually use the technology tools with more concentration on the learning possibilities.

When several of our teachers began to read and implement The Daily Five, we also discussed the role that technology would play in this literacy framework that includes: reading to self, read to someone, listen to reading, spelling/word work and writing. Technology supports these through the use of various pieces of software and web based resources so these teachers have been investigating all the possibilities.

The other day I met with a 3rd grade teacher. Our goal was to take a look at some very specific things she could do to improve the use of technology in her classroom to affect student achievement. We talked about the data analysis work that she'd recently been through, summer workshops and the strategies she'd learned and the technology sources she would have available to her at this grade level. We decided that, in addition to the Daily Five, that she would begin to add a sixth component that we'll be calling Read to Learn which would place an emphasis on working with non-fiction texts.

We want students to understand main idea and details and to sort important from non-important information in non-fiction text. So, we're going to teach students how to use word processing software to do this. We'll begin by taking some short articles from Time for Kids and pasting them into a word processor. Given a question specific to the article and the main idea, we'll model and have students practice eliminating any text that does not answer the question as well as the unimportant words in sentences. By going through this process, students will have created a set of phrases of the most important information. From there, we can begin to help them summarize the articles in a few short sentences.

We've begun some important conversations about using technology to learn here. Using this strategy will help us to better use technology for information. I'm looking forward to working with this teacher and others to continue developing this concept.

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