Wednesday, May 13, 2009

iPods Pilot Project with ELL Students - SUCCESS!!

Back in January, I posted about an iPod pilot project that we conducted with a small group of ELL students at one of our elementary schools. Overall, ELL students in our district have not tested well in math on our state's standardized test called the CRCT. Vocabulary has been an issue for them as well as understanding concepts such as fractions and decimals. We needed to try an "out of the box" approach to supporting their learning, and after becoming aware of other iPod projects in existence, we chose to move forward with our own pilot.

Our model consisted of the students w0rking with the iPods both in school and taking them home on a rotating basis for further remediation and acceleration. Kristi Johnson, the Literacy (Technology) Coach at the school, worked diligently to find and/or create media as well as associated activities for the iPods.

Unfortunately, we got a rather late start on the project, not beginning to use the iPods with the students until November. I wasn't sure how much using the iPods might help them given the fact that they would be tested in early April. Based on her observations, Kristi had told me how much the students enjoyed using them and that she had seen progress in their learning. Early benchmark tests also showed the students performing much better than they had in the past. The true test, however, would be the results from the CRCT.

I am very excited to report that 100% of the students passed the Math portion of the CRCT!! Last year, as 4th graders, only 20% of this same group passed. We haven't had a chance to dig into the data yet, but on the surface there appears to be a correlation between the iPod use and their achievement. We know that from August through the end of October the students did not use the iPods, so we're wondering how well they performed on content taught during that time versus content taught with iPod support. As soon as we have more data, I'll report back.

As for now, current budget restraints will most likely prevent us from expanding this project. However, we will continue to use the iPods with ELL students at this school next year. I, for one, am extremely excited about the test results for these kids who have struggled in the past! It's a great accomplishment for them, their teachers, and (hopefully) demonstrates how the effective use of technology can impact student achievement.

Image by Sagolla on Flickr

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Two sites to share...

The following two sites were ones that came via my Google Reader from the website. They post quite often, and these were two that caught my eye.


Keyboardr is a search engine of a different breed. I know, I know....not another search engine, right? I've looked at a lot of engines, but this is the first that I've found that actually displays the search results as you type them. No need to hit enter or click on search. Simply begin typing your keywords and the results appear in the window.

Pretty cool. But Keyboard doesn't stop there. Not only does it give you search results as you type, but it also offers Wikipedia, You Tube, and Google blogs, and Google Image search results as well. I typed in "educ" and these were the results I received even before finishing the word "education".

I'm always a sucker for sites that are geared for photos (even if I don't use them very often), but every once in a while I need to create a panorama picture, but I don't have software that will do that for me. Now, I don't need any thanks to Clevr, an online panorama creator. It allows you to stitch a series of photos together into one picture. Below are some of their other offered features as well as some sample panorama pictures created with their service.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blogging with students - Summary of responses

Last week I asked for assistance regarding blogging with students for the first time. Since I'm not a classroom teacher, I don't feel qualified to offer guidelines for the teacher in my district who is interested in blogging with her 5th grade students. However, there are members of my PLN who are experienced, and this is a summary of the advice they offered.

  • Talk to administration first - This isn't something that I had thought of myself, so I was very grateful that Jim Gates brought up this suggestion. Without the administration on board, the whole project could fall flat. Their support and understanding is essential when embarking on a new project such as this.
  • Talk to parents BEFORE you start- I had already planned on recommending this, but I didn't think about this aspect of it: "Let them know what a blog is." (Jim Gates) We certainly cannot assume that every parent automatically knows what a blog is, what it's for and the value of its use in the classroom.

  • Commenting on others' blogs is important - Grace Kat echoed Kymberli Mulford's sentiment that commenting is an important element of student blogging and not necessarily a skill that comes naturally. Commenting both appropriately and meaningfully has to be modeled and learned.

    Steve Kirkpatrick (MrKp on Twitter) encouraged commenting on others' blogs (not in the classroom). "Get a conversation going." J Allen reminded that "just like regular bloggers, kids need to realize that blogging is a conversation." Amen to both pieces of advice.

  • Don't feel that you must grade the blogs - Again, I never would have thought to offer this piece of advice, which I did receive from several people. Jim Gates made the point that the blog is there for the kids to feel free enough to speak without worrying about being graded. I can definitely see that if the students attempt to blog knowing that their every word will be critiqued how that could inhibit their writing process.

    Coming from another angle regarding grading, Kimberli Mulford (aka @kmulford on Plurk) offered her perspective. She doesn't post grades on individual blog posts, but due to the nature of her class, she does have to grade the students. Instead of assessing posts, she provides students with a standard "bar" to meet in order to get an "A", which for her students is to have five quality approved posts in the final five weeks, and they must support their fellow bloggers by commenting regularly on others' posts.

    Kimberli went on to explain that she does have a quantity and quality standard which all posts must meet before she approves them, which is made clear to students through modeling and talking through the process.

  • Maintain moderation rights on posts and comments - I happen to agree with this completely and had already offered this advice. As much as we'd love to give our students free reign, it's important to moderate both posts and comments to ensure quality, substantive content, as well as appropriateness.

  • Blogging Platforms - I received a mixed bag of comments regarding various platforms available for student blogging. Edublogs, which I had mentioned in my post that the teacher was considering, has advertisements unless you pay. Of those who offered advice, here are the platforms they are currently using: Wordpress, VLE, ePals, and Edublogs. Which she will end up using is up in the air as of right now. I, personally, have mixed feelings regarding advertisements. Regardless that they are "suitable" for the content of the blog, I'm not a fan of them. I had considered ePals, but Kymberli indicated that they have grown faster than their service can support. We do not have an internal option to offer, so I'm wondering what might be the best path to take for a first-time blogging teacher?
Thank you for the advice! From my perspective, I feel much better being armed with first-hand information to offer her. I'll keep you posted regarding her project.

Added information 2-27-09

I thought I would add a couple of lists of blogging resources that I have compiled in Diigo.

Blogging Examples: Student and Classroom

Permission Letters - Forms for blogging/wiki use

Advice Photo: Wurzle on Flickr

A grade Photo: Futureofmath on Flickr

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]