Interwrite Video

I’ve been working with Mrs. Gina Bumgarner, a fourth grade teacher at Hildebran Elementary, and her students on a video for a contest to win an interactive classroom from Interwrite Learning. 

Here’s the video.  🙂

You can view and rate the video at http://interwritelearning.shycast.com/contestant/190.  (And when they make it to the finals, we will need everyone to go to the site to vote for them!!)

Great job, Mrs. Bumgarner and students!!

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LearnNC Fall Conference

Last Thursday and Friday, I had the opportunity to travel to Chapel Hill for the LearnNC coordinator’s fall conference.  If you are unfamiliar with the LearnNC website, please find some time to explore this resource!  Find some helpful tools for learning more about LearnNC on the website guide.

  • Check out some of the great features on LearnNC:
    • Best of the Web over 3,000 educational websites by category (also see the “For Students” section on the right hand side of the home page, by grade level)
    • Lesson Plan collection (and SCOS resources)
    • Online Courses for CEU credit
    • Instructify– LearnNC’s NEW blog (great tips, free technology resources, etc!!)

At the conference, I was reminded yet again at how important the “conversation” is…  We must continue to talk about how to meet the needs of our students and how to get them (and us!) to be digital citizens.  This isn’t an easy conversation, especially when we find ourselves wrapped up in a world where there is never enough time in the day, when the pressure of test scores is always looming overhead, and when it is difficult to define what changes need to be made in education- much less figuring out the best way to make those changes. 

In spite of the challenges, we must continue to forge ahead and make a committment to continually evaluate how we educate our students.  This takes risk-taking, strong leadership who support and encourage risk-taking, and a willingness to change. 

Personally, these conversations have encouraged me and challenged me.  If you have a few minutes, take a look at this, and read this.  Does it inspire you to explore the possibilities?

Motivating Readers

I’ve heard about the great training that Renaissance Learning (the company that owns Accelerated Reader) provides, but this afternoon I was finally able to take part in that training.  It was so refreshing to hear RL speak about best practices for Accelerated Reader. 

There are many schools that have not used the program in the manner it was designed (and I’m not speaking just about BCPS- I believe that it is widely misused).  Instead, it is treated as THE reading program at a school and the world seems to revolve around points. 

Today, RL representatives reminded us that the program should be used to motivate students to read and that AR is simply the PRACTICE reading portion of a reading program. 

Some other best practices of AR:

  • Point goals should be set for each individual student, based on the ZPD reading range and the amount of time that student will be able to practice reading AT SCHOOL.
  • Teacher intervention and teacher/student conferencing should be happening daily, including after each test.  This teacher intervention is CRITICAL to the successful use of AR.
  • ZPD (reading range) is actually not correlated to “grade level” range.  Students should not be restricted to the books in this level, but teacher/student conferencing and guidance can help make each reading experience a successful one.
  • If these things are happening, students should be successful (85%+ correct on AR tests), and therefore most all of our students would earn rewards for meeting their goals.  (And this doesn’t have to be costly prizes!  Think FREE when thinking about motivational “prizes”!!)

The goal is to foster the love of reading.  We have to keep our eye on the ball and always keep in mind that the purpose of AR is to motivate readers and encourage the practice of reading as part of the reading program.

Making a successful change in the mindset of teachers and administrators will require patience (as we can’t expect huge changes overnight), staff development (like today’s), and committed leadership who will expect and encourage best practice usage of this program.

I’m excited about the possibilities!

Donna Murray – Digital Teaching and Learning Consultant