Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Exploration Thursday -- Oct. 4

 These past few weeks I've been focused on how to best use the tools of technology that we have been so fortunate to have in our classroom this year.  I mentioned some of the thinking I've tried to embrace here and here.
My team busy at work learning about our wikis
The new thinking for my 5th grade team this week was how to have students create digital learning objects (DLOs), and then embed them into our class wikis, where it can help us refer to past learning and document learning as we go.  The four of us sat around a table one morning before school this week, and learned the ins and outs of wiki use, and tried to learn how to import DLOs into the wiki.  We made good headway, but still need a lot of practice.
Chart for Digital Learning Objects

While the adults continued with their learning, the students were quite busy as well.  On Monday, we discussed the different devices we have in our classroom, either personal devices or school devices.  On a chart, we listed all the ways we could make a product that would demonstrate learning of a topic (see picture).  We have iPads, laptops, desktop computers, and iTouches (not yet, but soon to come).  I was so impressed with how many different applications students realized they could use.

Comic Life DLO
Because we had spent time in the previous weeks exploring some of the new apps and revisiting some familiar apps, we were ready for the next step which was to make a digital learning object with specific learning targets in mind.  One of my tech PD colleagues suggested always giving students a rubric before they start creating to help them understand exactly what learning they need to demonstrate.

Keynote DLO
Explain Everything DLO
The task they did this week was really meant to be a formative assessment that would help me gauge their progress as they worked through our most recent word study focus, understanding what a noun is and knowing all the different rules for making nouns plural.  The rubric was worth 10 total points: they needed to identify what a noun was, share 4 different rules for making words plural and give at least 2 examples for each rule, and finally their product needed to be clear for the audience, whether that meant through visual means, auditory means, or both.

Popplet DLO
The rubric was invaluable.  After we discussed the expectations, students started working with a partner and began the work of showing their word study knowledge.  I had blocked out a 45 minute time span for this activity and that seemed to be a perfect amount of time.  As the students worked, the energy in the room was exciting.  It was fun to see several things: the app the students chose to make their DLO, the device they wanted to use, and finally how they organized the information the rubric told them they had to have.  The final products were great for our first time.

A variety of apps were used; several groups gravitated toward Popplet.  In addition, other groups used Explain Everything, Skitch, Comic Life, Pages, Keynote, and iMovie.  How delightful that students were able to choose a tool that best suited their needs.

When we were done, we spent two days sharing our DLOs, and providing constructive responses to how well our classmates met the requirements of the rubric.  It was powerful learning!  The students learned so much from each other; getting ideas for future reference and seeing all the different ways to organize and display knowledge.  And to think we've just begun this journey.  I'm eager to see how their products mature as the year goes on.

Now, I just need to learn how to embed these great DLOs on that darn wiki! :)