Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Newsela

Last week my Instructional Technology Specialist friend, Jennifer Heine (@JHeineEDU) happened to be on my campus for 2 days.  We have been outside-of-work friends for 12 years now, ever since our now 13 year-old boys were in the baby class together at daycare, but rarely ever see each other during the work week as she is assigned to different campuses.  She is also one of my go-to people when I have a technology problem or question and I want to look smart for my campus. Additionally, she is one of a small handful of people that talk as fast and erratically as I do, so while no one else can follow our conversations, we understand each other just fine.

Usually our sharing of ideas happens in the summer while on one of the rides at Schlitterbahn, where we have no paper to write them down or at some sporting event where in the midst of the work related talk we are also cheering and by the time the game is over work related thoughts are gone. 
12 years old

6 years old
Since she was on my campus for a whole 2 days, it was my opportunity to pick her brain in one of those "look smart for my campus" situations.  After the first round of STAAR, my 5th grade teachers like to spend two days rotating the kids around -each teacher has a different science activity and the students spend an hour with each teacher.  One of the teachers came to me an asked if I could think of anything "fun" they could do with the chromebooks.  I mentioned this to Jennifer and before I could even finish the request she was bouncing in her chair ready to tell me the perfect thing!

Newsela!  Have you heard of this?  It is a website full of nonfiction articles for all subject areas and reading levels.  Teachers can create classrooms and assign article to kids to read based on level or topic.  The articles are not too long and what kid can resist reading about these kinds of things?

Anyway, we were talking and bouncing ideas of what they could do with these articles and decided google classroom and slides would be a great option.  I took the idea back to the teacher and she loved it!  There are some things that need to be done within newsela to set up the classroom ahead of time.  Then the teacher picked 8 science articles related to things they had talked about this year in science. The task was for students to choose an article, read it and then make a google slide about the article and how it relates to something they have learned in science. 

I'm excited to see how these turn out. The students were definitely excited about the different articles assigned to them. 

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