iGoogle, reading strategies, and silent reading
As always, I jump into using technology fearlessly. Karl Fisch talked to us about having our kids create their own personal learning network where they choose what information they need, what they want to read, and what will possibly affect their world. I have decided to see where this could go.
First of all, I had my students check out a fiction book to read outside of class. They begged me to give them time in class each week. So a certain Tuesday came and I gave them time to read--20 minutes worth. When I called time, they whined and pleaded to be able to read all hour. Surprising! I had the whole class vote to see if they really did want to dedicate time to reading. Yes, unanimously. So, every Friday, my students will be reading.
This lead nicely into my iGoogle questions: where would I fit this into my week? How could I assess their information-gathering quickly? And, how could they share what they learned? I decided Friday's would be the day.
We went the computer lab to set up their iGoogle accounts. The kids were so excited. I had them add a quote feed I had, a vocabulary grapher thesaurus I added, and a local news feed, a national news feed, and a world news feed. I have not had them add Google Reader, yet. I told them that on Thursday nights, they will practice the reading strategies they've been learning with short stories and apply them to non-fiction by choosing a news story that interests them. They will print the article, annotate it, summarize it, and then bring it in. Taping it into their writer's notebook, I will use these articles to practice paraphrasing, in-text documentation, summarizing, etc. Threee students each week will stand up to share what they learned, what was fascinating about the article and how it relates to our world.
Last Friday was the first day and it went wonderfully. The students who shared gave great summation of the news and got other students interested in the articles. I asked questions and soon other students raised their hands to contribute to the conversation. It lasted about 12 minutes or so and then the rest of the hour was spent reading. At the end of class, I asked for 4 minutes of feedback: what worked, what did they like, what was tiring, what should we do differently. Both classes agreed that it was hard to read silently for that long, but that it did force them to read and to focus on their novel for longer than 5 minutes at time. The students also said they liked the iGoogle...choosing their own story to read helped them be motivated with the homework.
Sidenote: I gave up a whole class period for the class that doesn't have laptops, simply to have every student come up and check their iGoogle accounts. Many kids had to activate their account by signing onto their email and most, if not all, were so confused on how to do that. I was glad I took the time since I didn't hear from any students about issues using iGoogle.
I did ask my students to give me feedback. Visit my site here to read their comments on their first week with iGoogle.
More to come...for now, my jumping in has paid off well.