Thursday, September 13, 2007

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.

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At 9:49 AM, Blogger SilwanA8 said...

it was great, and i agree. its coll that you can use igoogle for homework and stuff. its really helpful.

At 9:49 AM, Blogger Sam L said...

Dear Ms. Davis
I think what you said was true. I also liked how you let us kids have a day for just reading i really injoy that. I also liked how you let each of us go onto your computer an dsee if we can get on our igoogle I think that helpead all of us because some of us had to activate ours and we didnt really know what to do.
I like this whole igoogle thingy i think its a good way for us to get our writting homework.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger lydia said...

I like how students can have their own igoogle. I also like how we can choose our own books that we want to read, and read it at our own pace. I love it how your not controling every single project that we do. I really like that freedom.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Meagan D said...

Dear Ms. Davis
I like having reading days.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger ALEXR said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 9:57 AM, Blogger Davis said...

Well I'm personally not a big fan of computers. Though this new way of learning in school actually makes me want to come to class. I believe that it's a great new way to learn information, work on writing skills, and reading skills. autumn mitchell

At 11:00 AM, Blogger Bobbie said...

I love how you give us the freedom to choose what we want to read, and letting us read it with music.As dumb as it may sound, I NEED to have music to consintrate. I also like how you let us choose what to put onto our accounts. As my freshmen year I've had a great time in your class and really appreciate how you treat us like the adults we are.

At 11:02 AM, Blogger Austin said...

At first I thought igoogle wasn't useful and I wouldn't use it but I was wrong. I like how you can personalize your own page and add what ever you want. Also it's is very easy to find your email.
One thing I don't like is that I have the news on mine because I don't use it. Generaly I like igoogle.

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Benjamin C said...

I like the freedom available to us through having both iGoogle and Blogger. Also like how we can read at out own rate and what we want to read. This makes me read more actually. Instead of being stuck reading How to Kill a Mocking Bird for the fourth time I get to read something like Harry Potter or some other interesting book. I, not an avid reader, actually get hooked into reading more and more chapters, instead of always wondering when I will be done reading.

In summary the reading is a lot better this year and computers have made class more fun and different than usual. I also like the reading time.

At 12:36 PM, Blogger Michaela said...

Hi Ms Davis and class,

I'm the Product Marketing Manager for iGoogle, and was just forwarded the link to your blog. We're so excited to see the creative ways you're using the product- and encourage you to continue to keep us posted as you discover other new and useful gadgets and use cases! Also you might want to try out the 'Create your own gadget' link at the bottom where you can create gadgets to share reading lists or mini book reports with each other. Happy reading-
Michaela Prescott, Product Marketing Manager, Google Inc.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Davis said...

Ms. Prescott,

Thank you for taking the time to comment; what a surprise to have someone from iGoogle respond to my blog. The kids do seem to enjoy the creativity of the site and being able to have autonomy in what they read for class. Students annotate their news articles every Friday and the kids have said they really enjoy choosing what to read themselves.

I found iGoogle to be easy to use and easy to explain to kids how to set it up. I only took 20 minutes in our computer lab and had kids together add the vocabulary grapher thesaurus and pick the news feeds together and then, they personalized their page from there.

Thanks so much!

At 8:18 PM, Blogger ArtfulTechnoid said...

Hi Michele,
I recently gave a presentation at the CUE Conference on using iGoogle in the classroom. I later found your great blog entry about your uses of iGoogle. I have posted a link to your comments in my blog. Thanks for the great ideas!

-Alix Peshette


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