We hear more and more about research surrounding the utilization technology and it’s importance in a “Personalized Learning Experience” in our public schools around the country. But what is it really and what does it look like? Wikipedia defines it – “Personalized learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning environments by learners or for learners in order to meet their different learning needs and aspirations. Typically technology is used to facilitate personalized learning environments.”
No matter your philosophy or how you interpret this idea, we all have a responsibility to prepare our kids for their future. We cannot even fathom what that environment will be like but one thing is for sure, technology will be a huge part of their learning and daily functioning, so we owe it to them to keep pace with the reality of their future education.
I began my own “Tech Journey” when my sweet husband gave me my first iPad in 2011. I began using it for many personal interest ventures, such as banking, easier access to social media and email. Then the magic happened….apps! It was so overwhelming at first but I could see the immense value of utilizing technology for Personalized Learning in my second grade classroom. Since then, I have found myself in a more mature and streamlined approach beyond finding an app to support targeted skills. The tools need to be targeted, easily accessed and collecting meaningful data that I can use to formulate my lessons and flexible groups.
As my previous posts have indicated, I have found many useful tools that really do make my job as a full-time second grade teacher more manageable and engaging for me and my students. This search will continue to require a lot of thought about prioritizing pedagogy over products but the big question that most of my fellow teachers want to know the answer to is, “How do you manage the devices and what are the kids actually doing?” My previous post about how I manage my devices answers the first question for me but the deeper question remains…”What are they actually doing?” I have struggled with this topic for over 20 years, knowing that 1:1 and small group instruction is the best way to differentiate but I had trouble letting go of that accountably piece of what the other students were doing while I worked with my groups. Was it purposeful and were the kids engaged? I can say that it takes training and diligence but with the right tech and routines, it can be done!
My students follow daily routines using a visual rotation board during their independent work time so that I can work with my flexible groups during my Reading Workshop and Math workshop. Creating independence and critical thinking in our students is a pretty high calling but I truly feel that the kids can do it!
Center Rotation Charts for LA & Math with Free Recommended Management App
Here are my charts and checklists that I have created, used and posted in my Teachers pay Teachers Store that includes the evolved version, a visual student checklist for each day, charts for display and even a suggested free app- “Timer +” that I use to run four sets of a previously selected time based on how much time I have for that group. Look for the “Miramba” ringtone. It is a nice, non-startling tone that does not make us all jump when the timer goes off! 🙂
So, I basically adjust my boards once a week and push “Start” in this app and watch the kids go about their work. My previous posts break down in greater detail the digital tools I use in those stations but a quick overview:
Reading- Mobymax.com, Spelling City.com, Literably.com Apps- Fafaria, Epic app and web tool, Word Wizard, News-O-Matic, Hairy Phonics, Lakeshore’s Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe, Short Vowels / Long Vowels app by This Reading Mama, Whooo’s Reading online reading log, and Qr Codes from products I have purchased on TPT that have books read to the kids online.
- I do include paper choices too for a “Plan B” when our internet is acting up.
Math- Mobymax.com, HappyNumbers.com, LearnZillion Lessons, Apps- Timed Test Arcade, Door 24, Number Frames, Subtilizing, Number Bond Blasters, NumberLine, Teachley’s Addimals and Subtractimals and Math Fight.
I used these images to create larger boards for display. You can see that “Post-its” are used assign names to groups so they can be easily changed and you can also see in the pictures below that I have laminated the app tiles and taped down the ones I want them to use in that station for the day. I often use the same ones for a week or so, depending on what the group needs at the time. Since my room is lacking visual space, I have the boards adhered together, laminated and on rings so I can flip over from Reading in the morning to Math in the afternoon. I have finally found a routine and resources that fit the tech available to me. Right now I have 15 iPads that we keep in the room at all times and we share an older set of 30 iPads in a chargeable cart. We also visit a computer lab once a week to work on our “Google Ninja Skills”.
- This recording booth, we affectionately named- “Chatter Box” with acoustic tiles will be available in my Amazon Store after this Thanksgiving, 2015. So, check back then for my detailed post. I have surprisingly had many requests for it. It has been revolutionary for our digital projects. Trying to record audio in a tiny room with 27, 7-8 years old can be a challenge and I cannot let kids leave my room unsupervised. The tiles are adhered using velcro and fully collapsible for greater storage. I have been very happy with their recording results and this year, my students are not coming up to me frustrated about someone talking in the background of their recording.