Guest Blogger: Wayne Fritch
Home School Instruction, Cedar Rapids Community School District
Guest Blogger: Wayne Fritch
Home School Instruction, Cedar Rapids Community School District
Every newspaper you open these days has a map with an informational overlay. These maps allow the reader to quickly make some analytical observations regarding a wide variety of topics, such as population density, average temperatures, wealth or poverty, migration of various animals, crime rates, traffic fatalities, etc. The same information could be displayed in a spreadsheet, but this would throw most of us into analysis paralysis with the overwhelming amount of numbers. Visualizing quantities of data in a geographic manner puts context to the data and simplifies the analysis process. Question: Who creates these kinds of maps and how are they created? Answer: They are created by people who know GIS—Geographic Information Systems and are created with a unique kind of mapping software. ArcGIS Online is powerful mapping tool which can be used by students, teachers, and professionals alike. Educators in the USA can complete a single page application to gain access to a free school, district, or state account. The account is robust and online--no downloading of software or worrying about software licensing.
Happy Global Accessibility Awareness Day! To celebrate this occasion, Grant Wood AEA has hosted a series of blog posts on accessibility to support GAAD's purpose of getting people talking about designing online content and interactions that are accessible to a broad range of abilities. For those that missed it, here's a quick run-down of the series hosted on the Grant Wood AEA Blog, The Linker:
Thursday, May 9, 2019 - Introduction to GAAD
This post introduced readers to Global Accessibility Awareness Day and how web accessibility is defined in the K-12 classroom.
Monday, May 13, 2019 - It's As Easy As A-B-C
No, we're not learning to read! This post introduced readers to Grant Wood Area Education Agencies work to support employees to 'design with integrity' by ensuring Accessibility, Branding and Content.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019 - Designing with P-O-U-R
This post introduced readers to the Web Content Accessibility Standards and the acronym P-O-U-R.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - Let's Get Social!
Social media accessibility is essential in our world today. This post focused on some tips to create accessible social media.
The series has been filled with tips and strategies from the AEM Center to support designing content with accessibility in mind in our K-12 classrooms.
A Call to Action
"For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction."
Newton's Third Law
Global Accessibility Awareness Day offers opportunities for educators and professionals in the field of education to reflect on the impact our practices have on student learning and stakeholder engagement.
Take a moment to reflect on YOUR practices. How can you strengthen your communications and teaching by supporting accessibility practices?
Now, commit to building that practice by recording a Grant Wood AEA GAAD FlipGrid video with the stem, "To make my space more accessible, I commit to..."
-Maggie Pickett, Digital Learning Consultant
Grant Wood AEA
When thinking of concept mapping, graphic organizers often come to mind. But concept mapping is more than that. The graphic organizer is the tool for this strategy, but can often be confining to our students that see connections outside of the typical graphic organizer. Concept mapping has an effect size of .64. It is important to highlight that this is effective when students are making their own connections and not the connections predetermined by the teacher.
This instructional strategy is comprised of three specific steps.
Step 1. Predetermine the topic or question for the concept map. “A helpful way to determine the context of your concept map is to choose a focus question--something that needs to be solved or a conclusion that needs to be reached (Kieschnick, Bold School, pg. 124).” Teachers can help students focus their concept map by asking essential questions.
Step 2. Pull a list of key terms or ideas from the topic being addressed. Students should work to classify those key terms or ideas in some way. For example, they might identify the broadest ideas working down to the most specific details. Because students may visualize this in different ways, it is important they have the freedom to choose a tool that best supports their thinking.
Step 3. Connect concepts by creating linking concepts and words. In this step students might need language stems to support the connections they are making. For example, “is related to”, “as a result of”, “caused or causes”, “leds to”, etc.
Incorporating Digital Tools
It is important to provide kids with a variety of options for concept mapping, both digital and unplugged. For example, Mindy would rather create a sketchnote as a tool for concept mapping while Gina really likes being able to have a stack of manipulatives with a broad canvas to organize and connect. Online tools that support concept mapping might include Jamboard, Mindmup, Lucidchart , or Google Drawings. For kids who prefer an unplugged option, the Post-its App can allow students to start their work in an analogue environment and then move it and manipulate it online. Finally, for kids who prefer a drawing or sketching method for organizing their thoughts, consider using a camera to capture and share unplugged work.
Chances are if you have heard of reciprocal teaching you have thought of it in the context of an English Language Arts class. Although reciprocal teaching is a text processing strategy, its application is further reaching than the English classroom. Reciprocal teaching has a .74 effect size making it a powerful instructional strategy for all content areas where text is being used.
What is Reciprocal Teaching?
Reciprocal teaching includes four steps:
Reciprocal teaching is a process that best works in a collaborative environment so most commonly small groups will be used in this strategy. Additionally, the process helps students organize their thinking about text. Creating a Doc or Slide Deck template for groups to use (see examples in Step 1) can be used to record ideas and provide links to additional tools used in the process.
Incorporating Digital Tools
Step 1 - Predict: The predict step can look different in different grade levels and content areas, however, no matter what grade level or what content area prediction involves previewing the text and connecting prior knowledge to what is seen. Additionally, students think a little bit about what the text might focus on based on the quick previewing that they did. Collaborative conversations are imperative to the prediction process. Recording thoughts on a table in a Google Doc or collaborative Google Slides can help classmates when returning to the conversation and for later evaluation of predictions.
Step 2 - Clarify: In this step students read through the text and note any areas that are unclear for them. One area that can be focused on is vocabulary. To clarify and further make meaning out of unknown terms, students can use an online dictionary tool (like the dictionary feature in Read & Write for Google or the Google Dictionary Chrome Extension) , but additional development of this new vocabulary might be needed. Vocabulary programs have an effect size of .62. One model that can support the explicit teaching of vocabulary is the Frayer Model. On a collaborative doc, students determine words needing clarification. Repeated words from the doc are collected and distributed to groups for further investigation. A shared Frayer Model tool can be used to further build the group’s understanding of their assigned words. Google Slides or Google Drawings fulfill the need to share and collaborate as a class.
Step 3 - Question: After all of the predictions have been made and all unknown terms have been clarified, groups begin in-depth reading of the text. Each group will record three questions they have as they read. Groups are encouraged to come up with a ‘right there’ question, a ‘between the lines’ question, and a critical thinking question (Kieschnick, Bold School). Teachers will need to model the question generation process prior to turning kids loose with this responsibility in addition to providing language scaffolds to help students generate questions. To learn more about question generation check out some of the resources in our Riddle Me This blog post.
Step 4 - Summarize: The final step in reciprocal teaching is summarizing. As a small group, students create a summary of what they just read and come to consensus on how they will show what they know about the text. There are a variety of different ways that students might share their summary of the text. With the time constraints of a classroom, this strategy might not be completed in one day. Flipgrid allows students to share their summary in the moment, with the ability to view with the class at a later time as they evaluate their summaries against previous predictions. This could also be great for students to reflect and review before an assessment.
If you have ever attended PD at Grant Wood AEA chances are you have been exposed to the obligatory Jigsaw Method for processing learning. Although this is said with a hint of sarcasm, the Jigsaw Method ranks as a 1.2 high effect size instructional strategy. Originally the Jigsaw Method was implemented in Austin, Texas as a way to diffuse racial tensions in a recently desegregated school. In order to get the students to work together and learn from one another’s diverse perspectives, researchers devised a method that focused on cooperative learning. The history of the Jigsaw Method is quite fascinating and can be read about here.
What is the Jigsaw Method?
The Jigsaw Method includes a few steps:
1.) Divide students into groups of 5 or 6 that include diverse representations. Appoint a group leader and, as a group, segment the learning into equal chunks (teacher should provide guidance in how to segment), each individual taking one chunk.
2.) Provide enough time for students to read and reread their material and become familiar with the content. Then, the students that have read the same chunks gather together to become experts, discussing main points and preparing a presentation to share with the original group.
3.) Students return to their original group to share the presentation that has been prepared, answering any clarifying questions. During this time, the teacher moves from group to group making observations and providing support where needed.
4.) Finally, students should be formatively assessed to check for understanding and to guide future instruction.
Google for the Win!
We have to admit, it’s Google for the win when it comes to the Jigsaw Method! Google Slides provides an excellent opportunity for student collaboration while working within expert and ‘home’ groups. As a teacher, create a collaborative slide deck for the whole class (Alice Keeler example here), with each group assigned one slide in the deck. Allow expert groups to collaboratively add notes, main ideas, talking points, or even images. When students return to home groups, each student, not just the expert, will be able to access the notes digitally. Pro tip: View all the Slides at once by clicking on ‘Grid View’ in the View Menu.
This same idea is possible within Google Docs, as well. Creating a table in Google Docs allows for the same collaborative power, just with a different feel. As a teacher, create a template for your students. Each home group should have one template. Use ‘Force Make a Copy’ with the group leader. The group leader will share the template with the rest of the group. Pro tip: Thirty kids in one doc is usually frustrating! This idea works best in smaller groups.
One concern that we have when looking at the Jigsaw Method is that it places a high level of independent learning on students who might need support in order to fully participate in the learning. We recommended supporting learning objects (texts) be digital in nature and accessible to a screen reader so students who need the decoding support of a screen reader will be able to fully participate. Additionally, we feel that allowing students to record the summary of the learning from the expert group with something like Screencastify or another recording tool might help ease the anxiety of students who are quieter and don’t like to share even in the smaller group.
Questioning as an instructional factor weighs in at a .48 effect size, demonstrating the capacity to have a significant impact on student growth. Teachers ask anywhere between 300 and 400 questions a day, with the vast majority of those questions being lower level questions - recalling facts, demonstrating knowledge of procedures, etc) (Wilen, 1991). The researchers suggest that since these questions are lower in their cognitive level, teachers need to use many of them to get students to recall concepts (Wilen, 1991).
Effective questioning is a complex teaching task and should be planned for. Scripting out questions and evaluating them for their complexity has a significant effect on student’s ability to more deeply understand and evaluate concepts. According to Weston Kieschink, “What gets scripted gets asked”, and spontaneous questions are often low-level questions (Bold School). Additionally, supporting students in developing their own questions about concepts can lead them to deeper levels of conceptual understanding (Hattie, 1998).
Using a resource to develop and evaluate teacher and/or student questions is key in this process. Here are a few tools that we use at GWAEA:
Looking to get your students to ask more questions?
Incorporating Digital Tools
So, what does this look like in practice in a tech-rich environment? Pre-planned scripted questions can be loaded into a variety of different tech options. Poll Everywhere lays the foundation for high-level, pre-planned questions. With one click, teachers can display responses or additional questions for a deeper classroom discussion around misconceptions or opinions. Additionally, teachers could also structure a series of higher order questions into Socrative or Nearpod. These could be used to launch into a longer discussion of a concept or as an exit ticket to help plan for further discussion and instruction. Teachers can display student answers anonymously for further consideration by the class.
With regards to soliciting student questions and structuring student-led discussions, a few approaches and tools come to mind. Students can contribute their questions to an online board like Padlet. The ‘Shelf’ feature in Padlet can be used to model, organize, and scaffold student questions from recall to analysis/evaluative questions. This online question board may also serve as a spot for students to begin to prepare for a Socratic Seminar.
As students are engaged in discussion, Google Slides Q&A option allows students to pose questions in real-time and additionally upvote questions they find intriguing. Teachers or student moderators are able to choose and present any question to the whole class to build-up the discussion or introduce a new thought.
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