Differentiation Through Texts II

The list of websites that facilitate the differentiation of texts continues to grow.  I will share a few more worth exploring.

Before I get to the tools, let me share a few thoughts I have conveyed to some faculty members recently.  As education continues to move to a digital platform, more and more entrepreneurs and companies are trying to make money off of this trend.  There is currently an explosion of new tools and services, each designed to solve some deficiency or problem created by how things were accomplished in the past.  This has been occurring for some time (especially when we include print materials), but it feels like the pace is accelerating in comparison to previous years.   Sometimes these products are conceived and created by educators, but far too often, they are built on a profit-based business model.  My intent is to share the best tools with an efficient design for teacher and student use.  It is not my intent or expectation that every faculty member uses every tool I share.  I would prefer you find a few tools that work within your teaching and classroom management style, and that you use these tools well.  Do not let the constant stream of new stuff distract you from what you do well.  Continually evaluate new tools, but never add something to your classroom just because it is new.  As always, make your decisions based on the needs of your students and the curriculum.  It is very easy to become overwhelmed with the ever-expanding options if you adopt the paradigm of doing lots of things in a mediocre fashion rather than doing a few things proficiently.

And now to my suggestions for your evaluation. . . .

Actively Learn allows you to annotate and assign texts to classes of students.  Student can create accounts with their Google login and join your classes with a class code.  After you import a text (as a Google Doc or PDF), you can insert questions, notes, or links anywhere within the text.  Students must answer questions inserted in the text before they can move ahead to the next section of text.  This tool was presented by the Tech Tidbits (7th Grade ELA) during the EdTech Chef Challenge.  Help resources are linked to the EdTech Chef Home Document.

Rewordify is website that will simplify a portion of text or a website.  Use the site by copying and pasting a portion of text or a URL into the text box and click the Rewordify text button.

Texthelp Study Skills is a Google Docs Add-On that allows students to highlight text (four colors for the first 30 days, then one color afterwards) within a Google Doc.  When students click “Collect Highlights,”  the highlighted sections of their document will be combined into a new Google Doc.  More information can be found in this blog post.

Speech Recognition is a Google Docs Add-On that allows students to input text without the keyboard.  This works with the built-in microphone on the Chromebooks (Click Allow on the banner that appears at the top of the browser window after you press START) Although this would not work in a noisy environment, this would benefit students who need to think out loud as part of the pre-writing process.

March 26 PD Day
We will be participating in another round of tabletop TAR discussions next Thursday afternoon.  This will be a continuation of the discussions we held during the January 7 faculty meeting, and we will be using the same discussion document from January.  This time, in addition to the TAR model, we will be incorporating our building technology goals and the ISTE Student Standards in our conversations.  After these discussions, we will participate in Edcamp OTMS.  The schedule is finished and ready to share.  Thanks to those who were willing to facilitate conversations.  Start thinking about which sessions you would like to attend and how you will contribute to those conversations.

Technology Celebrations

Kristie is arranging a connected classroom project with a kindergarten class at Indian Trails Elementary.  Her students will be sharing what they have learned about space with the kindergarten class.

Leslie is working with Karin King (who will be joining the Trailblazers next year) on a collaborative project.  Leslie’s students will be sharing a science assignment (on a Google Doc) with Karin’s ELA students, who will help edit the writing within the science assignment.  The cross-disciplinary activity will reinforce digital citizenship and the importance of writing skills in all contents.


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