Poetry and Technology: Good Friends

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

At first glance, poetry and digital technology might not seem to have much in common. In this post, we learn that the two are friends from way back.  For example, Poets.org, in 2004, suggested that lines of poetry can be integrated into an email signature. It’s just one way to make poetry visible and accessible.

Kevin Hodgson wrote last week on the Middleweb blog about the digital poetry books his students created. They used Google Slides as the venue, and explored various forms of poetry. Along the way, they learned to attribute sources, design slides that are visually appealing, and use hyperlinks to put the reader in the driver’s seat.

Digital Poetry Books

Digital Poetry Books

“The end result was a win-win-win: I not only had my students engaged in the writing of poetry across various forms, but also they were able to use technology to publish a digital book of original writing, learning along the way about how the World Wide Web works, how to use elements of web design for writing, and understanding the need to attribute art to the original owners.” http://www.middleweb.com/22690/how-we-took-poetry-writing-into-digital-spaces/

Teacher Keri McAllister created three technology-based work stations to help students learn more about poetry as they listened, commented on, and created poetry. Her poetry workstations included the iPod workstation, the techy workstation with blogging, and the podcasting workstation. Click the photo below to hear Keri talk more about her use of technology to teach students about poetry on Teaching Channel.

McCallister

Keri McAllister on Teaching Channel

Brett Vogelsinger, on Teachthought.com, suggests several ideas for engaging students with poetry with technology as the vehicle.  Two that stand out to me are the use of Pinterest and PollEverywhere. Using PollEverywhere, according to Brett, permits students to explore the power of word choice, a key attribute of poetic forms.

If you want to explore the ways technology and poetry get along further, Edutopia provides several suggestions for using technology to celebrate poetry. Their list includes links to a poetry listening booth where students can listen to poems read aloud by the poets, a tool for finding poets near you, and an online poetry publisher from Scholastic.com. Do you students use iPads? Check out this list of poetry apps.

Read more on Literacy Beat about eye poems and Evernote, too here and here.

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Webwatch: iGameMom, Games for Learning

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Happy Mother’s Day to our readers and to my terrific Literacy Beat co-bloggers!

Rose

By TDWolsey

Have you spent time searching the App Store for just the right learning game only to download an app and find it was not quite what you imagined? One of my favorite new sites is iGameMom where the contributors review learning apps for mobile devices they believe are worthy for children of different ages. Finding the right learning game is easy on iGameMom. The site is well-organized with reviews grouped by age and subject area. Because this blog focuses on literacy, this post highlights that section of iGameMom. However, there are many cool apps in other subject areas to check out.

Within the literacy category, you can locate apps for developing letter recognition and related skills, spelling, reading, and language. Recently, iGameMom reviewed Expand Vocabulary with Word Art, a game that pairs humorous artwork (as you know, Literacy Beat often features topics related to visual literacy, so this app was a great find!) with vocabulary learning in a game environment.  Apps reviewed on iGameMom can also be located by the price including those that are free. If you download an app, you may want to use the link provided on the site because it helps to support the site without any cost to you for doing so.

iGameMom

iGameMom: Games for Learning

In addition, there are several resources from the web linked on iGameMom that you may find useful. A list of free apps for iPad that iGameMom recommends are grouped by topic or skill to be developed.  The literacy-related lists include vocabulary development, handwriting (yep, handwriting—still an art in our digital age!), storytelling, grammar and more.

Mom’s Recipe Box, Old Lesson Plan Folders, and My iPad

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

In an old file box for 4X6 index cards, my Mom kept favorite family recipes. Some of these cannot be found online because they were traded among her friends and relatives long before Pinterest or Facebook made it possible to share a recipe link online.  I wanted to share copies of these with my brother and sisters, but making copies on paper seemed the wrong way to go.  By layering applications, I found I could recreate those 4X6 index cards, make many of them searchable, and share them with family and friends.  I used Evernote and Scanner Pro along with tags that corresponded with Mom’s original index card system (each letter represented a category of recipe, such as “cookies” and I could also add tags for recipes by season or author). Using these apps was far more efficient than using the traditional flatbed scanner in this instance.

Mom's recipe box

Mom’s recipe box

There are many tools for archiving and sharing recipes (click here for one example)  from file boxes, but I also wanted to archive and share the many file  folders full of lesson plans and resources, such as student work samples, that I collected over the years. The same tools I used to store and share Mom’s recipe box worked well here. My manila file folders full of news clippings, handwritten notes, typed lesson plans, and student work samples could easily be converted to a notebook in Evernote. I added tags that roughly matched the file folder label and additional tags for “student work sample” or “lesson plan.”

Eye poem lesson plan

News Clipping

News Clipping via Scanner Pro and Evernote

Some of the items in the folders would fit well in my flatbed scanner with a multisheet feeder. But notes and news clippings might not. Some of the pages were so old I thought they might jam the sheet feeder. My iPad solved this problem along with a scanner app (I used Scanner Pro by Readdle, but there are others). The scanner app uses the camera in the iPad or iPhone to create a scan of whatever paper you have and save it in image format (such as .jpg) or as a PDF file.  I usually choose the PDF format.

Scanner Pro can be easily linked to Evernote so that scans are automatically sent to Evernote.  In Evernote, you can annotate the file with new notes, tag the note, and share the note or the notebook with others. Be sure you consider copyright and fair use guidelines, of course, when sharing the work of others.

An eye  poem by Mario (Mariachi)

An eye poem by Mario (Mariachi)

Evernote has a free and a paid or premium version. The free version will work for many teachers, but if you want to upload many files, a paid version may be a better option; fortunately, the paid versions are reasonably priced. I paid $2.99 for Scanner Pro, an investment well worth the price. Scanner Pro allows me to sync automatically to Evernote and other applications. With it, I can adjust borders easily on the rare occasions when the software doesn’t quite capture the edges of whatever sized document I am scanning.

Resources:

Evernote Also be sure to check out Bernadette’s post, here.

Scanner Pro by Readdle

Project Planning, the Common Core, and Technology, Too

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Digital Project Management Tools bring College and Career Skills Right into the Classroom

This weekend, one of my projects is to renovate the garden and put in spring vegetables. It’s up to me and my favorite nursery. All I have to do is motor on down to the garden center, buy what I need, and plant the seeds and seedlings. Other projects take a bit more planning, and digital tools can be a big help. Students often have a great number of projects in progress, and many of those involve collaborative work. Students work with students, with their parents, and sometimes members of the community. Teachers orchestrate much of the project management aspects, quite often. But, what if students could take on some of the College and Career Readiness Standards and learn how to manage their own projects?

Here are some of the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards that require collaboration.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.1 Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.SL.6 Adapt speech to a variety of contexts and communicative tasks, demonstrating command of formal English when indicated or appropriate.

The Common Core State Standards in English-language arts/literacy emphasize the need, for the first time, for students to work together in a variety of settings and contexts and to use their literacy skills to get the job done. Assigning, selecting, or choosing a project is the first step. Managing the project so that work that is planned is actually carried out is where technology comes into play. Class projects last from a day to several weeks, and they range from preparing presentations to the class, making a digital demonstration of knowledge, or engaging in various service-oriented activities.

A project management tool that has been around for more than a century is named after the man who created it, Henry Gantt (cf. Clark, 1923). The Gantt chart has been used in the military, in manufacturing industries, live sports events (think Final Four) and in long range planning just about everywhere—including schools. Gantt charts are useful because they graphically show, “Work planned and work done are shown in the same space in relation to each other and in their relation to time” (p. v). Their visual nature encourages student project participants to develop a plan, stick to it, and note their progress over time. Digital tools improve Gantt charts by automating some tasks, making them easily available to project participants at any time, and being infinitely expandable. The use of color further improves the appeal and utility of the organizer.

Gantt project management organizers can be created with sticky notes on a white board or wall (Click here to see one example), on butcher paper, or with an 11 X 17 piece of construction paper. However, technology can greatly simplify the task. Typically, they show the tasks to be accomplished, who is responsible for each task, and a timeline showing planned and completed tasks. Excel® spreadsheets offer one digital solution to the Gantt chart that makes updating simple, and you’ll see that data entered in one part of the chart is translated visually.  Gantt charts can easily be created in a shared spreadsheet file such as those found in Google Docs, or with online apps specifically designed for this purpose (see figure 1), such as Smartsheet.

Smartsheet

Figure 1: Image courtesy of Smartsheet.

Online apps, such as Smartsheet, make it easy to share the chart on a class webpage, blog, or course management system. Parents can see it, students can edit and change it, and everyone will know who has to do what in order to get the job done and done well. Read more about project management tools for the classroom in this interview with Jodi Sorensen of Smartsheet. The company provides a free student project sheet for teachers to get started–log in and play around; it’s fun. There’s also a free teacher syllabus sheet. All those binders of curricular materials may be a thing of the past. One feature of Smartsheet I liked is the capability of linking other files (pictures, documents, and so on) right to the project organizer. See how this is done in this video on YouTube starting at time 0.36.

If you choose to use Excel or other spreadsheet software, you might find that templates for Gantt project management organizers are helpful because the setup is already done. In figure 2 you can see a basic template from Microsoft downloads, found here. Figure 3 shows a modified Gantt Project Management Organizer using Excel for use in upper-elementary and secondary grade classrooms, and you may download this template if you want to try it out.

Excel Gantt Chart

Figure 2: Generic Excel Gantt chart

Excel for School

Figure 3: An Excel Gantt chart modified for school projects.

Both of these organizers allow students to quickly enter data about what they plan to do, how much they have accomplished, and how they are proceeding. The neat thing is that Excel and other spreadsheets or software automatically create the timeline showing what is planned, and what is actually accomplished. These examples show a start date for the first of the month, but teachers can create their own templates just by deleting columns for dates that don’t match the timelines for completion.

Choose the digital tool you plan to use (e.g., Smartsheet, Excel). Next, train a few students, perhaps one from each project group or team, to be the expert on using the project management technology. The teacher should not be the only resource for using the tool.

Help students define the major parts of the task. In the example in figures 1 and 3- above, the teacher defined large categories as

1. Planning, Reading and research,, making it happen, etc.

or

2. Research, interviewing, and so on.

At first, students will need help breaking down the specific tasks for each category. A model the teacher creates or from past student project will be helpful in guiding students to decide just what the specific tasks might be.

Start the project!

In schools and at the university, we often engage students in projects of all kinds. However, students need to know more than what the project is and what its goals or objectives are. They also need the 21st century skills to manage large projects that will help them succeed in their schooling and in their careers.  Have you tried using digital project management tools, or even a traditional paper-based Gantt chart? If so, tell us about it by posting a comment.

Reference:

Clark, W. (1922) The Gantt chart: A working tool of management. New York, NY:  Ronald Press. Retrieved from https://archive.org/details/ganttchartworkin00claruoft

Read more on this topic at the International Reading Association website. (added 3-29-2014)

Apps a Plenty, Apps Galore! Starting on an iPad App Adventure

I’m on the literacy faculty at the University of Colorado-Boulder.  Although I try to integrate technology into my teaching in thoughtful and creative ways, I don’t always succeed.  Typically, it’s due to lack of time, or the right hardware or software access, or the right know-how!  This month, the School of Education received a generous gift of 30 iPads to use in our Literacy Classroom.  My immediate reaction:  What a fabulous opportunity to explore how the undergraduate reading methods class and I will use this gift over the remainder of the semester.  So, in that spirit, my next few posts will focus on how it’s going, what I’m learning, and what I wish I never had to learn!

A General Web Resource on Teaching with iPads

Way back when (yes, all the way back to the 1990’s), I used to consult Kathy Schrock’s website when I had a technology question.  I was delighted to find that she has a special website dedicated to all things iPad related!  Whether you’re a beginner or novice user of iPads, there are things to learn from Kathy and the many educators who contribute resources and teaching strategies to this site.

http://www.ipads4teaching.net/

screenshot of Kathy Schrock's website on teaching with iPads

iPad Posts from Dana Grisham

And, for those of you working with young children, visit the recent posts from Dana Grisham about developing emergent literacy with iPad apps.

  • Recommended pre-school apps for literacy learning

https://literacybeat.com/2014/02/27/recommended-preschool-apps-for-literacy-learning/

  •  Goodnight, iPad!

https://literacybeat.com/2013/09/18/goodnight-ipad/

Essential Apps for our CU- Boulder Literacy Classroom

As soon as we got word that we were going to be receiving the iPads, I immediately began to think about “essential apps”.  Our budget was limited, so I knew I needed to be strategic in what we purchased (in a later post I’ll focus on free apps).

#1:  A Drawing App

To begin, I knew I wanted a drawing program to support multimodal composition. I knew that we would be able to use it for responding to literature with color, drawing, photos, and images remixes, as well as creating illustrations for the students’ original picture books and trying out the  ‘sketch to stretch’ reading comprehension strategy. I also wanted the drawing program to be one that could be used in elementary schools, since my goal was that the CU future teachers would first compose with the drawing tool themselves, and then apply it to teaching children.  After reviewing multiple programs and getting advice from teachers in our masters’ program, I selected Drawing Pad ($1.99).   It’s simple and intuitive, yet allows you to create some pretty amazing images fairly quickly!

Drawing Pad ($1.99)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/drawing-pad/id358207332?mt=8

Drawing Pad App logo

screenshot of Drawing Pad tools

#2:  A Book Creator App

My  second priority was to purchase Book Creator, another composing App that packs a lot of communication potential into a simple, yet powerful tool.   I knew my good friend and colleague, Debby Rowe from Vanderbilt University, was successfully using Book Creator with pre-school and kindergarten children.  Further, some Colorado elementary school teachers in our masters program tried it out in their classrooms last semester and gave it a favorable rating.  Based on these positive reviews and my own experimentation with a free version, I decided that Book Creator would be a good match for our needs.   It was more expensive — $4.99 – but it seemed worth it not to experience glitches that sometimes occur with a free version.

Book Creator ($4.99)

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/book-creator-for-ipad/id442378070?mt=8

Book Creator logo

screen shot of Book Creator composing tool

Taking That First Step

So, with 30 iPads and two essential Apps, I am ready to begin the adventure of Ipad and App integration into my reading methods course.  I’ll let you know how it’s going next month.  I should warn you that I am a PC person.  I love my Apple smart phone, but am not nearly as fluent working on a MAC or an IPad as I am on a PC.  So, the learning curve will be steep and I’m feeling some anxiety about the process.  Ready, set, go!

If you have advice, suggested Apps, please post a response.  I thank you in advance,  Bridget.

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