Monday, February 11, 2013

Social reading

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Classroom #1: After reviewing key vocabulary in a pre-reading activity, students read sections of a story independently and fill out a graphic organizer as they go along. When they finish with a section, the teacher checks their understanding of the text by assessing what they wrote and drew on the organizer, and then gives them the go-ahead to move on to the next section if they have comprehended the gist of the story. Near the end of the class period, students move into small groups to discuss comprehension questions, and then they reflect on the day's learning on an exit slip.

Classroom #2: Students read a story on their iPads. They respond to questions and polls posed by their teacher within the text; after they've answered the question, they can view their classmates' responses. The teacher views responses in real time and intervenes when individual students have misconceptions or trouble with comprehension. Students look up unknown words with the tap of a finger. Small-group discussions and exit slips are also a feature of this classroom.

Which one is better?

Maybe that's a misleading question. These two classrooms exist--they are one classroom, in fact, at two different periods of the day--and I think they are both meeting the same objective, which is to comprehend the plot and themes of a short story in Spanish and make personal connections to the text.

Both classes are engaging with the text. I think the non-iPad class is going about it in a more linear fashion; the students in the 1:1 class tend to jump around the text and go back to previous sections to see how their classmates answered questions. The non-iPad class is much quieter and their comprehension seems to be more nuanced, but that reflects the makeup of the class in general, not just in this particular activity.

One advantage that the iPad class has is that they can use their classmates as a knowledge base and comprehension check in real time, which I think contributes to a sense of community and self-sufficiency. They have also expressed satisfaction with the app we use to read and discuss the story, Subtext, saying that they love how the "pages" turn as if in a book and that it's really easy to look up words they don't know. They also like seeing how their classmates respond to the questions and polls.

Apps used in these lessons:
Subtext (reading and discussion)
Showbie (comprehension checks)
Socrative (exit slips)

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