Back to School >> Lessons, Units, & More for Middle Grades ELA & TNReady

UntitledI hope you are enjoying your last days of summer as much as I have recently! The lazy days of sitting by the pool with a good book are winding down, and I’m happy to share with you that my TPT Store is now featuring several ‘Back to School’ and ‘TNReady’ lessons/materials.

Designing curriculum and aligning curriculum to our accountability structures is a hobby that I really enjoy when I have more time (ie summer). It has been really interesting to dig into the new TNReady curriculum; it’s much more rigorous than I expected.

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Technology Integration Challenges & Advent of Google Classroom

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Last year, I taught at a charter school and developed an experimental curriculum in what we termed the “Revolution Lab.” This was a space where students would work independently on laptop computers with the aim of differentiated instruction via technology integration for language arts and math. I taught Writing II, a writing composition class that spiraled in skills from Writing I, a mechanics and syntactic driven class. I taught two sections of this class, each with 50 students. Among the litany of challenges was how to facilitate the technology integration. I was a first year teacher with no technical expertise in the art of teaching or using technology to teach, but I did study and research writing workshops throughout college. I was (and am) a Lucy Calkins(ite), and I believe her writing and reading workshop models are what allow children to feel empowered as writers while honing the craft. I wanted the ethos of a workshop model to drive the way we implemented technology.

Throughout our summer PD, the school leader, tech “guru”/science teacher, and I researched a number of possible platforms we could use for the class. Ideally, I needed a platform that would allow students to access a document, complete it, and submit it back to me. I also needed a platform where I could provide resources and extra information for them to access while working independently.

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In the summer of 2013, the best option was a Google Site where students would download documents, save them to their computer, and email them back to me when they were completed. While our goal was to hone in on technology skills like email and basic word processing, it was also a logistical nightmare.

What we really needed was a platform where students could access a template of a document, edit it, and save it in a cloud that could be accessed on any computer. At the time, there was no reasonably priced and user friendly platform to do this at a middle school.

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