LESSONS FOR TODAY’S DIGITAL CLASSROOM
Contemporary classrooms need to engage students with digital tools—such as tablets and Chromebooks—and digital curricula. That was the intent behind Reading Dailies, a new digital curriculum designed to be delivered through tablets and computers. A teacher need only paste the lesson link into an assignment, and students can access a complete week of lessons that break down one of the Common Core reading standards and that include high-quality, complex, literary texts.
Reading Dailies, for grades 3–5, build students’ reading skills through weekly lessons that break down the skills students need to understand fiction and informational texts.
This supplemental reading program includes a Teacher’s Guide, 19 units, and 19 Checkpoint Assessments. Each unit and Checkpoint Assessment is available as an interactive HTML5 lesson or as a downloadable PDF, and each unit includes 3, 4, or 5 lessons designed to be completed in a single week. Each lesson takes about one day and requires students to read and reread a literary passage and write about it. A checkpoint at the end of each week assess students’ understanding of the main strategy, giving teachers the summative data they need to assess whether students have mastered the composite skills folded into one of the Common Core standards.
Reading Dailies offers students and teachers several features that make the program easy to use and convenient while still being rigorous.
Skills show the smaller skills needed to master the overall strategy
Academic vocabulary is introduced at the beginning of the week and reinforced throughout the week
Quality literature can be found in each lesson to acquaint students with literary use of language and the vocabulary used in authentic texts
Focused responses provide students with scaffolding needed to delve into the text and understand it
- Start the week by introducing the unit and key concepts. Then allow about one day to complete each lesson.
- Some students on their own may be able to complete a unit in less time, but the one day, one lesson pace allows time for students to work in small groups to discuss the passages and respond to them. Talking about the passages in small groups will benefit all learners and help them enrich their understanding of the passages.
- Small groups will also support struggling readers and English Language Learners.
- Throughout the week, encourage use of the academic vocabulary in the lesson in small-and whole-group settings.
To preview a G3 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd301/
To preview a G4 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd41/
To preview a G5 unit for free, visit http://store.greenlightlearningtools.com/product/rd501/
Helen Beyne has years of experience in creating innovative curriculum materials in reading, ESL, science, and social studies. She writes about IWBs and free online resources for teachers.
Exciting news for Green Light Learning Tools: We’ve been named the Featured Provider on the HMH Marketplace for July. Hop on over to browse a selection of our products, from our iPad apps to our ever-popular Toolkit of Reading. (Bonus: The Toolkit lessons are Common Core aligned!)
While you’re there, check out some of the great summer resources available! Check back later in the summer for more great activities for back to school. Find something you love? Tell us about it in the comments or on Twitter.
by Tom Nieman
Over the last few months, I often have been asked why we at Green Light started a professional development effort around technology in the classroom. This is the short version of that story.
Green Light Learning Tools develops educational products. As a result of the tech boom of the late 1990s and early 2000s, increasingly our products were digital. We started out with the basics, creating content for websites and CDs to accompany print products. By the end of 2009 we were making the first publisher-created content for interactive whiteboards. Later, we developed whole programs of IWB lessons, as well as mobile apps and ebooks (2012). As a result, we have a lot experience with curriculum and we know quite a bit about the platforms on which it’s delivered.
However, for nearly two years we had sales that barely scratched $500. As I spoke—commiserated, really—with colleagues in edtech, I began to see a pattern emerge. I call it the Bermuda Triangle of technology. Tech companies sell expensive devices (interactive whiteboards, tablets, software) that have huge potential but work only on their proprietary platform. Publishers publish tech products on numerous platforms and offer them to schools, but find the market unprepared and underfunded. Schools, for their part, are trying to forge a path through the multitude of technology options to find solutions that both work and are affordable—of which there are very few.
There had to be a way to navigate these problems.
Because I’m involved with charter schools in Chicago, we had an opportunity to partner with a school on the far South Side. What we found astonished us: teachers were barely using the new, fancy, and above all, expensive technology in their classrooms. They had little or no training on the technology and even less support. The IWBs were used as glorified projectors and the iPads mere teacher tools.
So, we suggested a professional development plan—to come into the school once a month to provide support for teachers. Despite having to scrounge for funding, the school system and teachers welcomed the help, and that was the beginning of Green Light Professional Development. Soon we found other schools and other teachers who welcomed the same kind of help and support.
Now we are trying to make good on our promises. We want to help schools build professional learning communities around technology, to help them find the best and most affordable technology tools that actually work in school settings, and to integrate technology into day-to-day learning.