Each month, I will be writing a “Monthly Mondays with Meghan” where I will take you through some digital content I am designing and walk through exactly how I will be implementing it in class. First, though, I think it is only appropriate to share my own introduction to Edcite and my journey from being a doubter to one who is now hooked!
Paper and pencil is the way to go. It is impossible to use technology in a reading class. Students need to be able to mark-up the text, so they should definitely be reading a hardcopy book or a packet that they can annotate.
These were all thoughts (and at times even words) that I believed and said as of three months ago. When I heard Julia Sweeney talking about Edcite, a new digital assessment and learning site, and passing out business cards this summer, I smiled politely, thought “not for me” and continued on my way. Then, one day in late July, Julia and I met up for some fro-yo. I’m still uncertain if this was a friend date, as I was led to believe, or a sly way to get me hooked on Edcite. 🙂
Julia told me about the program and then said, “Megs, why don’t you try creating a few ELA assignments for us and see if it is something you could see yourself using in your classroom.” I must admit, curiosity got the best of me and I figured I’d give it a shot. So, I sat down and created my first assignment – a nonfiction article called The Kudzu Plant, a vine that has taken over the South in the United States, with 9 multiple choice questions. I know, I know — BORING; however, it was a start and, as I would come to find out, the only start I needed to jump headfirst into the world of online assignments. While creating this assignment I started looking at the home page examples, scanning through other assignments, and even taking some of the assignments that caught my attention.
“Hmm,” I thought, “Let me see if I can start to incorporate some multimedia into an assignment and vary up my question types.” I saw the next two assignments as a challenge to me as the designer and the rest, well, is history. I’ve caught the bug and now see how students are able to increase their technology skills while continuing to grow their reading and writing skills. In fact, with the venn diagram question types, the drop down fill-in-the-blank, the sorting, labeling, and multi-select answers – the assignments are often more rigorous than the ones I have been giving in class. As a bonus – it saves me paper and grading time, which then gives me more time to focus on what really matters: analyzing my students’ data and preparing them to be stronger readers each day.
I am in a unique situation this year. I am only teaching part-time and have the opportunity to design our (common core aligned) middle school ELA curriculum for next year. I am in the process of turning each lesson into an Edcite assignment and am pumped about the new PARCC assessment items!! I feel confident that our students will be more prepared for the end of year assessment and overall stronger readers and thinkers due to navigating their way through questions online. Personally, I cannot wait to arrive at school, bypass the copy room, and leave knowing that all I need to grade is on my computer!
Contrary to my thoughts a few months ago, here’s where I am now:
Merging technology skills with reading comprehension and performance tasks is the way to go. Students can analyze texts, highlight and mark-up on a computer in an almost identical way to what they can do with pencil and paper. In order to prepare our students to be 21st century college scholars – we must integrate the use of computers into our classes.
And Julia — Feel free to say, “I told you so.” 😉
Check out one of Meghan’s latest assignments about Segregation and Civil Rights.
A quick clip from Meghan’s students who KNOW they can go to college! Class of 2018!