It’s been awhile since my last post. How time flies! I have been trying new things this year and I’d like to share my experience with Google Classroom and SeeSaw. Students were challenged to create tutorials to teach other students how to find the main idea of a paragraph and of a whole passage. I am so proud of them! They exceeded my expectations!
I work with small groups of Tier 3 students. Main idea is something that I find students really struggle with. They kind of get it, but if you ask them deeper questions, like what evidence from the passage supports their main idea, or why is that evidence important to the main idea of the story, their understanding fizzles.
Struggling readers need to have high-interest texts. They need to interact with the text to develop a deep understanding. They need to have the deep understanding of the text in order to critically think about it. Students shouldn’t just be receptive to instruction, they should be expressive about what they’ve learned. I’m not saying that I have the magic wand here, but I have noticed the difference in student interest and engagement by having them create tutorials about how to find the main idea in a paragraph and passage because it gives them the opportunity to go beyond pencil and paper. They get the opportunity to express themselves (and their learning!) as people!
To start off this project, I posted in Google classroom what we would be doing. I posed three questions:
- How do you find the main idea of a paragraph?
- How do you find the main idea of a passage?
- Do you use different strategies for fiction and nonfiction?
Students answered the questions and I conferenced with them to gain more insight. I used the information they provided to gauge where they were at in understanding main idea.
I searched for articles that I felt my students would be able to read and be interested in. Time For Kids was perfect. I posted the articles in their Google Classroom and once students made their selection, I gave students a paper copy, as well. (On a side note, if your students know how to annotate online, that could be an option. There are lots out there. Because annotation, itself, is a new concept for my students, I stuck with the traditional way for now. They marked up their papers with pencils and/or the “mark- up” functions for photos. In the future, I will teach a lesson on how to annotate electronically using tools like highlighters, comments, etc.)
I also created a rubric and put that into their Google Classroom. You can click on the link to view it. I thought of all the things that I wanted students to do. As you will see, I linked to Scholastic’s teacher website for some resources pertaining to annotations. My fifth and sixth graders are new to annotating and needed some examples. I went over this rubric with my students and answered their questions.
I also provided students an example of a tutorial on YouTube. I made the assumption- and I was wrong- that my students knew what I was talking about when I kept saying they’d be creating a tutorial. I could see that they weren’t sure about what to do once they started working. I posted the tutorial example into their Google Classroom so that they could easily access it again if they needed it. Students made observations as they watched. I asked them to look at the introduction, the way the presenter transitioned from one step to the next, how she modeled, and how she concluded her presentation. The tutorial was on how to tie shoes. (Shoe tying tutorial)
The tutorial helped students understand the concept of a tutorial; however, they didn’t quite know how to take the article they selected and create a tutorial with that. So, I went ahead and made a tutorial myself, but instead of YouTube, I used SeeSaw. I knew I needed to show the kids what I meant by “marking-up” a text. And, I also knew that I needed to explain to students the process again, but with an actual passage. This is what finally made the difference and students rolled with it! (Annotation tutorial)
SeeSaw gave students the opportunity to easily take pictures, mark them up, and record their voices. They were also able to record themselves holding up their annotated passages if they needed to, or record themselves as they annotated the passages (like a think-aloud). Students were also able to type notes. It was the perfect platform and very easy to use! It’s as simple as clicking a button!
Student posts are similar to that of a Facebook feed. Only posts approved by the teacher will appear on “the wall”. I enjoyed watching them plan out their tutorial and getting input from each other. Seesaw gave them a safe and easy platform for them to share their work and to see other students’ work, as well.
SeeSaw feed of student tutorials.
Students exceeded my expectations with their tutorials. They were able to identify the main idea because they read more carefully. They knew others would be watching. If they didn’t know how to do something, they asked because they wanted to get it right. Students were naturally drawn to collaborate! They planned out what they wanted to say. I couldn’t be happier with their work and can’t wait to see where we go next!
Leticia de la Garza