Content Curation

One of the biggest roadblocks for educators in terms of collecting topical information is where to house all the articles and websites that are found.  Internet browsers have bookmarking capabilities, but these only show us the names of the sites and little else about what we bookmarked or why we liked it in the first place.  Thankfully, web-based content curation sites have come online, which allow users to search for content, bookmark, and add personalized summaries of information.

I chose to use Scoop.it for my content curation.  It has an easy to navigate layout and flows in a format that I am familiar with as it is similar to social media sites.  Instead of only showing a link for a site I have “scooped,” content is laid out much like you would see on a news website; using a picture, a link, and a short blurb (lead) about the link.  Additionally, it allows for both internal and external site searches as well as suggests posts that may be of interest based off of tag words I’ve added to my topic page.  Another reason I chose Scoop.it was because of the quality of content I was offered.  Articles that were offered to me came from sources such as Edutopia, Educator’s Technology, MIT, and other highly reputable sources.  I also found it useful that Scoop.it has short (one to two minute) video tutorials on how to maximize the use of the site.

Screenshot 2014-10-28 19.47.41

(http://www.scoop.it/t/coding-by-kate-kranzush)

My final project for EDIM 516 will be about coding and the benefits and drawbacks of teaching coding in schools.  Coding is a hot topic that has recently drawn attention when Google launched it’s Made with Code program, which focuses on teaching coding to girls.  I’ve had conversations with teachers at my school recently about how we can start a coding club at our school. (Our biggest barrier is we can’t teach the club because none of us know how to code!)  The state of Oregon just launched the Code Oregon program, where they offer free coding classes and help with job placement after completion of the program.  My coding Scoop.it page is off to a good start.  I’ve been able to find some great sites explaining the benefits of teaching coding in classrooms as well as resources to start implementing it.  I have yet to find teachers’ private blogs that show actual implementation in a real classroom.  High leverage, reputable sources are excellent, but it’s important for us educators to see things in successful practice, not just in theory.  Additionally, I am looking to find any sites that could show me why we shouldn’t teach coding in school.  I’m looking forward to researching this topic in depth.

What content curation sites do you use?  Do you have a favorite?  Do you have any great information on the benefits or drawbacks of teaching coding in schools?  I’d love to hear from you!

Following Trends in Education

Education is changing every day.  With the onset on the Common Core State Standards and gaps in teaching these standards among curriculum, teachers often look for outside sources for supplementary materials.  I, like many teachers head to Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for fresh ideas.  (I will admit, however, that I refuse to pay for materials on TPT and only download free items – I believe that we educators should freely share with one another.)  In most cases, I find that there are already materials created for the skill I’m looking to teach that require little to no editing.  I also rely on my teaching team and a group of friends who also teach Kindergarten to pass along anything new and innovative that they may have. For innovation in teaching, I follow educational programs such as Edutopia, TED-Ed, The Office of Ed Tech, and We Are Teachers on Twitter.  Although I don’t often post to Twitter, I find that it is a great way to aggregate education-based information. Additionally, I belong to a few grants and groups within the State of Oregon that allow me to stay up to date on changing standards and innovations in teaching across our state.

Thankfully, my district does a great job keeping up on educational best practices.  In math, we participate in Studio practice, where we delve deeply into a lesson and, using Habits of Mind and Habits of Interaction, make sure that our math instruction is of high cognitive demand.  This year, we are working on bleeding those ideas over into ELA instruction.  We have School Improvement Wednesday every week which is an early release for kids and 2 hours of professional development for teachers.  We also have many opportunities to serve on leadership committees and state/district grants.  I’m currently serving on a state grant to refine our ELL instructional practices – our focus is on increasing quality student argumentation.

As I am continuously working towards bettering my practice, I do come across some challenges as I try to implement new ideas and strategies into my classroom.  As of late, my biggest challenge is navigating my school’s internet safety filter.  At home I find great video clips, songs, and games to use in my classroom, only to find the sites blocked under my school’s safety filter.  Even more frustrating is when I test a site in the morning and it works, only to have it then trip the sensor and be blocked when I try to access it in the middle of the lesson.  Another problem that I am coming across the finding the balance (and approval) between teaching all CCSS and teaching my district’s curriculum with fidelity.  On one hand I hear that I am to teach curriculum with fidelity, but on the other hand I hear that I’m supposed to teach all the CCSS (even those that are not taught in my curriculum.)  So which is it?  Teach with fidelity or teach all the standards so that kids are ready for 1st grade when they leave my room in June? Interestingly, I’ve had some conversations lately with educational leaders as well as my district union leaders about who owns the intellectual property (supplementary materials) created by teachers and shared amongst colleagues or on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If materials are not directly created from a curriculum but instead fill a gap in the grade-level CCSS, do they belong to the curriculum companies, the school district, or the teachers?

I’d love to hear others’ ideas on this subject or if your district has a policy on the ownership of these supplementary materials. Where do you go to find new ideas and materials for your classroom?

516 Introduction

*This post is intended as an introduction post for the other participants in my EDIM 516 (Sustaining Digital Literacy) class.

Hello!  My name is Kate and I teach full-day, title kindergarten in Bend, Oregon.  My class is comprised of 100% low-SES, 60% ELL students.  Most of them did not attend pre-school and the majority of them suffer from the 30 Million Word Gap.  Throughout the year, I watch them grow from knowing zero letter names and sounds when they start school to reading Level D books independently in June.  Their growth is phenomenal.  I try my best to incorporate technology into our classroom whenever I can, although until students are literate, most research and reading online is done in highly scaffolded small groups with adult support.

I’m participating in the EDIM Masters Program from Wilkes University because I’m interested in the integration of digital technology into classrooms and because my district is in the midst of a digital iPad conversion.  My hope is that with my degree, I’ll be able to help other teachers in my school and district incorporate technology into their teaching and improve upon my own instructional practices as well.

Outside of education, I love spending my time traveling and being outdoors.  I’ve been to 15 countries and am planning a trip to 3 more (Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro) next summer.  Bend is an outdoor mecca and I’m lucky to live in a place where running, biking, hiking, rafting, floating, skiing, and snowshoeing are common place.  My favorite local place is Smith Rock – it is absolutely stunning!

I’m looking forward to working with all of you!
Kate