Monthly Archives: October 2010

Genre Study Made Easy

The 4th and 5th graders have been studying genres. I’ve noticed that no matter how much time I spend on this subject they don’t seem to be able to apply what they learn. Often they can give me a list of genres or define them, but if you ask what genre they are currently reading right now they don’t have a clue.

I started this unit with a power point presentation that I modified for my classes. I found it on this wonderful site called Pete’s Power Point Station. Be prepared to spend some time in this vast array of links to a huge variety of power points. It was easy to import the ones I liked into my Promethean IWB. Some of my students actually gasped when they saw the first page. There was so much on the one that I used that we didn’t even get through everything and will probably come back to it again from time to time.

Next I put students on computers to play games. My objectives were two-fold; they need practice logging into the system and they need to learn more about genres. There are some wonderful genre games that I linked on the 4/5 Links page of my website. I let them choose which ones they want to play, making sure they understood that the objective was to learn more about literary genres and if that objective was not met there was no point in using the computers. According to my observations, the top 3 games were Genre Battleship, Genre Hangman, and Genre Word Search (which unfortunately does not always load correctly).

At the end of the quarter they will take a pencil and paper test. Why pencil and paper? Because sadly, I still have students who are having trouble logging in. This happens for various reasons: they haven’t turned in a signed AUP, they’re relatively new to the school and haven’t been on the computers much yet, they are ESL or SPED students who have other issues. I don’t think it’s fair to give these students less time to take the test because they have trouble accessing it.

However, that doesn’t mean I can’t use the computer to make the test. I think there are a number of sites to help with this but I only looked at a couple. Quizstar is one I think I’ve used before but since I couldn’t remember the account information I started another one. Unfortunately I’ve only seen “Your mailbox is over its size limit” messages in my inbox and no message with the activation link for this new account. Next I tried EasyTestMaker. They didn’t send an activation email so I was able to get started right away and it was kind of fun. I’m not done yet but I won’t mind going back to it. Who knew MAKING a test could be fun?

Having access to the work others have done is an incalculable advantage. As so many others have said, why reinvent the wheel? Making learning fun is something many of us strive for on a daily basis and we have a ready-made fun source right here. If games are going to help students learn, then I’m all for them. Online tools make our jobs much easier and take the drudgery out of some things. Who knew GIVING a test could be so much fun? [Insert evil grin and wicked Halloween laugh here!!]

Progress

As the result of a grant, East Metro Integration District now has someone to help integrate technology into the classroom. We are fortunate to have Carl Anderson join the team. Some of you may know him by his blog, Techno Constuctivist. Carl is interested in pushing the boundaries so his posts are interesting but his blog is also a great resource for sites that can be used by teachers and students alike.

In addition, the district is stepping out into the online world. You can now follow us on twitter or join us on facebook. Our superintendent, Brenda Cassellius has a blog as does Kristine Black, the principal of my school, Harambee Elementary. Officially my district is beginning to realize the importance of the online picture the world sees.

Personally I’m delighted to see that my district and my school are trying new things. Our students need to see us taking these risks.

For the record, the contents of this blog are mine alone and are not meant to represent school or district policies.