Thursday, March 6, 2014

CAFE, part 2 and what's up with technology?

Six weeks into CAFE and the world seems to have picked up speed!  There are some things I really like about this program - well, as well as I can do it - but somehow, the things I like create more work for me.  What's wrong with this picture?
Displaying photo 2.JPGSo here are things on the plus side:  I really like conferencing with kids.  They are pretty honest about their reading, and they seem to enjoy the few minutes we have talking together.  Since CAFE, I've had more kids ask whether I agree that a particular book is a good fit for them; it's actually pretty cool.  And I like that we can talk honestly about what they do well, and what they need to work on.  The few minutes we spend together means a lot.  Many kids remind me that I have a conference scheduled with them that day.

Displaying photo 1.JPGOn the minus side: how in the world do teachers meet with kids every week?  There's no way that's going to happen, especially not with the way some kids want to talk.  I know I need to keep conferences short, but when a kid is so excited about reading that he or she wants to tell me ALL about what they've read?  Well, it's okay with me that they talk for a few extra minutes.  What teacher doesn't want to foster a love of reading in kids?

One of my stations is a Word Work station and besides their regular work, I've found a bunch of iPad apps that are fun to play and good for them, too.  Sort of like veggies!  Chain of Thought and Jumbline2 are two popular games.  I'm introducing my kids to World's Worst Pet tomorrow, which looks like a fun vocabulary builder.  Good stuff out there!

Have you ever tried nearpod?  It's got the potential to be a really, really cool app.  I say it has the potential because there are still glitches to be worked out, and I don't know if they're with the program, or with our wireless connection, or something else entirely.


Let me explain the coolness factor.  Today, I was introducing my kids to author's viewpoint, using one of my favorite books, Encounter by Jane Yolen.  I wanted the kids to look at the picture and see what they could observe.  Using nearpod, they each looked at the picture on their iPad.  Big deal or not?  I noticed tons of kids looking carefully over the picture, and expanding it to find some details they had questions about.  Then I read them the story, and afterwards, they responded to questions on their iPads.  Some were open-ended, some were multiple choice.  Using nearpod, I could see who had responded, what they had written or chosen, and I could even share a response written by one of the students with the whole class.  What a great tool for formative assessments.  I knew pretty quickly who got it and who didn't.

Now, for the not-so-cool factor.  Not once, in three classes, did I have all kids logged on and working.  Again, that may be an issue in my building, not with nearpod, but it felt like there were always two or three kids who couldn't log in, or whose connectivity was an issue, or the page that should have opened up, didn't.

Have any of you tried it?  If so, what do you think?  Are there other apps like this out there?

Happy Friday everyone!

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