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Record to Improve?

Whether it is from a video, a voice mail message, or an audio recording of a message you left …
How do you react when you hear a recording of yourself?
Do you notice how your words can sound different than you think they should?
Do you notice how fast or slow you are talking?
Does it make you cringe a little and want to do it again to make it better?
Reading Fluency is more than just how many words I can read in a minutes and how fast I can go …
Think about how you react when you hear a person read aloud or give a speech. If the person does not read very smoothly, then most of the time the listener is more focused on trying to determine what is being said rather than the meaning of what is being said …
I was at a conference recently and after looking at the session descriptions, I marked the ones I wanted to attend … and sometimes had 3rd or 4th choices too.  But my favorites seemed to be the top choices of others too …
So I decided to do something I have done before at conferences … find a session that does not have that many people in it and attend it! That forces me to really listen and challenge myself to find connections I can use.
This time, the strategy turned out to be a gold mine! 
I do admit that I had thought the session description sounded a bit interesting when I first saw it but since the presenters were K-2 teachers, I was not to sure if any of the info would work for me …
Boy was I wrong …
I am used to teaching 4th and 5th grade students … this year I am teaching in a 3rd grade dual immersion class … these kids are babies!!! (in my mind at least)
The session I attended on focused on ways to use technology to help students improve their fluency.
The presenters have ipads in the classrooms. I have recently added a few Kindle Fires to my classroom, but can easily adjust the ideas, since the ideas here don’t focus a certain type of technology but focus on the improvement of fluency skills using the technology available.
Students can use the recording and playback features on the tablets (or even tape recorders if that is what is available) to increase their fluency and ability to self-evaluate.  
A student will record himself reading a story and then listens to it with a critical ear (most of the time we don’t need to be taught how to be critical) using a rubric. The rubric is a way for a student to listen to himself and then think about how he can get better.
How many times should he practice reading out loud before recording again?
What are the words that he needs to really focus on for clear pronunciation?
How can he make the words easier to understand?
After self-evaluation, guidance, and practice, a student records himself reading again. We now have both recordings and can hear the change and improvement. Have you seen a child’s face light up when he realizes he has really improved? It is pure sunshine!
As students progress, they begin recording their retell attempts and again use a rubric to evaluate  which leads to improvement …
Students can even record answers to comprehension questions to help them decide how to make the answers better …



What questions will you ask and inspire today?


Creativity can't be rushed ...


Storytelling With A Twist!


Purple Sticky Note?

Imagine you walked into my classroom and I handed you a yellow sticky note.

You took the sticky note but wondered what I was going to ask you to do next …

I asked you to put the sticky note on the wall

Even when you asked me how high or where, I repeated my direction to put the sticky note on the wall

So you followed my direction and put the sticky note on the wall

You still were not too sure what this possibly crazy teacher was really asking for you to do …

After you and your classrmates all sat down, I put a purple sticky note on the table or desk in front of each of you.

I asked you this time to place the purple sticky note as high on the wall as you could.

Some of students sat and thought about what to do while others quickly stood up and followed my instruction.

You may have asked me if you could jump or stand on something. I answered by repeating my initial instruction to put the purple sticky note as high on the wall as you could.

Once you followed that instruction, you sat down.

When the whole class was seated, we just looked at the yellow and purple sticky notes on the wall for a minute.

That’s when I started asking questions!

How did you decide where to put your yellow sticky note?

Did that require much thinking?

Most of you just simply walked over to the wall and stuck the sticky note on it. You didn’t really pay attention to the placement of the sticky note. You just did it to get it done.

Now look at your purple sticky note

How did you decide where to put it?

What did you do to put your sticky note as high as you could?

Did anybody jump?

Did anyone stand on their tiptoes?

Did anyone ask someone else to help them?

Did anyone lean against the wall and stretch?

How much thinking did the placement of the purple sticky note require?

What kind of thinking do you think you should do in this class?

Yellow or Purple Sticky Note Thinking?

When I started meeting with groups of students this year, the scenario above is how I started class.  I saw an activity similar to this done with teachers at a training a few years ago and used that as my inspiration.  

So far the purple and yellow sticky notes are still on the walls as a visual reminder (except for a few that have fallen).

Instead of reminding students to work harder and do their best, I ask what color sticky note is the thinking that went into the assignment or answer to the question or even just poing to the sticky notes on the wall.

At times, I just say Purple Sticky Note …

And they know what that means!