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Innovation Awards
Showing Lori Russell

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First Place

K-2 | Reading & Language Arts | Mobile/Handheld

Station SCETV in South Carolina

My Classroom Innovation

In the past, “Morning Work” has been a way for teachers to provide students with time to independently practice what they are learning each day. Unfortunately, this usually involved some type of worksheet that failed to provide rigorous opportunities for students to apply what they had learned in new situations. In our classroom, we have turned “Morning Work” into “Word Works” learning opportunities. The students stay engaged in learning while working to complete “tic-tac-toe” patterns on “Word Works” choice boards both collaboratively and independently. Students use digital media including the Kindle Fire, iPod, iPad, MP3 player, and laptop to practice their word recognition skills while playing games. They also use these digital tools to “Listen to Reading”, building on their accuracy, comprehension, and fluency skills.
When we first started using the choice boards, students were taught, through direct instruction how to use technology appropriately as a tool for learning. Now students are independently selecting the tools they will use and are able to explain the purpose in using each tool. Although there are times when students need assistance in using the tools, there are now student leaders in the classroom who are more than willing to help their classmates in using digital media to enhance their learning.
The choice boards are divided into sections which focus on three different types of “Word Works” skills, including phonics (study of word patterns), grammar (nouns, verbs, and adjectives) and high-frequency words (words they should recognize instantly). These are already skills that are addressed through the Common Core State Standards and included in our 1st Grade curriculum. The choice boards, including digital media choices, allow for students to be self-directed, even creating and writing their own “I can” statements of how they would like to demonstrate their learning.

How Students were Engaged

As 1st Graders, students are naturally engaged when using digital media. Mobile computing devices are commonplace in their world. Many 1st Graders are more familiar and comfortable than adults when using these tools for learning. Using digital media to enhance learning also keeps students engaged by offering immediate feedback when students are playing games to practice the skills that they are learning. Students are also very engaged when given the opportunities to choose how they would like to practice what they are learning and are therefore more motivated to take risks in order to be successful.
Before we started using the choice boards, incorporating digital media, for “Word Works”, students’ options were limited when practicing the skills they were learning in the classroom. In addition there were fewer opportunities for each student to use technology tools since each tool was managed on a rotation basis. Not only have students showed gains in their phonics and word recognition skills, they have also started to show tremendous gains in accuracy, comprehension, and fluency in relation to reading 1st Grade level text.
When we added the option of creating their own “I can” statements to the choice boards, students showed that they were willing to take even more risks to demonstrate how they could be self-directed in their learning while applying these skills in new learning situations, such as reading and writing their own “Morning Messages” for the class.
Our 1st Grade students have also had the opportunity to practice living the “7 Habits” while becoming self-directed learners. Students “Think Win-Win” when selecting games for learning and sharing the digital media in the classroom. Many students are also already learning to “Begin with the End in Mind” because they know having a plan allows for more time to use the technology tools we have available.

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