For us, it was March 13, 2020. School abruptly ended and we were thrown into a Distance Learning Model of learning and teaching. What did that look like? Well, we had no idea! We were literally building the plane as we were flying in it and we were determined not to crash. Looking back now, we are amazed how educators responded to this drastic change in our profession.
As we were Distance Teaching, we couldn’t help but think to ourselves, “Wow, when is the last time we ran copies?” It was so nice! While we definitely don’t think all learning should be done digitally, we will definitely be adding more digital resources for the classroom. There are digital resources that just work better! Another takeaway is that students are engaged digitally! They love being able to type and navigate online resources. These are also crucial skills for 21st century learning!
Digital Resources for the Classroom: Reading Responses
Digital Reading Responses is one of our all time favorite digital resources for the classroom. Teachers need to hold students accountable for their independent reading, but they also need to do this in a way that doesn’t kill the joy of reading. When we ask our students to write one page summaries or complete a massive assignment on the books they read, we are not encouraging a love for reading. We know we wouldn’t want to read if it was followed up with a task we didn’t enjoy.
Here’s what we have found over the years. You can tell if a child has read by just asking one question. What’s even better is when that one question is connected to a standard students have learned! When students apply the standards to their independent reading books, they are gaining a deeper understanding of the standard.
When Distance Learning smacked us in the faces, we started creating these Digital Reading Responses on a weekly basis. It wasn’t long until we discovered how much we valued them and how easy they were to assign to our students. We would pop in throughout the week to check in on student responses, leave comments if needed and then students would turn in the completed slide at the end of the week. No running copies, no “I lost it,” and no complaints.
Result: Happy Readers and Happy Teachers!
Digital Resources for the Classroom: All About Characters, Settings and Events
All About Characters, Settings and Events got us through the first few weeks of school. We really don’t know what we would do without these resources. We needed something that was engaging to teach our students, but not a lot of work to plan and implement. Here’s what we were able to teach: types of characters, character traits, character motivation, character change, setting and parts of a plot.
Our formula was to teach one of these concepts every two to three days. We would start by using a picture book to do a think-aloud, follow it up with the anchor chart and mentor text, have students practice with two shorter mentor texts and finally practice with their independent reading books.
Result: Students were engaged and learning something new, while we had time to do the thousands of other things that teachers have to do on a daily basis.
Digital Resources for the Classroom: Mini-Lesson Slides
Mini-Lesson Anchor Charts are our favorite way to have our students practice the standard we are teaching independently. The part that we didn’t expect when we assigned this digital resource is the parent response! Parents loved them! Parents were able to see exactly what we were teaching and how we were teaching it because of the included anchor chart. For once, parents knew how to help their child. I even had a parents say that it helped her know the types of questions to ask as they were reading at night! Talk about music to our ears!
Digital Mini-Lesson Anchor Charts were once again created out of necessity. We needed our students to be able to practice what they were learning. Once again, we wanted it to be applied to their independent reading books. The standard would be taught and then students would get a slide to practice. Weekly creating got real old, so we listed out 25 standards that we wanted our students to master. We created a bundle that was ready-to-use and useful.
Result: Informed parents, engaged learners and NO PREP for us!
Digital Resources for the Classroom: Activity Bundles
Our classroom runs off of literacy centers. We love providing multiple ways for our students to access a standard. No boring worksheets here! Students need to be able to manipulate and interact with the standards. Our activity bundles got a digital make-over and we are now even more in love. No more copies, laminating, cutting and organizing. Just click a button and assign!
In our classrooms, we have 6 go-to literacy centers: writing, close read, game, sort, art and note-taking. We have always had a paper version of these resources for each standard, but not digital. Distance Learning forced us to go digital and we are so glad we did. Going back into the classroom, we will definitely incorporate digital centers into the rotations.
Result: Students are given multiple ways to access each standard and teachers are left with less prep for centers!
Digital Resources for the Classroom: Task Cards
Are you ready to find out our number one used digital resource for the classroom? Drum roll… it’s Digital Task Cards! WE LOVE DIGITAL TASK CARDS! Why do we love them so much? We have a blog post all about them! Check it out HERE!
We love Digital Task Cards because they allow us to assess how well the students understand the material we are covering. After teaching a standard, we will often assign a digital task card set. As soon as students complete the set, they get their results immediately. As soon as we click “Import Grades,” we get our ENTIRE class’ results immediately. It really doesn’t get any better than that!
As we look at the results from the digital task cards, we group our students into two groups. There is the “we almost got it group” (do you like how professional that was) and the “we really don’t get it group.” For the the students who were close to a passing score, we assign the set of task cards again for a 2nd attempt. For the students who really didn’t understand the concept, we form a small group. Small group assessments have never been easier!