Some of the most powerful professional development that has happened in instructional technology over the past few years has been the three times this year that all 4th and 5th grade teachers came together to share ideas and learn from one another. At the most recent session, we organized a gallery walk where teachers chose one piece of student work that showcased a way students were using technology that had been integrated into the core curriculum this year.
Regina Chagolla, 5th grade teacher at Berkeley Arts Magnet, chose to share how she’s using editing features such as underlining and text color in Google Docs to have her students identify important components of their writing.
She first used this technique when students were writing opinion pieces. After students had written a first draft, she asked them to underline their claim and color code each of their reasons. The piece of work below is a first draft from an English Language Learner who arrived in the US (and Regina’s class) just a few months ago.
After learning about Regina’s use of editing tools in Google Docs for students to reflect on writing techniques, I wanted to learn more from her. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit her classroom while she used this method as part of a formative assessment. Independently, students read a poem, which she had shared via Google Classroom, and their task was to analyze the language used. This corresponds with the ELA Standard on Craft and Structure: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
None of the work below is perfect. Since it was from a formative assessment, Regina was able to see what misconceptions students still had and reflect both on her teaching and what next steps she’d take during her poetry unit.
Regina explains each of these work samples:
Although she didn’t find all of the repeated phrases and repeated words, she wrote her own poem at the end and highlighted all three poetry power tips. She did recognize similes versus when the poet simply used the word ‘like.’
This student also showed each technique in her original poem:
This student also mixed up the repeated phrases with repeated words assuming every use of the word “like” is a simile.
I love how Regina allowed students to use Google Docs for analyzing their writing and not simply as a tool for typing up their writing. This assignment was such a genuine blend of writing analysis and technology.
-Allison Krasnow, Instructional Technology Coordinator