Monday, November 24, 2014

Researching with Chromebooks, Marcia Mariscal, Librarian, Goethe Elementary School

The Chromebooks have been a wonderful window of opportunity for me to increase the use of technology in my classroom.  I began by introducing the new Chromebooks to 3rd through 5th grade and 7th grade.  Our students in 6th and 8th grade travel with their own Chromebooks, thanks to an effort by the school to introduce technology into those grade cycles.  Our school is slowly adding technology into the classrooms. After explaining the grant and the purpose for having the chromebooks in the library, students were excited about the future projects we would work on in the library.  The transition into using them was easy since the students were familiar with Chromebooks and its key features, thanks to our Technology teachers.  
The first project I decided to work on with my 3-5th graders was learning to conduct research using a CPS database.  As a whole class we created research grids.  The research grids had questions students had generated about their topic.  The grids helped steer their research in the right direction as they browsed Kids InfoBits for information.  My students loved the new modern look and user friendly graphic interface Kids InfoBits was sporting.  It is more appealing to my 5th graders than the previous version.  I had one day dedicated to discovering all the new features of Kids InfoBits by my students using the Chromebooks.  Since some of my class sizes range from 24 to 30, I had to use the iPads as well, alternating them among students so everyone had a chance to work on a Chromebook.  After attending a PARCC Assessment Workshop given by CPS department of Literacy, I decided to have the students look for images about their topic in kids InfoBits writing all the information they could extract from a single image.  The students scrolled the images with ease on the Chromebooks. My bilingual students used headphones to listen to all the information on the image being read to them. They analyzed their pictures and wrote their information.
With the technology now in the library I taught a lesson to my 6th-8th graders on “In-Text Citation”.  My 6th-8th Grade students watched a 3 minute video on “In-Text Citation” in Vimeo. After watching the video, I reinforced it with a 5 minute mini-lesson, then the students practiced adding in-text citation to 10 quotes from the website  The website is free and it tracks the student’s progress as they practice using the MLA format for in-text citation. What’s wonderful about the website is the explanation it gives the students if they incorrectly cite a quote.  Before the Chromebooks, I would have had the students practice citation in their notebooks. This would not have allowed me to personalize instruction for 30 students in a 45 minute time-slot.  Finding programs that tutor students and help them correct their mistakes on site, improves their citation skills. It also allowed me the time to work with small groups of students on certain skills, as others worked on the Chromebooks.
I love how easy it is to use a Chromebook in the classroom.  Downloaded images or information is not stored in the memory of the Chromebooks, a great feature when multiple students are using the Chromebooks throughout the day.  I have my students login under guest. That’s just my preference.  The only setback for me currently is the inability to download google apps to familiarize myself with these features for teaching.  The Tech teacher has requested I be added to the Admin console but as of Today, I still have no access to these features. Other than being able to manage google apps, the technology in my classroom has added to the richness of my daily lessons.  

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