Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Students First, Ed Tech Second: Digital Lit Circles

In a recent discussion with a co-worker regarding using ed tech in the classroom, I told her I don’t plan my lessons with ed tech first in mind. I plan my lessons with standards and students’ needs first, and then ask myself: Can I make this lesson better with ed tech?

Novel studies with literature circles are something I have loved teaching and have taught in various class settings. As I starting diving more into Google Classroom and using Google apps, I asked myself: Is there any way I can take our literature circle and make it better with ed tech?


Twenty-first century learning is based on 4 C’s: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. A traditional lit circle has communication (but only during the lit circle meeting time) and the possibility for critical thinking and creativity, but the access to collaboration while students actually work on their given tasks for the lit circle doesn’t exist. The biggest downfall of a traditional lit circle though has to be the fact that there is no teacher involvement during the process, unless I sit in on the lit circle conversations.


So back to my original question as I was planning our literature circle for our upcoming novel study I asked: Is there anyway I can take our literature circle and make it better with ed tech? The answer was YES! By putting all of the tasks of a traditional lit circle into a SHARED digital slideshow in Google Classroom, I give my students opportunity to communicate AND collaborate simultaneously. The key to this assignment is making sure you give students editing access when you upload it to Google Classroom.


Having the lit circle in a digital platform also gives my students access to supports such as speech to text and spell check.The level of creativity is heightened too because students have access to digital design tools in the slideshow.


The icing on the cake though, is that now I AM ACTIVELY PART OF MY STUDENTS LEARNING! While my students are on this slideshow working on their lit circle task, giving their classmates feedback, collaborating and communicating with one another, I am in the slideshow too offering feedback and support.


Click this link to download the Digital Literature Circle Template then share it with your students via Google Classroom to create a collaborative, real time, literature circle experience!


Rylee Ownbey
Gilson Middle School
Valdez, AK

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