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Meeting weekly as a professional learning community (PLC), three elementary school teachers shifted their focus away from fractions to students’ research projects. They turned to PowerUp WHAT WORKS for inspiration and information and found each teacher reviewing a different Lesson in Action:

  1. Caroline: Conducting Research: Gathering Information
  2. Arayle: Drafting: Possible Leads
  3. Michael: Presenting: Presenting Research

Each meeting begins with one teacher stating a challenge.

Meeting Week 1

“My 5th graders will be gathering information about the American Revolution using free multimedia sources (e.g., games, interactive puzzles and videos) such as Mission US: For Crown or Colony , The American Revolution , the American Revolution Events,  and the Boston Tea Party . “My challenge,” Caroline explains. “Is which digital note taking tools can help my students organize information?”

“My favorite digital note taking tools is mySchoolNotebook , suggests Michael.” It’s is very intuitive, allowing students to work online or offline,” I like to use and Textwell. Both are a simple and work well for students who novice tech users,” adds Arayle.

Caroline decides to put together a handout with technology tools for note taking to share with her students as they get started with their projects.

Meeting Week 2

Michael begins, “I want to upgrade from paper portfolios to e-portfolios to track the students prewriting, drafts, and reviewing of informational summaries. What should I use?”

“I love using Project Foundry because it organizes and tracks the content, and includes a standards-based grading and feedback tool,” says Caroline. “Other free e-portfolio options include Evernote and Wikispaces .”

Meeting Week 3

Arayle’s challenge focuses using digital storytelling: “No more stand up and read your reports for my class,” she states, “Which tools should I introduce?”

PowerUp Tech Matters blog has a recent blog post on different digital storytelling tools. “Storybird looks like a fun tool. I can see multiple ways my students could use this tool in creative ways,” says Arayle. Michael says, “Some of my students would gravitate to Cartoonist . Students can present the content as a cartoon—how cool!”

The teachers noted found themselves often mentioning student difficulties with content-specific vocabulary. Vocabulary development, they agreed, would be their next topic of discussion.

All of the teachers agreed that this was a very productive professional learning community that enhanced their instruction and student engagement in learning!

Judith Zorfass, Principle Investigator, PowerUp WHAT WORKS
Tracy Gray, Project Director, PowerUp WHAT WORKS
Contributor: Caroline Martin, Research Assistant, PowerUp WHAT WORKS
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