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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(opens in a new window) 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(opens in a new window) , The American Revolution(opens in a new window), the American Revolution Events,  and the Boston Tea Party(opens in a new window). “My challenge,” Caroline explains. “Is which digital note taking tools can help my students organize information?”

“My favorite digital note taking tools is mySchoolNotebook(opens in a new window), suggests Michael.” It’s is very intuitive, allowing students to work online or offline,” I like to use in a new window) and Textwell.(opens in a new window) 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(opens in a new window) 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(opens in a new window).”

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(opens in a new window) on different digital storytelling tools. “Storybird(opens in a new window) 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(opens in a new window). 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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