Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Supporting the #Wildcatway Reading Initiative

The Wildcat Way is more than just a motto at Wilson Middle School.  Over the summer, teachers put down their beach reads and picked up Disrupting Thinking: Why How We Read Matters by G. Kylene Beers and Robert E Probst in an effort to better understand ways to foster a culture of  reading across campus and provided opportunities for collaboration through ways to disrupt our thinking about reading.  

It was from this book study, teachers Helen Read, 7th grade ELA, and Matt Norris, 7th grade Math, crafted “The Wilson Review.”   The Wilson Review is a process of creating and posting digital video reviews for students and staff. The goal of the showcase board is to get students interested in books as well as to share the books they love so that they can get inspired to read. Students can access the reviews via teacher Moodle pages and Google Classroom courses. The Reviews are also on display outside Ms. Read’s and Mr. Norris’ classrooms on a large bulletin board where students and teachers can use their mobile device to scan the QR codes.  

Middle School, Wilson Middle School, Flipgrid, Book Recommendations, Book Review, Chromebooks, 6-8, Ms. Helen Read, Mr. Matt Norris, Summer Reading, Reading, Cross-Curricular, Voice and Choice, Voice Recording,

While the activity of having students submit book reviews might seem somewhat mundane,
these two teachers took it up a notch by allowing students to use FlipGrid as a tool for recording
their review.  In the world of Instagram and SnapChat selfies, what a better way to relate to
students than asking them to record their book review. 

Flipgrid is place where you can verbalize your learning.  Flipgrid was purchased by Microsoft and provides a moderated and easy to use platform to create up to 5 minute videos and showcase the videos for only NISD users to view.  Flipgrid along with the cameras on student’s Chromebooks were a great pair for this project. “With the integration of Flipgrid students get excited about sharing their books using the Book, Head, and Heart Model.  As they are creating they can investigate what others have said about books they might be interested to read.  Find a review you enjoy, students can leave a thumbs up to the creator and check out the book in the library.” This type of interaction motivates students to continue reading so they can make additional post.  WOW,  so far The Review board has 26 hours of engagement time and growing. 

Student Raul shared, “Flipgrid allows you to express what you think about a book, you can
say what you want.”  Students enjoy the freedom and creativity this outlet offers.  The ability to
record something for others to watch later is also an aspect of the tool students appreciate.
Gracie Clair reflects, “My flip grid experience has really put it in a way for me that I can speak
up and prove my thinking, with people watching it after I film it, not while I film it.”

Staff have already seen an increase in student engagement during daily reading and this is
only the beginning!  Ms. Read and Mr. Norris hope to continue utilizing Flipgrid throughout
the year for book reviews.  Even teachers have benefited from the program!  As Ms. Read
reflected on her experience she shared, “Making my own Flipgrid video was an interesting
experience because it put me in the shoes of my students. I was a bit nervous recording myself.
It also solidified what I wanted my students to be able to share about their reading. I’ve learned
about some books I have definitely added to my own TO BE READ list.”  Mr. Norris has also
enjoyed the experience and was pleased to see, “With showcasing of teacher examples and as
more students recorded their reviews, students overcome their hesitations.”

In today’s schools, technology can be seen as an enemy of reading, however these two innovative teachers have uncovered a strong ally in growing passionate readers.  The Wildcat Way Reading Initiative is off to a strong start. 

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