Register Now for Technology Webinar with Katie Nieves — Dec. 3

Join us on December 3rd at 7:00 PM for our third NJCTE technology webinar. You get to decide which technology tool(s) you want to discover. Based on feedback and suggestions from our previous webinars, vote for the topic that excites you the most. The topic will be announced a few days before the webinar.

Free for NJCTE members! $5 for non-NJCTE members.

Register now!


Attention NJ ELA teachers: Would you like to write for the NJCTE blog? We would be happy to publish your ideas and insights about your practice or resources you’ve had success with, etc. We welcome original pieces or those that have been posted elsewhere. Please send queries and contributions to njcteblog@gmail.com.

Register Now for Technology Webinar with Katie Nieves — Dec. 3

Register Now for Technology Webinar with Katie Nieves — Dec. 3

Join us on December 3rd at 7:00 PM for our third NJCTE technology webinar. You get to decide which technology tool(s) you want to discover. Based on feedback and suggestions from our previous webinars, vote for the topic that excites you the most. The topic will be announced a few days before the webinar.

Free for NJCTE members! $5 for non-NJCTE members.

Register now!


Attention NJ ELA teachers: Would you like to write for the NJCTE blog? We would be happy to publish your ideas and insights about your practice or resources you’ve had success with, etc. We welcome original pieces or those that have been posted elsewhere. Please send queries and contributions to njcteblog@gmail.com.

Register Now for Technology Webinar with Katie Nieves — Dec. 3

Register Now for Back-to-School Tech Webinar with Katie Nieves 8/26

Join us and technology guru and NJCTE board member Katie Nieves on Monday, August 26th, at 6:30 PM for our first professional development webinar! We will focus on technology to use as we head into the new school year.

Come discover some technology tools that you could immediately integrate into your classroom! Register using this Google Form to receive the webinar URL. Following the webinar, all attendees will receive a certificate for 1 hour of PD for their participation.


Also, don’t forget to register for the NJCTE Fall ConferenceEARLY REGISTRATION ENDS SEPTEMBER 4!

Mark your calendar for A Vision for the Future – Practices Designed for Success: September 21, 2019, at Kenneth R. Olson Middle School in Tabernacle, NJ. As usual, we will have 3 dynamic sessions with presentations from a wide range of teacher educators sharing best practices. You will also hear from keynote speaker, Dr. Kristen Turner.

And new this year: Join us for an authors’ breakfast (extra fee required). Start the day off right with breakfast with over 20 authors!

Register Now for Back-to-School Tech Webinar with Katie Nieves 8/26

Registration Now Open for 2019 Fall Conference

A Vision for the Future: Practices Designed for Success

Chaired by Joe Pizzo and Denise Weintraut

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2019

Kenneth R. Olson Middle School, Tabernacle, NJ

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

As usual, we will have 3 dynamic sessions with presentations from a wide range of teacher educators sharing best practices. You will also hear from keynote speaker, Dr. Kristen Turner (more details below).

And new this year: Join us for an optional authors’ breakfast at 8am. Start the day off right with breakfast with over 20 authors!

Register now to ensure that you get the early registration rate. 

What is the future of literacy instruction? Whether in our classrooms, online, or with new AI technology on the horizon, change is inevitable, and we must prepare ourselves for the future.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Kristen Hawley Turner (@teachkht– professor and director of teacher education at Drew University in New Jersey.  Her research focuses on the intersections between technology and literacy, and she works with teachers across content areas to implement effective literacy instruction and to incorporate technology in meaningful ways. She is the co-author of Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World (the focus of our Summer Book Study Slow Chat starting August 5th!) and Argument in the Real World: Teaching Students to Read and Write Digital Texts. She is also the founder and director of the Drew Writing Project and Digital Literacies Collaborative.

Educators at any level and at any phase of their career, including pre-service teachers, are encouraged to attend.

The conference is an affordable professional development opportunity. Conference registration includes lunch and an NJCTE membership. A separate Authors Breakfast featuring 20+ writers, 8am-9am, is planned for an additional charge (discounted with conference registration).

Registration Now Open for 2019 Fall Conference

Tech Tuesdays: CopyComments for Google Classroom

by Kathryn Nieves

For Google Classroom users, the Docs and Slides “comment” feature is critical to providing effective feedback for students. Many teachers use this tool as a way to provide personalized comments for their students, helping to highlight areas to revise or point out areas of success. However, if the teacher wants to provide a template for students to complete, the students are unable to see this comments section. There is a new Google Chrome extension that allows for this type of assignment, though: CopyComments for Google Classroom.

CopyComments can be downloaded from the Chrome Web Store. Once a teacher has marked up a Google Doc or Slide presentation with comments, it is ready for use. It is important to make sure the comments are directly connected to the specific text you want the student to use as a reference. In the example below, I gave guidance and extra support to help my students through a paraphrasing assignment that I wanted them to complete.

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Next, you would have to assign the Doc or Slide presentation to students on Google Classroom. Click “Create” and then “Assignment.” Fill in your title and optional instructions. Then select the Google Drive icon and upload the assignment that you just annotated with comments. Make sure to click “Make a Copy for Each Student.”

The assignment will automatically be viewable in the Classwork tab on Google Classroom. However, if you were to open a student assignment, the comments would not be there. Instead, you have to click on the CopyComments icon on your toolbar. You must sign in and allow the extension to operate on your device. Then, the extension will have you select the class and the specific assignment. The extension will only register assignments that have comments already embedded into them. Select the assignment and then click “Copy Comments.”

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The pop-up window will close down when it has finished copying all the comments into the students’ attachments. You can check to make sure it worked by going into the assignment and opening a random student’s attachment. You should be able to see the comments that you made before you actually created the assignment.

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This extension is useful for providing additional support to students as they complete a task. It could be helpful for using a template to complete a writing assignment or clarify directions or requirements on a project or test. Rather than being used for feedback after an assignment, these comments could be used to help students during the actual completion of an assignment. CopyComments for Google Classroom is a relatively new extension, but can be extremely useful in supporting students in the classroom.

Tech Tuesdays: CopyComments for Google Classroom

Tech Tuesdays: Girls Who Code — Bringing STEM to ELA

by Kathryn Nieves

This week I’m going to take a quick break from the introduction of a new technology tool to cover a technology-based program with an interesting perspective to bring to the teaching of ELA.

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Girls Who Code is an organization with the goal of bringing more female computer programmers into the world. According to the organization’s website, in 1995, 37% of people in computer science were women, whereas today that number is only 24%. Since technology is a continuously growing field, the number of computer science degrees will only continue to increase.

The organization has established free clubs based on teaching computer science to young girls. According to the organization’s website, they have at least one club in every single state in the United States. The organization offers a variety of options for clubs based on different age groups. Educators can get involved by applying to start a club in their area or for their students.

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With the push for STEM education, the question is always where ELA fits into the mix. Girls Who Code is offering the perfect opportunity for students to pair coding with language arts. The organization is offering the chance to participate in a book club. Girls can combine an interest in coding with an interest in reading.

The organization is offering a book club for grades 3-5, where students can read and discuss the nonfiction book Learn to Code and Change the World. Girls Who Code provides five free books for each club to use. The book can help to bring interested young girls into the world of computer science.

unnamed (1)There is also a 6-12 free club, where students receive hands-on experience learning to code. The only requirements are access to computers and the internet, as well as someone over 18 to supervise and a sponsor, such as a school. Clubs receive free access to the computer science curriculum and use these skills to create a project out their community.

Teachers can apply to bring this club to their school for interested girls. An interesting idea would be to pair the concept of coding with different English literature activities, such as connecting their newly learned skills to a project or assignment that related to a book or story they were reading in class. It would be a great way to show how ELA can be integrated into the computer science world.

In order to start one of these clubs in your school, you could visit the Girls Who Code website and complete the online application. Any additional questions or requests of specific information can be sent to the Girls Who Code New Jersey representative, Eve Balick, at eve.balick@girlswhocode.com.

Girls Who Code is the perfect way to bring computer science to a group of students who need these resources the most while also appealing to the current educational focus on STEAM.

 

Tech Tuesdays: Girls Who Code — Bringing STEM to ELA

Tech Tuesdays: Collaborative Annotation with Prism Scholar Lab

by Kathryn Nieves

Annotation tends to be an individual task. Unless students discuss their ideas and notes, students usually reserve this as a solo assignment. In order to pair educational technology with the idea of collaboration, teachers can use Prism Scholars Lab.

Prism Scholars Lab is an older website but still has a lot to offer for teachers and students today. Created as a small project, the website has expanded to include many more users, specifically students, who use it as a way to collaboratively analyze a text with their peers. Since it is a website, all devices with an internet browser, including mobile devices, can utilize the tool.

Both teachers and students need to have an account in order to use the website, though the site does allow for an automated Google sign-in in lieu of creating a username and password. On the website, there are three pages on the top: About, Browse, and MyPrisms. The About section offers information about the development of the website. Browse allows you to view public Prisms to collaborate with others or to get ideas for your own Prism. MyPrisms are the collaborative experiences that you have already built.

Prism Scholars Lab allows you to upload a text and provide opportunities for students to highlight and collaborate to analyze the text. For example, a user might post a poem and have students identify specific types of figurative language. Each Prism is equipped with three different color highlighters, each connected to a specific category of criteria of the user’s choice. The category of analysis depends on the individual class and the lessons being taught. Other examples could include identification of rhetorical devices or different schools of thought.

When you click on “MyPrisms,” you can create a new Prism, view your previously created ones, or view any public ones where you have made highlighted contributions. Selecting “New Prism” will allow you to create a brand new one for students. You will be brought to a new page where you must fill in the necessary information in order to create your collaborative Prism. You must fill in the content, such as the poem, song, article, or short text. Then you must fill in the requirements of each of the highlighter colors. A title must be given to the Prism, which should likely include some variation of the title of the original piece. The original author of the text must be provided, along with the date of publication.

The final requirements are selecting a language for the text, providing an optional description, such as giving directions for the participants in the Prism and indicating the license option for the text. The license relates to whether or not the text chosen is available for reuse. The website fully breaks down the levels of licenses for different types of use for easy identification.

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One important feature of the creation of the Prism is the “Unlisted” button. By checking off that box, it signals that the Prism may only be accessed by people with the link. This indication means that outside members may not find it in the “Browse” section of the website. Choosing Unlisted will allow a teacher to just provide the link to the students so that collaborative annotation is just between peers.

Sharing the URL with your students will allow them access to contribute their highlighted annotations to the Prism. Students should select the highlighter color they want and then click on the words they would like to highlight. The eraser tool allows the student to get rid of any highlights that they want to revise.

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Students should hit “Save Highlights” once they are finished annotating the text.

Once they have highlighted their parts based on the directions provided, everyone will be able to visualize the selections of all of their classmates. Along the sidebar, there is an option that says “Font Size Visualizations.” When that is selected, students can see a change in the font size based on how many students selected the same answer they did. The larger the word, the more times it was selected. Students can choose the different highlighter colors to see each category.

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The final product serves as a great point of discussion among a class. Students can discuss whether or not they agree with the final outcome of the Prism and it can serve as a jumping off point for larger class conversations about a particular text.

Tech Tuesdays: Collaborative Annotation with Prism Scholar Lab

Tech Tuesdays: Technology Options for Reading on the Web

by Kathryn Nieves

With the increased emphasis on incorporating nonfiction texts and articles from real life to help support teaching literature, teachers may face certain obstacles. While assigning texts from news websites or other professional pages allows students to read content relevant to their world, it also can be challenging to make these pages accessible. News sites and other websites are often cluttered with ads, comment sections, streaming videos, or other distractions that detract from the text itself. When a student is accessing these resources from a laptop, as opposed to a smartphone, it can be cumbersome to read.

The following are tools that teachers could use to help make web content less distracting before assigning a text to their students.

Just Read

Just Read is an extension that works on a Chrome Browser. Once downloaded and added, the user can remove the clutter of a webpage with just one click on the extension logo. On the logo itself, a red icon with the word “on” will appear, indicating that Just Read is currently working on the website.

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In addition to removing advertisements and comment sections, it also has the option to adjust other readability elements of the text. Users can change the font size, text color, background color, and link color to meet their preferences. Once the “Just Read” extension has been activated, users will have three icons in the top right corner of the screen. Selecting the first icon, the paintbrush, allows for these options to appear. Once the readability functions have been selected, users must click “Save and Close” for these changes to remain active on the site.

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Firefox Reader View

Unlike Chrome browsers, which require a third-party extension to make texts easier to read and view, the Firefox browser has that function built in. Once an article is opened, users will have the option to convert to a readable format. The article will reappear, looking more like an e-book reader and less like a website.

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On the sidebar of the converted webpage, users have a few options to make the text more accessible. The “Aa” button allows the user to customize the text size and font type of the article and even allows for the opportunity to shrink or extend the length of each line in the article. It also allows for a change in background color and justification of the text.

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The button immediately below the “Aa” font icon is for text-to-speech. Users can control how fast or slow they want the computer to read and has two options of voice. The final icon is “Save to Pocket,” which allows the article to be saved in a database to read at a later date.

Microsoft Edge’s Reading View

For those who use Microsoft Edge as their browser of choice, it is similar to Firefox in its inclusion of a readability function. Users can click on the open book icon on their browser, next to their URL, and immediately be sent to an e-book setup for their article. No advertisements are included or comment sections available. Unlike Firefox and Chrome, there is no option for customization and users can only read the clutter-free article.

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There are always a variety of readability tools popping up online to help to make texts more accessible online. By removing the ads and comment sections, it increases the focus on the text and the text’s features and allows for the elimination of distraction. These tools make it easier for teachers to assign outside texts and resources to their students for review.

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Tech Tuesdays: Technology Options for Reading on the Web

Tech Tuesdays: ForAllRubrics

Giving feedback can be a difficult process. Sometimes students receive feedback on their final submission of an assignment, which does not allow room for growth and revision. Sometimes teachers provide feedback throughout the composition process, but students do not take advantage of these opportunities for revision. It can be a struggle to provide effective and timely feedback while managing to engage students in the feedback process.

ForAllRubrics is a solution for grading and feedback. It’s a free website for teachers where class rosters can be uploaded and all student scores can be provided in a digital format. While many districts are bound by a learning management system (or even Google Classroom) that provides options for this process, there are some that do not have these opportunities. For those teachers, ForAllRubrics is an excellent solution.

Once teachers have created an account, they can provide their student with a class code to sign up. From the homepage, click on the “Admin” drop-down menu on the top right corner of the screen. Select “Manage Students.” Then, you have the choice of how you would like to import your students, such as from a file, adding them individually, or from a class code. There are a variety of other options for editing in the drop-down panel, as well.

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There are five options at the top of each screen that guide you through the website. “My Class” takes you to the page with all of your classes and students. “Design” allows you to build rubrics. “Library” has pre-created rubrics. “Analyze” allows for data analysis and student reports of progress. The “Help Center” offers tutorials for advice for using the website.

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When you click on “Design,” you will see all of the resources you have created. For people just beginning, there will only be a sample rubric, badge, and checklist available. You need to select “Create” in order to begin building something new. You are allowed to choose from a checklist, badge, or rubric. Badges can be designed and created for students who complete different achievements and tasks. The checklist can be used by students for different assignments.

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Clicking on any text in the rubric will create a pop-up window that allows you to type your criteria. You can also change, delete, or add columns, point values, and names. Color-coding is also possible for the criteria by selecting the different color options at the start of each column.

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Underneath each category, you can click the “Assigned Standard(s)” orange plus icon and select standards that connect to each evaluation area. Each item can also be weighted based on need. For example, the predetermined values are 1.0, but they can be clicked to edit. For example, some skills and items may be more difficult and deserve a higher percentage of the final score than others. This tool allows you to accommodate for that.

Once the rubric has been created, it is assigned to the class. Return to the “My Classes” tab to see the list of students currently enrolled in your class. Open the rubric you want by selecting the drop-down arrow next to “All Activities.” Select the rubric you want and all your students will appear on the list. Next to their name, select the orange plus sign and the rubric will open.

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In each item, you have the chance to not only select the score, but also to provide a comment, Drive file, or link to support students in the revision process.

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Once finished evaluating the students, click the “Done” button to save the work and return back to the student roster. The student’s overall score will be available on the roster screen. Check the box next to their name and select “Publish” to send the score to the student. They will be able to see all comments and scores at that time. For schools without 1:1 devices, these reports can be printed to give to the students, as well.

Visiting the “Analyze” page will allow you to open a variety of reports about all your students and their progress, as well as individual students. Standards reports, grade averages, and item analyses are available to download, export as a PDF, or save.

ForAllRubrics is a simple solution for teachers who do not have the advantage of learning management system or other grading tools. While it’s not overwhelming in terms of website design, it offers a lot of simple and productive tools to make the grading process and progress tracking easier.

New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Tech Tuesdays: ForAllRubrics

Tech Tuesdays: Top Summary Extensions for Struggling Readers

by Kathryn Nieves

Summary tools are sources for debate within the ELA teacher community. When utilized, these tools allow students to summarize any text available online. While some may believe these tools serve as shortcuts for reading comprehension, they can also help to provide guidance for students struggling with reading in the classroom. With a summary placed in their mind prior to diving into the full text, students can help make connections and understand the information being presented.

The following four tools are extensions or websites that students can use to help summarize articles or texts prior to reading.

  1. Internet Abridged (extension)

Internet Abridged is a Chrome extension that can be added from the Chrome Web Store. Once the article you want to read is open on your browser, select Internet Abridged’s icon from the toolbar. The extension will provide a bulleted list of the articles most important points. You can also highlight a portion of a longer work, right click on the highlighted text, and select “Internet Abridged” to receive a summary for only that one section. The extension can also automatically embed the summary into the website for easy access and review.

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  1. Auto Highlight (extension)

Auto Highlight is another Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store. It functions in almost the same way as Internet Abridged but has a few more features. Instead of opening a pop-up window that offers a summary, Auto Highlight actually edits the page you are reading. The icon, a yellow highlighter, drops color the more you select it on a particular article. Each time you click the highlighter icon, it highlights more important details from the article. The first click provides a basic summary of the most important points and more details are added based on importance from there. The maximum amount of times you can click for an article is three. You can read the highlighted lines on the page to get an understanding of the most important sentences to remember before reading the article in its entirety.

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  1. SMMRY (Website)

SMMRY is a website that summarizes articles for you. Upon accessing the website, you can copy and paste the text or the URL to the article. The article can also be uploaded from a file, like a Word document. You also have the option to alter how many sentences will be included in the summary. In addition, selecting the yellow “Settings” icon allows for further customization, such as avoiding questions, exclamations, and quotations in the summary.

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When the summary is ready to be viewed, you can see the percentage of the article that has been eliminated and view the number of characters in the summary.

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  1. Resoomer (Website, Chrome Extension)

Similar to the previous entries, Resoomer allows for one-click summarization. There is a Chrome extension and a website. Resoomer’s unique feature is that it allows you to click and drag to reduce the amount of text by a specific percentage. Without having to make adjustments and reload the page again, you can have a shorter summary of the chosen text.

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New Jersey Council of Teachers of English, the New Jersey state affiliate of NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English

Tech Tuesdays: Top Summary Extensions for Struggling Readers