Simulate Research-Writing Tasks During eLearning
QUESTION: How do you maximize an eLearning day?
ANSWER: For school districts utilizing eLearning days, a simulated research task (like those that appear on standardized assessments) would be an ideal at-home assignment.
Select short, high-interest texts
Provide students 2-3 informational texts related to a concept or topic you’ve been teaching. (Consider a variety of text types, including a video excerpt, a chart, a graph, a map, or a series of photos.) For example, a science teacher who has been presenting information on animal habitats might find two or three texts on sharks. A social studies teacher in the middle of a unit on U.S. presidents might find a couple of texts all about one president in particular.
Require an after-reading response
In addition to assigning the texts to be read, provide an after-reading writing task. This may include something formal, like a writing prompt. Or, the task may be to simply complete a graphic organizer based on information collected from the texts. The latter is what Throop Elementary (Paoli, IN) teacher Katie Cadle did for an e-learning day. She provided her second graders with a grade-appropriate book excerpt (i.e., Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, by Robert Frost) and a corresponding video clip from the movie version of that book.
Their assignment was to compare certain facets of the movie clip to the excerpt from the original text. Using a T-Chart, each student generated a list of comparisons for the after-reading writing task.
The sign of a productive eLearning day is one that marries the use of technology with the literacy skills we’ve been teaching in the classroom.
These kinds of research-writing tasks bring together essential literacy skills, including:
- Juggling multiple texts all in one sitting.
- Synthesizing ideas across multiple sources.
- Citing evidence to support their thinking.
- Composing a first draft on the computer.
NOTE: Screencastify allows users to download a video to the computer rather than having to play it over the internet. It is free for ten minutes of recording or purchase a year subscription for $49. Katie pre-recorded a lesson for students to watch from home, saved the video to her Google classroom drive, and had students download it onto their Chrome books for a future eLearning day.