Last week, I mentioned that my class keeps a journal on the iPad each day. We use a free app called Kids Journal.
This is sample page inside one of the Kids Journal journals that you can create with the app.
You can read more about how we do the journaling routine in my classroom here.
We also use a website to help us read informational text on the iPad each day. With the common core standards in place, I'm doing everything I can to help expose students to more informational text. One of my amazing parents, who is an elementary principal in another district, recommended the site tweentribune.com to me. The site contains daily nonfiction articles appropriate for students in grades K - 12. My students read the Tween Tribune Junior articles, which are designed for students in grades K - 4. Since this is a website, not an app, it can be used even if you don't have iPads in your classroom.
I choose three students each day to work together to be the nonfiction news reporters. I carefully select the students to make sure that I have at least one high reader in each group of reporters. Since Tween Tribune Junior articles are for K - 4th graders, even with a higher reader in the group they sometimes need my help with a few words. The reporters choose one article from the Tween Tribune Junior edition of the day. They read the article together, discuss what they learned and decide how they are going to share the "reporting duties".
Here is screenshot of part of a list of articles for today. There are many, many pages of articles for students to choose from each day. As you can see, students have the option to leave comments and take quizzes. My students will not be leaving comments, but I may let them try the quizzes in the future.
When we start our morning meeting each day, the reporters put the iPad under our document camera and tell us what they learned. When they are finished reporting, we ask the reporters questions to clarify anything that we want to know about the information in the article. This is when I point out the strategies we are using to read/understand the nonfiction news (returning to the text, rereading, check the pictures for clues, thinking about/discussing vocabulary). The articles often have a discussion question at the end. If the chosen article has a discussion question, the students discuss it with their elbow partners and then we quickly discuss it as a class. If my reporters are well prepared to "report" the nonfiction news, it only takes about 5 - 7 minutes of my morning meeting time to do this routine. I am lovin' the opportunities to model/practice strategies for reading informational text and my students are loving reporting the news to the class.
I'm thinking I should start my informational text unit a little earlier next year. This year, I'm planning to start it right after the winter break. That will enhance our discussions and reporting of the nonfiction news.
I do have fond memories of my parents reading the newspaper every evening while we sat in the living room waiting for the Cosby Show to start. But, times are changing and my own children will have memories of my husband and I reading the news on our phones in the dance lobby or at the soccer field. I want my students to be prepared to read, understand and discuss informational text with their peers and I am so grateful for the technology to help them learn how to do it in such a way that will hopefully motivate them to explore more informational texts in the future.