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Nicole Rothbauer, intervention specialist Salem City Schools (OH).


I team-teach seventh-and eighth-grade science with two other teachers, and the three of us sat down two summers ago to discuss our concerns about our Ohio achievement scores in science. We knew the Common Core Standards were changing, and we wanted to do something to make sure the kids would better retain the content. We couldn't find any textbooks that matched what we needed to teach for the Core Curriculum, so I said, "Hey, let's write our own!" The other teachers looked at me like I was crazy.


We spent the summer writing and creating textbooks via iBooks Author so our students would have books on iPads that not only followed the Ohio Core Curriculum, but also made them an active part of the class. We deconstructed the science standards, identified the key concepts, determined the learning targets, and asked ourselves how we could integrate technology to keep the students engaged. The other two teachers focused on the content and I worked on the widgets, and we had three books finished by the time we started the school year. Since then we have finished two more.


Before, when we were teaching the scientific method we would go through the steps, talk to the kids about it, and give them a couple of experiments where they had to go through it ... but it was never really something that they owned. We were losing them by just showing them what they needed to do. Now it's more inquiry-based. We give them a question, provide them with the materials, and say, "How are you going to figure this out?" They have to understand what they're doing and why they're doing it in order for it to make sense. One of the widgets on the iBook allows you to put up a picture of a eel and have the kids drag the parts of it on the iPad to test whether they are right or wrong. We can embed videos into it, which is a fantastic learning tool. This is what the kids are used to.


We have to get away from the sit-down-and-answer-questions mode that so many teachers are stuck in. It's all about guiding the kids and letting them come up with their own ways of reaching the answers. With our iBooks we end up with kids taking different routes and then sharing how they got there. That's learning at its best: kids teaching each other, talking about things. We walk around constantly, but we're the "guide on the side," not the "sage on the stage." The teacher should be the facilitator, not the person standing up at the podium.


Aligning digital content to the Common Core sounds overwhelming, and it is when you first start. But you just need to stick with it, have a good grasp of the standards, and have teachers to collaborate with. We're trying to teach kids to collaborate, and as teachers we have to learn to do that too. Yes, it's a lot of work up front, but once it's done, it's so rewarding. The hard work is over, and now you can spend time guiding your student through inquiry-based activities. I still get goose bumps when I think about the first time we handed out the iPads and told the kids to turn them on. To see their excitement made all of the work worthwhile.

Caption: MY TOP 3

Rothbauer shares three websites that help teach the Common Core.

Click here for the captioned version


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Title Annotation:INNOVATOR
Publication:T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2013
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