Sunday, January 12, 2014

Creating My Own "Online" Textbook

Anytime Content For Everyone
Blythe's post about using videos in the classroom not only inspired me to do the same, but it also inspired me to try something I heard about last year - using teacher created Google Documents in combination with Read And Write for Google to create more accessible reading/research materials for students. I like this idea because it is online, so like the videos, it can also be reviewed by families at home and by students who are away. The learning material becomes something they can go back to anytime. 

Science Example
It has been many years since I taught grade two science. So when I came across the outcomes about how local buildings are heated, I looked to Edmonton Public School's "Brown Book" for an idea. It provided fact pages to read with students. Not particularly exciting, nor particularly UDL. That said, I didn't have a better idea that day. So I thought it would be a good match for trying my idea of teacher created Google Documents for research.

Don't Reinvent the Wheel
I took the text provided by the brown book almost verbatim. Perhaps in future years I will modify it. I called it Heating Buildings and added it to my class website

How Is It UDL (Universal Design for Learning)?
The basic tenet of UDL, as I understand it, is to make learning accessible for all students in your classroom. For my word smart students, they can simply read the text as it is. For my students who struggle with reading but not with comprehension, I have given them the ability to not only have the text read to them, but to select the passages they want to hear again. Whereas if this were done as a whole class activity, they have no control over how the passage is read to them. For my English Language Learner students, I have provided images for the keywords. They can also use the picture dictionary from Read and Write to assist them. 

What? A Worksheet?
I wanted a simple way for students to have to use the information they read. The knowledge outcome stated they needed to:

  • identify the energy source/fuel, 
  • recognize that most buildings are heated by circulating hot air or hot water,
  • describe how heat is circulated through the school building and through their own homes.
So I created a worksheet that I felt addressed the outcome.