Finding a teammate to share in this work, someone who has similar philosophies and work ethic, someone who understands children and appreciates how amazing they are, someone who knows you, warts and all, is a rare find indeed. A teammate helps to make an already wonderful life as a teacher even more incredible. I have been blessed, these past twenty seven years, to find that teammate. Though our roles have changed over time, we have spent the last twenty one years teaching fourth grade, side by side. This past fall presented my teammate, Kate, with an opportunity to try a new role, as a Digital Learning Integrationist, in our district. Even though we are not together every day this year, we have still found ways to collaborate. Even though the job has changed, all of the elements of what make us a team have not. We have been collaborating a great deal, and this month, we have put together an interactive reading journal for students in a book club that includes adult partner readers. Kate handled the technology, I handled the execution of the tasks. Kate wrote about using Google Slides in Real Time during her February post on the blog titled Reinventing the Reading Journal. I have put those ideas into action with my students. It has been a wonderful experience, just like always. Some things never change.
The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan, is one of those special books that fourth graders love but can be a challenge for many due to length and lack of schema in Greek mythology. After engaging in a unit of study on Greek mythology, all students are able to participate in a book club, with an adult partner. The expectations for reading are set forth from the start and students are asked to set goals for reading. In the past, all journal activities have been done on paper. This year, we thought it would be appropriate to make the journal activities interactive and give students the opportunity to continue to grow their skills with Google Slides. It was also an opportunity for me, the classroom teacher, to grow my skills, using Google Slides, in “Real Time,” by releasing information and activities as we progressed through the story. It was a very engaging and rewarding experience. Here are some of the student slides:
On this slide, you can see the “Update,” button which would indicate that new information has been added by the teacher for the student to view. When the slide is updated, the student’s slide will match the teacher’s slide.
I have received feedback from students and adult partners from the club regarding their experience. One of the partners is a retired Latin teacher! Here is what they had to say about the book and the slides:
- I loved this book and I can’t wait to read the rest of them!
- This book brought Greek mythology to life!
- The journal was a great way because instead of plain old questions, it was more like fun projects!
- The author was trained in the classics and got so much right!!! (a former Latin teacher)
- What a fun experience with my child.
Instead of the traditional in person meetings for book club members to share their thoughts and progress on the story, we had to meet virtually. Parents were asking to join the meetings which was a very rewarding experience for me as a teacher. It was fun to comment on THEIR work in Google Slides as well. Students and partners shared one journal and parents were asked to add their own answers to add to the discussion. If a parent was not able to join a meet, the students would report on their partner’s responses.
Book clubs have taken on a new and exciting format in fourth grade and I am looking forward to continuing with interactive journals in, “Real Time.” This is possible because I have a great teammate! Our collegiality and teamwork still exist because our goals are still the same; Keep kids reading, AND keep kids reading books they love, to name just a few! Time brings change to us all. Even though our roles as 4th grade teachers are different with one of us still in the classroom and one of us as an integrationist, our relationship hasn’t changed all that much. It is evolving, like any good relationship should, and it is as strong as ever. I believe that we model for the students and families how wonderful a life as a teacher can be, and how wonderful true friendship really is. I can’t imagine what our next adventure will be but more importantly, I can’t wait for it to begin!