Two Steps to Stepping Up Student Learning
If you haven't watched Simon Sinek's powerful Ted Talk on finding your "why," you can view it here. In short, your "why" is the reason that what you do matters. It is the sense of purpose you carry with you as you work, raise children, or volunteer in your community. Finding your "why" is essential to doing what you do better, and knowing how to do it. If we brainstorm and soul search here at INFOhio to find our "why," we could come up with many different possibilities - equitable access, college and career readiness, early learning foundations, professional development, and quality content. But the "why" we keep coming back to is student learning. The reason we do what we do is because we believe that improving student learning is the key to not only the state's future success, but also the world's.
Now that may seem pretty lofty: INFOhio's quality digital content available to all teachers, students, and parents in Ohio - no matter the socio-economic status, location, or sub group data - can have an impact on student learning. And that impact can help improve the way our future citizens interact, communicate, create, and lead. But before we get too carried away, I want bring us back down to earth and ground our "why" - improving student learning - into two simple steps that can be made by educators using our tools and resources. The two steps are in the image below:
Step one: Go to Educator Tools, our searchable site where you can find instructional strategies, research, lesson plans, and media. You can search for topics such as "financial literacy" or "best practices" in the search box. You can limit your results on the left using filters for grade level, subject area, or item type. If you want to cover informational text to improve student learning, you can search that phrase, and will find 8 items - articles, lesson plans, and the INFOhio Pinterest Board - in the results.
Step Two: Go to ISearch which is now available on the INFOhio home page. This search tool finds the resources you need to support your instruction and improve student learning. Results will come from almost all of our databases - World Book Encyclopedia, EBSCO, BookFlix, and more. It also brings results from your school library and the Digital Video Collection, providing you with a variety of content in a variety of media formats to challenge and engage students.
Two Steps In Action
What do the two steps look like in action? In the search results for "informational text," choose the article Common Core: Fact vs. Fiction. This article from Scholastic Instructor provides reasons why it is important to teach informational text, as well as several mini lessons for informational text aligned to Ohio's Learning Standards. There are several lessons included for grades K-8. Two examples are below:
Both of these lessons require text, and ISearch is the fastest way to find authentic, vetted text to use in your lessons. Most articles have the Lexile Reading Level included, and using the PDF full text will give your students the experience of interacting with text features found in most informational text sources - magazines, journals, and newspapers. For example, if you search in ISearch for an article on "soil erosion." to use with fourth grade students, you can find magazine articles and encyclopedia articles that can be printed or annotated online using tools such as those found in Google docs or other extensions or add-ons.
Within this one lesson, students are learning:
- a concept from Ohio 4th grade Science Standards
- active reading skills for online text
- to determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words or phrases in a text relevant to a grade 4 topic or subject area.
- skills for using digital tools for educational purposes
Using these two steps leads to a lot of student learning!
INFOhio's "why" is surely no different than the majority of schools' in this nation. Figuring it out, implementing the what and the how, and putting these into practice can be the foundations for success for companies such as Apple, innovators like the Wright Brothers, and educators like you. If your "why" is student learning, try these two steps. Share your results, questions, and comments with us on social media using #INFOhioWorks. We want to hear about what you do and how it works - all small steps to changing the world!