The state may set the standards for what students must learn at each grade level, but teachers have the responsibility to determine how they're going to teach those standards. At Yacolt Primary School, the third grade teachers have developed a method for teaching the Washington learning standards for reading informational text that incorporates technology into the lessons and provides a tool for evaluating student growth.
The teachers are using Chromebooks and Google applications to help students ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for their answers.
A typical lesson requires students to read a passage of text in Google documents and then answer questions about the text in Google Forms. Yacolt's third grade teachers formatted the lessons so that they resemble English language arts portions of Smarter Balanced Assessments. Students' responses automatically populate a spreadsheet in Google Sheets, and teachers evaluate their students' answers based on a rubric that the teachers created during time set aside for collaboration. When Yacolt's third grade teachers enter grades in Google Classroom, students can see them.
The teachers' goal is twofold: 1. they are teaching the standard in a format that lets students learn how to use the same technology used in businesses and familiarizes students with tools they will use for state testing, and 2. teachers have zeroed in on reading informational text as a way to analyze student achievement and make adjustments to their teaching based on what student needs.
"We have taken the things we normally teach and integrated it with the technology," said Jennifer Bucher, a third grade teacher at Yacolt. "Students get used to reading on the screen and taking notes using the keyboard."
Teachers across the Battle Ground Public Schools have access to Google applications and can check out Chromebooks on which students can do the work. Teachers also have access to BGPS Tech Training, which provides classes and resources to teachers who want to learn how to implement these tools into their lessons.
"It's great," said Yacolt third grade teacher Nancy Barney. "Students are doing complete projects on the Chromebooks, from reading and taking notes to writing and sharing their work with other kids in class."