Reflecting on Student Growth and Achievement

I was taught that the way of progress was neither swift nor easy.-Marie Curie

Recently, I was looking at photographs taken of my students on the first day of school. They looked so little and baby-faced.  It was amazing to see them then and to see how much they have grown this year.  They are taller and their faces have changed.  Because I am with them all day, every day, the change wasn’t as evident.

The same goes for their work.  They work hard all year and little bit, by little bit, progress is seen.  Several years ago, I started keeping a writing portfolio of student work.  I save a writing sample from each child, each month.  At the end of the year, I put them all together in a portfolio to send home to parents.  It is so wonderful to look through the pages and see the growth that occurred throughout the year.  We start on the first day of school:

Students write their names and draw a picture of themselves.  If they are able to, many will write on or label their pictures.  Each month, growth is evident.  By the end, it will look something like this:

What a difference 9 months makes!  It looks so easy, yet a lot of hard work went into this progress. Many times I ask myself, “Are we there yet?” It takes looking at the beginning to appreciate the end product.

How do iPads fit into this? The iPads were used as a companion in both the Reading and Writing Workshop.  Students used them for reference, for reading, and even some writing.  The apps provided them with practice in reading and spelling, which in turn, helped them in their writing.  Their writing on the iPad has been incorporated into their blogging experience, in their creation of books in eBook Magic and in Pages.  While they tend to write more prolifically on paper, they do enjoy writing on their iPads.  It has also given them some beginning keyboarding skills.

They have had a variety of experiences in using iPads, reading books, class discussions, writing stories, using anchor charts, partner work, and various other literacy-building activities.  The key words here are “variety of experiences”.  When you immerse students in a literacy-rich environment, incorporate a systematic approach to reading and writing, and differentiate instruction with iPad technology, students can’t help but succeed!

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