I Am in Love…with an App

OK, I’ve been slowly making my way through Kylene Beers’ germinal text When Kids Can’t Read: What Teachers Can Do.

I’m loving the book, don’t get me wrong, but I’m also starting, stopping, and re-starting about three other books too.

One strategy Beers suggests for students who cannot summarize a text well is to give them a rubric that details what a strong summary entails. Now, I don’t know about you, but when my 9th grade English Honors teacher asked the class if we had ever heard of the word rubric I thought she had started speaking German.

Almost fifteen years later (ouch…that hurt to write that…just a little), I don’t grade without some semblance of a rubric.

Why? When students know what the end goal is (which is described in the rubric) the product tends to come out significantly better.

I downloaded an app called Notability, typed up Beers’ summary rubric in the app, and explained the process to my struggling readers: they had to read their independent reading book, record a summary using Notability, and then get evaluated (as a completion grade) on how well they hit the different aspects of a summary.

Full disclosure: I started the kids on this a LONG time ago and just got around to listening to their little recordings. It was such a nice surprise at the end of a long work day to hear the students’ progress. I was amazed at how much better their summaries were when they had a guide. Eventually, I want the students to record without the rubric in front of them.

Hopefully, they’ll have internalized the skill and we can move on to another one…with my new love, Notability, right there with us.

Note: I use Notability instead of AudioNote because I can type up a template and copy it in the app again and again. I could not figure out how to do that in AudioNote.


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