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Why ELA teachers need Wakelet: Learner agency

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In the latest in her series on using Wakelet in the ELA classroom, Superhuman Samantha J. Shaffner shares how you can use the platform to increase learner agency

Whether it be interacting with text-sets and assessments on NewsELA or playing games like Quizziz, Kahoot, or BrainPop, teachers have access to an overwhelming amount of high-quality apps. Being able to store resources, including various apps and media types, in one place is a dream come true for busy teachers. This is especially true if they’re dedicated to keeping up with the shift into the paperless classroom, while providing students with fun, interactive and learner-centered activities that will empower them as 21st century learners. Wakelet makes this possible – and it’s fun!

In my teaching practice, Wakelet serves as a home for combining apps – AppSmashing – to create differentiated and personalized activities for students. I can include a combination of cutting-edge EdTech tools, such as Edulastic, NewsELA and ReadWorks. The image below illustrates how this looks in my classroom, as well as the evolution of the curriculum design process that I have undergone as a result of using Wakelet alongside other apps with my students on a regular basis.

Blended learning with Wakelet in the ELA classroom

Student voice and choice should be a critical component of planning and facilitating any ELA lesson or activity. With Wakelet, ELA teachers can thoughtfully create a collection of activities, media and resources that align with learning targets and meet individual student needs. Many teachers, myself included, curate interactive resources. I’ve also been ‘Appsmashing’ since I started using Wakelet in my classroom. ‘Appsmashing’ is when you combine the features of different EdTech applications in one lesson or activity. Wakelet encourages this by allowing material from other applications to be added and organized into collections. That’s why I like to think of Wakelet as a hub for all of the other digital resources I use regularly.

Start curating content in the classroom

Every 21st century ELA teacher needs to be able to create differentiated and engaging content that supports College and Career Readiness Standards, ideally through the use of interactive EdTech apps. Apps like NewsELA, ReadWorks, Edulastic, Quizizz, Kahoot, and many more, are the go-to programs for forward-thinking educators looking to find ways to personalize instruction and keep up with education as it moves from pencils and textbooks to databases, learning management systems, and demonstrating mastery through the use of interactive tools with embedded standards aligned resources. As discussed in my blog, ‘10 ways to use collaboration in the classroom’, I’ve started to create formative assessments with a variety of resources to assess my students’ learning and, eventually, mastery of skills.

Using Wakelet as a home for Personalized Blended Learning menus allows teachers to curate resources and activities through which students can access various types of content and mediums of delivery/interaction all on one site. These collections are accessible to them at school, at home, and anywhere else that they can get online. In my ELA classes, I have students with wide ranging ability levels, which demands a high level of differentiation for students.

I call my Personalized Blended Learning Menus, Blended Learning Stations, which are curated and designed carefully, and evolve over time as curriculum is tweaked, added and reviewed. This is an effective Response to Intervention as well as a way to keep students engaged and interested while feeding their need for large amounts of consumable media shared on various social media platforms.

To read part one of Samantha’s series, click here

Samantha J. Shaffner is a secondary English Language Arts Teacher at Millennium Community School in, Columbus, OH. This is Samantha’s 12th year in the ELA classroom within an urban charter school setting, where she has also held a variety of administrative positions including director of blended learning and district testing coordinator.

Samantha has a passion for blended learning program/assessment design and implementation of best practices within the field of ELA education, and is an active/contributing member of both the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) as well as the Ohio Council for Teachers of English Language Arts (OCTELA).

Samantha enjoys writing and conducting research about cutting edge EdTech tools and applications, as well as serving as a Wakelet Ambassador.

Wakelet profile: @SamanthaShaffner9061

Twitter: @SamanthaShaffn2

LinkedIn: Samantha J. Shaffner