As we near the Christmas season, there are many opportunities to bring the true spirit of the season into our teaching. From “giving trees” to food baskets, classrooms embrace the meaning of Christ’s birth.
In this Winter issue of Today’s Catholic Teacher, you will find an inspiring article by Kate Daneluk about teaching Christmas traditions from around the world. As a former social studies and history teacher, I am drawn to the interdisciplinary approach described in the article. This approach allows teachers to remain focused on core subjects while integrating art, music, theater, and culinary experiences. The article highlights lesson ideas across the pre-k-12 experience. This is particularly useful for prek-8 schools where parallel instruction across grades is a challenge. The article also includes recommended websites that connect further with this issue’s theme of educational technology.
I was drawn to another article, by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, Virtual Success: Special Needs and Technology Working Together. This piece highlights the use of educational technology for students with learning struggles. As the mother of a second grader who has a learning disability in reading fluency, I have had personal experience with the benefits of digital tools for struggling readers. After six months working with two digital reading programs, my son’s increased skill is evident. He is now independently seeking more challenging books! I feel blessed as his love of reading emerges more each day.
This article shares a clear process for teachers and parents to use when working with a learning-challenged student. Hess advocates for beginning with the problem, then identifying the student need, and finally addressing what you, as the teacher, need to support the process.
A final article I would like to highlight, Six Digital Formative-Assessment Tools by Alissa DeVito, is near to my heart. My dissertation addressed beginning teachers’ use of formative assessment—the process of giving students feedback throughout instruction. As DeVito highlights, formative assessment is essential for all educators to implement in their practice. Formative assessment identifies struggling students as well as those who need more challenge. It also provides essential data for discussions with students and parents. While discussions surrounding formative assessment are not new, the use of technology as a tool to enhance and ease teacher’s abilities to gather formative assessments is novel. DeVito concludes the article with unique ways to integrate digital tools for gathering formative assessments.
I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I did. Staying current with educational technology is essential for preparing our 21st century learners.
Many Blessings this Season,
Dr. Lisa D’Souza