Monica Witzke

Aurora, CO

Monica Witzke
Columbia Middle School
Aurora, CO
How do you use Actively Learn in the classroom?

In-class reading, assigned reading for homework, and quizzes.

What problems were you experiencing in your classroom or school prior to adopting Actively Learn? 

One fairly straightforward problem we were facing was lack of access to reading materials.  Classroom budgetary restrictions prohibited us from having enough reading material for each of our students. 

What solutions did you try to address problems in your school/classroom prior to adopting Actively Learn? 

You name it-shared copies, only one classroom set, cycling of materials.

How has Actively Learn helped improve your students’ learning and/or your teaching? 

After using Actively Learn to initially address an access issue,  I have found a much deeper appreciation for the application.  I have found that my students are collaborating in a way that they never have before in real time.  For example, I will have students share their annotations.  One student might make a connection to a movie and, in the annotations, put a clip of that movie.  All of a sudden, my students are having a text rich conversation independent of me in a time that is most relevant to their reading, rather than the next day or the following week. Another example of how I use Actively Learn is with support for my ELD and SPED students.  I can easily provide them with extra support, hints, even video mini lessons mid text.  Because it is private to them, they don't feel isolated or "shut out" of our classroom conversations. 

 How do you use Actively Learn with your students? What type of content do you assign? 

I have mostly assigned short stories with students.  I am going to venture out into the world of non-fiction and independent reading with my students next year.

What advice would you have for teachers who are new to Actively Learn? 

I am all too familiar with the "latest" and "greatest" programs that districts force down the throats of teachers that are prescribed and ineffective.  This is not that!  It is absolutely intuitive.  Find your teaching buddy, sit down together, and create just one Actively Learn lesson. Once you see how easy it is and how the students respond and grow, you will be convinced to try another.  Try enough of them and you have a well established Library of materials that you can adapt to your students needs that year or by each class (you can't do that with hard copies!).