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Book Punch

  What it is: Book Punch is a new site dedicated to helping students in grades 3-9 become stronger readers.  The site takes the most popular books read by schools in grades 3 through 9 and provides guided reading prompts about the reading improving overall reading comprehension.  Book Punch encourages critical thinking skills and teaches students how to be in control of their own learning (this to me is the purpose of education).  Students are led through the writing and thinking process as they read books with Book Punch.  Interactive prompts help students to focus their thinking about a particular book.  There are hundreds of built in tips and support that help students to gather ideas, organize thoughts, revise, edit, etc. in response to the literature they are reading.  The site walks them in a very concise manner through the reading/thinking process.  Students each get a login to the Book Punch site and can work at their own pace, making it easy for you to differentiate instruction in your classroom.  As a teacher, you can assign a book to your whole class or to individual students making it easy to meet every student at their current reading level.   The site offers teachers lesson plans, activities, classroom management ideas, tips and strategies, and classroom aids.  Book Punch is not a free service, but they offer a free demo writing activity for every book as well as a free pilot program to use with students for 30 days (any two books of your choice.)  Even if you can’t fit it into the budget for this year, Book Punch is definitely worth the visit if you teaching reading and writing for 3rd-9th grade.  The free demos are wonderful and will give you a great jumping off point for your reading curriculum.   How to integrate Book Punch into the classroom:  I LOVE sites that teach students how to think critically.  For me, that is what education is all about.  If I know how to gather information, how to follow directions, how to write, and how to think critically about what I find…I am going to do just fine in the real world!  Book Punch leads students through the reading/thinking process.  It meets students where they are at and the helps meet individual needs.  The site gives you the opportunity to find out where gaps are occurring in student reading and comprehension so that you can work with students more effectively.  Book Punch is intended to be an individual student program that would be best in a computer lab or mobile lab setting.  However, depending on how your time is set up, I think that Book Punch could be used effectively in the one or two computer classroom as a center that students visit during reading time.  The demo questions would be perfect for use with a projector and whole class discussion or writing.  Book Punch works right into your current curriculum and literature, making it simple to implement.  The ability for students to login to Book Punch at school or from home makes it an even sweeter deal! Tips:  Try out Book Punch for free and be sure to get it on the budget for next year if you can’t fit it in this year, it is very reasonably priced and well worth it!    Leave a comment and share how you are using Book Punch in your classroom.       

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Podcast Summit

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources | Posted on 20-02-2008

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As promised I want to share some of the incredible uses of podcasting in the classroom that I heard at the Colorado Podcast Summit yesterday. One of the keynote speakers was ISTE Primary Teacher of the Year Carol Greig. Her Keynote entitled “Podcasting for the Struggling Reader” was truly inspiring. Carol teaches kindergarten in the Eugene School District in Oregon, here she started a podcasting program for her struggling readers called Reading Buddies. The Reading Buddies program uses several iPod shuffles that are loaded with reading lessons (created and recorded by Carol) that go home with the students. Carol said something that I think rings true with educators everywhere, “No one can teach my students as well as I can.” Reading Buddies allowed Carol to go home with her students every night using the iPod. The goal of the Reading Buddies program was to help struggling readers reach the benchmark. Carol loaded the iPods with reading lessons based on the individual child’s needs, this provided guided learning at home with and extended student learning. In the Reading Buddies packs Carol included vocabulary picture cards which she created, fluency cards, a book or two and the iPod Shuffle. A sample lesson might sound something like this: “Take out the green picture card. What picture do you see first? That’s right, a cat! Cat starts with the letter C. Cat, Cat. What is the next picture?” Carol pauses after a question so that the students have time to think and respond. The Reading Buddies program helps kids with vocabulary, fluency, alphabetic principal, rhyming, phoneme segmentation, and literature. The iPod “buddies” have been a huge success with 99% of students reaching the reading benchmark by the end of the year. Carol started getting calls from parents requesting that their student be a part of the Reading Buddy program, parents and other educators in the district started offering help to create the recordings for the Reading Buddies. At the end of the first year a parent called to thank her for the wonderful program and things it had done for her son, but she also benefited. After her son went to bed, the mother would listen to the reading buddy and follow along, she learned English by listening to her kindergarten son’s Reading Buddy! There are some good rules that were set up for the students who have reading buddies, each child was told that only the child who was given the Reading Buddy was allowed to use it, if a Buddy was lost or broken the students family was responsible for replacing it. It is a privelege that can be taken away if the Buddies were not cared for. They have never had to take a Buddy away or replace one that was lost or broken by a student. The future of the Reading Buddies program includes expansion to other grades, older students could have their anthologies or science text recorded on the Shuffle. The Reading Buddies program won the presidential award for reading and technology…it is easy to see why!

The new iPod Nano would be great to use as a reading buddy because students could have audio and visual presented. The Shuffles are nice because they are so affordable (the 1G just dropped to $49 yesterday!) I am hoping to get a Reading Buddy Program up and running at my school. I will keep you posted with any success stories or lessons learned!

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[...] and help students develop a love for story.  Books Should Be Free is a great way to start a Reading Buddies program at your school with some MP3 players or iPods that can go home with students loaded up with [...]

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