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Save the Words

What it is: Save the Words is a site that celebrates words by “saving” words that are becoming forgotten and left behind in the English language.  I learned about the site today from @BookChook on her wonderful literacy blog.  The site has a simple premise, words are displayed graphically, when your roll your mouse over them they call out to you “pick me”, clicking on a word displays the definition, part of speech, and a contextual example of the word.  Signing up on the site allows you to adopt words.  I love the mission of this site, on the f.a.q. page they state that “Words are the cornerstone of language. The more words we have, the richer our vocabulary. Words allow us to communicate precisely.  Without the right word to describe something, well…we’d be speechless.”  So true, words bring so much color to language, it is a shame to use the same words over and over.  I am certainly guilty of this in my overuse of words like fantastic, outstanding, wonderful, amazing, great, nice, fun, etc.  in blog posts.  Surely there are many more appropriate words that describe the tool I am reviewing more precisely, but we become lazy in language and use words that are easy and we don’t have to think about. How to integrate Save the Words into your curriculum: Save the Words is a site with a beautiful goal, preserving words to keep language rich and powerful.  Most of the words on the site are new to me, but I was surprised at how many of them I could make an educated guess about  meaning based on what I already know about words.  Use Save the Words in your classroom (at any age) to enrich your students vocabulary, help them identify word patterns and meaning clues, and to help them appreciate words.  Choose a word to adopt each day as a class using a class account (adopting a word requires an email address).  Commit to using the word at some point during the day.  My elementary age students loved learning new words, especially words that they found out parents and other teachers didn’t know.  They become the experts.  In my class, I often had a secret word of the day.  I would casually mention what the secret word was at some point in the morning.  Throughout the day if I needed my student’s attention I would ask for the secret word, immediately students were silent with their hands raised to give me the word.  Save the Words would be the perfect place to draw those secret words from. Students could also keep a journal or word list of all of the words they have adopted, I could see this being especially popular with the Webkins age group.  The words are often difficult, but I don’t think that is any reason to exclude them from the classroom vocabulary! Today I adopted the word antipelargy: reciprocal or mutual kindness; love and care of children. Tips: You can sign up for a word of the day delivered directly to your email on Save the Words. Please leave a comment and share how you are using Save the Words 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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