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ClassConnect: all-in-one digital organization for the classroom

What it is:  ClassConnect is a website I have written about in the past (here) that has made some great changes that make it worth taking another look!  ClassConnect is a fantastic one-stop-shop for collaborating, storing, and organizing your life as an educator.  The real powerhouse of ClassConnect is the ability to build, organize and share lessons and resources easy.  You won’t be pressed to remember where you stored everything (dropbox, diigo, pinterest, twitter favorites) because with ClassConnect you can store it all in one place.  Even better, you can search and use lessons and resources that other teachers have built.  The collaborative nature of ClassConnect makes it easy to work together on planning out and sharing learning.  ClassConnect even started a great movement called “United We Teach” encouraging educators to share more.  ClassConnect is super easy to use, just find lesson plans and snap them into your lessons…there is no need for downloads! You can set up ClassConnect to automatically notify your colleagues, students and parents when you make updates.  What’s even handier is that everything is viewable on computers, iPads (woohoo) and smartphones.  This makes it easy to plan and use from everywhere!  The lessons in ClassConnect aren’t only files, they are also interactive websites, games and videos.  Everything in one place.  Gotta love that! When a lesson gets updated, everyone who is shared on the lesson gets updated. Did I mention it is free?  It is How to integrate ClassConnect into the classroom: ClassConnect is a no-brainer for introducing to your classroom routine.  Who could argue with an all-in-one organizational tool? ClassConnect makes it SO simple to share resources with colleagues, parents and students.  Think about how this could transform differentiation in your classroom.  Instead of just using the “one-size-fits-all” differentiation that curriculum offers (I hesitate to even call that differentiation…what a joke!), you can create folders of lessons; resources; and learning that perfectly fit the needs of your students.  Because they are so easily shared, you can bring everyone who needs to be on board, on board.  Students can go right to ClassConnect to view what you have stored for them there.  Parents can go to ClassConnect for additional support and ideas for furthering learning at home. The colleague sharing shouldn’t be overlooked.  Imagine how much richer learning could be if we were sharing our best finds with each other freely and in an easy to access location.  Changing the world here. ***By the way, ClassConnect has a truly AWESOME start up story.  This isn’t just some company. ClassConnect was/is created by a student who wanted school to look different. Be sure to read Eric’s story on the About page. Tips: For every colleague you invite that signs up, ClassConnect will give you BOTH 500mb more of free storage (you start out with 1GB)!  That is a pretty sweet deal! Please leave a comment and share how you are using ClassConnect in  your classroom!

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Oxford Owl: free ebooks (with audio!)

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 23-07-2013

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Oxford Owl free ebooks: iLearn Technology

What it is: Oxford Owl is an incredible collection of free children’s ebooks for kids ages 3-11.  Each ebook has accompanying audio so that students can choose to read along, or read independently.  The books also have activities that focus on reading comprehension and story recall.  There are several options for filtering the ebooks so that students can find just the right story including by age, by book type, and by series.  In addition to the ebooks on the site, you can find fun activities and recommendations for each age group, games to print and play, and online games with characters from the books and site.

How to integrate Oxford Owl into your classroom:  I am a big fan of books.  Huge even.  It doesn’t matter where they reside, books make me happy.  It makes sense then, that Oxford Owl would be a squeal worthy site for me.  Free ebooks with audio you guys!  This site reminds me a little bit of Lookybook...I’m still lamenting its demise.

Oxford Owl is a great way to instantly expand your classroom library.  Books are leveled by age and include both fiction and non-fiction.  You will find biographies, dictionaries, fiction, myths and legends, non-fiction, phonics, picture books, poetry and books for struggling readers.   The stories that I went through were truly fun to read!  Use the books on Oxford Owl during reading time on classroom computers.  Students can choose a book to go through as a read along (SO very helpful when there are students who really need to read with a buddy, but the buddy situation is limited).   If you only have one or two computers in your classroom, get a headphone splitter and let students read together in small groups.  The related activities are a great way for students to self-monitor comprehension.  Students can also read these stories independently.  When I taught 2nd grade, I had a voracious reader who quickly read through all of the classroom books and was ready for more.  He was only allowed to check out from the library once a week (and usually those books went home) so I would have him use Lookybook.  Oxford Owl would open a whole other world of books for them to read!

We all have days where a few extra minutes to deal with a problem, set up for the next activity, etc.  Oxford Owl could be connected to your interactive whiteboard or projector for students to listen to a story while you get things sorted.  The whole class can enjoy the story together.  My students loved books on the IWB because they could all see the pictures and read along.  Oxford Owl is also ideal for that time of year when the germs settle in and the voice has gone on strike.

One of my favorite things to do in the classroom was reading with small groups of students.  It gave me the opportunity to give them the individual attention that they really deserved and let me get to know them as readers better.  But…what to do with the rest of the class?  I assigned tub work that students could complete independently.  The tubs were centers related to what we were learning during the week.  Each tub contained all the necessary materials that students would need.  This was independent learning they could work on while I was with the small groups.  Oxford Owl would make a great addition to the “tub” work.  Students could visit the computer center and choose some books to read and play the associated games.

Tips:  Now for the unfortunate news: Oxford Owl is flash-based.  BOO! Not ideal at all for a classroom full of iPads like we have at Anastasis.  Luckily, there is a solution.  There are several Flash Browsers that you can download for the iPad to view flash content.  My favorite is Rover (because it is filtered and created for kids!).  If your network is well filtered, I would also recommend iSwifter and Photon.

P.S. We Give Books is another outstanding place to find free ebooks!

P.S.S. Hat Tip to The Techie Classroom- an outstanding blog to add to your reader if it isn’t already there!

Comments (2)

[…] Tips: If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the Oxford Owl Literacy site. […]

What a great resource for classroom teachers. Finding FREE eBooks is hard to do, not to mention books related to technology topics! Oxford Owl looks to be pretty amazing, minus the flash part. Here’s a great eBook collection to add to those resources mentioned above. Also, these books are PDF so they work great on iPads!

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