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Fluency Finder App: Updated with new features!

Posted by admin | Posted in Classroom Management, Interactive book, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 21-08-2013

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Normally I post all of my app posts at my other blog, iPad Curriculum.  Because iDevices are becoming SO common place as a technology in the classroom, I’m going to start posting them here as well.  If you just want apps, head over to iPad Curriculum and you can search apps only!  Just like iLearn Technology, you can search any app by Bloom’s Taxonomy level.  All of the websites I share on iLearn Technology are completely FREE, the apps I review tend to be a mix of free and paid apps.  At the bottom of each post, I share the cost of the app.


Screen Shot 2013-03-04 at 2.29.31 PMFluency Finder

What it is: In the US it is back to school time!  I love these first days of school when you get to meet a new group of students and uncover their passions, strengths and weaknesses.  Fluency is one of those measures that is great to have from the beginning of the year because it means that we as teachers are armed with the background knowledge to help build reading confidence in students.   You can easily find and track fluency rates so that you have more time to help students strengthen reading skills and find books that are confidence-building and enjoyable for them.  I have written about Fluency Finder before (here), but I’m writing about it again because they have just come out with some great new features worth another mention!  Fluency Finder now has a data-sharing email function so that you can share fluency results with all stakeholders easily.  Comprehension questions have been built-in so now you have a one-step fluency and reading comprehension assessment.  Very handy!  Reading passages are being updated with a snapshot list so that you can quickly compare passages.  32 brand new passages are also being added from literary classics for 1st-8th grade reading levels.

 

I like Fluency Finder because of the way that it instantly calculates results and then stores them in your Student Record for instant access.  Really handy when you are in the library with students and want to quickly remind yourself of their current fluency levels to assist them in selecting the perfect, not-to-hard-book that will keep them reading with enjoyment.

How to integrate Fluency Finder app into the classroom:

Fluency Finder makes it simple to assess reading fluency in 1st-8th grade reading levels.  To get started:

  • Add students to the app
  • Select an appropriate grade level passage for the student to read
  • Print the passage from the www.fluencyfinder.com website (students could also read from their own iDevice or computer if you want to save paper)
  • Begin assessment, start the app timer as the student begins reading
  • Student will read from printed passage as you follow on your iDevice marking any mistakes
  • Tap the (+) button when student makes a reading mistake
  • Tap the (-) button if the student self-corrects a mistake
  • End the timer when the student finishes
  • Tap the “finish assessment” button to instantly see results

Now instead of focusing so much on keeping track of the fluency and score, you can focus on what actually matters: listening for fluency, comprehension and expression.

Being a paperless school, we are LOVING this option for helping students choose books that are at a level that is “just right.”  It gives us the opportunity to help students hunt down the perfect amount of challenge and really focus on a story they can love.  We are all about encouraging an absolute love of reading!

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Tips: Target Fluency Rates

First Grade: 60-70 wpm

Second Grade: 80-95 wpm

Third Grade: 100-120 wpm

Fourth Grade: 120-135 wpm

Fifth Grade: 130-145 wpm

Sixth Grade: 140-150 wpm

Seventh Grade: 150-160 wpm

Eighth Grade 160-175 wpm

Cost$6.99 (iTunes link)

Compatible with: iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 4.3 or later

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  Fluency Finder in your classroom.

Treasures MacMillan McGraw Hill Supplement

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 03-08-2010

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I am not a fan of canned curriculum.  It has some benefits and is relatively easy to teach, but there is a lack of differentiation for different learners and the activities for practice are often shallow.  Treasures has some fun stories and themes but they are really lacking in their activities to practice the essential learning.  The activities are often shallow and don’t change from first grade to fifth grade.  The same copy from the dictionary activity is suggested for learning vocabulary for every unit in every grade level.  I created the Treasures supplement as a way to help teachers provide students with multiple ways of practicing the essential learnings.  I just finished the supplement for unit 1.  This is the supplement for first through fifth grade.

Stage’d

Posted by admin | Posted in Foreign Language, Fun & Games, History, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 04-05-2010

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What it is: I am constantly learning about cool new website tools for the classroom from my PLN (Personal Learning Network), today I learned about an animated comic creator called Stage’d from fellow Blogging Alliance member @MrR0gersStage’d is a tool that helps students to tell digital stories in a new 3-d way.  Students can create a stage full of characters and dialogue as if they are directing their own digital play.  They can choose characters, costumes, animations, set design and provide characters with dialog.  When the 3-d comic has been saved, it can be emailed or linked to with a unique url.   Stage’d is perfect for use in any classroom, to save a comic requires no personal identifying information or even an email address.  All students have to do is type in the name of the director (first name only or a pseudonym).  

How to integrate Stage’d into the classroom: Stage’d is a seriously fun creation tool, students are going to love directing their own 3-d comic plays.  Stage’d makes a great digital story telling tool.

Students can:

  • Publish their own fiction (or non-fiction) writing pieces as a 3-d play
  • Re-tell a story to demonstrate comprehension
  • Illustrate vocabulary words
  • Illustrate historical events
  • Create mock public service announcements
  • Create mocumentaries
  • “Interview” an important person of interest
  • Create short persuasive video commercials
  • Illustrate story problems in math
  • Practice a foreign language dialogue and vocabulary

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Stage’d is very easy to use and the results are absolutely fantastic.  Create your own Stage’d creations to introduce a new topic or concept to your students.  This is a fun introduction that will grab their attention in a hurry.

Tips: The creators of Stage’d are constantly adding new features and options so check back often.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Stage’d in your classroom.

Weboword

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 09-03-2010

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Picture 2Weboword

What it is: It can be really difficult for visual learners to get a good handle on vocabulary.  Without good visual aids, the definitions behind words can feel abstract and hard to grasp.  Weboword is a fantastic visual vocabulary site that offers students illustrations that help students understand vocabulary.  I believe that everyone remembers concepts better when they are surrounded by story.  Think about a tsunami.  What comes to mind is probably not a word for word definition of the word but images, and stories about tsunamis.  You probably think about the destruction that they cause, a story you heard from someone affected by a tsunami.  Because we make deeper connections with stories, it only makes sense to offer students vocabulary words with a visual aid that will help them create story references and pictures.  Each vocabulary word is accompanied by a sketch of the word, a definition of the word, a history of the word, the pronunciation, and situational uses of the word.  There is a limited number of words pictured, but it should help students to build up a stronger vocabulary and word fluency.  Each day a new vocabulary word is featured on the Weboword home page.  Students can also review past vocabulary words on the “vocabulary” page.  Students can complete crossword puzzles based on the Weboword vocabulary.    

How to integrate Weboword into the classroom: Vocabulary and word fluency is an important ingredient for strong readers.  Begin each day with the newest Weboword vocabulary on your projector or interactive whiteboard.  You can subscribe to Webowords free daily updates to get a word each day delivered to you.  Because the vocabulary on Weboword is limited, you may not find the specific vocabulary you are looking for.  Encourage your students to create their own visualizations and cartoon sketches for the vocabulary they are studying.  Weboword is excellent preparation for the SAT’s but can also be used with younger students to build vocabulary.  My elementary students really enjoy learning “big kid” words.  The advanced vocabulary can make them feel empowered.  Webowords is also a great way to spice up student writing, when they have a greater vocabulary base to pull from, their writing will become richer.

Tips: Embed the Weboword widget in your classroom website. Students can get the vocabulary word for the day with one stop.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Weboword in your classroom.

National Geographic Young Explorer

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Geography, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Science, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 04-03-2010

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What it is: National Geographic has fantastic resources for the classroom.  Their Young Explorer online content is not to be missed in the primary classroom.  This is an online magazine specifically for kindergarten and first grade student (I think second grade students would also benefit).  The site lets students listen and read the latest stories from National Geographic Young Explorer.  The photographs are breath taking and the reading is very accessible to beginning readers and English language learners.  Each portion of the text has a speaker next to it that allows students to listen to the text.  Click on the “More Issues” button to access past issues.  In the “For Teachers” section, you will find print versions of the teacher’s guides complete with lesson plans, discussion questions, accompanying worksheets, and more.  There is a very helpful story planner that gives you upcoming themes.  These may be helpful when planning upcoming lessons.  

How to integrate National Geographic Young Explorer into the classroom: It can be hard to find quality, accessible informational reading for primary students.  National Geographic has solved this problem with Young Explorer.  I am amazed that National Geographic is offering these online for free!  Struggling readers can listen to the text read to them and read along.  English language learners receive support for their reading of the text.  The photographs and images are nothing less than excellent.  The teacher materials that are included will help you to utilize the magazines and stories effectively.

Read and discuss Young Explorer stories as a class using a projector or interactive whiteboard.  Teach your students how to read informational text, and the comprehension strategies that will help them to understand what they are reading.  Set up Young Explorer on the classroom computers as a reading center for students to visit during reading time.  Take a look at the Young Explorer archives to see if any of the past issues will support the learning you are doing in the classroom.

Tips: In the “For Teachers” section, you will find a link to interactive whiteboard content.  This is a link to National Geographic’s premium content that can be found on Promethean Planet.  These flipcharts are fantastic and include a teachers guide, printable blackline masters, teaching notes, and offline materials.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using National Geographic Young Explorer in your classroom.

Treasures Reading Supplement

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Spelling, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-02-2010

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What it is: We use the Treasures Reading curriculum (Macmillan McGraw Hill) at the school where I teach.  Although there are things I like about this curriculum, one thing that is in need of improvement are the activities provided for students to practice the skills that they are learning.  The activities don’t change from 1st-5th grade, are very repetitive, and do not encourage any sort of deeper thinking skills.  In an attempt to remedy this for our students, I went through each unit for 1st through 5th grade and pulled out the essential learning components.  I found activities that were engaging and required some deeper thinking to supplement what was currently in the curriculum.  As I worked to supplement the activities, I looked for a few things: 1. The activity could be completed with the whole class, using an interactive whiteboard or projector, or could be completed as a computer center (for the classroom with 2 or 3 computers).  2. The activities had to meet and reinforce the essential learning. 3. The activities had to be more engaging than what was already suggested.


How to integrate Treasures Reading Supplement into the classroom: These guides are meant to be a supplement for the Treasures Reading Curriculum.  They are designed to offer some extra ideas for helping students to practice and solidify learning.  You will find a few activities that are meant for offline use such as a whole class bingo game or partner matching games.  You will also notice some suggestions for Promethean activities.  I created some supplemental flipcharts for our teachers to use that I am happy to share if you can use them. (I hope to have these up on Promethean Planet soon).   Many of these activities can be completed as a center activity in the classroom.  We don’t always have access to a computer lab of computers.  In the classroom with a few computers, set up a weekly rotation so that your students can complete some of the online activities.  Some of the games and activities are also appropriate for whole class participation.

In my classroom, I like to play games with my students.  I will often split students into teams where the teams will take turns working through a game.   Students love the extra layer of competition being timed.

In my reading classroom, I  had literacy groups that I met with every day.  Each day I met with a new group (those students who were in need of remedial reading met each day of the week).  During literacy group time, the group that I was working with read the story for the week, learned and practiced key essential learning together (phonics, grammar, vocabulary) , and worked on building comprehension strategies.  While I worked with my smaller literacy groups, the rest of the class  worked through independent literacy centers.  At the beginning of the week I explained all of the centers for the week.  Because my classroom had limited space, I put my centers into colored tubs that rotated around the classroom.  Each day a small group of students received a center tub.  The tub has all of the necessary supplies and directions for that center.  One of my centers always involved the classroom computers.  Sometimes the centers were inquiry based, sometimes games, and sometimes additional reading practice.  Every week, each student completed each center activity.  In the meantime, I was able to work one on one with my literacy groups.  This worked really well in my classroom and technology made it easy for students to work at their own level independently.

The guides are below in ebook format using Issuu, they have been separated by grade.  Even if you don’t teach the Treasures Curriculum, everything has been arranged by the learning focus, these overlap in most curricula.  You may find some great activities that meet your classroom need here:


First Grade:


Second Grade:

Third Grade:

Fourth Grade:

Fifth Grade:


*Note: The fourth and fifth grade spelling lists on Spelling City do not come from the Treasures curriculum.  The fourth grade uses Houghton Mifflin and the fifth grade has generated their own lists.

For a list of all of my publications check out my library on Issuu.


Leave a comment and share how you are using the Treasures Reading Supplement in your classroom.

Story Nory

Posted by admin | Posted in iPod, Language Arts, Podcasts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 12-01-2010

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What it is: Story Nory is a collection of FREE audio books for kids.  There is a mixture of new stories, fairy tales, and specially adapted myths and histories.  A new audio story comes out each week (this has been true since November of 2005!).  Search stories by newest additions, original stories, fairy tales, classic authors, educational, or junior stories.  The stories can be subscribed to as a podcast in iTunes, through their iPhone/iPod touch app, via email, or RSS feed.  Story Nory offers the text to accompany the audio so that kids can read along.


How to integrate Story Nory into the classroom: Story Nory would make an excellent addition to your reading/listening library.  Listening to audio books can be a great way to help students improve comprehension skills, and to listen for different literary features (such a voice, timing, rhythm, annunciation, etc.).   Set up a listening center on your classroom computers, an iPod or MP3 lab, or in a lab setting.  Students can access stories that are of high interest to them at their level.  Students can create book talks, or reviews of the stories to share with their peers.  Set up a wiki where students can share their thoughts about the stories they listen to.


Tips: Encourage parents to sign up for the Story Nory emails so that they can share the story of the week with their kids.


Leave a comment and share how you are using Story Nory in your classroom.

Childtopia Listening and Reading Comprehension

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 31-01-2008

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What it is: Childtopia is like 10 websites in one…they have so many cool things going on that I am going to break it down into sections so stay tuned… The Childtopia Listening and Reading Comprehension portion of Childtopia is hands down my favorite. Students can choose from 14 different engaging stories. They can choose to listen to story being read to them or they can read the story themselves. Throughout the story their are comprehension questions for the students to answer.

How to integrate Childtopia Listening and Reading Comprehension into the classroom: Childtopia Listening and Reading Comprehension is perfect for students who are struggling with comprehension. The site can be used with the whole class using a projector or individually for comprehension practice. The options that the site gives are wonderful. This portion of Childtopia would be well used in a remedial reading setting. This would make a fabulous reading center activity!

Tips: This is one that you will want to bookmark for easy access!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Childtopia Reading and Listening in your classroom.