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Tar Heel Reader

What it is: Tar Heel Reader is an excellent website that is “a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces (i.e. switches, alternative keyboards, touch screens, and dedicated AAC devices)....

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News-O-Matic: New non-fiction delivered to your classroom every day!

Posted by admin | Posted in Geography, Government, History, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 14-07-2014

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News-O-Matic: New non-fiction delivered to your class every day!

What it is: Press 4 Kids, News-O-Matic is both a subscription-based app and a free daily email delivered in pdf format. News-O-Matic is a fantastic current event, news source for elementary students. It is a great resource for fresh, non-fiction material for your classroom. Recall, discussion, and comprehension questions are included in each News-O-Matic. You can purchase an app subscription for your class in the 1:1 iDevice setting, or you can subscribe for the FREE daily school edition which is delivered by email. The PDF can be printed out to share with your students, or to keep your class paperless, you can share it on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.

How to integrate News-O-Matic in your classroom: News-O-Matic delivers a daily newspaper written especially for elementary-age students. Each edition comes with 5 current-event, news stories that cover the latest news, science, sports, and wacky kids stories. Students get a chance to not only read the news, but also rate articles, submit questions, and submit their drawings. News-O-Matic is  a great way to keep your students reading regularly. Each day they will get engaging non-fiction reading that helps build a global perspective. Use News-O-Matic daily, as a class discussion starter. Challenge your students to make connections between the current events they are reading about, and the learning they are doing in class. Integrate geography study with reading each day. If you have a classroom map, put a place marker on it each time you read an article that is location specific. This could also be done virtually with Google Earth. This practice will help students visualize where each event takes place, while at the same time building geography skills.

Tips: All publications are ad free, so you never have to worry about inappropriate content.

The school app edition of News-O-Matic is $9.99 and can be found here.

Our Little Earth: Global News for World Citizens

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Character Education, Geography, Government, History, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 20-11-2013

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iLearn Technology- Our Little Earth international newspaper for kids

What it is: Our Little Earth is a great international online newspaper for kids.  It is delivered every two weeks directly to email and best of all, it is free!  Past editions of Our Little Earth can be found on the site for students to read and explore.  Each issue helps students stay informed about what current events are happening in the world around them.  Every edition has a map showing students where the news came from for the issue.  The articles are easy for students to read and do a great job of offering enough background information so that students can make connections to the text and better understand it.

How to integrate Our Little Earth into your classroom: I really like Our Little Earth kids news, it is simple in its delivery, but packs a substantial punch of great information.  This is a fantastic source for students to read just-in-time, non-fiction text, at a level that is accessible to them.  Subscribe to Our Little Earth and read through a story-a-day for the weeks following.  Make sure to model for kids how to explore the themes, politics, geography and history that is related in each article.  This is also a great starting point for kids to fact check, make connections, and confirm the reliability of a source.  The news is current, so there is always something fresh!

I love using current news with students, it keeps the classroom relevant and touches enough transdisciplinary themes that students can make connections to other reading and learning they are doing.  Combine Our Little Earth with @angelamaiers What Breaks Your Heart project.  As students are more informed, they will be able to better articulate things about the world they would like to be a part of changing.

Use Google Earth to help students learn geography at the same time.  Create a pin on the map for each story read.  Ask students to come up with a title for each story (or use the title provided) to help them remember what they read about that location. Add to the same Google Earth map all year-long so that students can begin to see common themes by geography.

Tips: Use the search feature to help students dig even deeper into events and themes.  What happened a year ago at this time?

What do you think of Our Little Earth?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

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!

Scholastic’s Listen and Read: Free non-fiction ebooks for primary students

Posted by admin | Posted in Government, History, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Science, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 17-07-2012

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What it is:  Scholastic is constantly sneaking new great resources for the classroom onto their site.  The other day I learned about one that I haven’t seen before from @rmbyrne on his great blog Free Tech for Teachers.  Listen and Read has fantastic online reading activities for early learners.  There are 54 nonfiction read-along books that include words, images and sound.  You can sort books by subject including: Community, American History, Animals, Civics and Government, Environmental Studies, Plants and Flowers, Science and Social Studies.  You can also sort books by level (A or B).

How to integrate Listen and Read into your curriculum: Non-fiction can be hard to read in the early years.  It often includes unfamiliar words and vocabulary and concepts that students don’t have a lot of prior knowledge of.  Scholastic’s Listen and Read is fantastic because it helps students navigate their way through non-fiction with the support of a read-aloud, sounds and images.  These interactive books help students better comprehend content because they aren’t focused on the words they are stumbling through.  At the end of the book students can click on the unfamiliar new vocabulary to hear the word said again.  This follow-up exposure reinforces word recognition, vocabulary and ideas.

Scholastic Listen and Read can be set up on classroom computers as a reading center.  Students can read and listen independently with headphones.  After reading through the story, students can discuss with a partner (or as a whole class) what they remember about each of the “sound it out” words from the story.

If you don’t have the ability for students to read these non-fiction books independently, use a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard to read as a whole class.

Tips: Some of the titles are offered in both A and B level.  This is great for a little differentiation within the classroom (while gaining the same concepts).

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Scholastic’s Listen and Read in your classroom!

Extreme Speed Booking:Using Technology to help kids love reading

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Evaluate, Fun & Games, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 23-01-2012

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What it is:  What makes technology SO great is the way that it can make life (and teaching) more productive and fun.  Over the years, I have found so many ways that technology can make reading more rewarding for both kids who love to read, and kids who dread reading.  Today, I created an “Extreme Speed Booking” website for @michellek107′s class at Anastasis.  I created the site quickly using Weebly, an awesome WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) website editor.  Drag and drop website building is where it is at!  The idea behind the site is to introduce students to a variety of books and form classroom book groups.  How does Extreme Speed Booking work?  A whole lot like speed dating.  :)   Students spend a little time with each book and then rate them accordingly with “I want to read more”,  “Interesting”, “Not for me”, or “I’ve already read”.  Students can also make a note of how interested they are in reading the book (maybe a 1-10 scale)?  This process introduces students to a variety of books, genres and authors.  Students may come across titles and authors they wouldn’t otherwise find.  It also helps teachers form classroom book groups that are of high-interest and investment to students because they had input.
How to integrate Extreme Speed Booking into the classroom: Extreme Speed Booking is a fun way to build book groups/literature circles.  I love this method of exposure to a variety of books, authors, and genres.
For our purposes at Anastasis, I created the Weebly website with a link to the “look inside” on Amazon.  Because all of our students have an iPad, this was the simplest way to get the book preview into the hands of the students.  Don’t have technology?  No problem!  Just make sure that you have enough copies of books so that each student can sit with the physical book during the Extreme Speed Booking sessions.  If you have classroom computers, you can do a blend of both.
Explain to your students that they will have 2 minutes with each book.  During that time, they can choose to read the introduction or first chapter, read the book jacket, or flip through and look at chapter titles and pictures.  The goal during this time is to discover whether this is a book that they would like to read.  It is okay if it isn’t a book they would want to read…the goal is to find out which book they are most excited about.  After the two minutes is up, sound a bell that signifies it is time to switch.  Before they switch, students can quickly make a note of the Title and rate the book.  Continue on until students have had 2 minutes with each book.  Collect the notes students have made and formulate book groups based on interest in the book.
I’ve added a few extra pages to our Extreme Speed Booking website including places where students can explore other books that they may like to read (Shelfari and Book Wink).  I’ve also added a form that book groups can fill out as they are reading.  The form gets emailed directly to the teacher.  Our students will probably be blogging quite a bit of reflection about their reading.  I thought it might also be useful to have a place for groups to answer questions, make comments, or update their teacher with their progress as a group.
@michellek107 created a Google form for her students to fill out while they are speed booking.  Great idea!  She is so smart.  This will make it easy to collect all of the responses in one place to form groups.
Suggestions for books:
  • Choose books from a variety of levels, make sure you have a few book options for each reading level in your classroom.
  • Choose a variety of authors and genres, this is a great way to expose students to authors and genres they don’t normally seek out on their own.
  • Set up classroom computers with some book trailer videos from a site like Book Wink…this is a great “introduction” to a book or genre and acts much like a movie trailer.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE author.  After students have completed reading in their smaller groups, they can come back together and do an author study as a whole class; each group contributing something a little different.
  • Choose a variety of books from ONE genre.  Students can read books in the smaller groups but discuss common features of the genre as a class.
  • Choose a variety of books on a similar topic.  Students can read books in the smaller groups and then discuss the different character perspectives, author approaches, etc.  This would be really neat to do with historical fiction, Holocaust fiction, etc.
  • Use non-fiction books that reinforce topics and themes that you are using in other academic areas.
  • Use biographies of presidents, change makers, authors, etc.   Students can learn about a specific person in the smaller reading group and share what they have learned with the larger group later.
Tips:   Extreme Speed Booking is a lot of fun with tech, but equally doable without tech!  If you have access to a 1-1 tech environment, or can reserve the computer lab for a round of speed booking, you can use my technique above.  Weebly makes it very easy to do this!
If you haven’t already, check out Shelfari and create a virtual bookshelf of book recommendations for your class or school.  You can see our Shelfari shelf for Anastasis below.  If you teach 3rd-12th grade it is worth checking out Book Wink!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Extreme Speed Booking in  your classroom!

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.