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TED Talk Tuesday: Bring on the Learning Revolution

Since I won’t be with the CHC staff hosting Webspiration Wednesday lunches, I thought I would institute TED Talk Tuesday and share an inspiring TED Talk each Tuesday with all of you.  TED has a great tag line “ideas worth spreading”.  This non-profit brings together people from Technology,...

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Rewordify: help kids understand what they read

Posted by admin | Posted in Evaluate, Inquiry, Interactive book, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Understand (describe, explain), web tools | Posted on 14-08-2013

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Rewordify-understand what you read iLearn Technology

What it is: Rewordify is a neat online app that helps struggling readers, ESL/ELL students, etc. improve their reading comprehension and vocabulary development.  Students can copy and paste a difficult passage into Rewordify and it instantly transforms the text by highlighting words it has substituted with more common/easily understood, language.  Students can click on the highlighted word to view the original word that was replaced.

Teachers can use Rewordify to create vocabulary activities from any high-interest reading passage, make over 350 classics more accessible, and show students how to surf the web the way a strong reader does.

Settings within Rewordify let students adjust how they interact with difficult passages based on their own preferences and learning needs.

How to integrate Rewordify into your classroom:  Rewordify is a fantastic web app for struggling readers (or any reader!).  Often, non-fiction can be difficult for students to read and understand.  Even strong readers can struggle with the new vocabulary and terms used.  Rewordify simplifies the text so that students can read through it successfully for comprehension.  It doesn’t stop there!  Since all of the words that were reworded are highlighted, students can see new vocabulary in context.  Rewordify can help students build up the ability to recognize context clues and how to use them to increase comprehension.

Anastasis is inquiry based.  We do a LOT of research, even with our youngest students.  The Internet is packed with fantastic resources for learning, but these resources are typically not created with student readers in mind.  As a result, students may struggle through a text and lose out on some of the rich learning in the process.  Rewordify is a great solution for us because students can quickly copy and paste text into Rewordify (works on iPads too!) and instantly read a more student friendly version of the text.

Classic literature is classic for a reason.  This literature holds timeless truths, superior storytelling and enchanting characters.  Students rarely choose to read the classics on their own because the language can add a difficult layer to the reading, causing the story to be lost in the frustration.  Rewordify has more than 350 classics built-in to be read directly on the site.  Students can choose a book to read, modify their settings of how they would like to view the words, and jump right in.  Students can choose to have the words default to the easier, modified word; can ask Rewordify to highlight words that it would have changed so that they can click on the word if they need an alternative; or see both versions of the word in context side by side.

ESL/ELL students will enjoy this site for the way that it allows them autonomy in their reading and vocabulary development.

Rewordify is also a great way for students to learn and practice vocabulary and discovering new synonyms for words.  Any text can be added to Rewordify, high school students could plug-in their own writing to determine if they have used interesting language.  If nothing is highlighted, there could be some work to do on word choice.

If you only have one or two computers available to students in your classroom, why not set up a bookmark to Rewordify that students can visit as needed during research, reading, etc.?  Students will be empowered to read anything they encounter with increased confidence.

Tips: In addition to the classics, you will also see a variety of news websites and articles that work well with Rewordify.  Whole pages of the site are automatically reworded for ease of understanding.

What do you think of Rewordify?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

UDL Book Builder

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Language Arts, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, web tools, Websites | Posted on 29-07-2009

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What it is: UDL Book Builder is a site where you can create your own interactive digital stories.  The books have built in coaches that can support diverse learning needs.  The coaches direct student learning even when students are working independently.  The digital books can include text, images, audio, glossary terms (that are linked within the story), and coaches that can provide hints, prompts, and modeling.  The published books can be viewed online, downloaded to a computer, saved to a CD, or shared with others in the UDL library.  Both teachers and students can use the UDL Book Builder to create interactive digital stories.

How to integrate UDL Book Builder into the classroom: Use the UDL Book Builder to create interactive stories for your students that meet their specific learning needs.  Include students and familiar locations in your stories to boost reading motivation.  Students love starring in their own stories.  As you are creating a book in the Book Builder, be sure to devleop the coaches within the book.  The coaches can offer reading hints, strategies, and model good reading.  Start a school library of teacher created digital books.  As the digital library is devleoped, be sure to note which reading skills are being emphasized so that other teachers can quickly sort through books that will match their students learning needs and interests.  Students can also create digital books from their writing.  The writing should be ready to publish (correct spelling, grammar, etc.).  These stories can easily be shared online with other students in class, in the school, and with pen pals.  UDL Book Builder would be a great tool for creating stories as a class using the interactive whiteboard.

Tips: The UDL Book Builder site has a great section with tips for authors and illustrators using the Builder.  These tips are helpful for any adults creating a book, but are also worth sharing with students using the tool.

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using UDL Book Builder  in your classroom.

Audible Kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Interactive book, iPod, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 05-02-2009

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What it is:  Audible Kids was a really exciting find for me today because I am writing an article for the upcoming issue of iLearn magazine about iPods in education.  Audible Kids is a website that engages kids in storytelling through audiobooks.  Kids can download books, read and post reviews for each book, and share their favorites with others.  Kids can discover books searching by keyword, age group, category, award winners, and more.  Students can listen to samples of the stories before they download them with a handy in-browser play feature.  While Audible Kids is not a totally free site, they do have some excellent audiobooks that are free to download.  Roscoe Orman (of Sesame Street) is one of the cheif storytellers on Audible Kids.  Enhanced Audible Kids audiobooks have pictures with the story, perfect for the iPod Touch or a computer center.  For free downloads click here.  Other books range in price from about $0.99 to $20.00. 

 

How to integrate Audible Kids into the classroom:  Because free products for the classroom excited me the most, I will focus on how you can use the free downloads in your classroom.  Use Audible Kids downloads for an iPod listening center, or classroom computer listening center.  Students can register for free Audible Kids accounts and discuss the stories in an online environment with their own classmates as well as children around the world.  Use the stories as a place for students to discover rich storytelling.  Encourage them to listen for voice, emphasis, tone, rhythm as the story is read to them.  Students who learn to listen for these and are exposed to excellent storytellers, will become more expressive readers themselves.  Students could listen to the audiobooks and use a computer drawing program (or just paper and crayon) to draw their own pictures to go along with the story.  This is a great way for kids to learn visualization reading strategies.  If you want to take it a step further, pictures could be gathered into iPhoto or a slideshow accompanied by the audio.  Students will be the illustrator for the audiobooks!  

 

Tips:  If you are in a Mac environment, download Skitch.  Your sudents can draw their pictures on the computer as they listen and they can easily be uploaded to the Skitch website or into iPhoto, Keynote, or Garage Band to create their own illustrated audiobook.  So neat!  Audible Kids has the option of giving the gift of audiobooks.  If this is something you are serious about making a part of your classroom, consider asking parents to donate audiobooks to your classroom library. 

 

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using Audible Kids in your classroom.

Bookcasting

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 10-04-2008

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What it is: Bookcasting is actually a term I made up. It is essentially a podcast about a book. My third grade students just finished their first round of Bookcast recordings that we uploaded to a Wetpaint Wiki. A Bookcast is a movie trailer-like review of a book that students create and share with one another. My students used GarageBand to record their podcasts (you could also use a free tool like Audacity) and add sound effects, then they published the Bookcast on our class G-cast account, and finally embedded the media player onto our WetPaint wiki.

How to integrate Bookcasting into your curriculum: Bookcasting is a fun alternative to the standard book report. It allows kids to be creative and gives them a great sense of audience. Bookcasting also has the added benefit of acting as a book review for other students to listen to. Bookcasting makes story retell a lot of fun! My plan is to have a link to our WetPaint wiki in the library so that students can listen to a peer review of a book before they check it out.

Tips: I had all of my students create a Bookcast on the same book before reviewing on their own. This gave them an easy starting place but still provided room for creativity. Click on the Easy Reader link on our wiki to hear the Bookcasts the students created.

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

Book Flix

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 03-04-2008

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What it is: Book Flix is a new offering by Scholastic that instills students with a love of reading and learning with paired fiction and nonfiction online. Book Flix is a subscription based service that is delivered over the Internet for teachers, librarians and parents. Right now you can try Book Flix in your classroom for free with a trial. The basic trial offers one pair of books about rain but a full free 30 day trial of all 80 Book Flix offerings is also available for schools. Book Flix offers a neat experience pairing fiction and nonfiction books. Students can watch and listen to the books read to them, read them independently, meet the author, play accompanying games, and view related kid friendly web links. There are quality lesson plans for teachers for each Book Flix. Check out the freebies and see how Book Flix might benefit your class, if you never order Book Flix the freebie is worth using!

How to integrate Book Flix into your curriculum: Use Book Flix that match up with your current curriculum, the fiction and nonfiction books and websites will greatly enhance what you already have in place. The quality of interactive books really is impressive and will give students a greater appreciation of both fiction and nonfiction literature.

Tips: Try out the basic Book Flix freebie first with the topic of rain, if you like the concept you can sign up for the free 30 day full trial with access to all 80 Book Flix. The freebie should carry you through the end of the school year (or pretty close). Test it out on your students and see how they like it :-)

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

Tumble Books

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, General, Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 26-02-2008

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What it is: Tumble Books is an incredible site that reads popular stories with kids in an interactive book. The Tumble Books site also has fun quizzes, puzzles, and games that correlate with the different books. Students can have the story read to them, read it on their own, and have individual words sounded out for them. When students are finished with the story they can take a quiz on the book to check for comprehension or write a book review.

How to integrate Tumble Books into the classroom: Tumble Books is wonderful for emergent readers, remedial reading students, and independent readers. Because the level of support is adjustable, the same Tumble Book can be used in your classroom with every student regardless of reading level. Set up a reading center in the one computer classroom or each student can work at their level in a computer lab setting. These interactive books are popular with students and increase student phonics, reading comprehension, and reading strategies. Encourage students to read with Tumble Books at home as well…a great way to extend the learning day! Students can take a quiz on the book when they are finished or write a book review for other students to read. Everything about this site is amazing! Instead of popping in a video on those indoor recess days, use a projector and have the kids read along with a Tumble Book. Split the class into teams to play the games, they can take turns coming to the computer during their turn.

Tips: I have linked to Tumble Books through the Toronto Library. Schools and libraries can subscribe to Tumble Books for a very reasonable yearly subscription. Tumble Books also has a free 30 day trial that you can sign up for before committing to a subscription.

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

Into the Book

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive book, Language Arts, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 28-01-2008

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What it is: This is one of the most incredible reading websites I have come across. Into the Book “is a reading comprehension resource for K-4 students and teachers.” It focuses on eight research-based strategies: Using Prior Knowledge, Making Connections, Questioning, Visualizing, Inferring, Summarizing and Synthesizing. The site has a series of 15 min. videos for students teaching and amazing interactive web resources that can be saved! Teachers have access to great lesson plans, downloads, and videos. Check out this site, you will be wowed!

How to integrate Into the Book into the classroom: In the student section, students drag a picture representing one of the eight strategies onto the book. First they watch a short video describing the strategy and how it works, then they can try it themselves. The site is an excellent introduction to key reading strategies. Students can learn about and practice reading strategy here. The interactive environment is a fun and exciting, even your most reluctant readers will enjoy this site. If you have a projector you can use the videos on this site with the whole class. In the one to two computer classroom, use the site during center time. The site is ideal in the one to one or computer lab setting. This site is a must for remedial reading classrooms!

Tips: Make sure to check out the teacher section for great downloads, teacher videos, and lesson plans.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Into the Book in your classroom.