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What it is: The Carbon Cycle Game is a free online game that teaches students about how carbon cycles through the Earth system.  It is appropriate for 4th-9th grade students learning about the carbon cycle.  As students play the game, they will learn that carbon cycles naturally through living and...

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The Spotlit Collection- 50 of the best books for every grade level

Posted by admin | Posted in Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 18-11-2013

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Scholastic Spotlit Collection- 50 of the best books for every grade level

What it is: Scholastic Reading Club Spotlit Collection is a fantastic place to find outstanding books for preschool through middle school students.  Teachers, librarians, and book professionals came together and considered thousands of books to create a diverse list of award-winners, classics, and dynamite contemporaries.  Each grade level includes the 50 top favorites selected for that age group.  The result is a great place to start when you are searching for books to introduce students to!

How to integrate Spotlit Collection into your classroom: Scholastic’s Spotlit Collection has a wonderful selection of 50 books for each grade level in preschool through middle school.  This would be a great place to determine what you would like in your classroom library, which books to help your students hunt for in the library, and which books to introduce for classroom book groups.  If you have students reading above grade level (or several levels above/below) the Spotlight Collection can help you guide students towards appropriate books.

Challenge your students to read 10-20 of the books in the Spotlit Collection before the end of the school year.  Keep the collection handy by bookmarking it on a classroom computer.  When a student laments that they, “don’t know what to read,” they can quickly pull up the collection for some great new recommendations.

Tips: While you are visiting the collection, sign up for the Scholastic Reading Club!

What do you think?  How are you using the Spotlit Collection 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!