Tag Archives: learning

This weeks absolute gems!

Standard

This last week I attended 2 seminars at my local TAFE – one on Dyslexia and another about supporting readers through the use of phonics.
Both sessions were filled with scary data, thought-provoking questions, numerous definitions and last but not least, lists of apps and websites.
Yes, like always, there are a few different aspects to consider when given a list of resources to use with students:

A) Is it free?

B) If it costs, is there a free trial where I can access EVERYTHING?

C) Does it suit the technology I have available to me?

D) Is it actually going to benefit the student?

There are 2 (so far – I’ve barely had time to check any out!) that I rate quite highly.

  • Oxford Owl is a website that provides free eBooks for students, at various age levels and genres. Yes, they have provided audio (with expression!) and the books are actually interesting! I discovered this site through the Spelfabet website, under a list of decodable book resources.
  • ReadTheory is a website that I also heard about at the seminar (from the girl sitting next to me, rather than the presenter!) – free, online, engaging comprehension texts, with questions to match, based on the Lexile Reading Scale. It does refer to Common Core, but Aussie teachers can still benefit! The girl next to me said her students in Year 4 were loving it, as it strikes up a bit of friendly in-class competition while still being matched to each child’s ability. I did a little bit of extra reading about ReadTheory here.

Double bonus, both of these resources are iPad-compatible! Yay! I’ve linked QR codes to both of these sites, printed them (along with student log-in details for ReadTheory) and popped them up in the classroom I worked in today.

Can’t wait to hear the feedback from the students!

 

 

EdTechSA presentation

Standard

For all those who were at the @EdTechSA conference in Adelaide and were in my workshop, you’ll know we had some technical difficulties – ha, yes – at a technology conference.

EdTechSA 1

As we all know, flexibility is the key, so after 15 minutes of me talking with a blank screen, various cord changes, menu options, adapter swaps…we had lift off!

If you’d like the links to the resources I talked about in the presentation (ipad resources, apps and websites, please feel free to download the PDF version. You’ll notice that I’ve removed the videos and photos which had identifiable students in them – sorry, I don’t have permission to share them further than the conference.

Enjoy!
P.S. The lovely @JessOttewell actually filmed 11 minutes of my presentation – so if you want to experience some of it…you guessed it, jump on to Twitter, search for (and follow) Jess and you can see for yourself!

Friends of Ten!

Standard

Tonight with my Year 1 tutoring student, we worked on our Tens Facts. Again. It feels like we are ALWAYS working on our Tens Facts…because they don’t seem to sink in!

We’ve played:

Ten Pairs – deal out a 4×5 array of playing cards, keep dealing until all cards are gone. Players take turns to pick up 2 cards that add to ten.

Concentration – similar to Ten Pairs, but cards are turned over to remember where cards are.

Roll to Ten (colour) – roll a die, colour in that many squares on a tens frame using one colour…then count on to get to ten. Colour the squares that you ‘counted on’ using a different colour, then write the equation.

10s frame

Roll to Ten (build) – roll a die, build a tower using blocks that many blocks high of one colour…then count on to get to ten using a different colour block. Write the equation.

10 Frame Fill (app: free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

While all of these ideas were good, there was no urgency to build on the accuracy and fluency of these skills, so she was dawdling her way through our activities.

So, today we drew a Tens Rainbow, to use in conjunction with a fabulous app I found, called ‘Make Ten‘. It asks students to choose the number you need to add to the number given to get to 10. My student propped this rainbow up in front of her to use with the app and by the 4th or 5th round, she was actually recalling the facts herself to try and beat her high score and going faster.

IMG_6029

Technology isn’t always the answer, or the be-all-and-end-all, but if you’re aiming for speed/fluency – this really helped today!

I also found this Pinterest board for some more ideas – always looking for more!

I would love to hear your ideas for Friends of Ten!

How well do you know your students?

Standard

Last week I spoke to @alice_eliza on the phone and she was telling me about the activity she did with her Year 5 students. I’d heard of the activity, but hadn’t jumped on the bandwagon yet.

She simply asked the students write on a piece of paper to finish this sentence,

“I wish my teacher knew…”

I’d seen lots of photos that teachers had posted using the #iwishmyteacherknew hashtag and after speaking to @alice_eliza, I decided to give it a go on Monday with the Year 4/5 class I taught. I teach this class once a fortnight, so I do have a relationship with them but I thought it would be a good insight for their classroom teacher. I promised them that I wouldn’t look at their pieces of paper…and I would keep them face down until I handed them to their teacher.

So how well do you know your students? As I handed over the stack of papers to their teacher, she was gobsmacked with some of the things she found out – some sad, some concerning, some hilarious and some interesting facts.

She verbally shared a few of them with me (I’d promised I wouldn’t look at them)…and there are two that stood out to me – and her!

#1. I wish my teacher knew…I am afraid of NAPLAN.

#2. I wish my teacher knew…I’m not really a fan of minions. (This teacher has a theme in her classroom – minions! Minion money as a classroom reward system, minion posters, minion pictures…you name it, she’s minion-ed it!)

But you know what? This teacher read every single one – and then proceeded to write a note back to every single student, acknowledging that she now knows something that they chose to tell her.

Personally, if I were in that class, I’d feel that my teacher knows me so much better. Not because I wrote a note to tell her something…but that she wrote back to me and made me feel important.

How well do you know your students?

Do they feel like you do?

 

Bridging to ten for times tables

Standard

Making 7

Are there any tricks to learning the 7 times tables? They were my most hated as a child and are the times tables that my two Year 5 tutoring students find the most difficult. There is no repeated number pattern in the ‘ones’ column, until you reach 7×11 (7, 14, 21, 28, 35, 42, 49, 56, 73, 70, 77) – making it such a difficult pattern to remember that it’s pointless.

It seems that the most difficult part of the seven times tables is crossing into the next decade, going from the numbers in the twenties, to the numbers in the thirties, all while repeatedly adding 7. The girls are confident at adding numbers 1-10 to a number ending in a zero, so I needed to help them extend this skill into their times tables.

So today, I asked the two girls “Give me two numbers that equal 7”.

They came up with the 3 combinations that you would find on two dice:

1+6, 2+5 & 3+4

And then we skip counted by 7, breaking up the 7 into two components if we needed.

Like so:

7 + (3+4) : First, add the 3 to bridge to ten. Then, simply add 10+4.

14 + (6+1): Choose the number that will bridge to the next ten; in this case, 6. Then, add 20+1.

21 + 7. The girls knew what 1+7 was, so this was easy as we didn’t need to bridge to ten.

28 + (2+5). I began to ask the girls, “How many to get to the ten? What do we have left to add?”

As I explained to the girls’ mother afterwards, bridging to ten is such an important part of basic addition, but sometimes we forget that it still applies for repeated addition, that being multiplication.

I’m planning on using the same strategy to help the girls work on their 6 and 8 times tables, as they’re the only tables we are yet to master. Unless there’s some other easy tricks for those tables?

Tutoring with technology

Standard

This year I’ve taken on 3 sessions of tutoring per week. A set of twin girls in Year 5 for an hour each Monday and then a Year 3 boy and his Year 1 sister for one hour each on Tuesday and Thursdays. The twins actually requested tutoring as they enjoy learning and recognise it as being important. They’re easily motivated, competitive and soak up any new concept given to them.

The brother & sister require a little more motivation. I understand – they’ve already spent 6 hours at school…now they have to do an hour more? Like many youngsters, technology is a useful currency with these 2 children. I mix up our activities, from spelling to handwriting, board games, card games, times table races, reading…etc. But what apps could I use?

Apps I love using as part of my tutoring sessions:

Victorian Modern Cursive ($4.99) – practice correct letter formation with different mediums – chalk, jelly, chocolate pudding…etc

Gobbling Goblins  (free) – choose from simple skip counting by 2s to counting by multiples of 2,5 & 10, or more! Kids love creating revolting dishes for the goblins to eat!

10 Frame Fill (free) – helpful for creating an interactive visual for ‘How many more to make 10’ and focusing on 10s facts.

Dyslexia Quest ($5.99) – provides a fun way of assessing a students working memory, ability to discern between letters and words and some thinking challenges!

Inference Clues ($7.99)- like it suggests, assisting kids to find the actual words or phrases which help them create an inference.

Number Pieces (free)- I find this wonderful as I don’t have a full set of MAB blocks to carry around with me, but having each piece to create numbers for place value work as proved very helpful.

Spellosaur (free, full version $5.99)- I’ve paid for the full version of this, as I can add multiple users and edit their personalised spelling words. Letter scrambles, missing letters, dictation tests etc.

Collins Big Cat storybooks (all books free) – I’m using this for my Year 1 student to focus on retelling the story as this has a record function so she can record her own voice as she retells it!

Zoombinis ($7.99)- This isn’t strictly an app that promotes a lot of literacy or maths skills, but I’ve noticed that my Year 3 students requires a lot of thinking skills, comparing and contrasting and problem-solving strategies. So we’re working on this…plus, I’m enjoying taking a trip back to my childhood when I used to play this at home on the PC!

Any other apps that are helpful for primary-school tutoring?

Using Windex in the classroom.

Standard

windex
Image courtesy of http://www.ebritic.com

In the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Toula’s father Gus has an addiction to Windex. To him, it is the solution for everything.

“My dad believes in two things: That Greeks should educate non Greeks about being Greek ad every ailment from psoriasis to poison ivy can be cured with Windex.”

It was his go-to answer. He didn’t think twice about it, didn’t listen to others and didn’t consider any other options.

It got me thinking about how often do you use a ‘Windex solution’ in the classroom?  A Windex solution I often hear these days is ‘just Google it’. Google, Google, Google. Even my not-so-technological father is a culprit for over-using this term.

By just ‘googling it’ we are admitting to students that no, teachers aren’t all powerful, bottomless pits of endless knowledge (even though many students think that!). Yes, we are assisting them in finding the answers to their own questions…or are we?

How else can we find out the answer? Resorting straight to Google is not the answer!
Talking to others, posing follow-up questions, making charts & tables, reading books, using prior knowledge…all valid options!

Let’s make sure we are encouraging other methods and solutions rather than just resorting to the Windex.

Back in the classroom, where I belong.

Standard

I am utterly thrilled to be going back to work this week and I can honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited.

Two weeks sick leave has really taken it’s toll on me, but it’s given me a new appreciation for my students. I’ve had two weeks to watch countless hours of TV, write days and days of CRT notes and scour Pinterest for the latest and greatest in education. I found myself getting down in the dumps as I heard along the grapevine that one of my students thought I must have died because I’d been away for so long and then to disappoint my students with the news that we would have to postpone our Year 2 Camp as I was too unwell to attend and run it.

So why am I excited? Because I’ve found my balance. Yes, learning literacy strategies and numeracy skills is important, but there are other things to learn that are equally important. Over the last 2 weeks, I’ve learnt a lot about asthma, mindfulness and inquiry-based learning.  Some of that learning was by necessity, some of it by choice.

It wouldn’t be fair for me to keep all of this great learning to myself. So I plan to share each and every part of my learning with my students. I need to show them that teachers, and other adults, are lifelong learners.

So, coming up this week in 2A: a lesson in asthma prevention and control (thanks to @AsthmaAUS), Braingym and mindfulness meditation & mandalas (thanks to @kaz_phi) and a new focus on inquiring about water – to be presented any way the students choose.

Look out kids, I’m baaaaaack!

4 Apps for creating…3 different ways!

Standard

Often iPad apps are seen as a quick fix to boredom – used to entertain, with minimal thinking involved. Here are 4 free apps to use in the classroom, for students to create, rather than to consume!

Number pieces – free

  • Using number lines as a basic counting tool in Numeracy, and annotate to show different numbers on the line.
  • Making numbers to 100 using the Base 10 blocks.
  • Forming a variety of numbers and annotating their extended notation. This could be photographed and added into Educreations, to include students voice to explain their thinking.

ChatterPix Kids – free

  • Counting to 10. Students can take a photo of themselves, add a mouth and record their verbal counting.
  • Role-playing. Students can record their thoughts on what to say in certain situations they may encounter in the classroom or in the playground.
  • Oral presentations. Students can record their thoughts on paper and then read them aloud while recording their own voice.

Make Beliefs Comix – free

  • Inserting characters to use as a basic storytelling tool.
  • Using the characters to add speech bubbles and create dialogue between 2 or more characters.
  • Create a comic which includes dialogue, and follow it up with a lesson on talking marks when writing.

PicCollage – free

  • Learning a specific sound/blend. Students take photos of objects around their classroom that begin with that sound/blend. They can add text, or a title of the letter they are working on.
  • Writing descriptions. Students can photograph an object, and add text to add adjectives around the photo.
  • Modelling behaviours during Literacy – how to Read to Self. Students can take photos of their partner reading and annotate with text to identify the correct behaviours to show during this time.

(These ideas were designed with F-2 classes in mind, but can easily be adapted for higher year levels.)

Reluctant Writers

Standard

This year I have been faced with a significant number of difficult students in my class. Let’s face it, no class is a ‘breeze’. There are individual nooks and crannies to every single student, however the Year 2 class I am teaching in 2015 seem to present a myriad of ‘specialities’.

Trying to get my Year 2 students to write is challenging. I have a student with Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), who needs physical stimulation, eg a trampoline, massage, yoga, roller-board to shift his ‘writing brain’ into action. Despite his Occupational Therapist providing me with a wide range of suggestions – some days there is no progress made – the ‘Defiance’ part of his diagnoses comes into play, well and truly!

Add to this mix a boy who has autism and hates any fine motor activities, a girl who has super low processing speed, a boy who has the attention span of a gnat…it’s really like any regular classroom.

Trying to write descriptions last week was my chance to really find out what I could expect from these students.  I started with a 3 step process:

  1. Plan
  2. Draft
  3. Publish

I decided to eliminate the editing stage, to try and build that success. I helped edit briefly, but wanted to show the children that publishing work is fun and something to be proud of.

We used this template to brainstorm words to describe our lunchbox.  I then modelled how to write the words into sentences as a whole group activity. Once the students had written their sentences, it was time to publish.

Using the iPads, students worked in pairs to use PicCollage to describe their lunchboxes. I gave (and modelled) the following instructions:

  1. Take a photo of your partner with their lunchbox.
  2. Open PicCollage and add the photo of your partner.
  3. Add text boxes with your descriptive sentences.
  4. Change the background etc.

PicCollage - Version 2

There were a few types of students – those who completed all three stages with ease. Others who did the planning, but found the drafting too draining. There were others who planned and drafted, but weren’t overly interested in publishing – they’d prefer to spend their iPad time doing whatever they like, rather than a set task.

  It was a fabulous activity to include all students.

What other strategies/apps do you use to encourage reluctant writers?