Tag Archives: reading

Using iPads in Literacy Rotations

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Many classrooms use the concept of Literacy Rotations in their classrooms, but struggle to find a way to keep each group engaged while they work with a focus group.

Below are some iPad-based ideas for Literacy Rotations, which of course you would use with a combination of non-iPad rotation activities, we know that just because you can do things on an iPad doesn’t mean it’s better!

  • ReadTheory – free to sign up, create classes and individual student logins. Students start with a pre-test to assess their initial reading level, by reading short passages and answering comprehension questions. By getting questions correct, students earn points and badges and teachers can consistently monitor progress. Fantastic for independent reading time. A colleague has been using this in her Year 8 English class and the students are loving it!
  • Pobble365 – free to use without an account, this website features a picture prompt for every day of the year, with a Story Starter for students to continue, or Question Time for students to answer questions about what they’ve just read. For independent Literacy Rotations, I would use either of these sections for the students to visit on their iPad – they could copy and paste the Story Starter into a Google Doc to continue writing, or create a Google Slide with their Question Time questions and answers. If students work in pairs, they could create an interview using the Camera app & iMovie, with one student being the interviewer and the other the interviewee.
  • Book Creator – there is a web version of this coming out soon, but the app works well for almost any subject! I loved using this in Literacy Rotations after the students had done a Guided Reading with the teacher to create a Book Quiz, for the other members of the group to answer. Students would take photos of the book, insert them into their book and then type their quiz question on the page. I then asked students to use the audio recording function to record the answer, so students completing the book quiz could find out the correct answer if needed. We often talked about Head, Heart & Hands comprehension questions to encourage more critical thinking. I also like the idea of creating an interactive dictionary using this app, by students recording words that are new to them, or really interesting words and using the audio function to record their definition, or explanation in their own words – plus images if they need! Other ways I’ve used Book Creator can be found here.
  • Popplet – I’ve used Popplet in so many different ways, from brainstorming character qualities, to spelling. I love Popplet as you students can use the pen function, insert images from the camera roll and export their finished Popplet. In my lower primary class, I use it to help segment words into their individual sounds.

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  • PicCollage – I used this for descriptive writing, in this blog post, but have also used it to create a collection of words that all start with the same letter, by taking photos, or looking for the same sound in magazines and newspapers.

This is just a tiny drop in the ocean of the multitude of different ways that you could integrate iPads in the Literacy block!

Book Creator ideas for lower primary

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Let me preface this by saying these are not JUST for lower primary. Heck, you could use them anywhere, but the examples I’m including are from a lower primary perspective.

Story Journal:

I had an ASD student, who brought in his Zhu Zhu pet Zak and treated him like a class member during Term 1. This student HATED writing with pencil and paper and wasn’t overly fussed by using the iPad to write either. Enter the iPad camera and Book Creator. I told him that I thought it would be cool if Zak kept a diary of his adventures at school, so Zak could show all of his other Zhu Zhu pet friends…(bear with me, I know, it’s a bit funny that I was fully communicating with an inanimate object). To my joy, the student went for it and thus, this book was created. You’ll notice that the spelling isn’t correct – we were focusing on the sounds her could hear, rather than perfection, and these words became words we focused on spelling correctly later. You’ll notice that some of them aren’t even full sentences, but as he recorded himself speaking, he was experimenting with expression in his voice. Small steps for some, HUGE steps for this student.

Procedural Writing:

Like cookbooks, procedural texts are often better with photos. This same student (who still hated writing during Term 3) was reluctant to write a procedural text on how to make a Magnetic Fishing Game that all students had created in class. I instructed him to use Book Creator to get the job done, but typing was too much for him. He verbalised all of the wording direct to me while I typed – word for word (and he checked, his reading skills were fabulous). He took all of the photos by himself (except the ones where he featured – I was told exactly what to photograph!), to match the text on his page and then he recorded the audio for each page. This was emailed straight home to mum and dad – he was so proud and shared with the class in the afternoon.

Maths Journals:

This year with my Prep class, I am hoping to integrate technology more into authentic learning, rather than stand-alone lessons. Using Book Creator on the iPads, the task for the Preps will be to create a Nature Number Journal – by taking the iPads outside, creating all of the numbers to ten using natural materials, photographing it, recording the audio and writing the number, to reinforce correct number formation.

If you don’t already, follow Book Creator App on Twitter. They post great lesson ideas and resources!

Digital Technology Mentoring

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Part of my role this year is to meet weekly with each Primary School teacher for mentoring them in the area of Digital Technology. Last week was my first week actually carrying this out and I found it so exciting!

What does it involve? Anything the teacher wants – whatever sort of technology skills they are hoping to improve, or implement in class with their students

As a GAFE school, the focus on using GAFE properly is high. I helped one teacher create a Google Doc, name it, locate it in her Google Drive and create 2 folders for different subjects. Within the Google Doc, she inserted a table AND merged cells. And boy, was I proud of her! She didn’t write the instructions down, because she made 3 Google Docs and we’re going to continue it this week. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

I chatted with another colleague about where she’s going to fit the Digital Technologies into her weekly timetable. Her class will have 1:1 iPads and we looked at integrating them into problem-solving in maths, through coding. She told me that she didn’t really know much about coding, so I directed her to the Hour Of Code. We talked about using ReadTheory in the classroom as well, which some of her students used last year.  For those higher achievers in Literacy groups, I suggested using Book Creator with the task of creating a book quiz to promote higher comprehension thinking skills.

One of my colleagues was busy running the SRC last week during our meeting time, so I’ll be meeting with her for the first time next week. She got started with Google Classroom last year and I’m excited to see what plans she has for it this year, especially as her co-teacher in the adjacent classroom has Google Classroom on her agenda – how can she use it, what can she do with it, etc. That’s her goal, so I’ve been busy delving through Alice Keeler’s blog and emailing her some links for her to check out before we meet next.

Unfortunately Primary School swimming interrupted my meeting with another colleague, so we’re taking a raincheck. It’s her first time teaching the year level she’s got this year, so she’s looking for new ideas and ways of doing things – I’m keen to see where this takes us.

Which leaves me with one colleague – the lady I’m co-teaching Prep with this year. We’ve already set up ClassDojo purely for the Class Stories feature, instead of sending home a paper newsletter full of photos from the week. We’ve already had most parents join and interacting with the photos. I started the week of by uploading the photos myself, but my colleague uploaded photos herself yesterday – win! Last year, she was logging onto the 4 classroom computers for the students – but this year, we’re going to get the students to do it themselves. Yes, it will be slower to start, but upskilling them in the process. We also discussed the BigCat book iPad apps for Literacy groups, and Book Creator for creating a book about numbers to 10.

What else is on my agenda? I’ve been encouraging a few staff to check out the Google Certified Educator Training – not necessarily for the ‘title’, but for the skills. I’ve also been given a timeslot at our weekly staff meeting to talk about technology – new apps, websites, ideas…and hopefully getting staff to present at these too!

I love my new role!

This weeks absolute gems!

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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!

 

 

Struggling readers

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Today I used phoneme unifix blocks to help a Year 5 student with initial & final blends. It was a struggle for her and required a lot of repetitive oral language cues. Simply reading through the collection of initial blend blocks brought about an uncomfortable posture as she confidently read ‘ch’ and ‘tr’, but recoiled at the sight of ‘gl’ and ‘sw’.

She can read, but not to the level of her classmates, but her spelling is in a whole other realm. The words below are by no means tricky; we were just experimenting with a range of blends!

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Then I came across this infographic, which I found delightfully interesting – I thought you might too!

Inside the Brain of a Struggling Reader: infographic

See the original infographic at http://www.scilearn.com/blog.

Books for boys…who desperately want to read novels.

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I’ve been doing some research (and by research I mean lots of browsing in book shops!) into books that are at the right level for the Year 3 boy I am tutoring. Most of his friends read short novels, but believe me, he’s not quite there.

Based on his fluency, word attack and comprehension, I’d say he’s around early Year 2 level. So when he began bringing out books like ‘Despicable Me – the novel’ and a few ‘Goosebumps’ newbies, I felt like I was bursting his bubble when I had to tell him ‘I think these are a bit too hard’ and suggest ‘Let’s do the 5 finger test to check’.

So, I bought ‘The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow‘, by Andy Griffiths. Silly, repetitive and obviously boy-ish…it was a big hit. It was such a hit that he was determined to read the WHOLE novel in one sitting. And boy, was he proud.

Here are the books that are next on the list:

The Cat on the Mat is Flat – Andy Griffiths

Barky the Barking Dog – Andy Griffiths

Ten Unlucky Pirates – Andy Griffiths

Hey Jack! – a series of books, by Sally Rippin

Gigglers – a series of books, by various authors (I’ll be at the library, choosing the most boy-ish ones!)

Aussie Nibbles – a series of books, by various authors (yet again, I’ll be choosing the grossest, silliest ones)

I’d love to hear your suggestions for any other books that are novel-like, but have a significantly lower word count on each page!

Technology Tuesdays – iPads for Assessment

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Today’s Technology Tuesday session is about using iPads for Assessment purposes in the Early Years.

It is an amalgamation of two of my previous posts, Evernote and RRCalc.

Evernote can be a tricky app to master, but I found that when I set it up on my computer, the iPad app became a lot easier to use.  It allows me to have a Notebook Stack for my class, with each student having their own Notebook. Within each student’s Notebook, I have created Notes for different categories.  For example, in Brad’s Notebook, I have 3 Notes so far – Behaviour, Maths and Literacy.

I have created a handout for the session, with links to videos which help explain how to use Evernote in conjunction with the RRCalc, to keep track of reading progress.  The handout can be found here: iPads & Early Years Assessment.

Other apps that I use for my assessment are

  • Numbers – like an Excel Spreadsheet, with a different sheet for each topic (Spelling Results, PAT Maths, Project Partners etc).
  • Record of Reading – very similar to the RRCalc, but this app allows you to photograph the running record with the words to follow along.
  • Skitch – I will often photograph a rubric in Skitch and then annotate for various students. There’s probably a much easier way…I’m still learning and trying!

Recent ‘gems’ from the App Store

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I thought I’d share with you a few of my most recent valuable iPad downloads from the App Store. Some of them I found through apps like AppOfTheDay and AppsGoneFree, whereas others were in the featured section of iTunes.

ABC Spy HD – free

A fantastic introduction to the alphabet for students which integrates with the world around them. Students are to scroll through the alphabet and take a photo of something beginning with each letter. They can choose a frame for their photo, add the word using text if they like and email and print the book when they are finished. Taking photos of classmates who have names starting with letters is a good way to start the letter-sound relationship and the fact that it can be made into a concrete material is fabulous!

Curious Ruler – free for a limited time

This app would be a fantastic resource for the maths classroom, especially when measuring using formal and informal units. By taking a photo of an object in the classroom, students can choose an informal unit to measure it with – compare the object’s length to the Australian $1 coin, a soccer ball, or a DVD. Changing the units means that you can view the results in centimetres or inches and encourage students to check that it’s correct using hands-on materials!

Dreamtime – free

This iBook-style app features a variety of Dreamtime stories written, illustrated and animated by students at Healesville High School. It offers an audio feature, so the story can be read aloud, or students can read it themselves. By touching individual words, they are read aloud for a full, authentic reading experience. For anybody who is teaching Indigenous culture and would like to focus on the history of story-telling, this app is a great find! 

K12 Timed Reading Practice Lite – free (Full version – $2.49)

If fluency and comprehension are a focus in your class, this app offers an easy assessment method. By entering a student’s name, you are able to ask students to read a passage as the app times how long it takes and calculates a words per minute score. At the end of each passage there are 3 comprehension questions for the reader to answer, highlighting correct and incorrect answers. While this version is free, it offers a range of passages to choose from without limiting you too much.

K12 Equivalence Tiles – free

Another app by K12 Inc., this app allows you to manipulate values in fraction, decimal and percentage format, to show the comparison between them and highlight the equivalence. With each different value colour-coded, it makes it easy to see the similarities and differences between the 3 types of figures. While there isn’t any option to export the chart, taking a screenshot of it and importing it into another app like Explain Everything or Educreations would allow students to explain and rationalise their mathematical thinking.

 

Although this is just a snapshot of what I’ve recently downloaded, I hope they’ve been helpful!

 

App of the Week#6: Collins Big Cat

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What is it?

Collins Big Cat Storybooks are a collection of free storybooks for young children. Each iPad app is a different story, with 8 stories to download.

Why should I download it?

Collins Big Cat Storybooks have 3 options for reading: Read to me, Read by myself and Story Creator. Having the story read to your child allows them to focus on the words as they are highlighted, whereas Read by myself gives your child the opportunity to practise their own reading skills. The Story Creator option is a chance for your child to retell the story – they get to build the scene, choose the characters and then record their own voice telling the story.

What do I use it for?

Collins Big Cat Storybooks could be used for a variety of activities. There are the ‘Listen to Reading’ opportunities and simply just reading the book, but by working in pairs to use the Story Creator option, students allow themselves to discuss the story. Building the story themselves helps them have a deeper understanding of what has happened, which is perfect for checking their comprehension and reading fluency. Sharing their story with an audience, hearing their own voice is something that most children love!

How do I get it?

Click here to be directed to Collins Big Cat: Around the World in the App Store. Click here to visit the Collins for Education website.

This post is the sixth in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.

App of the Week#5: RRCalc

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What is it?

RRCalc is a calculator, programmed to work as you conduct your Running Records with readers, to help you calculate your results. The app retails at $1.99 in the App Store.

Why should I download it?

Not only does RRCalc assist you in calculating your results, but it offers an audio-recording option, so you can flag the errors at certain parts and listen back to it later. As you begin, you are able to flag the error and mark it as a self-correction if necessary. Once the reading is completed, you are asked to enter the number of words for the text, which will calculate a Words Per Minute (WPM) score based on the total time taken to read. I find this particularly helpful for those students who may not be making too many errors, but need assistance with their fluency and phrasing.

What do I use it for?

I use RRCalc to calculate my Running Records, but more importantly, the WPM. The audio recording is able to be emailed to yourself, or another person, (or your Evernote account for anecdotal records!) but must be done before you begin another Running Record. Once you hit the ‘Reset’ button, the app discards the previous recording – so emailing on the spot is the best method.  I email these to my Evernote account and organise them in the particular student’s notebook – perfect for listening back to, sharing with parents, or even with the students themselves to help discuss reading goals.

How do I get it?

Click here to be directed to RRCalc in the App Store.

 

This post is the fifth in a series, highlighting apps which can be helpful in the education ‘game’.