Tag Archives: spelling

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!

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.

Mnemonics for struggling spellers

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When I first started teaching, I knew very little about mnemonics. I was a brilliant speller from an early age (my mother still has my Prep spelling book as proof), so I never needed to learn spelling mnemonics.

I soon learnt about ‘hear’ – “You hear with your EAR” and ‘friend’ – “FRIday ENDs the school week”.

For the words ending in ‘IGHT’, there was ‘Indians Go Hunting Together’ and for ‘because’, there’s either “Big Elephants Can Always Understand Smaller Elephants” or “Bunny Eats Carrots And Uncle Sells Eggs”.

But as we all know, homemade is more nutritious than takeaway – aka: it will be more meaningful if the students make their own mnemonics.

So, here is what my Year 3 tutoring student and I created for some of his tougher spelling words:

wanted: “Water And Nuts Taste Extremely Disgusting”…or I also like to tell him that the ANT wANTed to eat him.

fairy: “Football And Icecream (are) Really Yummy”

scared: I am sCARed of fast CARs

beautiful: BE A yoU tiful person

No electronics required, just brain power. However, wouldn’t it be cool to make a class book/dictionary with all the different spelling mnemonics (I’m thinking ChatterKids + Book Creator…)

I’ve also been using the Spellosaur App on my iPad – I love that you can have multiple user names, edit your own word lists & the variety of activities to put the words together!  Of course, my student would love the App more if the dinosaur ripped the heads off people/animals and blood and guts were strewn everywhere, but you can’t win them all!

Any other spelling mnemonics that you use, or think are gems?

My teacher was a poor speller – so what?

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Two days ago, my sister tagged me in this photo from Sunrise on Facebook:

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Based around a spelling test that no teachers got a perfect score, it raised the question that maybe getting into a teaching course is too easy.

I replied to my sister, on my teaching high-horse, that I disagreed. I was a brilliant speller, spelling words like restaurant and rhinocerous in Prep (proven by the fact that my mother has kept my spelling book all these years!). My Year 3 teacher was a terrible speller. I recall her asking me constantly to help her correct my classmates spelling in their writing. When writing on the board, she would often ask for my input when spelling trickier words.

As I thought about this it got me thinking. Was she really a bad speller? Was she trying to get me to feel important or trying to extend me? Was she differentiating her teaching so that I wasn’t getting bored? I learnt a lot from that teacher – she inspired me to become a teacher. It is purely her influence on me that brought me to the idea of teaching.

English is a really hard language, even for those for whom it is their native tongue. Why are we judging the ability of teachers based on one area of learning? I couldn’t guarantee that I could get all of the words right on that test, nor am I sure that I would pass a test on division and fractions.

Sure, spelling is important. Despite this, there are other factors that influence a teacher’s ability – how about their nurturing disposition? Their passion to make a difference? Their love of children and learning?

So what if a teacher is a poor speller? What is important is that the students are still learning.