Google announced last week that they finally have an app for Google Keep. I have yet to see anything about actually integrating this tool with the calendar, but having an app will help.
texthelp- the creators of Read & Write for Google as well as several other great tools announced several changes last week. The first one, which I think will impact teachers and students at Hadley Schools are some additions to the functionality of Read & Write.for Google Chrome. I should mention, they have changed the name of this product slightly, as they now have differentiated products for Windows, Macs and iPads. The version we have the subscription to is Google Read & Write for Chrome. This simply means that we must use the chrome browser, regardless of platform.
There are 3 changes that you may find helpful:
1. There is now a VoiceNotes tool on the R & W toolbar in Google Docs. Essentially this means that teachers or students can leave voice comments.
2. You can now use word prediction on the web tool bar interface to fill out forms, etc.
3. You can have features turned on/off. This is helpful as an accommodation for testing. This is a chrome extension that has to be run, initially by the google admin, who then adds the teachers who need it.
Download the Revised Guide to Read & Write for Google Chrome
The other news from texthelp was about changes in the Google Fluency Tutor. This is a great tool for struggling readers and English language learners. Students can now turn any web page into a fluency passage, and of course teachers can also create and assign passages that they create from any web page. Fluency tutor is now integrated into Google Classroom. Check out the video below to learn more.
This is Part 2 of these sources, please click here to revisit part 1.. There are many websites to support teachers in their goals to teach reading and writing as well as to provide ideas, new methods, ways to shake up learning in your classroom and perhaps reach that student who needs your help to build skills and become more successful in the classroom. These resources can help you differentiate learning for all your students, from struggling reader to high flyers.
There is a plethora of apps on iTunes that claim to help students learn to read and write.
The 3 apps I would like to highlight are Voice Dream Reader, Voice Dream Writer and Liquid Text. * Note Voice Dream app bundle- 3 apps which also includes 2 more voices.
The Voice Dream apps have been created by a "local" (Boston area) man named Winston Chen. I have had the pleasure of meeting him at several edcamps. He listens to teachers and students, and has created ways to make reading and writing easier for all and has proven to be an amazing resource for students with reading disorders or attentional difficulties. Voice Dream Writer proofreads your writing with text to speech.
Liquid Text is a brand new app, that looks like it has great potential in the classroom. Here's what the web site says " The smart way to read. LiquidText gives you the tools you need to develop a deeper understanding of the things you read. With our gesture based reading software you can review, analyze, and react to text in ways not possible on paper."
Check out the video below.
Teacher Resources & Interactive Sites
Quill.org Quill is a literacy tool that builds students’ grammar skills through free personalized writing, grammar, and vocabulary activities for " We’ve created 154 activities starting from 42 Common Core language standards. We’ve translated these Common Core directives into purposeful activities."
Here's a quick video to tell you more about it. After you create a teacher account, you can create a class, which students join with a class code. Activities to assign are searchable by application (sentence or paragraph), CCSS strand or core concept.
Read Theory is another site that could benefit students and teachers. According to the web site : "The quickest, most intelligent way to improve K-12 reading comprehension. Read Theory adapts to student ability to provide the perfect reading passages and questions. Our program is completely free for an unlimited number of teacher and student users. "
Essentially this site provides reading passages and collects data on comprehension. Very easy to set up and to use...and it's free.
Common Lit is a great way to help prepare a lesson. " COMMON is a collection of poems, short stories, news articles, historical documents, and literature for classrooms." You simply choose a theme, pick one of the provided discussion questions, choose the difficulty level and download the text to go with it.
Literacy Shed is designed for younger students, ages 5-11. "The aim is to provide high quality resources that can be used in stand alone literacy lessons, can form the basis for a whole Literacy unit or can support literacy units that you already have in place. " Using engaging short videos teachers and students can use these resources for discussion questions, as inspiration for creative writing activities and more. Use of videos can help accommodate different modalities and reach and inspire students.
Organization and communication are always a challenge. Some tools that can help you communicate with parents, as well as students and to help students stay organized are freely available.
Teacher-student-parent communications can be a lot easier with Remind (formerly Remind 101.
Remind is a messaging system used by teachers. Teachers can set up an account in seconds and then distribute the code to students and their parents. You do not need to have a smartphone to get these messages-email works. This differs from a one-call type system, since each individual teacher has control. You can send reminders about upcoming assignments and much more. Messages and announcements can be pre-scheduled. The way Remind works, privacy is maintained- you do not share your cell #, nor do you need to have student/parent numbers. Parents of students under 13 do have to sign a permission letter. Check it out here https://www.remind.com/features.
Another way to communicate and organize is through the Google Calendar system.
The last tool I wanted to mention is vastly underused- Google Keep.
Google Keep is one of the standard apps that comes along with Google Chrome. It’s essentially a little notebook, a to-do list. You can share the notes, color code the notes, take a photo of the whiteboard and it makes the text searchable… ie- if my board has the homework listed as I have seen in many classrooms- take a quick picture and add it to Keep, the text from the photo is searchable. As far as I know, Google has yet to integrate Keep and Calendar, which seems to be a no-brainer for me…but- you can add notifications to Keep and get reminders. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Whether you are teaching first grade, 4th grade, 8th grade or high school, I would be willing to bet that you have encountered some struggling readers in your classes. What can we do to help these learners? In the early years, we work on teaching the basics of letter/sound correlation, phonics and sight words. If a student seems to be struggling we use many different methods to reteach/remediate. As the learners get older this gap sometimes widens. If a student is struggling to read, he may well just give up, even though he can understand the content. Reading fluency is a major stumbling block for many students. It takes so much time to decode text that often the meaning is lost. As students read less, they learn less about language, so that as well as not comprehending the content assigned, their writing often suffers.
Technology can offer some tools to help students who struggle to read fluently. These tools vary from tools for students with vision issues, tools for students with cognitive disabilities to tools for students who read too slowly to keep up in class, to tools for students with dyslexia and other LD. These are simply tools, not a substitute for remediation of a vital skill, but can work hand in hand with remediation to help students read, write and comprehend content. There are many tools to help our learners. This is the first of several posts on this topic. Please add your comments, ideas, links to other tools in the comment section. The wiki will be updated later in the week with all the tools mentioned and more.
* Side Note- I removed the password from this blog. Please see me if this is a problem.
Students with Print/Physical or Cognitive Disabilities
Learning Ally and Bookshare are programs for students with print or physical disabilities. Books, including textbooks are delivered as audio via the web or an app. Learning Ally offers 80,000+ books, including books with audio read by people vs robotic voices. It has a teacher dashboard to keep track and document progress.. Students must have a documented visual, physical or learning disability (on the IEP, 504 plan or a doctor's note). Available thru the special education dept. See Maureen, Judi or Pat Bell to learn more about availability of seats.
Tar Heel Reader, a collection of free, easy-to-read, and accessible books on a wide range of topics. Each book can be speech enabled and accessed using multiple interfaces, including touch screens, the IntelliKeys with custom overlays, and 1 to 3 switches.
Need Variable Lexile Levels?
Books that Grow is a relatively new site. I think I first saw it on kickstarter. a few years back.
"An AWARD WINNING Digital Reading Platform With Books That Increase Or Decrease In Language Complexity Based On The Reader’s Abilities." It is growing, but has a very limited selection. Works online or iOS app.
Crack the Books Interactive Science Books with variable lexile levels. " Crack The Books™ science books are written in a conversational and whimsical style. They feature hundreds of supportive audio and visual elements including beautiful high definition photographs, integrated video footage, fun facts, custom animations and images, and interactive charts, tables and globes. There are comprehension supports built into the text, with pop up definitions for associated new vocabulary. Users can make adjustments for print size and customize voice over options within the app to accommodate students with disabilities or other limitations. All these multi-sensory features and adaptations lead to a richer understanding of the curriculum, and enable regular ed, special needs and gifted students alike to experience the subject matter as it connects to the real world.Crack The Books™ textbooks include built in comprehension questions, as well as summative tests and other interactive assessments to help teachers efficiently monitor students’ mastery of the concepts and their developing reading comprehension skills. These assessments will help educators track progress for each student. Since these assessments are graded within the app, educators will enjoy a significant time savings, as much of this critical assessment data is automatically collected for them."
These are iOS apps, not free ($29.99)
Newsela (now with Elementary Newsela)
"Read closely. Think critically. Be worldly.
Newsela is an innovative way to build reading comprehension with nonfiction that's always relevant: daily news. " Now with more support for younger readers, Newsela is an easy way to assign informational text and readings about current events, with built in quizzes and more. Usually 3-5 lexile levels/article. Teacher dashboard. More data, etc, available with premium service
Smithsonian's Tween Tribune
"Welcome to TeenTribune, TweenTribune,TTEspañol and TTJunior – the daily news sites for kids, tweens and teens – where you'll find the most compelling, relevant and interesting news for 55 million kids in K-12 and their 3.5 million teachers.
Stories are selected by professional journalists working closely with teens, tweens and teachers. Teens and tweens can post comments, with all comments moderated by their teachers before they are published"
Read Works For reading comprehension
"ReadWorks provides research-based units, lessons, and authentic, leveled non-fiction and literary passages directly to educators online,for free, to be shared broadly.
The ReadWorks curriculum is aligned to the Common Core State Standards and the standards of all 50 states. Most importantly, ReadWorks is faithful to the most effective research-proven instructional practices in reading comprehension."
Google Fluency Tutor is a chrome app. " Fluency Tutor™ for Google is an easy-to-use reading and assessment tool that helps busy teachers support struggling readers.
Great for time-stretched teachers, Fluency Tutor™ for Google lets students practice reading aloud at their own pace"
Flipping the Classroom or ??
"Embed a layer of questions, quizzes, and rich media annotations into any reading assignment. Track mastery of literacy skills and Common Core standards in real-time"
What is a curriculet?A curriculet is a digital layer of questions, quizzes and rich media, placed on top of any text. As students read a text, questions, quizzes and annotations (i.e. material that would normally be placed in worksheets) pop out of the text, so students are instructed and assessed as they read… at just the right moment." There is free material, but most of the books are to "rent". Teachers can also upload their own materials and questions, etc.
Actively Learn is a ... "digital reading platform for students. ... Our software helps teachers use great texts to promote deep learning and helps students explore texts to actively construct knowledge." Embed notes, questions and videos into reading. students must answer questions, write and collaborate Check out the short intro tutorials to get a feel for how this works. This is a great site- about half of the content is free, lexile levels are given for all materials.
Shmoop Homework Help and more. My students loved the reading guides for English and really used the history guides. Kind of goofy with the JibJab like heads, but useful
60 Second ReCap This is a site that divides books up into short (60 second) videos including an introduction, an overview, the context, the plot, characters, themes, motifs, symbols, and analysis along with short informational text. Unfortunately this site now has a lot of ads as well. I have used this site in the past with 8th graders to review the summer reading books- assigning the 60 second video sections to groups of students. This is not a reenactment of the story, but an analysis of it.
For a student who struggles with text, having a 60 second synopsis can really help scaffold the novels assigned.
Skimzee- A chrome app to summarize text online
Do you have tools to help struggling readers?
Share them in the comments.
TO BE CONTINUED...
This year we would like to use this blog and an accompanying wiki to introduce tools that may be new to some of you and to use the wiki to warehouse and categorize tools for easy reference.
As we begin the new year, one of the tools we all have at our disposal is the Google Chrome browser. Aside from the routine aspects of a web browser, Chrome also allows you to add extensions and apps. For those of you who attended the PD on this last spring, some of this will be a review. (Slides from PD)
What is an app? What is an extension? Why should I care? Very basically, apps are just websites and extensions add functionality to your browser.
Which extensions do our students have access to on school owned devices (which gives them access on all other devices when signed into their school account) ? And what do these extensions do to help both teachers and students learn, create and collaborate? We have chosen a selection of extensions which can help students collaborate, assist struggling readers and writers, help organize students and more. Do all learners need all of these- No. Try them out, see what works best for you, your students. If you have other chrome extensions or apps that you would like added, let us know. Mike can add them for us.
Chrome Extensions and Apps for students
These are the extensions and apps currently available to HA and HES students when they are logged into a chrome browser with their school email address. Note: this is a separate log in from logging into a computer or logging onto the gmail/drive accounts. Look for :Log into Chrome".