Global Maker Day
Today is #Global Maker Day and students around the world shared what they are making and tried new challenges. Check out the landing pagehere, to get an idea of the structure of the day and then check out the video of the live stream. You can just click around the time line to view various classes, speakers in action. Thislink to the buncee slide show with the schedule can you a better idea of what to look for on the video timeline. Twitter was abuzz with great ideas from classrooms around the world. #GlobalMakerDay .
Dyslexia Awareness Month
It seems that even our governor, here in Massachusetts, has added something to celebrate Dyslexia Awareness month. Governor Baker signed a proposal on Friday, which would require the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to come up with guidelines for screening of students with at least one indicator for dyslexia or another neurological learning disability. You can read more about it here.
CTD Quick Takes
I got an email from CTD, Center on Technology and Disability, featuring something new to me, Quick Takes. I love this idea. This series of Quick Takes is all about EF- Executive Functioning. There are 2 short videos to give an overview and some nice ideas for apps and then a few links to longer articles to begin to dive deeper into the topic. Check out the videos they shared below, but don't skip heading over the their website to learn more. They have a phenomenal library with thousands of articles, videos, webinars, all searchable by keywords.
Leveled Readers- What's the Best Way?
I was listening to a podcast about the best ways to use leveled texts and had hoped to pop the podcast right into this post, but it seems to be flash based and gets stripped right out. Jennifer Gonzales - from the Cult of Pedagogy Blog did an excellent interview with literacy consultant and author Jennifer Serravallo recently. Check out the podcast as well as the write up here.
Speaking of reading... one of my favorite reading resources is ReadWorks. Whether you are looking for reading passages, paired text or the wonderful "Article a Day" series, chances are you can find it on ReadWorks. Need stories read in a human voice? Need stories to appeal to your ELL students? Need to enhance your social studies or science curriculum? Check out ReadWorks for great content and built in supports for your readers.
Eduporium, one of my favorite STEM retailers, since they really try to help you find the best STEM products for your school, has been running a contest every night since May 1st. It's an educational trivia contest- with a $100 coupon prize to the person who has the right answer the fastest. I have been incredibly lucky and have won 5 times! However, they have decided to revise their rules and get more people involved- so if you win once, lucky you and then you are done. So, now that I am out of the running... here's the info you need. Sign up here and they will send you a reminder email at about 6:45 pm EST with the link for the contest which is at 7 sharp. Some of the questions are common knowledge... eg. the chemical formula for table salt, where others are not so easy- eg. the country completely surrounded by South Africa (Lesotho) and you have to google really fast! (Use OK Google voice search) So- it's fun and you can win a prize. Go for it, have your students go for it. Some questions are tough for a high school student, others are OK for elementary... and it's fun.
I spent some time today with one of the 6th grade classes, helping students use Google Slides for their yearbook pages. Using Google slides gives you way more flexibility than docs and the page size is easily adjusted to 8.5 by 11 (File>page setup>custom) and can be exported as a pdf. It reminded me that I wanted to share this Google Slide info, which I didn't know til this week. Alice Keeler and Matt Miller have created a new chrome extension called DriveSlides for Google Slides that allows you to take a folder of images and create a Google Slide show with a press of a button. The functionality reminds me of the ability to create a slideshow out of a folder in powerpoint. Quick and easy. Alice wrote more about it here. She also has a really cool screenshot to slideshow extension that she explained in a previous post. It automatically takes a screenshot every minute and saves it to a folder for a slideshow.
Looking for more ideas with Google Slides? Check out Matt's post here.
Summer PD- Google Drawings
I'm excited to take a class with Tony Vincent on Google Drawings this summer. Tony is an internationally known educator and speaker. His blog Learning in Hand has been a staple in the edtech world for years.
When I saw the notice about the class and went to sign up, I also learned something new...you can present a clutter-free image of a google doc by changing the url. Tony explained it here.
Last, but not least ReadWorks!
ReadWorks, as many of you know, is a fantastic resource for students and their teachers. Many teachers have tried their Article-A-Day series with great success. ReadWorks does a great job of pulling together text sets for you. Here's a couple of promo videos to give you some ideas.
I haven't been able to find the summer packets collection on the new site, but will write and ask them if they are offering this again- or something similar. This is last year's page. www.readworks.org/rw/beat-summer-reading-slump
VICKI DAVIS presented an excellent webinar this afternoon called 15 Best Tools for G Suite for Education. I was late, but she went over a couple tools that I hadn't heard of/tried before. She also shared a great PDF with her tool list! One tool, a Google Doc add-on that I am planning to try, is Pro Writing Aid, which "... is a Google Doc add-on that assists students by checking their writing for consistency, grammar mistakes, cliches, acronyms, and more. " I've tried Grammarly and although I know that many, many teachers and students love it, it kind of drove me crazy and I felt like it was in my way. But, please try it! Everyone likes different things.
I also didn't know that Easybib now does a web site credibility check. I still like the SAS Writing Navigator Tool from SAS Curriculum Pathways to help students organize their writing, even if it didn't make the top 15 list. It's a chrome app as well as being a Google Docs add-on. She also shared some really cool math tools, some basic teacher tools and one last one I want to mention- the educational templates in Lucid Charts. Need a graphic organizer- they've got 'em and they are pretty cool. Read more from Vicki, and don't forget to check out the extra goodies from this webinar- The Hemingway App. Thanks, Vicki!
Improved Voice Typing in Docs
Google also recently announced yet more changes in Voice Typing in Docs. It is the best speech to text I have seen, especially for young voices. And... it's free! Here's the list of commands. If you haven't tried it.. super easy, but the commands will take a bit of getting used to. Here's a quick video as a refresher or an intro.
TextHelp continues to add more functionality to Read & Write for Google Chrome with a new Read-Aloud feature. Remember this is free for everyone in our domain- all staff, faculty and students. It's a pretty robust tool. I got an email from them the other day as they are looking for teachers to help develop a new writing assessment tool. It sounds really cool and if you help them out, you may get the tool free- forever! Check it out here.
LAST, but not LEast...
I spent the day at #EdCampAccessNY on Saturday. Among the many resources shared, were a couple that I plan to check out in the coming weeks. One for Early Readers got glowing reviews from a NY teacher who is using it. She claimed it was better that RAZ kids. Now, that's going some. Check out Reading Eggs and let me know what you think. The other web site is Literably, a site to help assess reading fluency and comprehension. Check it out and see if it can help you.
As the school year draws to a close, I would like to share a few of the many vendor emails I get on a daily basis. These actually have something to offer busy teachers. Check out new developments at ReadWorks, Symbaloo, JoeZoo and EasyBib.
There are 2 new, exciting updates from ReadWorks coming next fall. There will be a new digital website and a new K-5 Article-A-Day program.
The new ReadWorks Digital website will be available for all teachers and students.
Read Works - Article a Day
"ReadWorks Introduces Article-A-Day for Kindergarten - 5th grade
In just 10-15 minutes each day you can dramatically improve your students’ reading comprehension by systematically building their background knowledge and vocabulary with Article-A-Day.
Learn more about Article-A-Day"
Symbaloo Edu Lesson Plans
Symbaloo, which we use at HES for a start page for students ( with a separate start page for teachers), recently rolled out a new service using their platform- Lesson Plans for students. Essentially this is like a pathfinder. Here's their promo:
Engage your students with truly personalized learning by creating your own lesson plans and fully customizing the look and feel. Simply add videos, documents, quizzes and educational games that guide students through custom learning paths from start to finish. View the progress of your students in real time, chat with them to help them with the assignment and utilize the built-in grading tool to make your life easier. You can now get started with creating your first lesson plan. How? By taking your first lesson: A lesson plan explaining Symbaloo Lesson Plans. See what we did there? ;-)
Joe Zoo is a Google Add On, built for teachers to help with rubrics, grading and feedback. It is relatively new and has made some good upgrades recently. It is integrated with Google Classroom.
Check it out here. The video below is just a short promo video, but there is a complete playlist of how to videos on YouTube
Easy Bib Edu
I got this from Easy Bib recently. Easy Bib is an easy to use citation service and has a Google Docs add on. Click on the link to the form to get this for free if you would like to be able to view and manage student accounts. They also have a helpful resource for educators- with articles like Teaching Students How To Summarize and Paraphrase in their Own Words, or How to Conquer the Dreaded Blank Page with Writing Prompts
Questions? Check the FAQ page
To get right to it: we heard you when you said that your students loved using EasyBib, so we’re excited to let you know that you and your students can have FULL ACCESS to EasyBib EDU for free, starting with the 2016-2017 school year and beyond! This means:
We’ll keep improving EasyBib throughout the upcoming school year, adding enhancements such as a new and improved notebook, an annotation tool to help your students find and capture important information, and an improved Google Docs add-on with notes and outline support to assist students throughout the writing process.
Stay tuned for more updates and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to let us know, and don’t forget to sign up for EasyBib EDU here.
Thanks and we will be in touch!
The Imagine Easy Team
I have shown Epic, the free source of over 10,000 books for kids, to various educators over the last couple of years but over the weekend, they added something new- educational videos!
Now you can access videos from Flocabulary, Smithsonian, Jonathan's Bird's Blue World, Encyclopedia Britannica and more on either your iOS or Android app. The videos will be available on the web version soon.
So, what is it? It is a reading platform designed for K-5. If offers thousands of great books for your students to read. These are high quality books from leading publishers. It is totally free for educators and their students to use at school on just about any device/platform. You can set up up to 36 student accounts with your HES email address. As an educator you get a teacher dashboard and can monitor student progress. Students cannot access this from home, unless their parents buy a subscription- $4.99/month. As we all know- free is not a business model. Sites like this can only operate if parents support it by subscribing at home. Parents can get a free 60 day trial with the promo code EPICREADS.
Texthelp has come out with an update for Read & Write for Google Chrome-with the addition of both Word Prediction and Speech Input. Check it out below: there are also a few other changes that you can read about on their blog... but speech input is a big one. This means that students who are using Read & Write to access assignments on pdfs can now use their voice to fill in their answers in addition to the typewriter tool (which now also supports word prediction)
Remember, we subscribe to this service. It is free for all staff, faculty, and all of our students as subscribers. If you have not tried it out, try it. If you have students who struggle-perhaps one or two of you have some students who need some support?... show this to them. It's a chrome add on- you have to be logged into your school Google account and have to be using/signed into the chrome browser. You need 2 extensions- the basic Read &Write as well as their new screenshot reader (which helps access inaccessible text)
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.
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...