Hmmm... Who calls listening to a book ear-reading ? At any rate, several articles have appeared in the last couple of weeks about the use of audio books. Is it cheating? How does it help students or does it help only some students? I never listened to books as I drove myself and my children and their friends back and forth to school every day (50 minutes each way). I trained myself not to listen to anything in the car- sanity while driving middle school age children was a priority. Now I listen to books pretty much constantly- on the way to and from work, while I'm working outside, weeding, mowing, shoveling snow... I consider it reading. I read about 300 books a year, more than half are audio books.
Is listening to a book cheating? Well, are you working on decoding or comprehension? If you want your students to understand the material, let them listen to it, look at it, watch videos, etc... The only caveat I have is that videos are generally not true to the book and you lose the language, the flow that the author intended.
In the past I have used the uPAR test with students and found that the vast majority of students- something like 87%, demonstrated significantly better comprehension- up more than a grade level- when they also got to listen to the text being read. UDL works.
Both Edutopia and The New York Times have really interesting articles about this- check them out.
If you hadn't noticed, I really like FlipGrid. Since the acquisition by Microsoft, many things have changed, aside from it becoming a free resource. It seems like hardly a week goes back without something new- and it's usually good. I was so happy to see that Holly Clark is giving a FREE course, beginning this Friday to help you #Master FlipGrid! You can sign up here.
TED talks have teamed up with Brightline Initiatives to offer 21 Days of Ideas. Check it out
Live from the North Pole
Google has been tracking Santa for 15 years now. Check out what's new up at the North Pole.
There are books about chrome extensions. I just want to talk about a couple of them. I have used One Tab and Speed Dial2 for years and really like them. Recently I noticed that a similar extension Toby, has also been included in many favorites lists. I downloaded and installed it, but really haven't put it to a test. Perhaps one of you can let me know what you think.
One Tab is incredibly useful to me, especially when I am listening to a webinar and popping 20 or 30 tabs open as I listen. Not only does this suck the life out of my computer and slow it down, but it has caused Chrome to crash and then I lose all my open tabs. One Tab to the rescue. I can have a ton of tabs open, press One Tab and it scoots them all into one tab, lets me label it, share it out as a web page, etc. It supposedly works across devices- but I end up with different lists on my different devices. Here's a quick screenshot of what this looks like.
I use Speed Dial 2 as my start page. I have 3 tabs- one for sites I use at home, one for sites I use for work and one for sites I used for course work. I use this extension constantly. I have it set to be the tab that opens when I click on a new tab. Here's an example of this one.
So what does Toby do? Supposedly a little bit of both. "Toby is better than bookmarks, it's a browser extension that helps you organize your tabs on every new page." It sets itself up as the new tab page automatically. (I had to undo that in settings, since I really like SpeedDial2). It puts all the tabs you open in a list on the right and then you make collections- pulling the tabs in - so kind of like One Tab, but it's supposed to be a great way to organize. Reading through the comments on the Chrome Web Store, it sounds like it meets the needs of some folks perfectly and others wish there was an import/export and other features. The jury is still out for me, but I will try it and see if I want to add Toby to my toolbox or replace a tool with this one.
New Reading App
This app, Reading IQ, just came out and looks to be a great resource, very similar to Epic! You can read a lot more about it on their blog. Here's the blurb:
"As with ABCmouse, ReadingIQ is available at no cost to teachers for use in their classrooms, with the ability to assign an entire reading level of books to each student to read at home, completely free." Check out a short video from the site.
It is free for teachers- be sure to look up at the top right of the navigation and click on Teachers to get all the details.
Learning in a MakerSpace
One of the hardest things for me, working to integrate technology across all the grades and disciplines, is to allow students to have choices. We are so used to controlling all the aspects of teaching, that we forget that we don't need to control how kids learn. We just need to help them learn. Edutopia has a new series called How Learning Happens. The full series of more than 20 videos will be released in early 2019.
The video below is a preview from Learning Problem Solving and Growth Mindset in a Makerspace. The blurb for this one is "Makerspaces build students’ cognitive abilities while fostering independence, perseverance, and self-regulation."
I also picked up a couple of children's books this weekend- kind of along the same vein. One was Rosie Revere: Engineer. This is part of a wonderful series which includes Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect.
What I noticed, aside from the nod to Rosie the Riveter. was the theme of not giving up. Now, I am not a big proponent of jumping up and down for joy about failing. Yes, I know all the little acronyms that go along with FAIL... and not that these are wrong, it's just- I want to succeed. Accepting that a big part of the engineering design cycle is prototype, test, make changes, iterate, takes not an acceptance of failure, but the knowledge that it is a process. The ability to persevere through the process, to take constructive criticism and use it, is the hardest part for many of our students, as well as our teachers to learn. I was down at the Google HQ in Cambridge a few years back and listened to a panel of folks who work for Google. The one woman who truly impressed me said something to the effect of "I was always the smartest one in the class. I was used to being right. Now I am one of many and I have had to learn to learn from others and from my own mistakes. Accepting and learning to use criticism is hard."
So, where am I going with this? The other book I picked up was called, "What do you do with an idea?" I also found a whole book module on this in Teaching Children Philosophy, which was a course over at Mt. Holyoke, not sure if it is still offered. Curious, I started looking around the web and found that this book, this children's book, is being read and discussed in college engineering and design courses. I loaned my copy to First Grade, but see if you can find one. Short, easy to read, nice illustrations, but a pretty powerful message and great questions on the site. What makes an idea important? What does it mean to feed an idea and make it grow?
A couple of tools that I noticed this week included:
Google's bring AR to the web. We've all seen the fancy $ Occulus Rift, as well as the utilitarian Google Cardboard, but Google is actually working hard to bring AR to the web, and not as a novelty. They have a prototype called Article. Article is a 3D model viewer that works for all browsers. Read more about it here.
I saw a tweet from Leslie Fisher about Handwriting recognition in Google Docs, which got my attention: Handwriting recognition in Google Drive. Go ahead and read more about it on her blog. I'll tuck the video in here, too. But... this isn't quite as grand as it sounds. Google Keep can do OCR on an image and then you can send this text to Google Docs. Google Docs can take a PDF and pull the text out of it- not perfectly, and I hope you didn't care about the formatting. However, a combo of tools is getting a whole lot closer. I have a Rocketbook and it can recognize my handwriting and it can send it to docs, to evernote, etc. So- yes, it is cool, but there's another tool in there, not just Google Drive. Here's the link for Rocketbooks. They are also somehow affiliated with ThinkBoard- which is a whiteboard- that you can use the app on and send it to docs- does HW recognition, OCR from the whiteboard.
Looking for a cool STEM toy?
I was thrilled to see that Smithsonian Magazine choose Turing Tumble as the best STEM toy of 2018. This came along as a kickstarter a couple years back and was finally realized this past year. I brought one up to my brother's house and tested it on my niece. It was fun, hard fun, but really engaging for ages 8+. There are 60 puzzles to get through. We played for quite a while and did 15 of them. Check it out the top ten list here, and in the winner in the video below.
One of the Honorable Mentions was Chibitronics. I received one of these kits at the MakerBootCamp I attended last summer. Again- fun, lots of learning. Chibitronics Love to Code Creative Coding Kit. They offer good discounts to educators. Jie Qi, one of the founders, has created such beautiful work, check out some of her projects
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.