Last week I attended an NEISTE webinar called Making Rough Drafts Easier: Integrating Writing, Review, and Revision with Writable. "Writable is a writing practice tool for 3rd-12th grade students that uses feedback to drive more purposeful revision. Troy Hicks and Heidi Perry have an excellent product to help teachers help develop strong writers. You can find the webinar recording here. Troy also shared links to his wiki.
Another writing/teaching writing resource that I hadn't seen, was mentioned recently by Heather Marshall (on Twitter @MsMarshallCMS). Not being an ELA or English teacher, I hadn't seen this site before. "826 National is a network of seven nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping underserved students, ages 6-18, with their creative & expository writing skills." Follow them on Twitter, but check out their web page and join for access to some great lessons. The book store looks great too. You can learn more about the organization here.
What got me really interested was this book: From STEM to Story! Check out the promo:
National Writer's Project
You can check out more resources for teaching writing here- with the Educational Innovator project. Western Mass is fortunate to have an excellent program and a very accessible liaison via Kevin Hodgson, who teaches sixth grade in Southampton, Massachusetts, and is the technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. You can catch up with Kevin on Educational Innovator webinars or @dogtrax on twitter, on his blog or class website.
Book Snaps?? How to...
For those of you who haven't used BookSnaps as a way to have kids quickly show what they have been reading... Kevin had one on his site that I will show as an example.
How to create Book Snaps Tara Martin is the booksnap guru. You can find all the how tos here... Don't worry, they do not have to be created with snapchat... lots of ways to do this! You can use SeeSaw, BookCreator, Google Slides and more. Tara has step by steps for you!
I've been enjoying the opportunity to catch a few of the great presentations available- free- online from Matt Miller's Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit. 9 days with 9 great presentations. For nine days (Dec. 16-24), a new presentation will be available each day. It’s recorded video, and will be available til December 31st. They are available online, on demand- but when the summit is over, the videos will also go away. So don't miss out. They run about an hour each. These are real teachers, who are working in schools, much like yours-not just talking heads telling you how it "Should be". If you have a few hours over the next week or so- take some time to check them out.
One expression I've been hearing more and more about is "machine learning". What the heck does that mean? Is it AI (artificial intelligence)? Is it something new and different? We have seen some of this in the new "explore" button on Google Slides- using our content to make presentation design suggestions. So, is this big brother, peaking in at everything we do? Kinda, sorta... Google has some great experiments you can check out online and learn a little more about what is coming down the line. Here's the link. I liked the Quick Draw myself. Here's an article that you may find interesting as well from SAS... Machine Learning- what is it and why does it matter?
WhaT COULD BE MORE FUN THAN SNOWMEN?
As usual Eric Curts has some great ideas over on his site. The other day it was Build A Snowman- Google slides- with a template and used as a writing prompt.
Check it out here.
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
April is National Poetry Month!
You don't have to teach English or Language Arts to have your students appreciate the beauty of the written word. Edgar Allen Poe defined poetry this way... "I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty."
Check out some of the poems about physics or chemistry or math. Just as Fibonacci is represented in so many things in nature, so poetry is represented in so many of the things we study at school.
Poems can be beautiful, funny, outrageous... and so much more. Check out some of the links below for apps and websites to use in the classroom. Monica Evons posted an excellent resource for elementary educators... some are ipad apps, but many are readwritethink ideas.
Just as Shakespeare's plays were meant to be performed, so much poetry is visual or meant to be performed. Spoken word poetry, poetry slams, etc... are much more popular than they were when I was a student- actually I don't think they existed... There are some excellent videos online- but the caveat- listen to them first!
Poem in Your Pocket Day is coming up on April 21. You can still celebrate it before or after the date. Check out their resources here
There are so many great resources for your students, for teachers- both elementary and secondary... check some of them out on these symbaloos.
an oldie, but goodie...
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 introduced voice typing over the summer and has made some big improvements. If you haven’t tried it out, it’s worth the time to check. Located right in Google Docs- top navigation bar- Tools, you can now use your voice to format your document. Is it perfect? No… but it can be very helpful for both teachers and students to quickly get some notes down, as well as for students who are articulate, but struggle to put their pen to paper. Even though it’s still a blank white space, I have seen it help kids who think they “can’t write”.
These are the basic punctuation commands, but you can access the full list here, including lots of ways to format your document simply using your voice.
· Exclamation point
· Question mark
· New line
· New paragraph
Google Forms for Quizzes
I spent Saturday morning over at Mahar in Orange, at edcamp North Quabbin. I was really impressed with how well the teachers at Mahar are integrating technology into their day to day work with students and how much they love using Google Forms with flubaroo, integrated into Google Classroom. If you 've never tried flubaroo, here's the quick overview.
If you are not using Google Forms for multiple choice or short answer quizzes, you’re missing out on a quick and easy way to collect student data, to teach and give formative assessments and more. Google Forms has changed recently, so it may look different to you. The icon- accessed from your google drive> more> forms is now purple.
Here’s an overview video for the new version of Google Forms:
Forms to Teach and Assess
Tom Mullaney recently posted about using google forms for remediation and review, featuring his Impossible to Fail Quiz. What, pray tell, is an impossible to fail quiz? Here are 2 examples- Tom’s French Revolution Quiz and a Quiz on Google Classroom. Essentially, if you get the question wrong you are directed to a video or website or document to help you, then you get to answer the question again.
If you want to give this a try yourself.. check out his tutorial here
By the way he also embedded this into a Thinglink… pretty cool idea. We have a thinglink account that can be used at the elementary school for HES classes.
My favorite tools to use with students tend to be those used for digital storytelling. Digital StoryTelling is a huge umbrella and many tools fall into this category. Not just for the primary grades, these tools offer wonderful alternatives to traditional papers or powerpoints.
If you have access to iPads or tablets you can use a myriad of tools to make books, video or slideshows. My favorites in this category include:
You can also use tools on your computer or laptop to create digital stories. Prezi is available online, as well as Google Slides. You can leverage slides to create much more than your typical powerpoint type presentations. Check out this Google Slide presentation on Washington’s Presidency- lots of engaging features. Check out Animoto for a quick, engaging way to display content. You can get a free educator account as well as 50 accounts to share with your students or colleagues. You can make beautiful posters with Canva or Smore or use the Lucid Press tools right in your Google account (Go to Drive>New>More>LucidPress). You can produce a beautiful book with StoryBird, complete with professional artwork.
The hardest thing about digital storytelling is choosing the right tool to enhance and display your content, or your student’s content.
Believe it or not, this is a very short list of what is available online, on devices. What’s your favorite tool?
Powerpoint is not evil… but check out some tips from the experts:
Thoughts & Tips on Presenting Naked.
Aren’t you glad you read to the end?
Keep it simple! Try one new tool this week!
An old favorite
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.