Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Woohoo! I found out today that I am a winner of a NYSCATE grant. This was my 3rd time submitting a grant for iPads for my classroom. I knew I had a much better chance at winning this year because I had a good focus. What was that focus? Daily 5 and CAFE. I want the kids to use the iPads for reading, writing, fluency, word work as well as working in some collaboration.

I have a few apps in mind.
I like the Grasshopper book apps. Children can listen to the story, record themselves reading the story and even change the words to write their own story.
Edmodo-I used the website a few times with my 4th and 5th graders last year. They enjoyed using it but I just didn't follow through with it. I think it will be easier to use Edmodo with the app and this will motivate me to learn more about it and how to use it effectively this summer.
Sock Puppets-This can be used for retelling a story or vocabulary work.
Popplet-for a graphic organizer. I'll need to get the paid app so we can save our work.

That's it for now. I have started a list for parents of apps I currently have on my one iPad. I won't be using all of these next year but if you're interested you can take a look.
If you have suggestions of great apps for reading and writing with K-5 students please let me know. I would love to check them out.

Monday, June 10, 2013

May Tech Links-Special for Parents of Incoming Kindergartners

Website For Parents:
8 Ways to Teach Your Child to Read- an infographic
25 Alphabet Activities
Fun ways to practice learning letters of the alphabet.

Reading Nooks 
Maybe these ideas will inspire you to find a small corner in your own home to set up a comfy reading nook.

Websites For Children:
A song for each letter for the alphabet.
Games are labeled by skill-counting, shapes etc. There are also games for older students. 
National Geographic for Young Explorers
This is a great resource for learning about animals and habitats as well as expanding vocabulary. Child can click on the speaker button and have the whole issue read aloud. 
Some songs are for movement but others cover colors, days of the weeks, months of the years counting and more.
APPS-unless noted all apps are free
I would encourage you to check out Grasshopper apps; . Many of them are listed here.  I love these apps because they are free, use great photographs, and allow for so much custimization in their settings.
Endless Alphabet-
One of my favorites! This app has no right or wrong answers. Child selects a letter, the app shows and reads a word beginning with that letter. Then it scrambles the letters, the child puts it back in order as a matching activity, then it does a cartoon animating the definition and it reads it in a sentence. It’s a great app for expanding vocabulary.

Alpha Robots
This is a memory game for matching letters of the alphabet. Child can play alone or with another person. There are 3 levels of difficulty.

Little Matchups
This is an easy matching game for letters and sounds.

Photo Touch ABC Alphabet
Touch the … and the app names a letter. You can record your own voice. It starts with 3 choices and as correct answers are given it builds up to 10 choices.

I Like Books
This link does cost $1.99 for 37 books. However, if you go to the app store and search individual titles you can find most of them for free. Your child can listen to a story. You can also change the words and record it yourself-perhaps with your child’s help. 
Sock Puppets 

Let your child have fun retelling a story or making up a new story with these puppets.

Relearning Good Reading Practices

Instead of free lunch we received these freebies during Daily 5.

I truly feel like I've been living in the dark. A little over a month ago I went to a local reading meeting where a teacher did a short presentation on Daily 5. I had never heard of it but I liked what a I heard so I came home and started a little investigating and found the information that the "Two Sisters" would be presenting in Rochester two weeks later. It took some work but a colleague and I attended the two day workshop. It was two days of sit and get but the time flew by. They were excellent presenters, each taking turns to share ideas, research, visuals, and stories. At the beginning when they asked where people were from and people started calling out Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Massachusetts, Vermont as well as other states and five providences from Canada I knew I had missed out on something but was so excited to be learning from the experts. 

Saturday was all about Daily 5 and Sunday covered CAFE. I've been teaching for 30 years so I've been through Whole Language as well as Four Blocks with Fountas and Pinnell. My first year as a reading teacher was the year the sets of books were put away and replaced with a basal series. I was so happy that I was out of the classroom. I was also very pleased that I did not have to use the basal with my students. However, I feel like I really flounder and need a direction. I think the Daily 5 and CAFE model are going to improve my instruction next year. 

Gail and Joan shared research with us and I have begun to read some of those articles. What do struggling readers need to improve? Of course, they need to be reading! Duh! Trust me, I'm embarrassed to admit this but, my students have not been doing a lot of reading when they've been with me. Things will be different next year. I feel like learning about Daily 5 and CAFE have brought me back to my roots and what I know about good teaching. I refuse to get sucked into the test prep frenzy next year. I know better.

For the first time in a long time I'm excited about next year! Stay tuned for updates. I plan on using this blog as a place to track my progress and learning as I tweak this structure and make it my own for my reading students.