Archive for February, 2008

Homograph Fun

The idea that one word can have two meanings is often confusing to children. Quia has created a great Homograph Game to provide extra reinforcement. The game can be played with one or two players. It is set up just like a Jeapordy Board. The player must choose their point value; the higher the points the more difficult the question.


Quia is short for Quintessential Instructional Archive. For a small fee, teachers can subscribe to Quia to access all of their resources, such as templates to create custom games, worksheets, webpages, and much more. Check out the Shared Activities for a free sampling of what other teachers have created using Quia. – Melissa

add to : Digg it : Stumble It! : : post to facebook…Do you know Boowa and Koala?!

Looking for a fun and educational website you can send your students to online? Look up! I love the online interactive stories on the site. The games are quite fun too! The nice thing about is that you can easily search and browse for stories and activities by age, category, popularity and skill!

Thanks Millie for pointing out this site. is now on my favorites list!


P.S. The site is in French too!

PBS Teachers–Online education resource central!

While browsing through the Missouri Project Success Education Links, I came across the link to PBS Teachers. I love this site because it contains tons of lesson ideas, videos, online and offline activities you can do with your students to build comprehension, grammar, critical thinking and more. Searching for storytelling lessons, I found the lesson Story Magic–Telling Stories from Pictures:

Use new vocabulary and the three basic elements of a story: character, setting and plot to create and tell a story based on visual clues. Develop skills in cooperation and storytelling.

PBS Teachers is impressive! Feel free to pass this link along!


FreeReading Live Webcast Tuesday February 26, 2008 (4pm EST)

Please join me and my colleague Tonika as we present FreeReading next Tuesday during a live Webcast at 4pm EST! We will give you a tour of the FreeReading site as well as ideas for implementing the FreeReading literacy intervention program in your literacy classroom.

Register for the Webcast here.


FreeReading is a high-quality, open-source, free reading intervention program for grades K-1. Schools and teachers everywhere can use the research-based FreeReading program, selecting lessons to supplement basal curricula, or working through the complete 40-week scope and sequence, which currently focuses on phonological awareness and phonics. Vocabulary and comprehension are coming soon. Developed by a team of instructional designers at Wireless Generation and teachers across the country, FreeReading has been reviewed by an advisory board of the country’s leading reading researchers, who also guide the expansion of FreeReading content.


Open-source-based instructional programs such as FreeReading offer schools significant benefits. Open-source technology makes it possible to update and change an instructional program in real-time, without the 5- to 7-year wait between new textbook editions. FreeReading is significantly less expensive to produce and distribute, enabling widespread access to a high-quality instructional program at no charge. The growth of and open-source instructional programs has the potential to free up billions of dollars annually earmarked for textbook purchases, giving school systems the opportunity to spend instructional dollars on what they decide is important for improving teaching and learning — materials, tools, or services.


Open-source and Web 2.0 technologies also enable FreeReading users to easily adapt the content to their needs, contribute and share their own materials as supplemental lessons within the scope and sequence, and participate in discussions about early literacy. As a result, FreeReading always reflects the collective wisdom of a worldwide community of educators who understand how children best learn to read. Since its introduction in November, the FreeReading community has grown rapidly to include educators in all 50 states and 165 countries. In addition, FreeReading is the first open-source instructional program to be approved through an official state adoption. The state of Florida recently approved FreeReading as a supplemental reading program that state schools may use during the 2008-2009 school year. 

Livemocha: Free online language courses

Learning to speak, read and write in Japan was a humbling experience! As an English and literacy teacher during the day, I had the luxury of speaking my native language, but the second I stepped out of school, my language (and charades) skills were instantly put to the test. I remember writing an email to my father early on during my experience abroad stating, “I feel like I’ve lost one of my vital senses. I am surrounded by symbols and have no clue what they mean.”

Looking back on my time in Japan, I am so thankful for the experience it provided me of having to learn a new language. I am also eternally grateful for the patience my Japanese teachers afforded me as I hacked through short passages written in hiragana, katakana and kanji. Now, when I watch a young child learn to read letters and symbols for the first time, I have a whole new appreciation for the seemingly difficult, yet ultimately rewarding challenges involved in this complex task.

Perhaps you’ve always wanted to try learning a second language? Or, perhaps you want to remember what it feels like to learn how to read again? Today, I discovered a free website that allows you to do just that!

Livemocha is a website that contains free courses in Spanish, German, English, Hindi, French and Mandarin! Check it out and remember what it is like to learn how to read again!


add to : Digg it : Stumble It! : : post to facebook

A Not So Different Place–Technology and Literacy Ideas for the classroom

A Not So Different Place is a blog filled with inspiring posts and links to resources that not only help build student literacy and motivation, but technology skills as well. The author of this blog is Nancy:

I’ve been teaching in an elementary gifted program for 20 years. I’m a wife and mom of three grown boys; a lawyer, an engineer, and a philosopher! I’ve also done technology presentations in my district, state and nationally. I’m about three years from retirement, but think I have a lot to share.

Thinking about starting a class blog project? Check out Nancy’s post titled Blogs for Elementary Kids. To see her students’ blogs, click here. How about incorporating the use of moodle, wikis, LetterPop, and more into your classes this week? Nancy is sure to have ideas and resources to share. Thanks Nancy!


KidsClick! (a search engine for kids)

While browsing through Librarian Chick’s website, I came across KidsClick! web search for kids by librarians. This is a fun and educational website that you can use to teach children how to use a search engine. Furthermore, KidsClick! contains lists of useful links such as this page on books. -Anna

Graphic Organizers

I just discovered the Graphic Organizer Maker from Recipes4Success. This is a handy tool for when you find yourself in a bind and need something ASAP for the afternoon lesson. The site is easy to use, with clear directions. Click on the “new” button for a full explanation of how to create a customized organizer.

Use the graphic organizer Maker to create customized graphic organizer worksheets. Choose from concept maps, KWHL charts, Venn diagrams, timelines, cycles, and more. If this is your first time using the Graphic Organizer Maker, click the New button to begin.

I always find myself using graphic organizers in the classroom to teach reading comprehension strategies. I think I’ll use a Though Web or a Five Ws Chart to do some prewriting activities.

Classroom Tip: Make one copy of each organizer on an overhead projector sheet to use for whole group instruction.


add to : Digg it : Stumble It! : : post to facebook

Frog Facts (An illustrated decodable reader)


As a member of the development team, I am constantly scanning the pages of FreeReading to see what type of content users are adding to the early literacy program. This morning I was truly inspired when I came across Molly Fisher’s adaptation of the story Frog Facts–a decodable reader on FreeReading. Molly–your illustrations are beautiful! Thank you SO much for contributing your ideas and illustrations to the FreeReading community!


add to : Digg it : Stumble It! : : post to facebook

Do your students like to Doodle?

My friend Millie just emailed me information on the Doodle for Google Competition:

Welcome to Doodle 4 Google, a competition where we invite K-12 students to play around with our homepage logo and see what they come up with. This year we’re inviting U.S. kids to join in the doodling fun, around the intriguing theme “What if…?”

For lessons plans and ideas on how to incorporate this competition into your art, technology literacy, language arts and social studies classes click here.

Happy Doodling!


Interactives Spelling Bee

I was recently scrolling through the elementary reading resources on, and I came across Interactives Spelling Bee. This website is a great way for students, in grades 1-8, to practice their spelling words. It is a fun and fast-paced, so all students can enjoy it. From the website:

Contestant – that’s you! – in grades 1-8 will listen to three stories, one at a time, and then spell words from each story. Students in high school will listen to separate sentences and then spell the words from each sentence.

If you get stumped, you can click to hear a word again, as many times as you need to. If you’re in grade three or higher, you can aske for a definition too. Since words often make more sense when they are attached to an idea, all the words in the story or sentence are in context.


Review the words, hear the audio, and SPELL the missing words. Make sure to check your SPELLING carefully, since your results will be calculated at the end.


In the classroom, this would make a great team activity at the computer center.



Keep up-to-date with education news and developments around the world by tuning into the videos on AfterEd. AfterEd is a project sponsored by the Teachers College EdLab. A former member of the lab, I am very excited to see AfterEd evolve! Bringing videos and other forms of multimedia into the classroom can certainly help motivate students, while at the same time building literacy and technology skills. Check out this video on Video Games in Japan or watch my friend Karen discuss her dissertation research on schools in Indonesia! Perhaps your students will enjoy watching the videos and contributing to the site!


Grammar Girl!

Writing an email to parents or colleagues and have a grammar question that you want to resolve before clicking send? Check out these short and VERY useful grammar tips from Grammar Girl!


A Vocabulary Resource NOT to Be Ignored!

Recently I’ve been thinking about vocabulary instruction. While browsing through the Sonoma County Office of Education Reading Corner, I found a link to Lexile Power Vocabulary. The site explains:

Lexile Power Vocabulary (formerly PowerV) is a systematic and individualized approach to vocabulary development that enables teachers to assist students in grades 2 through 12 to improve their reading comprehension skills. The right-hand columns provide the links to the instructional applications: student word lists, activities and assessment (S), and teacher answer keys (T).

This is a fantastic resource because it contains vocabulary lists and activities for hundreds of books. For example, look at the following resources for Frog and Toad are Friends:

1) Frog and Toad are Friends Word List

2) Frog and Toad are Friends Word List Definitions and Review Activities

3) Frog and Toad are Friends Review Activity Answers

Thanks Kevin Feldman (Director of Reading & Early Intervention, Sonoma County Office of Education) for sharing this resource on Reading Corner! I just joined his Literacy List Serve by emailing him:


Writing Bugs

I always find myself scrambling in the classroom to come up with creative writing prompts on the fly.  In an attempt to overcome my horrible procrastination, I came across Writing Bugs.  Writing Bugs are short, simple, and printable writing prompts from Education World.


The prompts are organized by month.  Planning ahead for February, they have some great story starters up there such as, If you could interview any U.S. President, which one would you choose? There are also Anytime Writing Bugs, which are suitable for any time of year.


Journal time just got a lot easier in my classroom…


Blog Stats

  • 255,314 hits

Curriki Global Community Member

Curriki Home Page
Add to Technorati Favorites


Cluster Maps


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 25 other followers