Archive for April, 2008

Snug as a Bug in a Rug!

Last week I visited the office of WordWorld. WordWorld is an animated show on PBS where the main characters (WordFriends) are both animals and words. For example, one of the characters is a duck, Duck not only looks like a duck, but his body spells duck as well. As you might imagine with a title like WordWorld, the show aims to foster a love of words and reading in budding readers.

I am a fan of WordWorld cartoons and toys, so as one would expect, it was a thrill to learn how their animations and scripts are produced!

Anyway, during my visit, I discovered a new Word World initiative–their online e-books. Imagine a pop-up book in an online format with lots of WordFriends! How fun?! Check out this month’s e-book here. (Note: Make sure your computer volume is on when you view the e-book!) In addition, WordWorld has a number of word games for children posted on their site. This is a good site to pass along to budding readers and their parents this summer!

Happy Word Reading!

Anna

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Reading is Fundamental

Reading is Fundamental prepares and motivates children to read by delivering free books and literacy resources to those children and families who need them most. Among the many great things you can find on the website, I think the Resources for Educators are particularly useful. There, teachers can find Lesson Plans, Web Resources, Activities, and Workshops. Make sure to stop by Reading Planet to play a few online games, and don’t forget to enter the Read with Kids Challenge for a chance to enter a trip to Disney World. – Melissa

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Super Teacher Worksheets

As much as I would love to be creative and take the time to personally create every thing that I do in my classroom, every teacher knows that is simply not possible. Enter…Super Teacher Worksheets. This fun website has tons of FREE printable sheets for every subject. There are even report card comments, graphic organizers, spelling lists, puzzles, wrting prompts, handwriting practice… the list goes on. This site is not to be missed! Don’t forget to enter the April Contest. Tell about your classroom management system and win a free Slime Science Kit. -Melissa

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Teacher-to-Teacher

I recently discovered Teacher-to-Teacher. The Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative was created by and for America‘s teachers in 2004. The Initiative supports teachers’ efforts in the classroom through professional development workshops, digital workshops and Podcasts, and by sharing relevant information through email updates.
 
Teacher-to-Teacher will be sponsoring several workshops this summer, in places such Denver , New York , and Los Angeles . Check the Summer 2008 Schedule to register for a workshop near you. If you cannot attend one of these sessions, make sure to check out the session materials. They are all available online and are packed with useful information to take back to the classroom. – Melissa

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Sight Word Videos

Check out this short sight word video by Karen (a member of the FreeReading Community). Before making more videos, she’d like feedback from teachers and reading coaches like you! So, if you have a moment, feel free to share your comments and thoughts here.

Anna

Find more videos like this on Classroom 2.0

A mini technology and social bookmarking lesson

Monday I figured out how to add social bookmarking links to the bottom of Literacy is Priceless posts thanks to discovering a how-to guide on the subject on the blog Running through the Rain. After discussing my mini accomplishment with a few of my teacher friends, it occurred to me that not everyone is familiar with the term social bookmarking nor the colorful little buttons below. So, here is a mini lesson on the topic so that you can start bookmarking your favorite websites and Literacy is Priceless posts : ).

Wikipedia defines social bookmarking as follows:

Social bookmarking is a method for Internet users to store, organize, search, and manage bookmarks with the help of metadata.

In a social bookmarking system, users save links to web pages that they want to remember and/or share. These bookmarks are usually public, and can be saved privately, shared only with specified people or groups, shared only inside certain networks, or another combination of public and private domains. The allowed people can usually view these bookmarks chronologically, by category or tags, or via a search engine… For more information, click here.

The following colorful buttons allow you to save and share links to this blog post on social bookmarking and networking sites like del.iciou.us, Digg, StumbleUpon, reddit, and Facebook.

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1) The checkered button allows you to save blog posts to del.iciou.us-one of the most popular social bookmarking sites and a personal favorite! I use the site to bookmark education resources that I come across and want to save for later viewing. The great think about del.iciou.us is that regardless of what computer I am on, I can always find my favorites by going to my free online del.iciou.us account.

2) The second mini button above allows you to bookmark this post on Digg-another popular site, especially among tech-savvy crowds. Everything on Digg – from news to videos to images to Podcasts – is submitted by our community (that would be you). Once something is submitted, other people see it and Digg what they like best.

3) The middle button above with the SU on it is for StumbleUpon-a site that allows you to bookmark and review content, as well as stumble upon new content related to your interests. My Dad is a huge fan of this site!

4) The second button from the right with the little creature on it allows you to bookmark this post on reddit-a site where you can vote on and share your favorite web content.

5) Finally, the button on the far right with an f on it is for Facebook-an online directory that connects people through social networks at colleges-By clicking this button on any of our blog posts, you can share Literacy is Priceless with your friends and colleagues on Facebook.

I hope this is helpful! Moving forward, feel free to bookmark our posts on your computer or the social bookmarking sites above! Also, feel free to share your own favorite literacy websites with us here in the comment sections of each post!

Happy Social Bookmarking,

Anna

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Free Printables for Pre-K and K

Today my colleague Alexa mentioned to me that she showed FreeReading to her son’s preschool teacher. In response, I asked her what website the school has used in the past to find literacy activities and she responded, “BeginningReading.com“. Naturally, I was curious, so this evening I checked out the site.

Beginning Reading is a phonics program for young children just being exposed to print for the first time. Similar to FreeReading, it contains dozens of free printable materials. So, if you are in the market for a short vowel poster, alphabet writing worksheets, or fun book titled Lively Butterfies, this site is definitely worth a browse and slot on your phonics favorites list! Feel free to pass the site along to your Pre-K and K teacher friends. I also think Beginning Reading is useful for parents and grandparent of preschoolers.

Anna

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Surfing the Net with Kids

Barbara J. Feldman is the author of the weekly newspaper column, Surfing the Net with Kids. She scours the internet for kid friendly sites. Click on any topic, and Barbara provides a wealth of information and websites. For example, the topic Harry Potter leads to sites including the J.K. Rowling Official Site and The Leaky Cauldron: Harry Potter News. Sign up for the SurfNetKids weekly newsletter to stay up to date on all of her kid-friendly websites. -Melissa

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Interested in education research, but don’t have time to read it?

Check out Laurence Holt’s blog What the Research Says: Early Literacy Research Distilled for Educators. Laurence’s blog tackles issues such as:

If you only have 3-5 minutes a week to read early literacy research, What the Research Says is a great place to start!

Anna

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Two Education Technology Events to Add to your Calendars!

I will be speaking about FreeReading and LiteracyisPriceless at the Midwest Tech Forum (Chicago) and Podcamp NYC at the end of this month. If you are interested in learning more about education technologies, blogging for teachers and using online materials for lesson planning purposes, check these events out! -Anna

Midwest Tech Forum

Brought to you by the team behind T&L magazine and the techlearning.com web site, Tech Forum represents “Technology & Learning in action.”

Now in its sixth season, this high-powered, one-day event provides K-12 decision makers with thought-provoking content on the hottest topics of the day in education technology.

An engaging and intimate setting, expert presentations, and plenty of networking opportunities ensure that participants leave with practical tools and key contacts for continued rich communities of practice.

Education 2.0 at Podcamp NYC 2.0

Educators know that technology is changing the way students of all ages learn and access information. Whether it’s doing online research, finding supplemental sources, or participating in social media like Club Penguin or Facebook, students have access to more information than ever. Is this information overload a good thing or a bad thing, and how can we use new media to enhance learning at all levels? How do all these tech tools fit together? How do you choose between them?

At Podcamp NYC 2.0, we want to explore how new media is transforming education, from the development of universal design in curriculum to using web-based tools to both supplement and enhance learning, to the most important element of all- enhancing the relationships between Teachers and Students.

We invite you to come present your ideas and experiences on how technology is changing what happens in the classroom , how tools can be used to enhance communication and learning, and how we can use new media to help spread the word about school reform as we all prepare to teach for the future.

Let’s face it. Mandatory education has been around in the US since the late 1800’s, yet today’s world looks nothing like it did in 1885. Compulsory education was enacted to ensure an educated workforce and population, yet the jobs available for students on graduation require radically different skills from those needed even a decade ago. How can we help teachers and schools to prepare students for a competitive, global marketplace, that makes much different demands on them than the same marketplace did on their parents?

At Podcamp NYC 2.0, we want to help you learn about the great tools out there- not just as a new, shiny gadget, but as real tools that will make the lives of students, teachers and families easier. We need to start to transform both the way students learn, and how they express their ideas in a multimedia world.

On this page, we’ll keep a list of sessions and presentations that may be of special interest to educators, and we want you to come, speak and contribute and we explore how to make learning something kids want to do, rather than something they are forced to do.

Cyberguides

Cyberguides is an free online resource, which provides questions, lesson plans, and activities to go along with popular children’s books. I found one of my favorite books to read with my students on the site, Cloud with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. The Cyberguide is an interactive unit which includes activities in reading, writing and science. Students do comprehension activities to go along with the story, while learning all about weather vanes. – Melissa

Happy National Poetry Month!

It’s National Poetry Month, so why not celebrate with these classics:

Where the Sidewalk Ends, Don’t Bump the Glump, The Giving Tree … Ring a bell?! Who doesn’t have fond memories of curling up with these Shel Silverstein hits! Check out Silverstein’s website! You won’t be disappointed. This site is SO much fun for both children and adults. You can watch animations for each of Silverstein’s books, you can find printables and activities about poetry, and you can try your hand at writing some poetry as well! Click here to start! -Anna

Reading Strategies a la Bank Street College

Bank Street College has a nice overview of reading strategies you can teach to budding readers in order to help them become better comprehenders of text.

The section on pre-reading strategies provides guidance on how you can help children learn to:

  • predict
  • activate background knowledge
  • conduct a picture walk
  • notice text structure
  • formulate a purpose for reading

The section on during-reading strategies discusses cuing and self-monitoring systems, as well as tips for helping readers when they make mistakes as they read.

Post-reading strategies are discussed at the bottom of this page. They include:

  • conducting a retell
  • telling your favorite parts of the story
  • answering questions
  • comparing the story to another book
  • writing a new ending
  • drawing a picture
  • playing a game related to the story

Bank Street also provides examples of literacy games you can play after reading a text, as well as writing activities that build both decoding and comprehension skills.

One thing I like about all of the aforementioned Bank Street resources is that they are straightforward to follow and understand (and they don’t require much prep time!). Therefore, they are great links to share with parents, grandparents, volunteers and tutors that are interested in helping young children learn how to read.

Thanks Bank Street!

Anna

Endless String and Other Illustrated Children’s Texts

I never cease to be amazed by the talent and enthusiasm displayed by members of the FreeReading Community! Thanks to Cheryl Johnson for contributing 15 illustrations to the previously unillustrated texts on FreeReading! Below is her cover to the short story Endless String. To see the other story illustrations she’s created to-date (including Fran’s Magic Blanket, Festival Fun and Rat’s Candy Plan), click here. Feel free to print these stories for your students. They are great for practicing decoding, fluency and comprehension. Thanks Cheryl! -Anna

The Reading Lady

The Reading Lady is the website of Laura Krum, a NYC nationally board certified teacher. She has some really great materials, including a very informative article on Differentiated Instruction. The article highlights 4 good examples of how to differentiate content in the classroom:

  • Using reading material at varying readability levels; putting text materials on tape.
  • Using spelling or vocabulary lists at readiness levels of students.
  • Presenting ideas through both auditory and visual means; Using reading buddies
  • Meeting with small groups to re-teach an idea or skill for struggling learners, or to extend the thinking or skills of advanced learners.

There are many other great resources including Reading Comprehension Posters and Author Studies. – Melissa

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