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Monthly Archives: December 2012

Have you ever had a student who was a very accurate reader but struggled to remember the key details in a story? I know we all have. We know that real reading is more than word solving. It is understanding, relating to, and responding to a story. It is reacting to what the author is saying, and as one of my first graders so aptly described this year, real reading is “when you melt into the book.” My hope is that all of my students experience what it feels like to melt into a book!

According to the Common Core standards for reading, first graders should “retell stories, including key details, and demonstrate understanding of their central message or lesson (1.RL.2).” An engaging tool to facilitate this is the app “Puppet Pals HD Director’s Pass” for the iPad. I love the app because it allows students to create their own animated retellings of stories they are reading during independent reading time. Opting for director’s pass version gives my students access to a large variety of pre-designed characters and settings. It also allows you to crate your own characters and settings with your iPad’s camera. Students can even insert themselves into the story if they would like!

As a teacher, using this with my class enables me to differentiate my instruction and meet the diverse academic needs that students have. Students who have difficulty communicating their ideas effectively in writing benefit from the oral nature of the task. Retellings are also easily saved to be reviewed later and to document student growth. The whole process is engaging as well.

If you are interested in trying an exciting way to meet the Common Core Reading standards, give this a try! I think your students, and parents, will thank you!


image credit: itunes.apple.com

Here is an example of the picture that students shared out today.  The Math Stretch was entitled "What's next?" and students had to determine the unstated rule and then fill in the missing numbers.

Here is an example of the picture that students shared out today. The Math Stretch was entitled “What’s next?” and students had to determine the unstated rule and then fill in the missing numbers.

I had an amazing time attending this year’s School Leaders Advancing Technology in Education (SLATE) Conference in the Wisconsin Dells.  When otherwise do you have the opportunity to see what teachers are doing with technology in their classrooms?  You have an expert right there in your midst and you are free to ask questions and clarify points of interest.  I especially enjoyed Naomi Harm’s presentation “Re-energize Your Classroom Practices with iPad Technologies” because I walked away with new knowledge that would help me troubleshoot something I was mulling over in my head since September.

I do morning “math stretches” that are based on the ideas in Laney Sammons’ “Guided Math” book and are aligned with state and common core standards.  (ex. How did your family use math last night? (making math-to-self connections) What’s next? (ex. 11, 13, 15, __, 19, __, __, etc.)  The number of the day. (How many different ways can you represent the number of the day?) ____________ reminds me of… (ex. Number lines remind me of…- math-to-math connections.) Graphing question of the day.)  Traditionally, I have written the whole group activity out on a piece of construction paper and had students add their thoughts using a marker.  I would then lead the group in sharing at the start of our math period.  I kept asking myself “How I can I use technology to engage students more?”

The answer is “Chirp.”  Naomi Harm showcased this app because she knows that not all schools currently have email set up on student iPads.  Chirp is an iPhone app that will allow you to take a picture, note, or link and share it with other iPad or iPhone users that have the app installed.

I taught my students how to take a picture (screen capture) of their work and one by one we uploaded these pictures from our camera rolls and “chirped them out” to the other groups in the room.  Students were able to see first hand what their peers had written and we listened in as students shared their thinking.

The important thing is that first graders were able to do it and our math time was full of excitement because of it.  I am confident that students will remember today because of the innovative way we used technology.

Students just finished sharing their daily math stretch which was done in the new "SMART" app.

Students just finished sharing their daily math stretch which was done in the new “SMART” app.

My Traditional “Penseive” was used to organize my reading assessments and plan instruction for my students in reading. It was, however, too bulky and pages would fall out after it exceeded capacity in January of each year.

Are you interested in using your iPad to record, organize, and manage important information?  As teachers, we depend on our assessments to track student progress, communicate clearly with parents, and plan instruction.  I have enjoyed using the free app “PDF Notes” to create what the authors of “The CAFE Book” term a “penseive.”  A traditional penseive is a binder with a section for each student that can contain the following in reading: a CAFE menu to document reading goals for your students, conference sheets to record the progress students make towards completing their goals, assessment information, small group instructional plans, running records, a sheet to document when you conference with a student, and a calendar to plan those individual conferences.  My own penseive also contains the district sounds, sight words, and benchmark reading assessments that we give at the start of each school year and again at the end of each trimester.  My binder would grow as the school year progressed and by January it was usually so thick that I had to handle it gingerely to prevent any more pages from tearing and falling out.  My iPad has allowed me to take everything that I traditionally used in my assessments and upload them to “PDF Notes.”  Now, I can carry around my slim device and don’t have to worry about pages falling out.  It’s easy and safe as well.  I backup all of my important information to Dropbox so that I will not loose the important information that I have worked so hard to collect.  At the upcoming SLATE Conference, my team and I will describe our digital “penseives” in detail.  I am taking the time to post a “how-to” video here in case people would like to tray making one of their own.

This second video is an example of a digital portfolio that a student has created on the iPad.  Again, I have made use of the app “PDF Notes” to guide my students in the creation of digital portfolios to not only demonstrate their proficiency with comprehension strategies in reading, but to reflect on their application of the strategies and set reading goals.  I love this method because it allows me to create activities for students based on the Common Core Standards and our district’s curriculum. 

Whether you were able to attend our session or not, we are posting our presentation here in case you might find it helpful.  Perhaps you found something interesting during our talk and would like to refer back to it.  We would like to note, however, that our live presentation for SLATE was done using the Nearpod app.  The presentation was greatly enhanced by its interactive capabilities (polls, question/answer format, draw/write responses that were then shared with the entire group in attendance.)  We hope you enjoy!

Today’s the day we have been anticipating for over 6 months now! Our Nearpod presentation PIN for “Supercharge Your Literacy Instruction Using iPads” is: FNNKI
Log in as student in the Nearpod app before the pre-conference session starts at 1 p.m. Remember, you can still use your iPad throughout the day. Also, please remember your headphones. See you then!

This year’s “iPad K-8 Explosion” pre-conference session at SLATE in the Wisconsin Dells promises to be chock full of awesome things to learn.  Registration was closed at 100!  Whether you did get in, or not, you might find this handout helpful as you think about ways to integrate iPad technology in your literacy block.

SLATE Presentation Brochure