{FREE} Fluency Task Cards for Spring!

25 Apr

Spring is finally showing its colors around here. I see daffodils in my garden and tulips about to bloom. I’m going to ignore the fact that they had snow on them two days ago (really, Mother Nature?!), as the weather went back down into the 30’s. I guess that’s “spring” in WNY though.

To celebrate the sprinkling of spring days that we’ve had, I created a FREE spring version of my Daily Fluency Task Cards!

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(Download by clicking HERE or the image above!)

Students can complete these as a fluency warm-up or for take-home fluency practice. There’s a task card log included for student accountability. Enjoy!

Happy Teaching!

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Spring is Here — Poetry Hop

10 Apr

Poetry fun header

Welcome to the “Spring is Here!” Poetry Blog Hop. You’ve reached Stop # 13!

With the first few weeks of April behind us, you’re probably knee-deep in poetry and ready for some new resources for Poetry Month. Well, guess what?! I’ve teamed up with some of my favorite literacy bloggers to bring you a blog hop filled with FABULOUS poetry freebies. (Thank you to Carla, from Comprehension Connection, for organizing this hop!)

If you’re just joining us… WELCOME! However, you may want to hop back to Stop #1 (Comprehension Connection) to grab all the freebies you missed. If you want to keep going, though, you can always hop back at the end.

Poems for Two Voices

When I first started with partner poetry, I mostly used Partner Poems for Building Fluency by Tim Rasinski**. I still use a lot of those poems but have since developed my own poems with a back-and-forth narrative structure. Most of my poems have a sequence of events that the students can retell, and they’re more similar to a Readers Theater with assigned character parts. I liked the idea of two characters talking or thinking aloud in a dialogue-type structure. Many of the partner poems I’ve created have a problem/solution format, but others are just looking at ONE situation from two different points of view. (Check them out here!)

Typically, I integrate these poems around the holidays as literacy centers or for fluency warm-ups, but I’ve started to use them more for other integrated literacy skills, as well. They’re great for character analysis, making inferences, making connections, analyzing point of view, and so much more!

For my poetry blog hop freebie, I decided to share my NEWEST partner poem (with comprehension activities), “Wake Up, Grizzly Bear!” This product will be free, for a LIMITED TIME only, during the blog hop (4/10-4/12). It will go back to being a paid item in my store on April 13, 2015.  (UPDATE: This product is FREE for just a few days more! I made a small revision to the poem (sorry!), and I want to give the 200+ people who downloaded it for the “Spring is Here Poetry Hop” a chance to re-download before it becomes a PAID product. Scoop it up while it is still FREE! — #bonusflashfreebie!) 

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I’ve also included a few props to use with this poem. (Aren’t the graphics from Teaching in the Tongass so cute?!) All you have to do is download/print the file from Google Docs, cut out the characters, and laminate or glue to paper plates. These props could be fun for your April Poetry Month performances!

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More Resources

Looking for more ideas? Here are additional poems and poetry books for multiple voices that I currently use in my classroom:

MsJordanReads Giveaway

For those of you who follow my store, you know that I recently bundled ALL my partner poetry products into one GIANT mega-bundle. I’ll be giving away this bundle to ONE lucky winner on this hop! (Will it be you?!)

Check out the product by clicking the image below:

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Thank you to everyone who entered my giveaway for a chance to win! This giveaway has officially ended.

The winner is…

Markisha Herring

Thanks for joining the hop and stopping by!

Head on over to Book Units Teacher for the next stop:

Poetry hop.next stop

Happy Hopping!

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**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!
Spring is Here Poetry Hop Graphics are from:

Using the B.R.E.A.K. Strategy for Text-Based Responses

31 Mar

In an effort to encourage students to use text-based evidence in their written responses this year, the third grade team in my building started using the B.R.E.A.K. writing strategy. Kudos to my colleague Jill, from Differentiated Drake, who came up with this acronym and strategy. She has some wonderful classroom posters and materials to reinforce this awesome writing strategy, and it has helped our students tremendously!

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Similar to the strategy R.A.C.E. (Restate, Answer, Cite, Explain), the students are prompted to read, understand, and provide text-based evidence in their writing. The students spend extra time BREAKING APART the text and digging deeper into text details. I like this particular strategy because students are encouraged to include more than one evidence detail, and it reinforces paragraph structure!

B – Begin by Reading the Question

R – Restate the Question

E – Evidence Detail

A – Another Evidence Detail (or two!)

K – Key Closing Sentence

Jill (being the fabulously, generous person that she is) decided to make her easy-to-use graphic organizer FREE for all of you. Be sure to leave feedback and check out her other strategy resources. She offers bookmarksposters, and an additional version of her graphic organizer!

(Download the FREE graphic organizer HERE or by clicking the image below.)

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Our third graders are now at the point where they write B.R.E.A.K. at the top of their pages and use it as a cross-off checklist. After completing the response, they also search for each element of B.R.E.A.K. in their own writing and mark the elements with the specific letters.

Below are some examples from a writing response my third graders completed a few weeks ago. The students used the free iPad app Skitch to take pictures of their first drafts and mark-up their responses to show each element of B.R.E.A.K. Later, we transitioned to marking these elements with just our pencils. The Skitch app was a motivating, first-step tool in the revision process for this strategy. (Want to learn more about Skitch? Check out my previous post about this wonderful tool!)

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NOTE: You’ll see that many of the students used “+” symbols for additional evidence-based details. This is helpful for students who include more than two details from the text. 

Students had a menu of sentence starters to use and were encouraged to also use non-fiction text features as evidence to support their answers. Grab my FREE sample of text-based evidence sentence starter cards to use with your students. This is part of my larger Common Core Booster product.

(Download this resource by clicking here or the image below!)

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PLEASE SHARE! — How do you teach students to include text-based details in their writing? Comment below or send me an email! I’m always looking for new ideas! :)

Happy Teaching!

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Exploring Perspective and Point of View

29 Mar

Happy Spring!

Here in WNY we’ve had a “tease” of spring, but so far the remaining days of March have been pretty cold (and even a little snowy – *yikes*). At this point, I’m 100% over the cold weather and ready for some warmer temperatures. Before we head into April, and my focus turns to poetry (Yay, Poetry Month!), I wanted to share a few of the fun activities I’ve been doing with my students.

Be prepared for a few extra posts this week! :)

As some of you know, I love my small RTI pull-out groups, but I also enjoy the dynamic of an entire classroom of students. This year, with a combination push-in/pull-out program, I’ve been able to do both.

For part of my day, I have the pleasure of working with a third grade teacher who is just FABULOUS (You rock, Jan!). She has great ideas and is always willing to try new things. A few of my RTI students are in her classroom, so I work with them during small group time and provide extra support for them during whole group mini-lessons and activities.

Last week, we explored perspective and point of view with our students. To kick off the week, we read I Am the Dog I Am the Cat – a great book for introducing perspectives. It’s a book with two voices and two characters, so the students can compare and contrast different perspectives within the same text. Since many students have pets, this is also a great book for them to relate to and make text-to-self connections.

On Tuesday, we spent time with one of my new favorite books, The Day the Crayons Quit. (Seriously, this book is the BEST for point of view, and it’s absolutely hysterical! If you’ve never read it, you need to… right now. Your students will love it, too!)

We read this book as a read-aloud, and then the students worked independently to further explore each crayon’s letter and unique point of view. I retyped the letters, and we put a basket of letters on each table. Students pulled out one letter at a time and recorded the character point of view on the graphic organizer.

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The finished products were wonderful, and it was a great way for students to practice analyzing character point of view.

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 (Download the graphic organizer we used for FREE by clicking the image below!)

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As an added bonus, some of the perspectives weren’t stated explicitly, so this allowed students to practice making inferences using text evidence. (I always love when we can embed and review past skills and strategies, don’t you?!) It was also a great way to bring in some problem-solving skills. We stopped before the last few pages and asked the students to brainstorm how the main character should solve the problem. We asked them what they would do if they were Duncan. The students did such a nice job with this, and some of their solutions were truly creative!

Throughout the week, we worked in small groups to further practice analyzing the point of view with instructional level texts. We used a combination of books, text passages, and poetry – including a few of my Partner Perspective Poems!

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Check out the links below for a few of these partner poems:

(NOTE: In addition to my everyday poems that are perfect for teaching point of view, there are many seasonal partner poems in my store, as well. Stay tuned — I’m working on a new springtime poem for April’s Poetry month, too! It will sold individually and will be added to the Spring Bundle and MEGA Bundle.

Additional Point of View Mentor Texts & Picture Books:

FRACTURED FAIRY TALES

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs

The Wolf’s Story

The Pea and the Princess

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!

OTHER PICTURE BOOKS

Two Bad Ants

The Pain and the Great One

Hey, Little Ant

Dear Mrs. LaRue: Letters from Obedience School

What resources do YOU use to teach point of view? I’d love to hear your ideas and add to my growing list of mentor texts for teaching point of view. Email me msjordanreads@gmail.com or comment below. :)

Happy Teaching!

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**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!

A Lil Bit O’ St. Patrick’s Day Fun!

17 Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Each year, I try to bring a little bit of St. Patrick’s Day fun into my RTI program, and my goal is to incorporate holiday-themed activities with interventions that are already in place. This week, I planned a variety of poetry, language, and phonics activities appropriate for each of my groups. Here’s a quick snapshot of a few of our activities! :)

A Lil Bit O’ Figurative Language

My fifth graders have been focusing on figurative language and analyzing poetry. I’ve been trying break down the different figurative language elements and terms throughout the week, while providing them with a variety of practice opportunities. Today, as a warm up, I had my group complete a fun practice St. Patrick’s Day writing task on the iPads (Read more about how to “go paperless” here!). Students had to brainstorm sentences for each of the different examples of figurative language. You can grab this for FREE below!

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Download HERE or by clicking the image above!

A Lil Bit O’ Word Work

This page is part of my Daily Phonics program. I don’t use Daily Phonics with all of my decoding students, but today my second grade groups worked through a page together! This is always a great assessment for me, to see where their phonics skills are. (NOTE: Most of my students completed these on the iPads, but for the classrooms I push-into I had paper copies for them to complete. Daily Phonics is a great paperless warm-up for students!)

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A Lot Bit O’ Poetry

I love, love, LOVE using poetry to celebrate the holidays! So many of my students need fluency practice, so poetry is a wonderful intervention for reinforcing these skills.

Here are a few of my own that I used this week:

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How did you celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

I would love to hear about St. Patrick’s Day interventions and activities you used with your students today! Please share in the comments below!

Happy Teaching! 

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My Paperless Classroom Journey: Notability for Teachers

15 Mar

Slide3If you’ve been following my paperless journey, this is the third post of my Notability blogging mini-series! Over the past few months, I’ve received some wonderful feedback (thank you!), including a bunch of emails from readers asking about how I use Notability as a teacher. It took me a little while to write this post… but here we go!

(Feel free to go back and check out my “Getting Started” and “Digital Resources” posts first, especially if you have NO idea what Notability is!)

Notability for Teachers

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I use Notability in a different way than my students do. On my teacher iPad, I use the app more for data collection and progress monitoring – collecting informal assessments, archiving student work, and recording anecdotal notes. All my students have their own color-coded folders in my app, and I organize the folders by RTI tier and grade-level. You can organize the notes any way that makes sense for you, but I find it’s a great one-spot digital binder of student work samples, audio recordings, and progress notes. I use the notes for parent conferences, data meetings, and quarterly progress reports. It’s much lighter than my 4-inch binder I used to use for data collection, and now I can easily bring my files home with me each night.

Setting Up Student Folders

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Using the “+” symbol at the top of my list of notes, I set up individual folders (“subjects”) for my students, and use the dividers to separate my groups.

Photo Mar 14, 10 47 34 PMYou can edit and reorder the folders, which is especially nice if your groups change, and you can also change the color of the folders. Additionally, I created an extra folder to organize my RTI schedule, group rosters, and student passwords (for easy-to-access information!).

Archiving Previous Progress Notes

Once my folders were set up, I converted my previous notes to a digital format. Some items I scanned and converted into PDFs, but I just took a photo of the remaining items. This allowed me to get rid of my ridiculously hefty data binder and have all my progress notes together in one spot.

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Next year, I will happily skip this step since I intend to start off the year “paperless.”

Student Work Samples

Part of my data collection includes student work samples.

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I snap photos of writing and anything that has not yet made it to my paperless world; however, now that we’re in March and more of my program is paperless, I have students submit screenshots of the work they do on the iPads (e.g., graphic organizers, notes, annotated texts, etc.) via DropItTOMe. I can easily save the student work I wish to archive by importing files from my “DropItTOMe” folder in Dropbox.

Monthly Anecdotal Notes

I typically create a new “note” to record anecdotals each quarter per student.

Photo Mar 14, 10 48 53 PMEven though it adds to the number of notes in the student folders, I’m easily able to find my progress notes for each marking period (which is especially helpful when writing report cards, etc.). It also saves me from having to sift through one giant progress notes document.

Student Assessments & Running Records

I complete most of my diagnostic/skill assessments and progress monitoring digitally on Notability using PDF forms. These include phonemic awareness screenings, sight word assessments, F & P optional assessments, phonics word lists, fluency speed drills, and running records.

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Administering digital running records is my favorite perk of using Notability for data collection. Not only am I be spared from making hundreds of copies of running record forms, but I can use the microphone feature to record the audio of each student reading, as well. While recording, the app keeps track of the time it takes for the student to read, so I can calculate a quick wpm score in the end, too. The students can listen back on their reading to self-assess and reflect, OR you can use it for your progress notes. It’s a powerful tool for analyzing and comparing reading skills quarter-to-quarter.

(NOTE: If a PDF running record form is not available, and I’m doing “on the fly” running records, I just snap a photo of the text and mark errors/substitutions right on the digital image of the page!)

Sharing Notes

With Notability, you can share specific notes via email, Dropbox, or Google Drive. This is helpful for me when I want to share progress notes with a student’s classroom teacher. To do this, go to “Settings” and “Manage Accounts.” It will prompt you to “Log In” to your accounts and then “Accept” the app sharing permissions.

If you choose to back-up your notes to Dropbox (see below), you can also share the specific destination Dropbox folder with other teachers. This will allow them to view or print your notes at any time, without YOU having to share one file at a time!

Backing-Up Your Notes

I set up my Notability folders to automatically back-up to my connected Google Drive account. If the app ever crashes, or my notes somehow “disappear,” I’ll always have a back-up copy of my progress notes. The app saves each note as PDFs to your choice of Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive.

To do this, go to “Settings” and “Auto-Backup.” It will ask which location you wish to back-up your files to. You can also customize your back-ups to only include certain folders and file formats. (You need to already have your accounts set-up through “Manage Accounts” to turn on this feature!)

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As I mentioned above, by backing up your files to Google Drive or Dropbox, you can easily share and add collaborators to your destination folder, or even to specific student folders within the back-up folder. It’s an easy way to collaborate!

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iCloud Syncing

If you have multiple teacher devices, you can easily sync your Notability accounts by turning on the “iCloud” feature under “Settings.” Be sure to do this only with the devices your students do NOT have access to. This is great for teachers who collaboratively work with the same group of students. If you choose to do this, keep in mind, you’ll need to be signed into the same iCloud account and all of your files will be accessible to the other teacher.

Importing Files from Dropbox

So where do I store all my running record and assessment forms, you ask?

Easy, peasy! I use Dropbox to store all my files, and then I import the files from within the Notability app. This cloud-based storage is a great way to keep files accessible, and it’s just a few clicks to import the file into a student’s folder. The best part is, I can choose to import specific pages of a file so that I don’t have keep or sift through 200 page documents in their folders for just the ONE assessment page I need that week. If it’s a page that I plan to use for multiple students in a group, I can duplicate the page in Notability and drag it into each of their folders (saves a lot of time!).

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After you import the pages you need, you can rename the files to better organize your progress notes. For example, if I import just page 2 of my phonics word lists, focusing on just DIGRAPH words, I can rename the file from “Phonics Word List” to “Bobby_Digraphs Word List_3.15.15.”

(NOTE: You can’t have two notes with the same name in Notability, so be prepared to use student names or “_1, _2, _3″ at the end of names if necessary. So far, this hasn’t been a problem for me!)

My Dropbox Files & Forms

Running Record Forms — I take pictures of text pages for most of my informal running records, but if you have an LLI kit, you can download the forms from the “Online Resources” website or the DVD’s. If you have a Reading A-Z account, you can download the Benchmark and Fluency running record pages into Dropbox, and then import the pages into Notability, as needed.

Assessments — In addition to running records, I have many diagnostic assessment pages I use throughout the year to monitor student progress.

Here are just a few of the ones I use:

Word Lists & Graphs — I keep all my progress monitoring word lists in Dropbox for easy access. I also keep the blank forms and graphs for keeping track of student progress. (Students also have access to the graphs for their own folders in Notability.)

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Here are a few resources that I use pages from regularly:

I hope this helps you on your paperless journey! Please continue to share your questions and comments at the bottom of this post or via email (msjordanreads@gmail.com). :)

Happy Teaching! 

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Navigating Digital Texts With Skitch

28 Feb

This month, as I continue my journey toward a more paperless classroom, I’ve been exploring a collection of new apps for interacting with digital text. As many of you know, Notability has been my app of choice lately (check out my latest post), but I was looking for an app to implement with an entire class of third graders for text annotating, using our building set of iPads. Notability will most likely be our next tool, but I wanted to start off simple with a “stepping stone” app, to teach this larger group of students the foundations of how to annotate text. Enter my new favorite app (drumroll)… Skitch!

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Skitch is fabulous. It is a FREE app from Evernote (available on most devices) that allows students to draw, mark, and annotate images. I don’t actually use with app with Evernote, but apparently the two apps work well together. With this app, students can sketch ideas, mark-up photos, make diagrams, create/label maps, and even annotate text. Really, the possibilities are limitless, and I have more ideas for integration than I know what to do with! (See some of these ideas below.)

Introducing Skitch: 

The Skitch app, which is very user-friendly, enables students to snap their own photos or upload images/screenshots from the web. Personally, I found it easier to start with the camera feature, even if their images were sometimes extremely blurry, cut-off, and not-so-fabulous. Eventually, I will show them how to take screenshots, upload files, and access shared assignments from Dropbox, but for now… simple is better. :)

Before jumping into digital texts, I spent some time introducing the students to the app itself. We went over the annotating tools and spent a solid two days just exploring. We practiced taking photos using the camera and practiced using all the tools. We talked about appropriate tools for specific tasks and how not every tool will work for every assignment (as much as I’m sure they’d just love to doodle and draw on everything!).

Download my step-by-step Intro PDF slideshow below to introduce and guide students through capturing images and annotating them. You can display these slides during your introductory lesson and even print student handouts (under “printer preferences,” just select four-to-a-page!).

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For the “Introduction to Skitch” 2-day lesson, I gave the students a choice board of activities. The students had fun creating treasure maps, Skitch selfies, classroom maps. They also went on word hunts within their “Read to Self” books. I modeled each activity and referred to it as “Skitch Tic-Tac-Toe.” Like with many choice boards, the middle square was the must-do activity. I saved that activity for later in the week and used it for our ELA unit lesson of using non-fiction text features to help us understand texts more deeply.

Download this choice board for free by clicking the image below!

Skitch Choice Board_MsJordanReads 2:28:2015

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Introducing Skitch for Text Annotating:

As much as making treasure maps and taking Skitch selfies were fun, we were ready to take Skitch to the next level and use the tool with non-fiction texts. We started with a lesson on labeling non-fiction text features.

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(CREDIT: The image above is from the Scholastic article “Leading the Way” from Scholastic News, Weekly Reader, Edition 3, March 2015 issue.)  

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After labeling all the non-fiction text features, the students used their Skitch-labeled texts to respond to comprehension questions. The idea was for the students to actually use the text features as evidence in their responses. Students also had to make a connection between each text feature they labeled and how it helped them understand the text more deeply.

Download my step-by-step Text Annotating PDF slideshow below to guide students through capturing text images and annotating them. You can display these slides during your lesson and even print student handouts (under “printer preferences,” just select four-to-a-page!).

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TUTORIAL NOTES: I included slides at the end of both slideshow files (“Intro” & “Text Annotating” tutorials) for how to upload Skitch files to Dropbox. This will only be helpful if you have a Dropbox account already linked with your iPads. If you don’t have a Dropbox account yet, you may want to set one up for students to share files.

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Be sure to follow my student directions for uploading to Dropbox because Skitch doesn’t let you rename files, and all the student files will have the SAME file name (definitely a HUGE glitch on their part). I’ve been having an issue with Dropbox overwriting all my Skitch files because Dropbox doesn’t allow two files with the same name in the same folder. Students will need their own folders in Dropbox so that every file can save otherwise it will only save the most recent file uploaded. If this happens, don’t panic like I did — you can still find the files (within 30 days) by clicking on the ONE file and selecting view “previous versions.”(See screenshot below.) You’ll just have to tediously right-click and save each image one-by-one via a desktop computer. {Feel free to email me at msjordanreads@gmail.com if you have this issue. I’d be happy to help, especially since I’ve already ripped my hair out over how to work around this issue!} :)

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Additional Ideas for Using Skitch in the Classroom: 

Maps/Diagrams:

  • Create diagrams (e.g., parts of a flower, stages of a life cycle, planets in a solar system, layers of the rainforest, etc.)
  • Create a map of your classroom/school
  • Create a treasure map using all the features of a map (i.e., key, scale, symbols, routes, geographical features, etc.)
  • Label of blank map of the continents or a map of the country

Text Annotating: 

  • Take a screenshot of non-fiction articles (e.g., Scholastic News, Time for Kids, etc.) or snap a photo of text from a newspaper, magazine, or book to annotate for active reading (e.g., thinking tracks, text coding, close reading annotations, etc.)
  • Take a photo of student writing to mark-up (i.e., label parts of a paragraph, highlight writing conventions, locate text-based evidence, etc.) — great for self-assessment!
  • Label fiction story elements
  • Label non-fiction text features (see my lesson above)
  • Highlight key words that show non-fiction text structure

Vocabulary: 

  • Capture examples and make content vocabulary come to life (snap pictures, sketch, label, etc.)
  • Use with your ELL students for building English vocabulary

Math: 

  • Deconstructing word problems (snap a photo & mark it up!)
  • Showing work for constructed response math questions (you can use Skitch as a whiteboard)

Additional Resources for Skitch:

I would love to hear how YOU use Skitch in the classroom! Please comment below or send me an email (msjordanreads@gmail.com). I’m excited to explore new ways to use this app and would love to do a follow-up post on a few of the ideas!

Happy Skitching!

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My Paperless Classroom Journey: Digital Resources

25 Jan

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In my last “My Paperless Classroom Journey” post, I introduced a wonderful app for going paperless in your classroom – Notability. I provided an overview of the app features and a general summary of how I integrate the app into my RTI instruction. Now, it’s time to dig deeper into the content! (Did you miss Part I about getting started with Notability? Go back and read it HERE!) 

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Notability is a note-taking app that allows you to take notes, annotate PDFs and photos, collect student work, and capture voice recordings. It’s the perfect app for practicing literacy skills and a fabulous digital alternative for paper-and-pencil activities.

As you can imagine, downloading and setting up the app is just half the battle. Implementing the app into your instruction effectively is the other half. Sure, your students can just use the app as a notepad; but that’s like buying a Smartphone and only using it to make phone calls. Don’t ignore the amazing features it has to offer!

As I mentioned in my last post, the PDF annotation feature is the element I use the most. Of course, in order to annotate PDFs, I need quality PDF files that are accessible and ready to use. Enter, my digital resource toolbox… Dropbox.

So, where do I get the PDFs that fill my Dropbox? 

Most of what I use comes from my own creations, but my collection of PDFs definitely includes some valuable resources from other websites, programs, and other educators. My Dropbox holds a nice balance of new materials I developed for this purpose and materials I already had in the classroom. Not everything I had was ready-to-go, so it took some time in the beginning to convert files and “go paperless.”

NOTE: The PDFs I upload to Notability are for personal use in my classroom, and I do NOT share the files publicly. Depending on the product license, and the “terms of use” for particular resources, you need to be careful about how you manage and store your files. You tread a fine-line with uploading files to digital folders and importing the files onto your devices. It is my recommendation to read the “terms of use” first and to look into the copyright policies of resources. Be especially cautious with how you use school-purchased materials and programs, and definitely do not share your files. (Sorry… necessary disclaimer!)

That being said, it’s easy to create PDFs to use with Notability. Any word processing document can be converted into a PDF, and you can easily scan or take pictures of documents that you’ve created, as well. You can upload non-PDF files, but formatting can sometimes become an issue.  A PDF is a common file type and much easier to work with!

A Sample of PDF Resources

For those of you just getting started and looking for ideas, below is a sample of free and paid resources that my students interact with using Notability. Some of the resources are ones I created, some I purchased with my own money (i.e., TpT resources), and some of the items were purchased by my district (i.e., Reading A-Z, Toolkit Texts, etc.). I wanted the list to reflect the actual digital resources I use day-to-day, not just my MsJordanReads products (although, I do use those products a lot!).

COMPREHENSION

Non-Fiction Articles — Actively reading non-fiction is a great way to kick-start PDF annotation. I upload ReadWorks articles (free), Toolkit Texts (paid), and Reading A-Z skill passages (subscription) for my comprehension students to close read, mark, and highlight! One Stop Teacher Shop also has a great list of FREE resources for Non-fiction texts.

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Finding Text Evidence —  My students love finding and highlighting text evidence using Notability. When I discovered Luckeyfrog’s Super Text Detectives resources, I knew they would be perfect for practicing this skill. I took the plunge and purchased the whole spring bundle (LOVE it). Now I have to go back and buy the other bundles for next year! The passages are short and perfect for my RTI comprehension groups. The students use the highlighter tool with the different color options to find the text evidence. (Check the resource out here!)

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Graphic Organizers — For FREE comprehension graphic organizers, check out FCRR, ReadWriteThink, and TeacherVision. You can also create your own graphic organizers (using Microsoft Word or any word processing program) and convert to a PDF to annotate.

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FLUENCY

Daily Fluency — Many of my fluency students complete a Daily Fluency page each day for fluency practice! There are 20 pages for each month and two levels of difficulty in the series – Beginner & Intermediate. (Check out a sample here!)

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Daily Phonics — Some of my decoding/phonics students complete a Daily Phonics page each day to practice breaking apart words and identifying phonics patterns! They use a stylus pen for these activity pages. After trying out a whole bunch, I decided to purchase a group set of Musemee Notier Prime stylus pens for my classroom. (Check them out through my affiliate link.) Just like Daily Fluency, there are 20 pages for each month. (Check out a sample here!)

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Fluency Booster Pages — My fluency students complete Daily Fluency Booster Packs to reinforce specific fluency skills! These are great follow-ups to my Daily Fluency warm-up pages and help students practice one fluency component at a time: Accuracy, Pace, Phrasing, and Expression!

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Fluency Passages — I use Fluency A-Z passages (subscription only), but you can really use any short reading passage for fluency practice. Students record their voice, mark their errors, calculate their wpm, and graph their progress for two different readings of the same passage (cold/hot). Students can record their progress on fluency graphs to track progress throughout the year. For RTI, the students work with me for this “fluency coaching” intervention, but you could easily have the students work in partners in your classroom.

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Fluency Speed Drills — Students can read lists of words, phrases or sentences multiple times to build fluency. They mark errors and mark how far they read on a list using the annotating tools. They can also record their progress on fluency graphs!

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Fluency Practice Pages — I’m obsessed with The Moffatt Girls’  I Can Read! NO PREP products. They’re fabulous, and I use them with many of my fluency/decoding groups. I recently purchased the bundle of all 3 sets and the activities are perfect for extra fluency practice! You will still need dice and printed spinners, but students can complete activity pages digitally on the iPad. (Check out the resource here!)

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PHONICS

Phonics Word Sorts — As an alternative to word sorts that they have to cut and sort, students can color-code and sort words into the different categories. I have some of my decoding/phonics groups complete Color & Sort Activity Pages to reinforce specific phonics skills.

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Phonics Word Hunts — Students can use PDF texts to hunt for specific phonics spelling & sound patterns. My students love going on word hunts in my partner poetry series (“The Winter Escape” is shown below!). I have them highlight specific patterns using the highlighting tool and then record the words on a word hunting graphic organizer. You can use the graphic organizers with real books too!

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The list above is just a sample of PDF resources to use with Notability. It does not reflect the other ways I practice annotating texts with my students (there is still a place for sticky notes and paper!), and it does not reflect the other ways I use the app (e.g., voice recording, notepad for word work/writing, web quests, etc.). Working with PDFs is a great way to start using Notability, but there are plenty of other ways to use the app throughout the day. (That may be an additional blog post… perhaps Part III?) :)

Also, please note that Notability is just a small part of my instruction and only for some of my groups. There are other apps that I integrate into my teaching and there are still plenty of interventions I use that are completely iPad-free. There are days where we don’t even touch technology! I strongly believe it’s all about a balance.

It may be a while (if ever) before I’m 100% digital, and as the year continues, I definitely will continue my journey toward a more paperless classroom. I hope to follow-up and share more of my experiences soon. In the mean time, though, I would love to hear what resources you have in your digital toolbox! Comment below or email me your suggestions (msjordanreads@gmail.com). Feel free to share your experiences and thoughts on going paperless, as well!

Happy (Paperless) Teaching

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My Paperless Classroom Journey: Getting Started

22 Jan

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Are you 100% digital in your teaching? 

If yes… you’re my hero. Seriously.

I’ve always been intrigued by 1:1 classrooms – the organization of them, the day-to-day management, the student accountability… all of it. It seems to be a direction that many schools are moving toward, and I can’t help but wonder if it will soon be the norm. Will all my students be completing their work on computers or iPads in the near future? Will our copy machines soon start collecting dust? (Will that mean I don’t have to make any more copies?! YES!)

The idea of a paperless classroom is exciting, but I’ve always been curious about “the back-up plan.” What if you show up to school one day and you don’t have an internet connection for the whole day? What if there’s an issue with the classroom management system? What if all the iPads break and your students start climbing the walls? Well, maybe that last one’s a bit dramatic, but I feel like my teaching nightmares would include ALL of those things.

Having one too many bad experiences with “technology fails” (i.e., losing the internet connection during STAR screening week, having a SMARTBoard crash during an observation lesson, etc.), I must say I’m nervous about relying on technology 100%. I suppose once our school’s renovation project is complete, which promises WiFi in every classroom and a more reliable internet connection throughout the building, I may be less hesitant. But for now, our school’s just not there yet, and therefore, I’m not 100% there yet. (At least that’s what I’m telling myself this year.)

After taking a few PD courses, reading countless blogs, attending conferences, and actually speaking with teachers who are in the trenches with a 1:1 program, I decided to take the first step. I have six iPads (5 student, 1 teacher), and I’m working toward integrating them into my day-to-day teaching. Slowly. The goal is for my students to use the iPads independently and for the tablets to be interactive tools for my students to practice their reading skills. The year is half-way over, and I must say – it’s going pretty well! :)

Notability

notability

Last year, I learned about a great app called Notability which I downloaded for my personal use. I needed a note-taking app for my 101 meetings, and it was perfect for recording, organizing, and accessing my notes. I then started using it as a digital student binder for my classroom, to collect anecdotal notes and student data (more about this at a later date!).

This year, I started using Notability with my students. It has proven to be, by far, the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent on iTunes. (NOTE: This is not a product review. The opinion is completely my own and based on my own experiences with using the app!) I’m yet to find another app that I love more for my reading instruction. I will share a few FREE options you can explore, but if you have a few bucks to spare, it’s totally worth it. (Again, entirely my opinion.)

Features of Notability

Here are a few of the app features that I found to be most helpful to my RTI instruction:

  • Annotate PDFs – Students can underline, highlight, take notes, and complete activities using the Notability tools
  • Voice Recording – Students can record their voices reading for fluency
  • Response Writing – Students can type or handwrite a response to a question or image
  • Snapshots of Text – Students take pictures of objects or text to annotate, highlight, or add a written response
  • Submitting Work – Students can export and share their “notes” as PDF files via DropBox, Google Drive, Email, etc.

Want to learn more? Read more about the features of Notability on the app’s developer website here!

Getting Started with Notability

Each student is assigned an iPad when they work in my RTI groups. With only five iPads, it’s pretty easy to manage. I don’t have my Notability accounts synced up, so students need to use the same device day-to-day. I created a student folder for each of them on their assigned devices, but you can easily use Notability without assigning student iPads. (NOTE: You could also easily connect your account to the iCloud to sync and back-up all your folders/notes across devices as another option.) Once the students open the app on their assigned device, they find their personal folder and open it up to access their “notes.”

Annotating PDFs

Annotating PDFs is my starting point with all students. They love underlining, highlighting, and taking notes on PDFs. I have many intervention activities that I’ve uploaded for student practice (check out the examples below!).

I link all the iPads to my teacher Dropbox account, and then I allow the app to access my account. This allows students to import PDFs easily to each of their folders. (You may want to do this part for them first until they’re able to navigate Dropbox successfully!)

The best part is you can select specific pages of a PDF to upload to a student folder. If it’s a 50 page packet, I can upload a single page or a smaller range for them to complete. This keeps the student work organized sequentially, AND the students don’t have to search through large files for the task pages they need to complete.

Annotating Tools

For most of the activities, my students use a fine tip stylus pen. After trying a handful of stylus options, my favorite to use with students is the Musemee Notier Prime from Amazon. The rubber tip ones work too but just won’t give you as fine of a tip for writing. I have six for my classroom, but obviously it’s more expensive to purchase a class set, so feel free to have students use their fingers or knuckles. If you’re just having them underline or highlight, a finger works JUST fine!

Submitting Student Work

With just five devices, I could easily go into each one to access student work, but that’s time-consuming. I have students export select “notes” to a shared Dropbox folder. I don’t need to see every page they complete, but every once in a while I like to see a sample of their work. They can send a screenshot (which automatically syncs to my Dropbox account), or I’ll ask them to pick a page to send me via the sharing buttons. Once the files are sent, I can access the files from my computer or teacher iPad without having to go into the five individual devices. This also allows me to add the work samples to my digital binder of student work samples and progress monitoring notes.

Some teachers with 1:1 classrooms use management systems like Edmodo or Schoology. These Learning Management Systems (LMS) allow you to post assignments and collect student work via an app or website that functions the same as many social media sites. Students can shift back-and-forth between the LMS and Notability to complete assignments and then submit using the linked Dropbox account. (This structure is great for students who use their own personal devices or if you’re unable to assign devices to each student.)

Looking for Step-by-Step Directions?

Below are a couple of resources I found helpful for navigating and getting started with the app. The tutorials introduce you to the features and provides directions for how to use them!

  • Notability AWESOME! (A Review & Tutorial)
  • Notability Tutorial (PDF includes diagrams of note-taking screens & app buttons. The app price is outdated, but the visual tutorial is aligned with the current version of the app!)

Are you on the fence about whether or not to take the first step?

A few Pros & Cons to consider (for whatever they’re worth!) —

PROS:

  • I’ve saved a TON of time and paper with not having to copy every packet for every student!
  • I have copies of ALL my students’ work in one spot! (This is great for monitoring progress and making instructional decisions.)
  • Students are SUPER motivated to complete tasks and activities!
  • Students are now tech-savvy 21st century learners!
  • I’m becoming technologically “fluent” (and so are my students!)

CONS:

  • It takes time to “go digital” — scanning pages, uploading PDFs, organizing folders, creating a management system that works for you, etc. (TOTALLY worth it, though!)
  • Students will need TIME to learn how to upload documents, annotate PDFs, submit work, and function independently on the device. It’s a lot of upfront modeling and practice, but once the students pick-up the skills they are pretty self-sufficient. (Many students have devices at home, which helps with basic device navigation!)
  • Technology access. A paperless classroom only works if you have access to technology (obviously). When I push-into different rooms for reading support, or if my groups are larger than 6, I’m stuck.
  • It’s hard to share my archived student work samples at the end of the year with other teachers who are NOT tech-savvy
  • Technology let-downs. (Let’s face it… technology isn’t always reliable and “technology fails” will happen.)

Notability Alternatives (FREE)

In my efforts to find FREE alternatives to Notability, I came across a few websites that review the features of each. As you will see, there are MANY great free options to try out and explore before making the decision to purchase an app. Some of the reviewers prefer those apps OVER Notability. I have not explored enough of them to share my comparison feedback, but they’re definitely worth checking out for yourself!

Here are some of the FREE Apps for Note-Taking: 

Stay Tuned for Part II!

This weekend, I’ll be sharing different interventions I use with my students that are perfect for Notability. The list keeps growing, so I’m sure there will be many follow-ups to this post. In the mean time, follow me on BlogLovin‘ or subscribe to my emails so you don’t miss my next one! :)

(Update 1/25: Here’s the LINK to the next post in the series about the Digital Resources I use with Notability. Continue following my journey!)

Happy (Paperless) Teaching

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**This post contains affiliate links. Click HERE to learn what that means!

Winter Fluency Freebie & Cyber Monday Sale!

1 Dec

Last week, I watched as parts of Buffalo, N.Y. were buried with over SEVEN feet of snow (yikes!). Living just 15 miles north of the crazy snow band, I felt extremely lucky — lucky to not have to shovel out from all that snow, and even luckier to be part of such a wonderful city of “good neighbors.” The community came together to overcome this “Snowvember” event, spotlighting many moments of strength, courage, and perseverance. It was a timely reminder, heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, of the importance of giving back and sharing!

With December arriving today, I am ready to jump into a month of crazy holiday preparations and parties. To help kick-off this wonderfully busy season, I’m offering a new winter-themed FREEBIE. This set of 24 task cards is similar to my FREE fall-themed set and is perfect for reinforcing fluency in your classroom!

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 (Download by clicking HERE or on the image above!)

Have students complete the fluency task cards for morning bell-work, Daily 5, literacy centers, or as take-home task card sets. All you have to do is print, laminate, and cut! You can even use as a PDF and display using a SMARTboard or projector.

If you like these task cards, check out my other Daily Fluency Task Card sets. My beginner-level set has been a huge hit, and I just uploaded my newest Daily Fluency Task Card set for upper-level readers. Grab both sets for differentiating your fluency practice!

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NOTE: These products are currently 20% off and part of my HUGE Cyber Monday sale that starts today! Grab your sets today!

CyberSale

TpT Cyber Monday sale will run 12/1 – 12/2. Use Promo Code TPTCYBER for an additional 10% off my already discounted prices! Check out everything in my store HERE!

Happy December & Happy Teaching! 

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