Summer Stock Up!

26 Jun

Summer is FINALLY here for us WNY teachers! My last day of school was yesterday, and I am beyond ready to relax and recharge. Of course, in between relaxing and recharging, I will be planning and thinking ahead to next year. (Do teachers really ever take a break?!) The summer always goes by fast, so I’ve decided to pull together some resources for a Summer Stock Up event to help us get ready for next year. Stock up now so you can relax and enjoy the last bit of summer! :) Summer Stock Up This past year, I’ve been slowly building-up my fluency toolbox and creating resources that can be used as interventions with my RTI students. I like to dig deep into fluency and really target the specific area of fluency they struggle with. (Pace? Phrasing? Expression? Attention to Punctuation?) With a new year of fluency groups in mind, it is my summer goal to finish my growing collection of differentiated “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards.  Slide03 “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards are geared toward elementary-level students. They’re easy to use and perfect for the classroom! They can be used in many ways and are helpful for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and assessing fluency phrasing with your students.

These task card sets can be sent home for practice, used as a center, incorporated into Daily Five, or used in small groups. Directions and suggestions for use are included with each set. Scoop It Product Details Each “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card set includes the same components, but just increases in difficulty. You can purchase one set, or you can purchase the whole collection! IMG_7212 There are two formats of task cards within each set. The task cards with scoop lines are perfect for students to practice reading with phrasing, following the scoop lines with their fingers as they read. Scoop It Reading Task Cards The task cards without scoops are helpful for students who need practice with identifying appropriate phrases within a sentence. If you laminate the cards, students can draw in the scoop lines (using dry-erase markers) and can practice grouping the different words together. They can then practice reading the sentences afterward. Scoop It Interactive Cards The 48 task cards in each set each feature a targeted phonics pattern. Set 1 starts off with pre-primer words and basic CVC word patterns. Each set increases in difficulty. By Set 6, your students will be interacting with multi-syllable words and complex vowel patterns. Use multiple task card sets to differentiate your practice and instruction. IMG_7217 The first two “Scoop It” task card sets are currently available in my MsJordanReads store and are part of a growing collection. The collection consists of the following sets:

There is also a (growing) “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Card Bundle if you’re interested in grabbing all the sets at once and at a discounted price. The bundle is not 100% complete, but by purchasing the sets in advance, you’ll get an additional 10% off! (The collection will be done by August 31, 2015.) Scoop It Growing Bundle Collage

**Purchase the Growing Bundle at a huge discount before the price goes up! Set 1 and Set 2 are complete. The remaining sets in the bundle will be complete by the end of August, and the price for the bundle will increase.**

“Scoop It” Freebie & Giveaway

Be sure to stop by my Facebook page this weekend to download a FREE sample of my newest “Scoop It” Fluency Phrasing Task Cards (Set 2). Just look for my “Summer Stock Up” tab to download it. When you’re done, click “More Freebies” to stock up on additional resources from the other participants and see their products in action! Also, as part of this wonderful Summer Stock Up event, I am offering a giveaway for TWO lucky winners! Each winner will receive the completed “Scoop It” sets that are currently available in my store. Enter by completing the form below. I will be randomly choosing the winners Friday, July 3rd and announcing on my Facebook page. The winners will also be notified by email!

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED! Thank you to everyone who entered. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to Allison Kieffner & Jennifer Lyman for winning my “Scoop It!” Fluency Task Card giveaway! (An email will be sent with the resources!)

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Happy Summer!

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Summer Blog Party Kick Off Hop!

19 Jun

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Welcome to 2nd Stop of the Summer Blog Party Kick Off Hop! 

First, I want to shout out a HUGE thank you to Carla at Comprehension Connection for organizing this wonderful summer blog hop! I’m always amazed at how she brings together such a diverse group of literacy specialists to collaborate on blogging events such as this one. (Thanks, Carla!)

Our goal with this blog hop is to bring you tips and resources for avoiding the dreaded “summer slide.” Whether you’re a parent or a teacher, this blog hop is for you! Be sure to hop through all the way to the end because we will be raffling off TWO $25 gift certificates to Teachers Pay Teachers.

This is the 2nd stop, so if you’re just joining us, you may want to hop back to the Carla’s post HERE so you can start at the very beginning.

As you may have read in Carla’s earlier post, this blog hop is the official “kick-off” event for a fabulous, summer-long blogging series. Every Wednesday, throughout the summer, bloggers from “The Reading Crew” will be linking-up their blog posts, focusing on specific literacy-related topics. (Read more about the blog topics and schedule HERE.)

 

Prevent the Summer Slide with Fluency

My focus for this blog hop is FLUENCY! Practicing oral reading fluency throughout the summer is a great way for children to further develop reading skills and prevent summer regression.

Fluency is the glue that holds together oral reading and comprehension. Without fluency, your child may have a difficult time understanding the text they are reading. It is the path to comprehension and is a key foundational skill for children who are learning to read.

There are many resources and activities you can use to develop fluency skills. Many of the activities are free and just require books or texts at your child’s “independent level.” The goal is not to challenge your child with complex phonics patterns or unknown words, but to have them interact with texts that are on the easier side. This transfers the focus from “word reading” to “reading for meaning.”

Over the past few years, I’ve shared many fluency activities for teachers to use in the classroom; however, many of these activities can be used at home, as well.

Here are a few fluency activities that you can try at home:

Rereading

Rereading texts is one of the best ways to improve oral reading fluency (and comprehension!). After the first read-through, students are more familiar with the words and can focus on grouping words together, adding expression, and stopping at punctuation. They can also try to improve their reading pace. Although reading speed is not the biggest focus of fluency, an improved pace will subsequently improve your child’s comprehension of texts. The pace should increase naturally as your child completes multiple readings of the same text!

Poetry

Poetry is a great way for children to practice fluency! Typically, poems are short enough that they can complete multiple readings in one sitting. If your child needs fluency practice, he/she would benefit from listening to someone read each poem with “good fluency” first before practicing it. As a parent, you can model the poem and then have your child “echo read” each line to build up accuracy and phrasing. It takes away the “unknown word barrier” and allows your child to focus on changing his/her voice to sound like you! Poetry is an effective resource that allows children to practice all the components of fluency at once.

Audio Recording

Having children record themselves reading is an extremely powerful fluency tool! There are many free programs out there that are easy to use and allow kids to record their reading (i.e., Audacity for computers, iTalk for Apple devices, etc.). The playback feature of these recordings is the key to fluency development and can build self-awareness for kids regarding HOW they sound as readers. Many children don’t even realize how disfluent they actually are! With the playback feature, your child can listen to his/her recordings and reflect on the different parts of fluency. Encourage your child to answer the following questions: Did I read with appropriate pace? Did I read with phrasing? Did I read with expression? Did I attend to punctuation? Through reflections, your child can set goals and try to make changes. He/she can later compare repeated readings and listen for improvements.

Audio Books

Audio books are wonderful for summer break! With these “books-on-tape,” kids can follow along in a text as someone else reads to them. The power of modeled fluency is HUGE. Your child can listen to how fluent readers group their words together into phrases, change their voices to match character emotions and punctuation, pause appropriately after phrasing and punctuation, and apply intonation.

As our world becomes more digital, there are websites popping up everywhere that offer “Read to Me” books, such as Reading A-Z, Epic!, Farfaria, MeeGenius and more! Hundreds of books-on-CD and audio books are also available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes.

If you’re looking for a few free audio books to start with, NOOK Read to Me Books are fabulous and can be used on any device you can download the app to. (My students listen and read the free NOOK “Read to Me” books I’ve downloaded through the NOOK app on our iPads.) Also, if your local library is like mine, you can download audio books to your personal device via their website, using software such as Overdrive. This is a great way to bring new audio books into your home or classroom each week. If you have a long car trip coming up, audio books are an extremely valuable way to fill the time!

“Fluency Fun” Picture Books

If you are already reading with your child, why not pick some fun fluency books? These picture books will be sure to bring out your best phrasing and expression. Be silly. Have fun. Show off your fluency!

The books listed below are my favorite for modeling and practicing fluency, especially expression. Use them for read-alouds, partner reading, and choral reading (reading at the same time). You can even read them at bedtime!

Daily Fluency Task Cards — Summer FREEBIE!

For my blog hop freebie, I’m sharing my SUMMER set of seasonal Daily Fluency task cards. This resource is perfect for parents looking to further develop their child’s fluency skills. The resource is also great for teachers who are tutoring or teaching summer school during the summer months!

The fluency task cards in this set are geared toward grades 2/3 and focus on the four major components of fluency: Pace, Phrasing, Expression, and Attention to Punctuation. (Want to learn more about each of the fluency components? Download my free “What is Fluency?” Reference Sheet HERE, or read more about fluency HERE!)

Daily Fluency Task Cards SUMMER

(Download this free resource HERE or by clicking the image above!)

How to Use Fluency Task Cards at Home

After modeling and going over the directions listed for each task, your child should be able to use these fluency task cards independently. You can put the cards on a key ring, organize them in an index card box, or even put them in a dollar store photo book. Each day, have your child complete 1-2 task cards and record the completed task cards on the task card log. There are four sets for your child to rotate through.

You child should practice each task card aloud a few times. (Repeated readings are built into each task.) You can even create a DIY whisper phone using PVC pipes so they can monitor their fluency and hear themselves read! Every task has a specific fluency focus (i.e., pace, phrasing, expression, punctuation), but you will find that students will need to combine fluency skills to complete each card.

Tips for Promoting Summer Fluency Development

Obviously, fluency is not a skill that develops overnight. Like most reading skills, it takes consistent practice and requires your child to read EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

Here is a review of a few tips and suggestions I shared in this post to help you promote fluency development at home this summer:

  • Encourage repeated reading (reading a text multiple times)
  • Read lots of poetry
  • Choose books that are at easier levels
  • Build in time everyday for your child to practice reading
  • Read to your child to model appropriate fluency
  • Encourage your child to read along with audio books
  • Have your child record their voice while reading to reflect and set goals
  • Switch it up — echo read, choral read, and partner read
  • Complete fluency task cards! :)

Hop on over to the next stop, and check out Jessica’s post from Literacy Spark

Next Stop

Happy Summer & Happy Hopping!

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A Circus Poem for Two Voices!

13 May

I’ve always been fascinated by circuses, especially traditional ones from the late 1800’s that traveled by circus train from city to city, bringing along tents, animals, and performers. Maybe it was my obsession with Dumbo growing up (I loved anything Disney!), or the recent novels I’ve read, but I’ve been intrigued and wanting to learn more!

After recently reading Water for Elephants and The Night Circus (great books to add to your summer reading list!), I was inspired to create a circus-themed partner poem. I hoped to capture the magic of the Big Top. I love the booming voice of the ringmaster and the many different acts going on simultaneously in the different rings. As I was writing this poem, I was constantly digging into my childhood memories of going to a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus. The experience was overwhelming yet fascinating at the same time!

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I must say, I had a hard time choosing circus characters. Do I focus on an animal’s perspective (probably sad) or a clowns (too creepy)? I absolutely love elephants, but when researching circus elephants and circus “lingo,” I stumbled upon one too many “Save the Elephants” articles that put me in a dark place. Poor elephants! :( Even though Ringling Bros. is phasing out elephants from their acts (see this article), it’s still sad; so, I scratched my original “Ringmaster vs. Elephant” poem for one that focused on the voices of a ringmaster and an acrobat.

The “poem for two voices” is filled with sensory adjectives and ringmaster hyperboles – perfect for a unit on figurative language! Another big focus of “The Circus is in Town” poem is character perspective and audience. In the poem, the ringmaster is talking to the gathering crowd and the acrobat’s voice is more internal.

This poem is part of my Everyday Partner Poetry series. Similar to the other packets, comprehension graphic organizers and CCSS response questions are included. Check it out!

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For last month’s Poetry Hop, I shared props for my “Wake Up, Grizzly Bear!” poem (you can still grab them!). I think I’ll eventually create and share props for all my partner poems, but here are the FREE poetry props for “The Circus is in Town,” in the mean time!

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Check out the additional partner poetry products in my store. There are currently 17 poems in the series (all included in the Mega Bundle!). More coming soon!

If you’re interested in helping to develop your students’ schema on circus life and vocabulary, here are a few great picture books:

Do you know of any picture books I can add to my list? Please comment below. I’d love to add new books my library!

Happy Teaching!

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{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

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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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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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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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Photo Mar 14, 10 48 06 PM

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!

skitch

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!).

Slide01

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.

HarrietTubmanSkitchExample

(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!).

Slide01

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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