Make-Your-Own Trading Cards Using iPads

27 May

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Creating Trading Cards

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Download the Trading Cards app from ReadWriteThink!

After the app is downloaded to each iPad, students need to create an app username, similar to the other ReadWriteThink apps I blogged about a few months ago. (Check out the post here!)

Once students have a username created, you have to choose what kind of trading card you want your students to make. They can choose from seven different categories: Fictional Person, Real Person, Fictional Place, Real Place, Object, Event, or Vocabulary. If you’re looking for a few ideas, students can create trading cards for book characters, historical events, content vocabulary, and can even create a card for themselves! (Perfect for a fun beginning of the year “Get to Know Me” autobiography project!)

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Students will select a category and then will be prompted to add a title. Each trading card has two sides (you have the option just to print the front side if you wish). Students will type information into each of the information sections, so it’s important for students to plan out their writing. I created graphic organizers for students to brainstorm or research, and this really helps with the writing process.

Download the GRAPHIC ORGANIZERS I created here:

Once all the information is input into the sections, students can choose a trading card design and add a picture. If it’s a trading card about themselves, students can take a “selfie.” If it’s a trading card about an object, students can take a picture of the object (use the camera icon on the trading card). You can also upload a picture from your device’s Camera Roll (use the picture icon on the trading card). If you need to upload pictures from the web, save them to your Camera Roll and access the pictures that way.

Just a reminder, make sure the students hit “Keep It” at the bottom of the card to save the draft throughout their project (this will prevent any accidental erasing of trading cards before you get to print or share it). After editing the trading card, students can print or share it by clicking “Share It.” If a printer is directly connected, you can “Send to Printer,” but if it’s not you can “Save to Photos” and upload it using Dropbox or DropItToMe (this allows you to print from another computer).

Make sure you grant the app permission to access your Photos (this will be a pop-up request prompt when the FIRST student using the app clicks “Save to Photos”). If a student accidently hits “no,” you can always change permissions settings under your iPad Settings (click “Privacy” and then go into “Photos” to make sure permission is turned on!).

NOTE: If this project takes a few days, you’ll need to make sure students are using the same iPad each time, since the usernames are connected to a device.

Here are a few student examples for a historical event project we did: 

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The pictures above display how each trading card prints (it’s a one-page file). You can cut out each page, fold it down the middle, and then laminate the folded page so it’s a two-sided cards (There are directions right on the page so your students can do this part!). The picture at the top of this post are the trading cards we created (not yet laminated). My students wanted their cards to be larger, but you can print them any size.

I’m already brainstorming the possibilities for using this app next year. There are so many! I would love to hear how you use this app in the classroom. Just leave a comment below! :)

Happy Teaching! 

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Hello Spring! — Poetry Writing Using iPads

14 May

I meant to write this post for Poetry month in April, but as usual, life just gets in the way! Better late than never though, right? Here’s an idea to tuck away for next year.

A few weeks ago, I came across a blog post from Grade ONEderful about students writing Goodbye/Hello poems. She completed this writing activity with her first graders, but you could really integrate this idea with any grade-level.

Pic Collage Poetry

I decided to take it one step farther and use Pic Collage for the students to publish their poetry.

I’ve used Pic Collage for other projects, including my QR Code Summary Posters (tutorial for Pic Collage is included in that blog post!). I like the idea of using technology and iPads to publish writing. It was a fun 1-2 day activity for my students. Not only was it great for vocabulary practice, spelling, and visualizing… but students were able to take home a poem that THEY wrote and were proud of. We also practiced reading them for fluency for a Poetry Showcase during few minutes at the end of the week!

Here are two examples:

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A few additional blogs and websites that share ideas and templates for writing your own Goodbye/Hello poems in the classroom:

If you’re interested in a web-based template, here’s one you can use for creating your poems. I personally prefer for my students to brainstorm ideas in their writing notebooks (see below), but you can use whatever format works best for you.

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Even though this idea is too late for the end of winter, Goodbye/Hello poetry would be a fun end-of-the-year writing activity to celebrate summer. Goodbye Spring, Hello Summer? Goodbye School Year, Hello Summer Vacation? Goodbye Stress, Hello Relaxation? (Oh wait, that one is just for the teachers!) :)

P.S. New blog post about using the Trading Cards app from ReadWriteThink coming soon!

Happy Teaching! 

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NEW Daily Phonics Series + a TpT Sale!

6 May

Introducing Daily Phonics

For those of you who love my Daily Fluency series, I recently developed a Daily Phonics series for practice with identifying sounds and word patterns. This series of resources is perfect for any group of elementary students who need a little extra support with decoding and phonics. My RTI decoding and fluency students love these packets!

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Each packet contains a directions page, posters, and 40 Daily Phonics pages (20 per month). The series will soon include pages for every month of the year!

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Daily Phonics provides opportunities for students to identify:

  • short & long vowel sounds
  • beginning & end sounds
  • consonant blends
  • digraphs
  • diphthongs
  • r-controlled vowels
  • syllables

Students will also have daily practice with:

  • illustrating the word
  • writing the word 3x
  • unscrambling a sentence with the word in context
  • hunting for the word in a list of similar words

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There are many ways to integrate this resource into your daily routines. If you have the printing resources, copy the packet and create folders for each student to complete at their desks or at home. (See images below!)

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You can also create reusable Daily Phonics pages by laminating each page or using sheet protectors. Students can write on the pages with dry-erase markers and then wipe-off when they’re done. If you use iPads in the classroom, upload this packet as a PDF and use a PDF annotating program for students to complete independently. You can also project the pages and have students complete them for bell work, literacy centers, or Daily Five rotations… all you need is a SMARTBoard or an overhead projector! There are many possibilities for how to use this resource, so it’s up to you how you want to integrate it into your day-to-day routines.

(NOTE: For my groups who do Daily Fluency everyday, I do Daily Phonics just on Mondays so that they’re not spending too much time with these warm-up activities.)

Free Daily Phonics Posters

Download my FREE Daily Phonics posters here or by clicking the image below. These posters are included in each packet and  will help students with identifying the following phonics sounds: consonant blends, digraphs, diphthongs, and r-controlled vowels. Hang the posters up in your classroom or put them in your students’ Daily Phonics folders!

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TpT Loves Teachers Sale

Everything in my store will be 20% off on May 6th & 7th. Use promo code TPTXO for an extra 10% off that already discounted prices.

ON SALE — Daily Phonics 20% OFF

Here are the packets that are complete and ready for purchase at a discounted price:

March/April

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May/June

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July/August
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The remaining packets in the series will be coming out this spring/summer so that you can kick-start your Daily Phonics routines starting Day 1 of the new school year. Keep checking back at my store or become a subscriber to receive email alerts when new products are posted!

LAST DAY for MsJordanReads Teacher Appreciation Giveaway!

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Also, for those of you who have been busy and missed my posts last week, TODAY is the last day for my Teacher Appreciation Dansko Shoe Giveaway. If you haven’t entered this awesome giveaway yet, click HERE for a link to my blog post. I’ll be choosing a winner this evening (5/6/14)!

Happy Teaching!

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Put Your Feet Up! — A Teacher Appreciation Giveaway!

21 Apr

Teacher Appreciation Day is coming up, so it’s the perfect time to give thanks and share my appreciation for all the teachers out there! I’m extremely grateful for all the support I receive as a teacher and blogger. Everyday I’m inspired – by my students, by my fellow bloggers, and especially by the teachers whom I work with everyday. I love my job, and I love sharing my passion for teaching on this blog. I’d like to say a big THANK YOU to all the educators who have helped me on my teaching journey, including you!

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Teachers… Put Your Feet Up!

To celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day this year, I’ve once again partnered up with Dansko for a shoe-ly awesome giveaway. (What better way to feel appreciated than with a FREE pair of shoes?!)

When Dansko asked which shoe was my favorite of the spring styles, I had to go with the the Frida sandal in black (see image below). I love their sandals and was so excited to try these out for the giveaway! (How could I say no?! One for me, one for you!) :)

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Even though spring is still deciding whether it wants to actually stay in Western NY (we’ll ignore the snow we got last week), I am looking forward to wearing these for the nice weather days ahead. If you’re like me, you choose “teacher shoes” that offer support and comfort. This wedge sandal gives you both! The best part is that they are designed for long days of teaching on your tired feet. The Frida sandal comes in six different colors and is part of the Havana Collection. The sandals are made from hand-antiqued leather and are SO cute! I can’t wait to wear them in the classroom with all my new spring skirts and dresses.

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Do you have teacher feet that deserve something special too? Enter for a chance to spoil and pamper your feet with a pair of these comfortable sandals! I will be choosing ONE winner on May 6th. (Click image below or click here!)

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(NOTE: If you are chosen as the winner, I will email you for your shoe size and shipping information!)

Dankso Loves Teachers, Too!

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A huge thank you to Dansko for this amazing opportunity to spoil my blog readers! Do you want a chance to be spoiled more? Dansko is also hosting a giveaway for Teacher Appreciation Day. Check it out here!

DANSKO PROMOTION DETAILS: Enter for a chance to win a Dansko Appreciation Event for yourself and up to four co-workers. There will be five teams of five winners. Each team will win a breakfast and pair of shoes for all the team members!

Hurry up, this teacher appreciation event ends on 5/2. Winners will be announced 5/7!

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Happy Teaching! 

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“Spring Has Sprung” Poetry Blog Hop (Stop #5)

28 Mar

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Spring Has Sprung!

Welcome to Stop #5!

I love spring, and I love poetry, so of course I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of the “Spring Has Sprung” poetry blog hop! A HUGE thank you to Rebecca Reid, from Line Upon Line Learning (Stop #1), for organizing this fun, blogging opportunity. Really…I can’t think of a better way to kick-off National Poetry Month than with poetry freebies. Can you?!

Poetry Month = Fluency Month

Poetry is the perfect ingredient for building fluency, so one way to celebrate National Poetry Month is by turning “Poetry Month” into “Fluency Month!”

Students love poetry and they love performing, so think about integrating activities that would combine the two with a fluency focus. The Performing Poetry strategy from ReadWriteThink is perfect for this! Each week, you can introduce a new poem for students to practice fluency with. After modeling and going over any new vocabulary, students can practice throughout the week and put on an end-of-the-week poetry performance! The article by ReadWriteThink suggests having a culminating poetry event such as a Poetry Parade, Poetry Day, Poetry Theatre, Poetry Cafe, or even a Poetry Night with parents!

Using iTalk to for Poetry Performing Practice

One way my students practice their poetry performance throughout the week is by recording their poetry reading on the iPads using a voice recording app. Audio recordings are powerful, as it allows students to hear themselves as another person would. I use the iTalk Recorder app which is offered for free through Apple. Students love using this app to record their voices and listen to the recording afterwards. It’s very easy to use… for both teachers and students!

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Students can save their recordings to compare before/after readings, reflect on their fluency, and set appropriate goals. The app also times the students, so it allows them to calculate a words per minute (wpm) rate of reading. Students can try to improve their wpm rate with each practice. (NOTE: You can save the recordings and use them as informal running records, too!)

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If you don’t have iPads in your classroom, consider using Audacity on your classroom desktop computers or laptops. It’s free and easy to use, as well!

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Poetry Theatre

I love the idea of Poetry Theatre as a form of “Poetry Performing.” While many define “poetry theatre” as a general performance of poetry, I have a different definition in my classroom. I’ve developed a series of partner poems that are like Readers Theatre plays, where students have a specific part they play in the poem. Each part is a different perspective (also great for teaching point of view!).  The partner perspective poems I create are have a back-and-forth structure, and students love changing their voices to sound like the two characters. These poems are great for fluency practice because students have to think about character voice and expression, while reading their lines with good pace, phrasing, and attention to punctuation. Just like with any poem-of-the-week, students can perform these in a culminating event to show off their fluency skills!

Are you interested in bringing “Poetry Theatre” or the “Performing Poetry” strategy into your classroom?

Blog Hop Freebie for Performing Poetry!

Scoop up my newest partner poetry packet for FREE below!

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(This poem will go back to being a paid product on 4/2/14)

 This poetry packet also contains comprehension activities to reinforce visualizing, character perspectives, story elements (see picture below), and answering text-based questions. (Supports CCLS!)

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It’s FREE for four days only, so hurry up and download your copy during this great blog hop event! :)

MsJordanReads Poetry Giveaway

To celebrate National Poetry Month, I’m giving away a copy of The Complete Partner Poetry Book to THREE lucky winners. This collection of partner perspective poems would be perfect for Performing Poetry. The collection includes 12 partner poems (including my newest poem above!).

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If you have iPads in your classroom, you can open the PDF file with iBooks and the students can read it like an eBook! You’ll need to get the files onto the iPads using email or Dropbox first, but after you click “Open With iBooks” it stays on the shelf until you delete it. I’ve created quite a library of digital poems and PDF files on iBooks this way, and students even create their own PDF “eBooks” and poems to read and share with the class!

Just like with any eBook in iBooks, students can highlight text and look up specific word definitions. Students can also use the highlighting feature of iBooks to go on phonics word hunts and find evidence in the text.

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Enter For Your Chance to Win This Product! 

(NOTE: This giveaway has ended!) 

Winners will be chosen 4/1/14 (7:00 PM EST) and will be notified that evening.
Submit your entry by clicking the form below!

Congratulations to Janet Hegg, Stephanie Chambers, & Kamala Schuster!

You are the three winners! I emailed you the poetry product. :)

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Hop Over to the Next Stop

Thanks for stopping by!

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Head on over to Practice Makes Perfect!

Happy Teaching!

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“Project QR Code” — QR Code Summary Posters

19 Mar

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For most of my RTI students, summarizing is a challenge, especially when it comes to identifying key details and boiling our summaries down to the most important information.  More often than not, text summaries become text retells, and students lose focus of what’s important. So how do students “boil it down,” and more importantly, how can we make it FUN?

Becoming “Summarizing Superstars” doesn’t happen overnight,  so it’s always a challenge to come up with motivating tasks to practice summarizing – tasks that can potentially keep students motivated over the course of a few weeks!  High-interest texts are a start, but I try to make the actual tasks fun and engaging, as well. How? Insert: TECHNOLOGY. :) 

Project QR Code” continues with this next technology integration activity.

I gave my students a challenge — we would be creating QR Code chapter summaries for a non-fiction text about mysterious Sumatran tigers, BUT each summary would have to fit on a post-it note and would have to include the five most important key words from the chapter. We would then turn our post-it notes into QR codes and create a summary collage. The students seemed hesitant, but excited with the idea of creating their own QR code summary posters!

“Sum It Up!” Comprehension Strategy

To help students identify what’s most important in the text, I use the “Sum It Up!” strategy. As always, I model the strategy, guide (guide, guide, guide some more), and THEN see if they can do it on their own. It’s the typical “I Do/We Do/You Do” model with a gradual release of responsibility. My RTI students need a lot of hand-holding at first, especially when they realize they’re choosing the incorrect words nine times out of ten. It’s a slow process, but their beautiful summaries and sense of accomplishment in the end makes it all worth it!

With the “Sum It Up!” strategy, students have to first identify key words (5 maximum). This is the hardest part, and we often start in our notebooks so we can brainstorm a list of words without the pressure of choosing just FIVE. To get started, the students first jot down any important words that pop into their head from the chapter. We then revisit the text and hunt for key words. Highlighting and marking up the text are great strategies for spotlighting important words, just as long as the students aren’t “highlighter happy.” In the beginning, I usually do this part with them, or just have them stay away from highlighters so the markings can be erased. (NOTE: If you do close reading with your students, you can make a connection to the “highlighter hunts” you do with close reads!)

I provide students with guiding questions to help them with identifying key words. Students ask themselves the following questions:

  • What is the chapter title? (This is a huge clue! Students discover that key words are often hidden inside title since authors create titles based on main ideas!)
  • What is this chapter mostly about?
  • What words do I see repeated throughout the chapter? 
  • What are the most important details (vs. the supporting details)?
  • Is there background information, extended examples, or author anecdotes that can be left out?
  • Is the word I found important to understanding this chapter?
  • Could I leave this word out and still understand the chapter?

Once we have a list of potential key words, we look at each one, discuss WHY we think it’s important (students have to defend their words), and then we slowly narrow it down by crossing words out. What’s left are the five most important ones that we can connect together to form a summary.

For the summary-writing stage, I always have students start in their notebooks so they can cross-out and shrink their summaries. The ultimate goal is for it to fit on a post-it note. The post-it note forces students to “boil down” their summaries down to the most important information. (Be patient… usually it takes many tries and a HUGE pile of post-its!)

After, the summaries are successfully recorded on post-it notes, I have my students underline the key words inside their summaries. Their post-it notes are sometimes a mess, so I may have students transfer their summaries (again) to “Sum It Up” graphic organizers (see pictures below). Underlining acts as a self-check to make sure they included all five. (It’s important to note that sometimes there will be less than five key words! It depends on the length of the text or chapter you’re summarizing.)

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I often have my students create their own graphic organizers using blank paper so that they know how to develop graphic organizers on their own for future note-taking tasks.

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Download this FREE “Sum It Up!” graphic organizer to use with your students! (Click on image)

Eventually, students will be able to do many of these steps in their heads, but until then, it may take lots of step-by-step instruction, drafts, re-writes, and re-teaching. The big thing is for students not to get frustrated!

Creating QR Codes

The culminating QR code project was the “light at the end of the tunnel” for many of my students, so I made sure to leave plenty of time for students to create their QR codes and complete their poster collages.

My favorite QR creator to use with students is QR Code Generator (http://goqr.me/). There are a TON of QR code creator websites out there. Just find the one that works for you!

Using my teacher website, or a bookmark on the iPad, students go to the URL and follow the directions. I have students create the QR codes on the iPad.

Here’s a screenshot of the directions on my classroom website:

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Using PicCollage

Students love PicCollage. It’s extremely student-friendly, and it’s a fun way for students to show off their understanding! Students can add their QR codes, photos from the web, text captions, titles, and so much more. Each collage can be customized very easily by the students. Once they are happy with their collages, they can save, share, or email the files. Since my students can’t print from the iPads, they submit it to me via DROPitTOme. The collage can be saved to the iPad’s camera roll, so if you use the DropBox app on the iPad, you can save it there as well.

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Looking for a PicCollage tutorial?

Final QR Code Summary Posters

Here are two more examples of posters my students made. Feel free to scan the QR codes to see their summaries. The chapter summaries are not perfect, but we’re definitely on our way to becoming “Summarizing Superstars.” :)

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Happy Teaching! 

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“Project QR Code” — Interactive Phonics Game Board

5 Mar

Technology in the Classroom

As with most educational technology, it’s all about finding the perfect balance. I want my students to interact with fun technology, but I don’t want the technology to take away from the focus of my lesson. My goal is to integrate technology effectively, with the purpose of enhancing my lessons and motivating my students. As an RTI provider, I have very specific student goals and a limited timeframe to provide instruction for students to meet those goals. The challenge is to find technology that is easy-to-use but still supports my daily learning targets.

As most of you know from my post last month, I’ve been trying to find more ways to enhance my instruction with QR codes. I’m now referring to this mission as “Project QR Code.” :) Just adding the simple step of scanning a “quick response” (QR) code adds a layer of motivation and engagement to simple instructional tasks. The next few posts I plan to share will focus on some fun ways I’ve been integrating QR codes in the classroom!

QR Code Phonics Game Board

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In one of my 3rd grade RTI decoding groups, we’ve been focusing on various long vowel patterns. This week, my students are reviewing the “Magic /e/” vowel rule. Instead of using regular game cards with a game board, I decided to embed QR codes onto each of the game board squares. As the students move through the interactive game board, they must use the Scan app on the iPads to get their task.

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If you don’t have access to iPads, that’s totally fine! Students can use any type of mobile device, as long as they have a QR code-reading app (there are many options to choose from). I ended up making multiple copies of this game board and sending it home with my students who have mobile devices at home.

Download your FREE copy of my Magic E Interactive Board Game with QR Codes!

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**NOTE: If you like this product, I plan to create a few more interactive game boards for my TpT store. If there’s a specific skill you would like to see as a focus of my game boards, please email me at msjordanreads@gmail.com.

A Few QR Code Resource Websites: 

I would love to hear how you use QR codes with your small groups to reinforce phonics and decoding. Please comment below and share your ideas!

Happy Teaching! 

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Kindergarten Fluency Folders + A HUGE TpT Sale!

25 Feb

Kindergarten Fluency Folders

Hey, Kindergarten teachers… this one’s for YOU!

If you’re a follower of my blog or TpT store, you know that many of my fluency resources are geared toward elementary students grades 2-5. After a few comments and many requests, I decided I should finally create some early literacy materials for K/1!

One of my fabulous blog readers specifically requested a daily fluency product for her Kindergarteners. I agreed to help, and after some back-and-forth discussion in regard to format and what would be most helpful to include, I developed a resource with ready-to-print materials for creating your own year-long Kindergarten Fluency Folders. (Thank you, Erica!)

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This resource offers 60 lists of letters, sounds, and words to use with your students. The materials will help your students build fluency with letter identification, letter-sound relationships, sight words, short vowel word families, and some basic phrases, sentences, and passages. Graphs are included for students to track their fluency progress, as well as flash cards for students to practice each of the list items. Use the folders in the classroom or send them home each night (parent letters & directions are included).

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The focus of these folders is speed and accuracy, which obviously isn’t all that fluency is, but this product will help your students build the foundation for later fluency development. Without automatic recognition of letters, sounds, and words, students will have difficulty reading for meaning. Focusing on phrasing, expression, and punctuation is the next step after using these folders (and don’t worry… your voices have been heard! I’m working on a K/1 version of my Fluency Boot Camp!).

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A thumbnail preview of all the pages is available on the product page if you’d like to check out more of what’s inside! Here’s the link to my Kindergarten Fluency Folder product on TpT!

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**NOTE: This was created with Kindergarten students in mind, but the materials would benefit struggling readers in 1st grade, too! Perfect for remedial RTI instruction!**

Download a few SAMPLE pages HERE!

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TpT’s 3 Million Teachers Strong Sale!

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It’s official! Teachers Pay Teachers has reached the BIG 3,000,000. To celebrate the growing number of teachers that have joined our community, we are having a huge mid-week sale on 2/27 and 2/28! Many teacher-sellers, including myself (MsJordanReads), will be offering 20% off during this sale. It’s our way of saying thank you for your continued support! Spread the word, and don’t forget to use promo code TPT3 for an additional 10% off.

Happy Teaching!

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QR Codes to Enhance Learning

24 Feb

Today, as I was gearing up for the first week back after a long break (sigh), I came across a great guest post by Nancy Alvarez (from Teaching with Nancy) on the blog FlapJack Educational Resources. Nancy’s post took me out of my end-of-vacation depressed state and truly excited me for the upcoming weeks ahead of teaching.

As many of you know, I’m always looking for new ways to use my set of iPads with my intervention groups, and her post, QR Code Tips, was all about integrating QR codes into your everyday teaching. After reading her post, I realized that I don’t use QR codes enough. I know about them. I’ve used them from time to time, but just not enough. I have no excuse because they are SO incredibly simple to bring into the classroom and there are so many possibilities. 

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QR codes are a fun, engaging way for students to explore content and to share new learning with others, yet the idea of embedding them into my instruction never pops into my head when I’m writing my lesson plans. For example, a few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about using a fantastic ReadWriteThink mobile app for teaching Non-Fiction Text Structures. One in particular was a digital timeline app to help students show their understanding of sequence & order (if you missed it, see the post here!). I thought the iPad app itself was engaging, and I was SO excited that I was able to share it with my students, but in Nancy’s blog post, she shared how some classrooms take this app one step further. Instead of students recording JUST the facts and information, students can make QR codes for each event on the timeline (see the example here). Really… wow! That thought didn’t even cross my mind when my students were using this app, but how fun would it be for students to learn from each other’s timelines using QR codes?!? It was one of those moments where I said, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”

Like Nancy, I’ve attended inspiring technology sessions about bringing technology into the classroom. I really like her acronym, T.I.M.E. (Technology Integration and Meaningful Engagement), and I agree that “it takes time to perfect the craft of embedding new technology seamlessly into our daily teaching.” It is my goal to really try and enhance my lessons with technology. I don’t want it to take over my lessons, and I don’t want to lose the purpose of my lessons, but perhaps it’s just the simple use of using QR codes on timelines.

How do you use QR codes in your classroom?

Please comment below! I would love to explore new ideas for QR ideas (and I’m sure I’ll once again think, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?!”). :)

Happy Teaching!

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Exploring Non-Fiction Text Structures Using iPads

11 Feb

Happy February! Hope everyone is having a great start to 2014! Since the holidays, my days have been filled with winter benchmark assessments, report cards, parent conferences, building data days, schedule changes, oh… and teaching! :) Needless to say, I’m beyond ready for our school break coming up next week.

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to post this, and I finally found a few minutes to share! Throughout the year, I’ve been trying to find ways to integrate my set of iPads into my small intervention groups. I’ve been finding great apps for my decoding/fluency groups, but not a ton for my comprehension groups. However, I recently came across the (FREE) ReadWriteThink apps for mobile devices, and they’re amazing! These apps are perfect for supporting comprehension and your ELA curriculum. I used them as digital graphic organizers for exploring non-fiction text structures, but you can really use them across the content areas!

Getting Started

Once you download the apps, they’re very easy to use! I haven’t explored the Trading Cards, Acrostic Poem, or Alphabet apps, but I’ve used the Timeline and Venn Diagram apps (links below) with my non-fiction text structure unit (i.e., Sequence & Order, and Compare & Contrast).

All apps require students to create a username so that they can save their projects. It takes only a minute and is very easy for students to do. It’s worth having the students set up usernames, especially since multiple groups use my set of iPads. Plus, students can work on their digital projects throughout the week without having to start over each time.

Venn Diagrams

The Venn Diagram app is very user-friendly. My 4th & 5th graders used this app to record similarities and differences of hurricanes and tornadoes. We then used the graphic organizer to develop “Compare & Contrast” paragraph responses.

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You can print the Venn Diagrams, or you can save them as pictures on your iPad’s Camera Roll. If your school is like mine, we restrict student printing via the iPads, so I have my students send me their .jpg files using DropItToMe, which is linked to my Dropbox. I can then print it for them!

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I’ve only used the app for comparing topics within a text, but I’m looking forward to using it for other purposes as well. We’re comparing fictional characters in one of my 2nd grade groups, and I would love the students to compare the characters using this app. My decoding/fluency group is working on different vowel patterns, and I would love for my students to use the venn diagram to sort the words into the different vowel categories. Students could even use the digital venn diagram for sorting their spelling words!

Timelines

The Timeline app is perfect for exploring Sequence & Order in informational texts. To start, the app provides visual examples of three different ways you can organize your timeline: dates, times, or events. I had my students choose which they thought would be the best way to organize our timelines. They had to preview the text and then set up their timeline.

My 4th & 5th grade students created timelines from the Reading A-Z book The Story of the Statue. They highlighted the key details and organized their timelines by date. Even though there is a short description and long description option to go with each time/date/event you add, the short description is the only one that shows up on the printed timeline. I actually preferred the short description, because it had a character limit. It forced my students to “Sum It Up” and pick key words to go with each timeline entry.

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This app would be great for biography projects or for retelling story events in a fiction text. Students could also use it as a graphic organizer when writing personal narratives or memoirs. There are a ton of options!

I hope to explore more comprehension apps that are out there, and I’m really hoping ReadWriteThink continues to develop more student-friendly apps in the future! Do you know of any great apps for comprehension?  Please let me know if you come across any good ones. You can comment on this post or email me at msjordanreads@gmail.com. I’m hoping to eventually write a blog post to spotlight some of the great comprehension apps out there.

In the mean time, I would love to hear how you use these apps! Please leave a comment on this post if you have a great idea to share. :)

Happy Teaching! 

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Check out my newest seasonal Partner Poems for February!

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I’m hoping to have one soon for every holiday. My students love the back-and-forth poems for fluency, and comprehension activities are included for each! I have almost a dozen in my TpT store.

Check out my collection HERE!

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