Technology in Reading Class – Part 2

Word Work is a very important part of reading class.  We spend a few minutes a couple of times a week making words and it is one of my centers.

When we make words as an entire class I print a page with letters on it and the students cut apart the letters at the beginning of class.  Then, I call out a series of words and the students have to make the words out of the letters they have.making words

For the letters above the first word would be “is”, then when would make “it”, then they would change “it” to “kit” and so on.  We go through making maybe 10 words.  The goal of the activity is for the students to figure out the word they can make with all of their letters.  In this case the word is “tricks”.  I use a book called, Making Words, to generate this activity.  This has been a difficult task for the students and it has been very enlightening for me as a teacher.  I walk around and  keep notes of the students having difficulty and if I have time I make note of the words they are struggling to make to see if I can find a pattern to their difficulty.  If I can find the pattern, then I can offer specific help.  This is a great activity because the students are manipulating sounds and matching letters to the sounds.

I also have a word work center.  I am switching between playing Boggle, which the kids love, and playing a game I found for the iPads, Moxie 2.  The kids LOVE Moxie more than Boggle.  At first I thought the game would be too difficult for them, but they love it!  They are begging to play in their free time now and I don’t have the heart to explain to the them that they are LEARNING while playing!  Moxie 2 gives the students three rows of letters and then pops up new letters.  The students have to insert the new letter into one of the three rows of words to make a new word!  It is brilliant!

moxie

 

I made this recording sheet for the students to keep up with the words they make and their point total at the end of the game.  Click on the picture to get the form.

moxie2

 

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Technology in Reading Class – Part 1, Book Trailers

One of my favorite things is to use technology in whatever class I am teaching.  However, when I use technology I want to be sure that I am using technology in meaningful ways to enhance my curriculum.  There are a lot of ways to use technology that do not enhance curriculum and just replace what we did before.  For example, a lot of my fourth-grade students last year decided to start using their iPads for their Reader’s Notebook rather than a spiral bound notebook.  I allowed the students to do this and didn’t have any problem with them using one form of technology to replace paper and pencil – HOWEVER, this is not meaningfully using technology as a tool to help my students retain more information.  

I want my students to love reading and I want them to love to come to reading class.  I also want my students to really work with texts to understand mood and theme of the text.  One way to do this is to have students use technology.  My FAVORITE way to use technology is having students make book trailers. Book Trailers are an incredible way to grab students attention and love of technology and combine it meaningfully with reading!  The students LOVE making book trailers.  When making a book trailer students have to think about the most important parts of the book and relate them to the viewer.  The students also have to think about the mood of the book.  I always tell my students that I should not hear Disco music if the book was a serious book!  The students have to match music and pictures to the mood and theme of the book! It is a perfect way to use iPads in the classroom!  iMovie even has pre-made book trailers in their library for students to use! Photo I allow my students to use the templates in iMove for the first couple of book trailers and then they have to graduate to making them from scratch in the expanded form of iMovie.  You don’t have to use iMove, you could use any video app or software that you have.  

I have used book trailers in 4th and 5th grade.  This year I am teaching a 3rd grade reading class and I am going to attempt book trailers with them as well. Below is an example of a book trailer from the book Hatchet.  Here is a link to my dropbox folder on Book Trailers.  I have taken some of these templates from all over the web – all free.  I have adjusted them to suit my needs.

I will continue in this series of posts about technology in reading with how we have used Puppet Pals in reading class. 

Reading Workshop Discovery

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Wow! It has been a long time since I last posted, but blogging gets away from me during the school year when the focus is so immediate and pressing in the classroom! Over the past year my role in the school has changed and grown to include Curriculum and Technology. Now, I am responsible for coordinating the curriculum and the technology in the lower school. The model really makes sense, because we know that we want students using technology inside the curriculum, enhancing the curriculum, rather than in insolation. My job is to help teachers become aligned with curriculum and to show them how to embed technology meaningfully into their curriculum.

Last year and continuing on through this year our focus as a school is reading. We are also working through a new math program, which I will post about separately. Our reading model has changed drastically over the past few years. We have completely done away with a basal reader and worksheets. We have moved on to Reading Workshop. We run a slightly modified version of reading workshop, one that fits our school and our goals and I think it has worked fabulously! My dream is for all students to love reading as much as I do. I think that as time has gone by we have somehow forgotten that to teach students to read, maybe we should let them read as much as we can! Our new reading program does just that – the kids are reading all the time!!!!

In K-2, we focus on guided reading with our students. We still use a workshop model, where we teach a mini-lesson, read a read aloud to model the mini-lesson focus, and then the students go to guided reading where we reinforce the skill again. The students in k-2 also work in literacy centers while guided reading groups are pulled. We utilize our reading specialists and our teaching assistants in these classroom to try and pull all of our guided reading groups each day! That way our students are growing as readers and getting the support that they need each day. We have also implemented independent reading time each day. During independent reading our students are reading a just right book and the teachers are conferring with the students. The students must have 20 minutes of independent reading each day, with the teacher conferring. We have set a goal that a teacher should confer with their entire class at least once every three weeks – struggling readers should be conferred with more often.

In 3rd-5th we have implemented a core/choice novel model. We feed into a traditional middle school, so we alternate the core and choice novels. The students will read one novel that the entire class reads, and the discussion is teacher directed. Then, they will alternate to a choice novel, where the teacher teaches a mini-lesson, models the skill with a read aloud, and then the students work with the choice novel they are reading. The students are LOVING the choice novel units. We usually give the students a choice of 5-8 novels to read and they are able to read as many of those choices as they can. We have had numerous occasions where the students read all of the choice novels available in the three week time frame we give for the novel. The kids love being able to choose a just right book and being able to read what they want to read.

Right now as we kick off the schools the teachers are busy with running records. We require 3 running records a year for our students – one at the beginning of school, one in January, and another at the end of the year. We have seen tremendous growth in our students through the transfer to this teaching model. It breaks my heart to see students all reading the same book in class and doing worksheets, when there is a better way to teach reading. For anyone interested in learning more about this model of teaching I recommend reading The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller and Growing Readers by Kathy Collins. Also, if you search the web you will find a lot of information on running reading workshop.

Over the next couple of weeks I will post example lessons from K-2 and 3-5 of how we are using this model at my school.

The Daily Five – Book Study

I subscribe to a lot of teaching blogs (I know they aren’t on my blogroll – one of my to do’s this summer is to revamp my blog!) and there is a lot of discussion around the book The Daily Five.    In my school we have been working on reading workshop and moving away from the basal reader and the dreaded WORKSHEET!  I spent a lot of time in classrooms during the second half of the year (we didn’t fully get our brains wrapped around workshops until Dec!) showing teachers how to use a read-aloud and have students use readers notebooks.  My principal and I are both going to The Teachers College Reading Workshop at Columbia University this summer and I am so excited about that!  And NOW, I have found The Daily Five!  I am a participate book study posted on several blogs – Today’s posts are from Teaching with Style and Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations.

I decided to use a Reader’s Notebook approach to this book study because 1) I have to take notes when I read to help maintain my focus and memory and 2) I like things to be neat and pretty :-).  Below are my pictures of what I put together for the first chapter.  I wrote down the quotes and ideas from chapter 1 that jumped out at me.

2012-06-13_14-21-53_2402012-06-13_14-22-02_1052012-06-13_14-22-09_3642012-06-13_14-22-15_9582012-06-13_14-22-25_925    2012-06-13_14-22-34_4952012-06-13_14-22-39_728The part of the book that stuck out the most to me was, “The way teachers structure the learning environment and the way students spend their time influences the level of reading proficiency the students have attained at the end of the academic year”.  This is SO BASIC, yet for many years in my teaching career I missed the mark on this one! 

During the last year or two while I have been learning everything I can about reading workshop I realized that the one aspect of the reading program I was teaching that was missing was READING!  It is amazing to me that we think we are teaching out of a basal reader, one story a week, and we think we are doing a great job teaching reading!  The “Just Right Book” concept blew my mind and I know that The Daily Five is going to have a similar effect. I love independence in the classroom and have always taught that way, so I think the D5 is going to be a wonderful addition to my reading class (I get to teach a 4th grade reading class this year).

Here are a couple of other links to The Daily Five book study:

Mrs. Freshwater’s Class – grades 1-3 book study posts

Live Love Laugh – Kindergarten D5 Book Study

Dilly Dabbles Doodles – Grades 1-3 book study

We Read, We Blog, We Teach – Upper Grades Book Study