My school year is done, but here I sit in a meeting for our last professional development day of the year. Already we have people speak to us on The Common Core. And currently we are listening to a presenter speak about Digital Footprints. After lunch we have our break out sessions with our small groups and then we are free to go. Now both presentations have been going well but let’s face it this is a time for the teachers to catch up, talk about plans for the summer.
However I have discovered one thing I have been able to talk with the teachers who want to incorporate more of the technology based applications I use in the library (and have talked about here) in their classroom. I have already spoke with several teachers wanting to create a video for a concept in their lessons and post to my YouTube channel for the students to access. I also have been able to talk with a teacher about different authors and topics that’s will work for their LA lessons on social issues.
So while I sit here listening and learning about digital footprints (a topic I will be talking about next week here) I wanted to let you know that my school year is done but my collaboration with my fellow teachers is not.
We are coming to the close of another school year. I can’t believe it. This year went by too quickly. I went to a retirement dinner yesterday to celebrate the careers of four amazing educators. Women who inspired not only their students but the faculty and administrators they taught next too. As I heard the stories of stellar careers, I thought about two things. (1) I hope that I leave a lasting impression on students they way they did (2) I wonder what ever happened to Mrs. Murphy, one of my favorite English teachers in high school.
Mrs. Murphy was one of the those teachers who challenged you to strive to be better than you were the day before. She made us not only look at what we can do, but what we can’t and figure out how to overcome the challenge. She really stayed with me all of these years. I had Mrs. Murphy my junior and senior year. And senior year was the best one. She was certified to teach a college level course, and we were given the opportunity to take it if we chose to. Well I chose to, and it was a great experience. We read college level books, worked on poetry beyond the standard practices, and collaborated on projects that many freshman college students don’t get to do.
The one project though that Mrs. Murphy had us do was the last project of our high school careers. We had to write a letter to ourselves. We had to write the letter and talk to ourselves, 5 years from now. Basically, write to our future self and talk about we hope to accomplish and where we hope we were at that moment in our life. We all wrote standard things like I want to be a millionaire, I want a good job, I want this and that. But then she had us write about where we hope were with ourselves. Meaning, were we happy with how we turned out. Did we feel we deserve what we have been given? 5 years after I wrote that letter, my mother says I received some mail at my old address. It was my letter. and WOW! is all I can say.
So as the end of the year comes, think about doing this with your students. You might just hit them in a way you never reached all year.
So I talk about books a lot, since well, I am a librarian and all. And I have mentioned some apps and websites to visit if you are interested in writing a book of your own. Well here are few more, and these are super easy that not only are they great for classroom use, but those budding writers in your class or home might get a kick out of these too. These apps are perfect for both entertainment and education (well at least the eBook ones are, the comic ones are purely entertainment). Teachers will be able to create original eBooks to use in their classroom. Teachers will have the ability to add images, text, links, recordings and more to the eBook. Then simply share with students or colleagues to allow greater access to information. These apps allow you to create and upload your eBook to iBooks and ePub readers. You can access many of them through an app or online. The prices vary but these are all well worth the look.
Students and kids will have fun with these apps as well (especially the comic ones). They can take stories they have written and create a collection, or create a photo book highlighting a recent summer event or family function that you can share with just those who you would like. No need to put in bookstores for the world to access, unless of course you want to. These apps are a great way to keep kids creative and writing all summer long. Heck all year long for that matter.
The comic apps are fun since you don’t need to be an artist to use. By using pictures you already have you can add cartoon images and drawings to create funny one of a kind strips. So check them out.
Book Writer for iOS
IDEAL e-Pub Creator for Android and iOS
Creative Book Builder for Android and iOS
Comic Puppets for Android and iOS
Photo Comics Pro for Android
By now you have probably heard the amazing, fantastic, great news that LaVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow Kickstarter campaign has been fully funded. In less then 24 hours. That is correct Mr. Burton was able to raise $1 million in one day. That means Reading Rainbow lives.
The show originally ran from 1983 to 2006 with reruns happening until 2009. This latest venture will be a new version of the series created for the web, a classroom version of the program for teachers, and a program that gives copies of Reading Rainbow to low-income schools for free.
This is my most favorite news in a long time and I can’t wait to see the amazing things LaVar will do with this.
A report recently came out that states that children are spending less time reading for pleasure than decades ago. This is leading to large gaps in proficiency. Here are some of the facts:
- The percentage of 9-year-old children who read for pleasure once or more a week dropped from 81% in 1984 to 76% in 2013.
- 1/3 of 13-year-olds and 1/2 of 17-year-olds read for pleasure less than twice a year.
- About 1/3 of fourth grade students are “proficient” in reading and another 1/3 scored below “basic” reading skills.
Now the report is not taking into account stories that are read online or on social media, but still this is quite shocking. The pace is growing faster every year with more and more students not reading for pleasure. However when they are reading, they are reading for a long period of time, but the fact that their reading for pleasure is dropping worries me. I know students are reading more and more in school each year, but the they are reading there for information. The book is used for a reading log assignment they are reading more to answer the are being asked to identify for the book (ex. characters traits, central problem, resolution etc) They are not reading simply because they want to read the story.
I have witnessed first hand the drop in pleasure reading for older students. Most of my older students come looking for the most popular books (Fault in Our Stars, Maze Runner, Divergent) all of which are movies or becoming movies. And I gather that they are choosing those books simply because they are the most popular. A few students I have truly test me (daily). I am always trying to find books to give them that I think they would like (one student I think might read every book I have in my library). I have resorted to giving them books from my own personal collection. These students (the voracious readers) are becoming an anomaly simply because they do read so much and all for pleasure.
I am not sure how to combat this issue. I have taken seminars and attended workshops and spoke with colleagues and read books on trying to reach those older YA readers. And every trick I try I am not seeing the results I would like. These students are generation where technology is king and computer games are way more interesting than a book. This is a constant struggle for all language arts teachers and librarians. How to get the students to read for pleasure. How to get them to see past the screen and to the page. How to show them that reading for the 30 minutes each day will have a greater impact on their lives in general than staring at a computer screen for the same amount of time (unless they are reading on that screen than that is OK). But I hope that someday I will crack the code and find the answer to this problem.
To read the article go to:
So I have been asked by many teachers, how can we help increase the reading capabilities of our students. This is a tough one since no two readers are the same. I have tried several promotions in the library, but more often than not only die hard readers are acting on them. It is difficult to get those who are struggling on a daily basis to not only read what is required of them, but to read another book for enjoyment.
I started to search through magazines and professional resources to see what the experts and other teachers are doing. And after reading through The Mailbox April/May 2014 issue I found two great ideas that I feel I should share.
Both ideas come from Njeri Jones Legrand, of Sharon Elementary in Charlotte NC.
TISC (This is So Cool): reading with accuracy to support comprehension
Getting students to interact with their reading material by using text-message shorthand as reading codes. Begin by brainstorming with students abbreviations that match specific reading strategies you teach. Then create a mini poster showing each abbreviation, review and discuss the meaning. Next, provide sticky note flag. Have each student track his/her thinking as they read by flagging specific points and coding the flag with the matching text abbreviation. When the student finishes reading, have them use the sticky notes to respond to the selection, summarize it, answer questions about it, or discuss it.
Here are the Abbreviations this teacher used:
QQ (Quick Question): Use this if the text is confusing or makes you think of a question
RUS (Are your serious?): Use this to flag information that makes you think WOW!
WOTD (Word of the Day): Use this to flag important words in the text
IDK (I don’t know): Use this to flag text that is really confusing and if you can’t figure out what’s going on.
411(Information): Use this to flag text that is important information
TSIA (This says it all): Use this to flag text that is the main idea
Ready, Set, Read!
Energize students to build their reading stamina with a daily challenge. Begin by assembling a read-o-meter (example shown at the bottom of this entry). Next, display the meter and challenge every reader in class to read, focusing only one his/her reading material, for a set amount of time. As soon as students begin to lose focus, end the session and move the read-0-meter’s arrow to show students how long they read independently. Begin each reading session by displaying the meter and challenging your readers to read productively longer than they did the previous day.
thank you to The Mailbox magazine and especially Njeri Jones Legrand for your amazing contributions to the reading community.
Sometimes the technology can get the better than us. Whether it be an updated system, or the latest installment of an app, or maybe there is a new program that is better than the one you just started using. It is OK. You are not alone. So many teachers, parents, and even students experience the same feeling. It is just too hard to keep up, especially when the school systems are requiring that we (as teachers) use more and more technology in the classroom. Well here are a few easy tricks to get the technology in there, without having a learn a whole new way to teaching.
1) PowerPoint game/quiz review shows. Face it, reviewing a lesson before a test can be boring, here is a chance to make it fun. Teachers have been creating reviews lessons using PowerPoint to mimic popular game shows like Jeopardy, Who Want to Be a Millionaire and Are you Smarter than a Fifth Grader? There are free templates online for you to download and make it your own. This is a great way for those who are not too tech-savy to use an already established program. I have done this many times, and have even used Prezi to create a few review games.
2) Just Tweet It! Students mission, to summarize a lesson in 160 characters or less. Not only does this avoid having students repeat themselves over and over and over again, but it forces them to get at the real core of the lesson and what is being taught. This is good for end of the unit/lesson discussions, but also for a quick book review. You have came them break up the main points of the standard book review to individual tweets (ex. main character, plot, etc)
3) Blogging from a characters perspective. This is a fun one. If you have ever had students write letters from the viewpoint of a character you have multiple options now to incorporate technology. The most popular choice being Blogging. Instead of letters, the students will post, and can add images and videos as well to enhance the post. There are blog sites that can be used specficially for the classroom that protects the students from unwanted attention.
4) Surf the Web. This is an oldie but a goodie. Webquests have been around for a while, and ultimately what it does is guides students to search the internet for specific information. An idea is have students become curators for their own museum on a particular topic. But since it is for a museum the students must determine what artifacts belong in their museum. This hits many common core areas of study but also touches on technology and digital literacy since they must evaluate the sites for validity.
Again these are just a few options for you to ponder while you try to find ways to get that technology in the classroom.