literacy centers

Make word study collaborative with Google Presentations

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This past summer I learned how fantastic Google Presentations was as a class tool. Like other Google tools, more than one person at a time can work on the same project. After finishing Frayer graphic organizers, my students took pictures with our iPods of their original work. Then they went to our Google drive and each brought up the presentation program slides. No more saving on a drive and e-mailing to the teacher to make one big project. The project is already complete. It can be downloaded in many ways – as a PowerPoint, JPEGs, however you wish. One of the key ways to run a project such as this is to teach a capable student and make them in charge of the project. I can’t wait to see the next group of slides!


Take the pain out of writing with Pass the Blog

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This past week-end, I had a conversation with a CIO (Chief Information Officer) from a successful company explaining to me that it was difficult to find project managers. He told me that there was an endless supply of brilliant people, but he was having problems finding employees who could explain plans and coordinate with various professionals in different departments.

I think when teachers lesson plan, it is so important to give students opportunities to write and discuss their work. Writing can be extremely painful, and as long as we teach it seperately and not across different content areas, our students will not be considered by leaders like Mr. CIO above. In my teaching experience, I think more teachers fear teaching writing more than teaching science. Perhaps I was fortunate because I participated in the New Jersey Writing Project Institute, now Abydos Learning, early in my career. I don’t find the need to teach so many unrelated language lessons, and instead incorporate grammar, spelling, and organization into the process as we write.

Read often. Write often. Connect often.

Today I stumbled upon Pass the Blog. The blog member classroom signs up for 1 week over the school year and is responsible for posting blogs. Don’t expect your students to become instant bloggers. Teachers need to blog along with students to model writing just like any other writing assignment.

Read Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett. Fifth graders learn about the differences of climate and weather and this book would be a fun way to describe how your weather food might arrive in Richmond, Texas. Would other climates welcome the same food?

In a literacy center, add the iPad app Blanks. Don’t worry that the words are too hard! Get your students investigating, sharing, and using new words to increase writing abilitites.

There are two other ways to get your students writing with blogs that will allow your students to collaborate and write in an enjoyable way. Check out Quad Blogging and write along with three other schools. Also try a 100 Word Challenge literacy station. Prompts are posted on the 100 Word Challenge site, and your students may connect their blogs with the site and receive comments.

Sock Puppets app will knock your socks off

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And now confession time! I am a New Yorker at heart and know Manhattan like my backyard. I have grown up with the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes and the Macy’s Day Parade. Since I was never tall enough to be a Rockette, I have always wanted to help hold onto a giant balloon in the parade.

Read Balloons over Broadyway by Melissa Sweet. This book will go great with invention books mentioned this week. It was awarded the 2012 Cook Prize for best STEM picture book.

For your literacy centers, allow students to create puppets with popsicle sticks and felt to summarize the book, or even better, step up with Blooms taxonomy and have yours students create an additional chapter to the book. You can add or substitute the ipad app Sock Puppets for free at Movies will can be saved to your ipads or uploaded onto YouTube.

Add tons of science along with this book. Focus how scientist problems solve by creating diagrams and notes like shown in the book. Log onto Discovery Education and check out “Dr. Dad’s PH3 Gas Laws.” Either use segments of the 14:42 minute video or upload the videos to your iPods for another center. If you want, use your science time to investigate Charlie’s Law.