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Reading

eSpark–Self-paced Learning for Math and Reading

If you’ve heard the buzz about eSpark this summer at conferences or training sessions, you already know it’s more than “just another math and reading learning platform”. Sure, it is that but what sets it apart is eSpark’s clever blend of learning tools that encourage students to progress at their own pace in their own way, to review when needed and move ahead when they get it. Each targeted quest curates a collection of third-party apps, webtools, videos, games, and other resources that focus on particular math or reading skills identified by the teacher or from the student’s earlier work as an area of academic need.

eSpark works on all devices–desktops, Chromebooks, iPads (with the free app)–pretty much whatever digital device you use in your classroom. In fact, some students can be working on Chromebooks while others use iPads. Because students log in, the program syncs between devices, starting students where they ended on their last visit.

What is eSpark?

Let me dig deeper. eSpark is a student-centered series of self-guided, self-paced PK-5 math and reading lessons that are based on class goals, teacher input, and individual academic need Students work independently, taking the time they need. Teachers monitor individual progress, see what each student completed on their last visit as well as when that was and how long it lasted, view students’ self-described moods, assess their pre- and post-quiz scores, and view their summative synthesis videos that provide evidence of their knowledge as they teach others what they just learned.

Right now, eSpark is only available for schools, not individual sign-ups (such as homeschoolers).

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Categories: Math, Reading, Reviews | Tags: | Leave a comment

Great App for Future Readers: Word Zoo

Reading is defined as “the action or skill of absorbing written or printed matter silently or aloud.” Sounds dry, maybe even boring, but the ability to read has been credited with exercising the mind, saving lives, bringing people together, and predicting success in school. It alleviates boredom in the bits of free time that pop up between soccer and dinner and it can be done alone or in a group.

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends…”
― Charles William Eliot

So when I find an app that organically encourages reading, I get excited. But I’m fussy. Here’s what I look for–the red answers are how this mystery ready app sized up:

  • Does it have advertisingNo
  • Is it intuitive? Yes
  • is it user-friendly? Yes
  • Does the web tool differentiate for types of students and their unique needs? Yes
  • Is the web tool compatible with most browsers? Yes
  • Is the web tool free? No–but it’s affordable ($1.99 at the time this was printed).
  • Does the web tool encourage higher-order thinking? Yes
  • Is the web tool or app error-free? Yes
  • Does the web tool have educational applications? Yes
  • Is the app private? Yes

I’m excited to share with you a new low-cost app I found called Word Zoo Learn to Read: (more…)

Categories: Reading, Reviews | Tags: | 1 Comment

33 Resources for Read Across America Day

Many people in the United States, particularly students, parents and teachers, join forces on Read Across America Day, annually held on March 2. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Here are some great reading websites for students K-5:

  1. Aesop Fables—no ads
  2. Aesop’s Fables
  3. Audio stories
  4. Childhood Stories
  5. Classic Fairy Tales
  6. Fairy Tales and Fables
  7. Listen/read–Free non-fic audiobooks
  8. Starfall
  9. Stories read by actors
  10. Stories to read for youngsters
  11. Stories to read–II
    (more…)
Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, Holidays, Reading, Websites | Tags: , | 2 Comments

How to Celebrate World Read Aloud Day

world read aloud dayOn Feb. 1, 2019, World Read Aloud Day celebrates the pure joy of oral reading with kids of all ages. Created by LitWorld, past years have found over 1 million people in 100 countries joining together to enjoy the power and wonder of reading aloud in groups or individually, at school or home, and discovering what it means to listen to a story told through the voice of another. For many, this is a rare opportunity to hear the passion of a well-told story and fall in love with tales where hearing them reaches listeners on a level nothing else can. Think back to your experiences. You probably sat with an adult, in their lap or curled up in bed. The way they mimicked the voices in the story, built drama, and enthused with you over the story and characters made you want to read more stories like that on your own. This is a favorite activity not just for pre-readers, but beginning and accomplished readers because it’s not about reading the book; it’s about experiencing it through the eyes of a storyteller.

Somehow, as lives for both the adults and children have gotten busier, as digital devices have taken over, as parents turned to TVs or iPads to babysit kids while they do something else, we’ve gotten away from this most companionable of activities. World Read Aloud Day is an opportunity to get back to it.

Importance of reading aloud

There is no more powerful way to develop a love of reading than being read to. Hearing pronunciations, decoding words in context, experiencing the development and completion of a well-plotted story as though you were there are reason enough to read aloud but there’s more. Reading in general and reading aloud specifically is positively correlated to literacy and success in school. It builds foundational learning skills, introduces and reinforces vocabulary, and provides a joyful activity that’s mostly free, cooperative, and often collaborative. Did you know reading aloud:

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Categories: Holidays, Reading | 1 Comment

Print or Digital Textbooks? What’s the Low-down?

For the past decade, schools have invested millions of dollars in technology. It started with a push for desktop computers which soon expanded to iPads and the wonderful apps (like art programs) that made tablets essential tools. Quickly after iPads, schools fell in love with Chromebooks and their amazing ability to allow students to collaborate and share, not to mention their ease of maintenance. Today’s focus is to give every student a digital device, much as kids used to be provided tablets and pencils.

The next game changer, according to education experts, will be digital textbooks. This is driven in large part by the affordability and portability of digital devices like Chromebooks, tablets, and laptops. Why lug around half a dozen heavy books in a backpack that too often is left behind on a sports field or at the library? Why spend a year studying information in a print textbook that doesn’t match the thinking or values of the school and its students? It’s no wonder proponents of digital books are pushing for change.

But there’s another side to the story of print vs. digital, one that is at the core of why 2015 e-book sales dropped in the United States and the UK. Let’s take a clear-eyed look at the pluses on each side of this argument. Then, when it’s time for your school to make that call, you’ll be ready.

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Categories: Classroom management, Digital Devices, Reading | Leave a comment

39 Resources for Read Across America Day

Many people in the United States, particularly students, parents and teachers, join forces on Read Across America Day, annually held on March 2. This nationwide observance coincides with the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Here are some great reading websites for students K-5:

  1. Aesop Fables—no ads
  2. Aesop’s Fables
  3. Audio stories
  4. Childhood Stories
  5. Classic Fairy Tales
  6. Fairy Tales and Fables
  7. Listen/read–Free non-fic audio books
  8. Starfall
  9. Stories read by actors
  10. Stories to read for youngsters
  11. Stories to read–II
  12. Stories—MeeGenius—read/to me
  13. Stories—non-text
  14. Story Scramble
  15. Ziggity Zoom Stories (more…)
Categories: 1st, 2nd, 3rd Grade, Holidays, Reading, Websites | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Let’s Celebrate World Read-aloud Day (#WorldReadAloudDay)

world read aloud dayOn Feb. 1, 2018, World Read Aloud Day celebrates the pure joy of oral reading with kids of all ages. Created by LitWorld, past years have found more than 1 million people in 100 countries joining together to enjoy the power and wonder of reading aloud in groups or individually, at school as part of classroom activities, or home, and discovering what it means to listen to a story told through the voice of another.

For many, this is a rare opportunity to hear the passion of a well-told story and fall in love with tales where hearing them reaches listeners on a level nothing else can. Think back to your experiences. You probably sat with an adult, in their lap or curled up in bed. The way they mimicked the voices in the story, built drama, and enthused with you over the story and characters made you want to read more stories on your own. This is a favorite activity not just for pre-readers, but beginning and accomplished readers because it’s not about reading the book; it’s about experiencing it through the eyes of a storyteller.

Somehow, as lives for both the adults and children have gotten busier, as digital devices have taken over, as parents turned to TVs or iPads to babysit kids while they do something else, we’ve gotten away from this most companionable of activities. World Read Aloud Day is an opportunity to get back to it.

Here are some classroom activities designed to do just that.

Read more on TeachHUB…

(more…)

Categories: Holidays, Reading | 3 Comments

Is Orton-Gillingham Right For Your Students?

Orton-Gillingham started over seventy years ago as an instructional approach intended for those with difficulty reading, spelling, and writing, like what children experience in dyslexia. Sometimes, teachers recognized the special needs of a reading-challenged student, but just as often, it was blamed on disinterest or lack of effort, leaving the child to conclude s/he “just wasn’t good at reading.” When those same children were taught to read using the Orton-Gillingham (O-G) approach, many felt like that child who puts glasses on for the first time and his/her entire world comes into focus.

Since then, the Orton-Gillingham Method has enabled thousands of children to access worlds opened to them by reading, something they never thought would happen. In fact, it has been so successful, O-G is being mainstreamed into the general education classroom, as a way to unlock the power of reading for more students.

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Categories: Classroom management, Reading, Teaching Strategies, Word study/Vocabulary | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

13 Websites That Provide Lots of Digital Books for Summer Reading

online readingAt the beginning of the 21st century, the definition of digital equity revolved around the provision of a digital device to every student. Usually, that meant desktop computers, iPads, and laptops, either in small groups or 1:1. As digital equity discussions matured and hyperbole became reality, educators found that those loudly-touted digital devices often became paperweights. The reasons were varied (teacher training, infrastructure, and professional support to name a few), but one of the most prominent was money. Good intentions to give all students access to the world’s knowledge were derailed by the cost of the websites and webtools that made that happen. Turns out — and not really a surprise — the cost of the digital devices was minor compared to the cost of the websites and webtools required to meet goals.

There is one bright spot in this story: Online books. Thanks to the efforts of many devoted professionals and the financial support of more, there are a wide variety of free/inexpensive sources for books that students can use for classroom activities as well as pleasure.

FREE

Here are eight sites that offer free books for kids to adults:

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Categories: Reading, Reviews | Tags: | 12 Comments

Why Teaching Children To Read And Write Should Be Fun

orton-gillinghamAsk a Tech Teacher contributor, Sara Stringer, has a good article this month on literacy among children and how to improve the dismal statistics:

In the Middle Ages, literacy was highly valued. People yearned for literacy then, the way an average American might yearn to win the lottery today. For instance, Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor crowned in 800 AD, was admired as much for his ability to read as for his military victories. However, he never did learn how to write, claiming that he never quite got the hang of it, and he left that to the monastic scribes.

In the Middle Ages, literacy was highly valued. People yearned for literacy then, the way an average American might yearn to win the lottery today. For instance, Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman Emperor crowned in 800 AD, was admired as much for his ability to read as for his military victories. However, he never did learn how to write, claiming that he never quite got the hang of it, and he left that to the monastic scribes.

The opportunity to read is no longer only something that kings and monks can do. The rare and valuable skills of reading and writing now available to almost everyone in the US can improve a person’s life in many ways. A literate person can reap the fruits of a rational life, earn more, and enjoy a higher standard of living.

Unfortunately, we have now come to take the opportunity to read and write for granted. In fact, the decline in reading ability alone in the US is alarming. Education Dive, quoting a Renaissance Learning’s 2016 report, said: “high school seniors are reading at a 6th-grade level, and only 9% of students in high school read texts above a middle school complexity level of 8, leaving students ill-prepared for college-level reading at about 13.”

(more…)

Categories: Reading | Tags: , | 2 Comments