Think Alouds

I finally have some energy for my last blog post of year. After visiting my parents for Christmas, I got the flu. Or I should say they "shared" it with me since they had it as well.

I've blogged in the past about how I've structured my lessons using Gradual Release (Fisher and Frey.) Not to mention over half of the Teach Evaluation Rubric is based on integrating gradual release into every part of my day. (Easier said than done.) I've been focusing on the "I do" and "We do" pieces with my math groups.

The point of an "I do" is that I get to model my thinking and what I want students to do. This means I get to do all the talking. And the students HAVE to be QUIET. Yeah right!! Sixth graders don't like sharing the air waves. This is only to be no more than 5 minutes most of the time. This would happen if I got to do all the talking. We're getting there.

I created this visual to help me make sure that when I'm doing a "Think Aloud" to hit some specific ideas by the time I'm finished. This has helped me stay on track--even with the distractions. This is for me and not so much for my students. But I have seen them attend better to the lesson because it gives them very specific information about the days think aloud. I've noticed that they are making connections to other think alouds since I've added this.

Have a fabulous week and a great start to you New Year.

Math Progress Monitoring

Every teacher has to do some sort of progress monitoring. In my building we reading very, very well--it's second nature. But math we just can't seem to get our hands around. For me as well. I have two small math intervention groups and I have to say I relay on student work samples to determine if they have it or not. This is not enough to determine a student has a math disability or even if they are making progress within the intervention. Exit tickets work to show what if the student got the material taught that day and can be used as part of the data collection but for me these tend to be once or twice a week. One of the classroom teachers, I co-teach with during math uses them to make his small groups during the unit--they don't cover skills from previous units or missing skills. These are all great things but according to Colorado not enough or the right thing. (Go figure--that they tell you this know half way through the year.)

Colorado has outlined what a math intervention needs to look like and what the progress monitoring needs to be. (This would have been great to know- oh I don't know like in August. But moving on.) Interventions should be no longer than 10 weeks with a clearly defined baseline from a diagnostic measure with weekly progress monitoring. The instruction should cover no more than two to four domains as a focus for instruction (i.e., combinations to 10, skip counting by 5’s, counting across 100). My lesson plan should be broken into two pieces:

  • Inquiry mode: Activity that produces something new for the student (involves challenging, but solvable tasks)
  • Rehearsal mode: Develop automaticity with something that has been learned before
The instruction should be explicit and systematic. This includes providing models of proficient problem solving, verbalization of thought processes, guided practice, corrective feedback, and frequent cumulative review.
  • Ensure that instructional materials are systematic and explicit. In particular, they should include numerous clear models of easy and difficult problems, with accompanying teacher think-alouds.
  • Provide students with opportunities to solve problems in a group and communicate problem-solving strategies.
  • Ensure that instructional materials include cumulative review in each session
My students have the black and white part down in math. They can use the algorithm and have their basic facts down. It's word problems they have the most problem with. I have several that just shut down when they are come across one. With this in mind, I talked with my coach before break and we talked about what progress monitoring could look like and still make the state happy. I have created a ten-week word problem progress monitoring tool that I started to use with on of my groups. Its based off our 1st grade math curriculum; most are single questions and all are addition and subtraction. I give them twice a week with one posted on the board and one in front of them. This makes it easier for them, since they have to complete it using Explain Everything. (A student favorite.) 

Why word problems? Word problems tell you more about what a student needs. Can they explain their thinking? Did they get the right answer but can't tell you how they got there? This describes my student. My curriculum has more word problem type of thinking than algorithms. Plus, this where Common Core is taking us. Scoring word problems is rubric based--so even if they get the wrong answer they can still get points for explaining how their thinking. Which is why I love using Explain Everything--the word gets done because they don't have to write their thinking.  Click on the picture to a copy. 

I'm planning on creating more since I'm needing them before returning to work next month. I hop you have a wonderful Christmas Break and safe travels if you are out visiting family and friends. See you all next year.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,

iPad and Math

One of the hardest things to figure out is how to integrate technology into my groups and it not be game time. Not that games don't have their place but not as part of daily small group instruction. I have been working on how to use a couple of different apps for math and be more paperless. The kids love it--even when the tech and I fail.

We have been using Evernote and Explain Everything for them to show their work. In most cases we us QR codes to get to work. I've spent most of the time teaching them how to use the apps. They have to know the technology and what it does before you can leave them alone to do work. This takes time. I have made this mistake and I spend more time on the technology than teaching the content.

When I'm planing a lesson, I start with a a non-tech version of what I'm wanting them to do and then figure out which apps make the most sense to use. This takes time because you have to think through every step of the lesson and what I want students to show me.

Their engagement has improved in ways that I could never had imagine--which is so cool for students who dislike math. They get the work done in half the time than it would have if they just had to do it on paper. You can see the paper I give the students below. The directions are short and sweet. The point is for the students to do it with as little support from me as possible.

For this one the students have to use the QR code to get the assessment (story problems) and then use Explain Everything to complete the work. Once they are done they have to upload it to Evernote for me to see. Easy right? Well I'll let you know. This is the plan for the next two days before break.


My thoughts and prayers go out to Sandy Hook Elementary. The hearts in Colorado grew heavy after hearing about Sandy Hook.

This  tragedy in Newtown, CT has hit way to close to home for all of us teachers.

Please join the teacher-blogging community in a day of blogging silence for the victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School. You can join by posting only the picture below on Sunday, December 16th.

With prayers and a heavy heart

Sleigh Full of Goodies Day 10 Blog Hop

My students are hopping through the days to break. It's snowing today in Colorado. Not like I'm wanting a snow day or anything :) As many of you know, my students LOVE anything that involves a timer and the possibly of beating me in a game. Run Cookie Run has become a fast favorite of my students--I'm sure your students will find it to be one of theirs too.

 I have only one request. PLEASE leave a comment below to let me know that you grabbed a copy. Have a fabulous week.

Sleight Full of Goodies Blog Hop

I'm so excited to link up with some great blogs who are giving away freebies!  What a wonderful way to start out the season of giving. Yikes, that means Christmas will be here before we know it!

I'm linking up with Beth at Thinking of Teaching for a "Sleigh Full of Goodies" Blog Hop.

Be sure to check out Monday's Sleigh Full of Goodies at The Flying Teacher.

Happy hopping and downloading.

Strategies for Teaching Reading to Visual Learners

There seems to be confusion about whether or not students with autism are able to learn to read. While students with autism may have a difficult time with phonics instruction and comprehension they CAN learn to read. Even when students aren't speaking and writing, they can learn to read and spell. Keep in mind that literacy covers a wide range of skills from exposure to print material to formal instruction.

Why spend the time to teach reading?
The ability to read can help to increase functional communication. Information a student may not process and understand auditorally may be understood visually. Reading will increase knowledge as well as provide a leisure skill. Reading can also increase social skills by providing a common topic to talk about.

Why teach reading using whole words instead of phonics?
Many children with autism have strengths in visual learning and decoding skills and are weak in auditory learning and comprehension. By modifying a reading program to focus on visual learning styles, students with autism can experience success. There is more than just a link between literacy and language. Language is the basis for literacy. Text that we read is oral language set down in visual mode. We cannot see spoken words, but we can see written words. For children with strong visual spatial skills, this can be their key to opening a locked door. One child with autism stated that learning to read was like finding water in the desert. 

How early should literacy skills be introduced?
Koppenhaver & Erickson (2003) conducted a study in North Carolina with preschool students with autism. They found that by providing a literacy rich environment for preschoolers with autism and severe communication impairments, the students increased their understanding and use of print materials and tools (without direct instruction, but in a tightly structured environment). By increasing natural opportunities for engagement with printed materials and writing tools, emergent literacy behaviors increased.

What Can I Use in My Classroom?
Comprehensive Literacy: The most popular method currently practiced is a comprehensive literacy approach. Many educators are using a 4 Blocks framework developed by Patricia Cunningham. The Blocks include:
  • Guided Reading – to enhance comprehension
  • Self-Selected Reading – to build fluency
  • Word Block – to develop spelling and word decoding
  • Writing – to teach how to write

This method includes a phonics dimension, but does not focus on phonics. Exploring more on this topic may be useful. Many books and courses are available that teach the dynamics of the 4 Blocks framework.

During reading, take photos of the student and constructed into a book. The books are duplicated so that all students have their own copy during a guided reading activity. The target words in the language experience story are used in word games for additional practice. The book is duplicated; some copies are adapted, and made available to the students for self-selected reading. The target words are also used for writing journals and daily news. Preliminary results from research indicate that more literacy behaviors are exhibited when the student uses language experience books that are adapted with Picture Communication Symbols (PCS).

What do these ideas have in common?
Instruction starts with words, not letters or sounds.
Instruction begins with words that have meaning and motivation for the student.
Instruction and materials are individualized for each student.
Games are incorporated into instruction and provide lots of practice when working with words.
Remember that language made visual will enhance communication and that all students can learn to read. Keep reading material on the child’s instructional level.
All students are different and what works for one child may or may not work for someone else. The important goal is to begin teaching every child to read, regardless of the barriers. If you hit a barrier, be creative and find another way to get to the goal.

Ideas for Your Room
  • Look over your classroom and see if there are any modifications for making language visible and to encourage reading.
  • Try setting up an interactive bulletin board or word wall with a picture and word match activity.
  • Set up baskets or boxes with various levels of reading materials. You can include books, magazines, maps, menus, training booklets or just about anything that has words on it.
  • Set up a writing center with different types of writing tools (paper, pens, pencils, crayons, letter stamps, magnetic letters on cookie sheets, etc.)
  • Consider adapted books based on language experience of the classroom routine.
  • Take digital pictures of the daily activities
  • Insert the pictures into a PowerPoint slide show.
  • Write a sentence for each picture
  • Adapt with Picture Communication Symbols (PCS) to make language visible.
  • Print and Enjoy Reading!
  • Encourage students to use literacy materials in their dramatic play. For example, in the home area place food packages, appliance instructions, and menus.
  • Read aloud to your students and use pictures to insure comprehension.
  • For primary students that are progressing on a reading program, Teach Me Language, by Sabrina Freeman and Lorelei Dake have published a language program that incorporates reading. 
Don't forget an extra 20% off at my TpT store today and tomorrow.
Have a great week.

Math Intervention Idea Websites

This year I'm in and out of classrooms for math. When I'm in class I support core and help teachers help all students access core. When it comes to pulling students out for support, its for work because we don't have anything that moves students quickly enough to help them access core material. This is more true for students  in the upper grades, my district doesn't have a tier 3 math program. A couple of resources were shared just before break that I wanted to share that should help you out in your small group math planning.

Illustrative Mathematics has activities based on Common Core Math standards K-8.  Membership is free. All the activities are hands on and designed for small groups.

Solon's Math Recovery has several  math videos covering numbers words & numerals, structuring, addition & subtraction, multiplication & division, and place value. (Structuring is a skill that supports efficiency when solving additive and subtractive tasks as students learn to compose and decompose numbers with and without visual support.) The activities are hands on and have suggestions how to adapt the activity. They have a nice list of links worth checking out.

I;m looking forward to using some of these activities next week. Have a fabulous weekend.

Small Group Writing

I don't teach writing. When I say this, I mean, I don't teach the writing process. Two years ago, my building began a journey to increase our state assessment writing scores and a teacher stumbled upon Every Child a Writer. Since then most of my fellow teachers have been trained in ECAW. We use it as a resource as we have a district mandated curriculum that we all use. Our of district says that Writer's Workshop is core instruction, so by the nature of how workshop works I don't teach writing. But I do teach students how to write in complete sentences and how to write about what they read. 

Many of my students have a difficult time taking their verbal thoughts and putting them in writing. So, I've been working on creating scaffolded paragraphs for them to use depending on what kind of text they have been reading. These have also helped my English Language Learners. 

What is National Literacy Coalition's “Every Child a Writer?”

Every Child a Writer (ECAW) is based on the Australian genre-based approach to writing. Through direct instruction and joint construction of text, students master descriptive, explanation, instruction, persuasive, and narrative writing.

Demonstrated Writing
                                                                                                                                     Source: via Jan on Pinteres
Demonstrated Writing offers students a daily glimpse into the thinking of the fluent writer in action. The teacher demonstrates the writing process by planning and crafting written products in the five major genres of writing (descriptive, explanation, instruction, persuasive, and narrative). Focusing on the writer’s process, the teacher models the “think-aloud” strategy, while composing for his or her students. This daily demonstration leads to small-group instruction focused on specific skills, or targets, for each group.

Differentiated Writing

Differentiated Writing, the joint construction of text,
is when the teacher and a small group of students work together to compose written products within a given genre. Instructional targets are differentiated in response to the needs of the group, and the teacher “scaffolds” their instruction, gradually releasing control and responsibility as students gain skills and confidence. Instructional targets focus on techniques for planning, organization, vocabulary usage, sentence and paragraph structure, and conventions/mechanics (including spelling).

Directed Writing

Directed Writing gives students daily opportunities for practice of the genre and instructional targets taught in the Differentiated Writing group. From plan development to drafting, revising, editing, conferencing, and publishing, students have regular opportunities to independently apply their new skills within topic areas of personal interest and experience. A central feature of the Directed Writing component is the provision of instructional time for a variety of writing conferences including small group and partner conferencing. In this way, students are prepared for genuine independence as developing writers.

Here is a sampling of the ones I have used with my small groups. I use them to focus the students comprehension but wanting them to write about they have been reading as well as talking about the book. I'm working on more that focus more on ECAW. Don't forget about the sale next Monday and Tuesday at the TpT store and extra 20% off everything in my store.

Wilson and Making Words

My students dread making words or in their minds spelling. They think spelling and that  counts. Its hard for them to think of it as just making words to practice spelling the words they can read.  That way when you get to the a spelling test you get them right. Even dictation is NOT a spelling test. Its practice.But we need LOTS of help with spelling the words we are learning to read.

I found this app with letters and was like lets try practice making words with this. And what fun we had practicing making words with MagLetters Lite. The app works just like fridge magnets. Because iPads are multi-touch unlike a Smart board  students can help each other directly and show them how to fix the word. They had a blast! My district building techs were asking if I had found ways to move the iPads from "games" to having students use them to produce. This is one of those apps. Wilson doesn't allow for much deviation but how you do things with in the program can make fun. My guys needed fun on the last day before break

How does it work? At the bottom of the screen there are the letters, numbers, and symbols.  To move between them the students use the arrows. The letters are small enough that multi-syllable words fit. The background can also be changed. Students could do several words on a page and clear the page or just do one word at a time. They said this was on of their favorite "non-game" apps--better than white boards.

I wish everyone safe travels this week and everyone a fabulous Thanksgiving. Be sure to stop by my store and follow me to get updates on new products and sales. I'll be holding a Monday and Tuesday Cyber Sale at my TpT store.

ScootPad and Freebie

I came across ScootPad, while looking for ideas for my math students to do besides MobyMath. ScootPad is grounded in Common Core reading and math and FREE. ScootPad is a really cool because its based on skill mastery but unlike MobyMath there is no pretest. The creators of ScootPad recognize that no two students are alike and that they will master skills in different ways. ScootPad helps students gain mastery through gradual and thorough practice.

My students like the practice as it builds confidence in learning and keeps them moving forward at a pace that is appropriate to them. I get progress reports on they each did and can assign homework for them on skills missed. since there is no placement text, I have to place them in a grade in which I think they are mostly independent in. (They have not noticed it's not grade level material. Which is a good thing.) Parents have access to all of their child’s progress and alerts.  As I use this as part of my small group math time, the practice is short and doesn't take students more than 10 minutes to complete daily practice.

I have a group of kids working on closed syllables and having a difficult time understanding what some of the words mean. To help them out, since they love the other Draw it's. I hope your students love playing it as much as mine. Click here to get your copy. Have a wonderful week!

Part 2: Who Will be at My Child's IEP Meeting?

On the School's Side

Guidance Counselor: Your child's counselor may be pulled in to attest to problems, coordinate class selections, or sign off on a plan. If you've already met and talked to the counselor on a regular basis, this shouldn't be a problem, unless you've clashed. Even then, though, you'll know what to expect.

Transition Coordinator: If your child is moving from one school to the next, a representative of the future school may want to be in on the planning meeting. You may want to arrange for this. You may want to talk to this person in advance.

Paraprofessional: The good part -- Having your child's aide in the meeting can provide another firsthand source of information from someone who likely has your child's interests at heart. The bad part -- If your child's aide is in a meeting, your child's aide is not with your child. And who is, exactly?

District: This probably means you're in trouble, you pushy parent, and someone's come from the home office to apply the smackdown. Whether this individual has any particular knowledge of your personal child and his or her needs is another matter entirely.

On Your Side

Your Spouse: Presenting a united front as your child's parents makes it apparent that you're involved, concerned, and participatory.

Your Child: This is the person the plan is being made for, after all, and having him or her present as a living breathing human and not as a list of deficits can keep everyone on track, not to mention giving your child an introduction to self-advocacy. Still, would you want to be in that room, as a child, with people talking about you? It freaks some kids out. It freaks some adults out, too.

Your Friend: Having a sympathetic companion can make you feel less ganged-up-upon, and can also serve as a second brain to remember what went on and corroborate bad treatment. Don't spring the extra person on the team, though; let them know in advance you're coming with an entourage.

Your Paid Advocate: A hired gun who knows the law better than you do and isn't afraid to call the house's bluff can put you in a powerful position. There may be times when the stakes are so high that you'll need to go this route. If you're not there yet, though, the presence of an advocate may be seen as a sign of bad faith and a threat, and close the door to cooperation.

And now, the star of the team, the number-one MVP.


Yeah, you, the parent. You are the most important member of your child's IEP team, far and away. Don't let those suits convince you differently. You are the expert on your child, and your child is the reason all those people are sitting there. You are the only one to have seen your child in multiple settings, in multiple school years, in multiple moods. You are the only one who has talked to the doctors and the specialists. You are the only one who has traced your child's development from early days until right now. And you are the only one who will still be involved in your child's care years from now, when the decisions made at this table will bear fruit.

Since that last one is the only thing you really have control over, consider these three questions:

Do you dress the part? If you're showing up at meetings in jeans, a T-shirt and sneakers while everybody else is in business suits and shiny shoes, you're sure giving off a "just here to sign, ma'am" vibe. You don't have to drop a month's salary at Brooks Brothers or anything, but grown-up attire wouldn't hurt.

Do you make a professional presentation? Whatever you expect of the school personnel at that table, expect the same from yourself. If you expect them to document their observations and recommendations, document yours. If you expect them to report from records rather than memory, bring records of your own. If you expect them to deal in specifics and facts rather than platitudes and preconceptions, watch what you say, too.

Do you do anything but go to meetings and sign papers? Think about how infuriating it is when some district upper-up who has never met your child drops in on a meeting and, on the basis of a light scan of your child's file, starts setting policy and goals and expectations. Then think about what teachers and administrators must feel about parents who make no contact at all during the school year, then descend in a meeting to throw questions and judgments and orders around? Keeping up a constant dialog throughout the school year will not head off all problems, but it will squash the stupid little ones that get going due to lack of communication and connection.

The bottom line is, if you want to be a member of the team, then act like a member of the team. Your child will come out a winner.

Besides Me, Who Will Be at My Child's IEP Meeting?

As a parent you are the first member of your child's IEP team. But there are other members who come and go depending on the needs of your child.

The Core Team Members

While there are a stunning array of people who will move onto and off of the IEP field, three players will probably do the largest amount of ball-carrying for students with special needs. They're the ones who will send you letters announcing scheduled meetings, and the ones who will hand you the 5,000 copies of the booklets on knowing your rights. They'll be responsible for evaluating your child on arrival in the system and periodically thereafter. One of these individuals will probably be assigned as your child's case manager.

The School Psychologist: Back before RTI, the psychologist is the person who will give your child IQ tests and other psychological surveys as part of the evaluation portion of IEP planning. The psychologist may make observations during the meeting about your child's psychological state or concerns. If your child is having problems during the school year that require counseling, this psychologist may be able to help, or there may be another school psychologist who handles counseling of students.

Special Education Teacher: The special education teacher is the person who will give your child tests that assess level of educational achievement and ability. The special education teacher may make observations during the meeting about the appropriate educational placement for your child. Should your child need special learning techniques, modifications and accommodations in the classroom, the special education teacher will be able to strategize those with you and the teacher, and help monitor progress. This teacher will be charged with outlining your child's educational progress and prognosis for the IEP, and with gathering opinions from all other teachers as appropriate. What you hear from the teacher at the meeting should be consistent with what you've been hearing throughout the year. If not, ask why. If you haven't been talking with the teacher throughout the year ... well, then I'll ask, why not? Don't be a stranger.

The Social Worker: The social worker is the person who will take down a family history during the evaluation process. The social worker may make observations during the meeting about your child's relationships with other students and general participation in the school experience. Should your child need special assistance with peer relationships and conflicts, the social worker may be able to arrange appropriate programs.

The Regular Education Teacher: From the school's point of view, nobody knows your child better than the teacher. So it's natural for the teacher to be involved in the planning of the IEP. Your child's regular education teacher will always be at the meeting. That's good news for you if you've built a rapport with a teacher, or if a teacher has a particularly good feel for your child's abilities and needs. If your child has multiple teachers in the course of a school day, they won't all crowd the meeting.

The Speech Therapist: The speech therapist works with your child on receptive and expressive language. In clear language, what that means is that what your child understands of what people tell him, how she is able to make that understanding clear, and how she is able to make her own self understood are all within the speech therapist's area of interest. This includes both types of articulation -- the proper production of speech sounds, and the proper forming of thoughts into words. Be sure all your concerns for your child's language usage and understanding are being addressed, not just her ability to move lips and tongue properly.

The Physical Therapist (PT): The physical therapist works on your child's gross motor skills -- no, not the ability to burp impressively or spit across the room, but the movement of major muscle groups to make big movements like walking, running, catching a ball or kicking it. Once your child is in school, there may be a particular emphasis on skills that enable a student to make it untroubled through a school day, like walking without jumping or flapping, participating in gym class, or carrying a lunch tray or a binder. You should listen to the goals set by the PT and make sure they're meaningful to your child's life and priorities.

The Occupational Therapist (OT): As the PT looks at gross motor, the OT deals with fine motor skills, those small precise movements we all take for granted and our kids can't do if you paid them. Things like printing and handwriting clearly. Tying shoes. Coloring in the lines. Turning a combination lock. Did I mention printing and handwriting clearly? The occupational therapist will, and writing is likely one of the things that will pop up in OT goals. If your school therapist happens to be trained in sensory integration therapy, you may be able to have some of that calming, organizing activity written into your child's plan as well. It will have to be undertaken in a way that makes it important to schooling, however. (Like being able to remain seated, or keep from disrupting the class.)

Turn in for Part Two, Who Will Be at the IEP Meeting?

An App and Freebie

I can finally relax after a long week of parent/teacher conferences. Next week I have to start on progress reports and report cards. Perhaps something I can get done Wednesday afternoon. I want to share two free apps that I found early this month and have been trying out on my students. Both apps are free and you have to use both to get the program to work. Its Socrative Student and Teacher Clicker.

Student Socrative

Teacher Socrative

You have to create a free account on their website to create the quizzes on. The students log into your digital classroom and complete the activity that your created. I have used these as a quick check about students know and results are send to me by email and I can create a plan of attack. This has been a great way to engage my students using iPads.

My 6th grade students are getting ready to start decimals. I have created a game to help them practice decimals. You can get your copy here. Have a wonderful week. To my readers Back East be safe and your in my thoughts and prayers.

Free Reading Apps

As of the first of September, there are 700,000 apps in the Apple app store! In June, there were 650,000. If they are adding more than 25,000 apps per month, how do you keep up with it? Short answer is, you can't. Couple of hints in how not to get lost trying to find what your looking for. I start with learning goals and go from there. Remember, it isn't about the nouns.

Reading is a passion that grows as we grow. I spend most of my day teaching students how to read and helping them find a love for reading is not an easy task, it takes so much time, diligence and efforts. It also calls for some kind of creativity on my part. In this regard, there are some awesome free reading apps that you can introduce to your students. Some of these apps have cool narrative and others are illustrated, but they will all help you get your kids into reading.
reading ios apps

This is a great story of friendship which mixes animation and audio to interest kids. The interactive feature that shows the name of everything pictured on each page with accompanying voice over.

2- Pango Book 1 and 2

This app has a wide variety of funny adventures, animated stories, and sweet characters. 

3- Play Tales
reading ios apps

This app offers interactive books, traditional and classic, popular and new, for toddlers and beginning readers that will engage them in books and stories once again.

4- iHowToBook

reading ios apps

This is a cool app that provides a nice library of procedural test, and reads in a very clear and soft voice. Pages can be read, or read one word at a time.

5- I Like Books
reading ios apps

This app provides 37 read-aloud stories for young children.

6- MeeGenius
reading ios apps

This free app includes hundreds of books that are read aloud. Some of the downloads are given for free but others are pro.

favorites out there to share? Does anyone have a text to speech app that reads PDFs or Word documents that they love? I'm looking for one.

Math Freebie

My 4th graders have been working on their basic multiplication facts. We're taking our time moving through the facts--well more like moving as fast they mastery them. They have been taking multiplication games to play with their families and the practice is showing. We have to do through 12s. This array chart that I found on Pinterest has helped them understand the concept behind multiplication.Click on the picture to get a free copy of Dragon's Multiplication.

What tricks do you use to teach kids multiplication? Have a great weekend.

App Finds and a Freebie

I think the iPads will be up and running by mid-week. It seems like it has taken forever to get them up and running but what can  you do when iTunes crashes after an update. My building computer techs work Friday on getting the VERY long list of apps on to them. I wish share a couple of discoveries. 

In my app store wandering I came across several for preschool/kindergarten. They have been the hardest to shop for. Since, my main goal is to find apps that work within the Blooms Taxonomy and are not games.

I came across several free apps concerning Letters of the iPads just right for through little minds and hands.  Those apps are: ABC Phonics,  Little Matchups ABCABC Alphabet, Beginning Sounds ($.99), and Spelling Bug.

Little Matchups ABC by matching uppercase, lowercase letters, sounds and pictures with beginning sounds together. In that app and ABC Phonics, the more answer students answer correctly, the more choices appear on the screen. Spelling Bug helps students spell three and four letter words.

ABC Alphabet Phonics asks students to identify letters by name. Little Sorter is even lower:  students discriminate between several letters, puzzle style.  As they matched each shape to it’s spot, the app announces the letter name.   Beginning Sounds allows users to choose three letter sounds by picture. 

Early last week I was at a class, "I have an iPad...Know What" hosted by my district. The presenter pointed out two apps that I love and can't believe I didn't know about them earlier. It takes only having one iPad to a new level. Students can interact with the apps without being tied down to my doc camera. 

One is Airserver. This one mirrors the iPad through my computer and onto my SMART board. There are two levels: one free (for 7 days) and a paid down that you can use on 5 machines. It replaces the VGA cord. One thing to keep in mind its that your iPad and computer  you download the software to need to be on the wireless network. In my building we have three wireless networks--iPad connects to one and my laptop a different one. To get it to work they both have to be talking to each other on the same channel. 

The other is Splashtop Streamer.  This one mirrors my computer on iPad. So if I'm running a power point on my laptop and displaying it on my SMART board, I can walk around the room and not be tied down to my laptop. It works like a remote. So very cool. This one you have to pay for but if you have only one iPad; just think of the ways you can engage students.

My sixth graders are working on fractions, decimals, and percents. They have to be able to smoothly translate fractions to decimals to percents and back again. The more fluently the better. Here's a sample that you can download at my store and pick up the at 32 pages if you like. Be sure to stop by my store for all of them and other great small group activities.  

Have a fabulous week. Thanks for stopping by. What apps have you found that your students love or ones that your can't leave with lot?

Multiplication Fun

Last week, a group of my fourth graders started down the road to learning their multiplication facts. In theory, they should have a working knowledge of multiplication but in this case they must have been out for the unit. Which means, I get to have all the fun!!!. I came across this pin and thought with a sneaky smile that they would love this.

                                                                     Source: via Alison on Pinteres

But to get their to a place where we go raise the roof we had to start from the beginning. What's the beginning, you ask. Its an anchor chart and knowing the scope and sequence to getting them to three digit factors times three-digit factor. If you don't know the basic multiplication facts you can't to multiple digit multiplication. After the basic math facts and by the end of third grade, students should be able to do one-digit factor times two- or three- factor. (5 x 35, 43 x 9) 

By the end of fourth grade (in order):
one digit times three-digit factor (405 x 2) ; one digit times three-digit factor, horizontal alignment (364 x 5); two-digit factor times two-digit factor (37 x 25); two-digit factor times three-digit factor (324 x 29). 

By the end of fifth grade (in order):
three-digit times three digit factor (284 x 346); three digit-factors times three-digit factor, zero in the tens (382 x 506,320 x 402).

After they start getting the facts down, we're going to move to the scope and sequence a laid out above. And  I have only four weeks before they move on to division. Have a great week. 

About Me

Welcome to my all thing special education blog. I empower busy elementary special education teachers to use best practice strategies to achieve a data and evidence driven classroom community by sharing easy to use, engaging, unique approaches to small group reading and math. Thanks for Hopping By.

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