Sunday, January 11, 2015

My Own Reading Rainbow

One educational blog that I consistently read is Burkins &Yaris Think Tank for 21st Century Literacy. My classes are currently participating in a bit of action research by organizing our classroom library as suggested in the Burkins &Yaris blog post What Color is Your Library? We took all of the leveled chapter books out of their labeled baskets and arranged them according to color. Our book shelves are now a reading rainbow!
I tweeted out to Burkins & Yaris to let them know I was trying it and they asked me to report my observations.
This is what I have noticed after one week:
  • it was important to keep the nonfiction books leveled due to text complexity
  • the children saw books they didn't even know about before
  • the majority of our chapter books are blue
  • students choose books with red or black covers most often
  • we had to problem solve to decide if we should count a book as colored if it had a white cover but colored writing (yes, we used the title color to shelve it)
  • students enjoy choosing books that are not on their level
  • we did do a quick reminder of choosing just right books
  • the library stayed neater than usual

Making Good Choices

During the month of January, I needed to do middle-of-year running records on my 60 students. Yes, this is time-consuming. I needed a way for students to be able to work independently so I could get my assessments completed.
I designed a choice chart as a culminating activity for our nonfiction unit. All students must complete the activity in the middle and then choose 2 other ones.  The activity in the middle uses leveled Social Studies readers, so that activity matches each student's reading level.  The other activities are based on multiple learning styles. I included activities with drawing, singing, writing, reading, poetry, vocabulary, text structure, main idea, and technology. There is a little something for everyone!
Students could work with small groups, partners, or independently.

As students completed their activities they posted the name of the activity on the Parking Lot.

These Are A Few of My Favorite Things

This is a jumbled post that is meant to share ideas...just give names of apps, books, and games that are at the top of my favorites list in the classroom. Some are at the top of my teacher list, but the majority are favorites of my students as well.
Decide Now is a customizable spinning wheel app. I use it to call on students. I am currently working on a Q & A spinner set up to resemble the current pop phenomenon know as Trivia Crack.
This book is wonderfully useful because it gives ready-made anchor charts for a variety of reading strategies, but I love to reference it when creating my own charts.
This app is called Classroom Timer Lite.  I can't remember if it was free or not.  I subscribe to an app called Apps Gone Free which offers me daily deals, so I think I found the timer through that.  If it did cost money I know it was cheap because I normally don't spend much on apps.
This classroom management app is a fantastic tool. I like it because it helps students stay on task. It does not make them stay quiet.  My classroom is rarely quiet because students should be talking, questioning, and discussing. This app allows you to customize your noise level preferenes.
The following is a list of apps that my students use in the classroom:
  • Kids Discover (several topics and titles)
  • Baloney! (multiple subjects and grade levels)
  • Crazy Machines (science and engineering)
  • iTooch (multiple subjects and grade levels)
  • Far Faria (books)
  • Frontier Heroes (history)
  • Geography Drive (social studies)
  • Mr. Nussbaum (multiple subjects and grade levels)
  • My Talking Pet (I use it for creating talking characters)
  • New-o-Matic (current events)
  • Puffin Academy and RAZ Kids are programs purchased by my district
  • Reading Timer
  • Stack the States (social studies)
  • Word Wizard (spelling)
  • World Atlas

Anomia is a great game to build vocabulary and get the brain revved up for learning.  I use it at the start of class each day. Sometimes we share our ideas orally, but usually students write their ideas in their Reading Notebooks.
I love using the app Plickers to quickly assess students using multiple choice and T/F questions.  It is paperless and engaging with immediate feedback for students and teacher.