Reading Log with Written Response Choices and Leveled Book Links

As I began thinking about getting ready to set up my classrooms this year, one of my goals for this summer was to make some adjustments to my students’ weekly reading log.  The main changes were to post a link for “Just Right” book lists since I often get the question- “What books should my child be reading and where can I get them?”.

I plan to share this Reading Log with parents via email in a Google Doc for parents to upload and print for themselves at home. I have my finished “View Only” Google Doc link below . You will need to make a duplicate/copy if you need to make changes to it. Hopefully it is helpful to you and many parents. 🙂

Weekly Reading Log with Written Response Ideas and DRA Level

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My Top 55 “Must Have” Apps & Webtools for a Personalized K-3 Classroom

55 Must Have Apps

After four years of implementing a personalized classroom environment, I am often asked about my favorite apps and web tools to match our Common Core subject areas. This is just like asking a teenager what their favorite song is or asking an 8 year old what their favorite movie is. We are always evolving and changing our “Favorites”. So, I was finally able to narrow down a list in a clickable Google Doc below that includes my top 55 “Must Have” apps and web tools. This is by no means a conclusive list. It took me hours to prioritize my original list of 112. I know, I have issues! 🙂 I cannot help myself, I absolutely love finding and trying out new technology that will make our jobs easier and engage our students. Enjoy!

Here is my View Only link:

55 Top Elementary Tech Resources Used in High-Tech K-3 Classrooms

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Personalized Reading for Elementary Students

Personalize Learning for Elementary Reading Using Booster App #2

A New Way to Personalize Reading- Place, Pace and Path

The only thing I love more than finding a great resource that fits a Personalized Learning Path, is sharing it with other teachers! So here it is, Reading Comprehension Booster app by John Stump for $3.99. My class has been using this app for a few years now and is one of the few apps that I keep going back to. This blog- Ideas For has some great screenshots and a video to show the kids how to navigate through the app.

Students select a “Just Right” book, and follow the series of Bookmarks to track student comprehension skills. As you can see in the image above, my student selected a “Little’s” book and recorded the story elements as she read through the book. We used paper books and ebooks, like Epic! or Farfaria. (See other posts in my blog feed for many other awesome digital reader resources.) She had the option to type and even record her voice on each Bookmark page. I love this because it holds the kids accountable as they read and allows for differentiation including non-readers. My students were so engaged and eager to share their “Booster” with each other. All I did was monitor those that had trouble selecting a “Just Right”book, funny how it is always the same kids, and helped a few kids answer questions. It is truly amazing to watch our little digital natives navigate through digital resources intuitively! I learn from them everyday! Each Bookmark page, shown below records- Prediction, Characters, Setting, Story Sequence, Main Idea and extended responses like Connections and Create Your Own Story.

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Recording in a noisy classroom can be a challenge but we used a “Chatterbox” Portable Recording Booth (Also shown in the image above) that you can find on Amazon. This allows the kids to stay in the room where I can monitor and support them more easily. My students used to ask to leave the room to find a quieter place to record. Is that even possible in any elementary school? I think not! 🙂

I would love to answer any questions or comments you have, so please leave a comment and possibly your email address.

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Awesome Digital Nonfiction Resources For Elementary Reading and Research

Digital Nonfiction ResourcesFor Elementary Students

It is a huge challenge to find nonfiction resources that are appropriate for our young readers and writers, so I have a great collection of resources that I am excited to share with you that I hope will inspire you and your students!

Most of the time, reading levels are too difficult and the content can be way above the understanding of a typical 5-9 year old. The nonfiction resources I have used in my own classroom below have “Read to Me” capabilities if the reading levels are too challenging. They also include high engagement content and pictures. Our higher students typically have interest levels that exceed their reading comprehension ability, so it is not always the lower readers that may need this content support.

To get any website to your student devices, I recommend two options:

  1. You can have students scan the QR code using a QR code scanner app on their iPad. On your Smartboard when you display the site in Chrome, you can use the “Qr Code Extension” that can expand the QR code large enough for students to walk up and scan.
  2. You can also load the website’s link into the feed of your LMS- Google Classroom or Edmodo.                           *Please message at the bottom of this feed or email me ( if you need help with this. It was a huge “Ah-Ha!” moment for me.


Wonderopolis– FREE! Primarily for interest driven topics beginning with a guiding question. Students can click to have the text of a “Wonder” read to them, watch a video and clickable vocabulary words that will display definitions too!

Epic eBooks

Epic! Digital eBook Collections– App and webtool. Epic is by far my students favorite digital resource. It has an awesome ebook collection with over 10,000 books to choose from. You will be amazed at some of the popular titles. Many are audio books or have “Read-to-Me” capabilities. Teachers set up an account online for free student access at school in the teacher’s account and students may pay a monthly fee of $5 a month to access this account at home. 

Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 10.47.42 AM – This is an awesome site and one of the few lower level readability of common topics for early readers. It does require a very reasonable subscription of $20 per year for one teacher and it is limited to school hours. You can also show the kids how to have the text read to them online using a great Chrome extension – Speakit!

Brainpop JrScreen Shot 2016-02-12 at 9.32.39 PM

Brain Pop Jr.– App & Webtool- High interest, Common Core Lesson Videos for K-3 students in all subject areas.  Some free resources but a subscription is $160 for Classroom year subscription and $1,350 for a school but well worth it if you can convince your administration to help you. The lessons are very relevent and on target for standards. There is also “Homework Help”, leveled quizzes, games and activities for kids. My kids literally show a subtle cheer when I announce their assignment on Brain Pop Jr.. No Kidding!

Scholastic Mag. app    Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 11.49.41 AM

Scholastic News Online– If your school has a subscription, you just have to login and get a password for students to access either on the app or online. All the great things we have known about Scholastic over the years has not been wasted on this resource either! Awesome content, videos, photos and even interactive comprehension page just like the paper articles.


news-o-matic_ipad  Screen Shot 2016-02-13 at 12.03.52 PM

 News-O-Matic – Free version & Paid Version -$5.99 available. Mostly Social studies topics and has “Read to Me” capabilities.

Farfaria    2016-02-13 12.10.59

Farfaria is a free app to download that is mostly known for it’s fictional genres but it also has some wonderful nonfiction topics that can be searched for in the “Home” screen. St. may view one book a day for free. It is $50 a year for a teacher subscription but think about how much more cost effective it is to have this versus paper copies that get lost and worn down. All kids can have their own copy for groups. I will say that the books do have DRA reading levels posted on them which are a good guide but a few of them I did not agree the level it was given. Another great feature is to search books by DRA level! We absolutley love this app!


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Martin Luther King Jr. & Harriet Tubman Compare and Contrast Techie Style Using QR Codes

Martin Luther Black History Thumbnail.001

Here is a fun Black History web quest for your students to easily utilize 21st Century Skills for researching Martin Luther King jr. and Harriet Tubman Biographies using your iPads. I have detailed directions for the students, “I Can” statements to check off, differentiated options and directions to the “Text-to-Voice” capability tool on your iPad for your lower readers. All you have to do is adjust your settings on your iPads, to allow text to be read to your students, which is a five click adjustment into your setting tab, download a QR Code Reader app if you don’t have one already, print the task card with the student data recording sheet and monitor their progress. Students will need to have a lesson on scanning QR Codes which is imbedded inside the “QR Reader” app suggested in this bundle. I have also added a second differentiated page for those higher readers that need more challenging content. This is what each student page looks like.

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So, all students need to do is:

Scan the QR Codes, Listen to the text, and Write what they learn.

My Teachers Pay Teachers MLK & Harriet Tubman Web Quest Using QR Codes ($5.00)


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Holidays Around the World Using “Best Christmas” App


iTunes States- This app takes your students around the world for a special view of Celebrations in other Continents and cultures! Select countries, find all hidden animations, and be surprised at how they react! It’s a superb mix of learning and entertainment…

Utilize an awesome app- “Best Christmas App for Toddlers and Kids”. It is a great way to learn about different traditions and celebrations from all around the world. The interactive scenes and music makes it a great combination. The North Pole section with the toy factory is definitely one of the favorites.See Compare and Contrast printable activity for students to complete with or without teacher support.
Social Studies Indicators:
A-1 Describe the cultural practices and products of people on different continents.
A-2 Describe the ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence the behavior of people living in a particular culture.


Best Christmas App for Toddlers and Kids App – iTunes Link ($1.99)

Here are two of my “Techie Holiday” Teachers Pay Teachers products that have compare and contrast pages for your students to show their understanding.

Two Products-(One Free and One $4)

Free! – iPad Christmas App- Comparing Cultures – Uses app described above.

Holidays Around the World, Techie Style!- Teachers Pay Teachers Store

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Online Reading Assessments Made EASY and Impressive! – Literably

Online Reading Assessments- Literably

I just have to share a gem of a find for all reading and ESL teachers! I want to introduce to you,

An awesome free app and web tool that will ease the huge burden of assessing and reporting your students’ reading accuracy, comprehension and fluency. No one will argue the value of one-on-one reading assessments that involve a student interacting with their teacher, however, they are very time consuming and subjectively scored. Literably allows a teacher to not only document the audio recording of a reading assessment parallel to the scored text which can be easily printed, replayed back for the student to hear, shared with support teachers and sent to parents but also allows students to independently complete multiple readings to better gather data over a shorter period of time. Yes, I said scored for you. This is beyond the typical “Wow Factor”! You have to see it to believe it. Thank you, Tyler Borek, founder and CEO of Literably which I had the pleasure of meeting in person during the fall of 2013 when he came from California to Ohio to visit my second grade classroom.

The popular education blog, “” describes Literably best-

“What is Literably and How Does it Work?

Literably is a classroom tool that helps elementary teachers monitor students’ progress in reading. The site administers and scores oral reading assessments, so teachers can spend less time assessing and more time teaching.

Selects Reading Levels and Readings – Literably supports grade levels and guided reading levels. Choose readings or let Literably choose them for you.

Assess students – Each student reads aloud to Literably. You can rotate students through a station or test the whole class at once!

Get hassle-free data – For each reading, Literably generates an audio recording, a running record, words correct per minute, percentage accuracy and a leveling recommendation (up, down or stay).

*Below is a sample screenshot of a reading for one of my students. You can see the share link, playback bar, date, and raw data on the top of the screenshot along with the actual scribed language of my student which helps me to best analyze his errors and strengths.

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What are the benefits of Literably?

For teachers: Monitoring students’ reading is important, but administering oral reading assessments takes hours of class time. Literably takes care of the administration, scoring and tracking, so teachers can spend more time responding to student needs.

For students: Matching students with appropriately challenging texts is extremely important for reading growth and engagement. An overly difficult text evades comprehension, while an unchallenging text offers little opportunity to master new words and concepts. Literably makes it easy to match students with the books that are right for them.

For parents: Parents want to know how their children are doing. Literably makes it easy for teachers to engage parents by sharing meaningful examples of student growth.” ~

Literably’s site explains it’s easy step by step directions- Check it out!

“Your account includes 10 free graded recordings per month (upgrade for unlimited). Don’t worry about accidentally using up your recordings. We only grade recordings that are clear and complete, and we disregard duplicates (same student, same text, same day).

1. Set levels and readings. To pick for multiple students, click the checkboxes on the left.
2. Students login at They’ll click “I’m a Student,” type your username in the box and choose their name from the dropdown.
  • If you’d like to change your class settings, click the red gear in the upper right.
  • For more information, view our About page. (Go here for microphone issues).
  • Other issues or questions? Contact us at or (513) 673 6662.


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Character Unit- 4 Free Apps & Sample Videos to Integrate Tech Using iPads

Character App Post 10-15

Are you looking for fun, free and easy ways to integrate “Kid-Engaging” tech into your character unit? Our Common Core Standards require teachers to find ways for students to digitally publish their work and work collaboratively, so this character unit is the perfect place to start! To help you with this, I would like to share four great app suggestions with you below; ChatterPix Kids, Pic Collage, Educreations and Tellagami. I have included links to iTunes to download them and my own examples so that you may show them to your students as an example for their assignments.

I have the apps/projects listed by order of concept difficulty below.

I began my Character Unit at the beginning of October with one of my favorite stories, “The Hallowiener” by Dav Pilkey. I love this book and any of Dav Pilkey’s books. You may know his other books – “Captain Under Pants” and “Super Diaper Baby”.  Many of my reluctant boy readers love this series. You can feel Pilkey’s child-like sense of humor when you read them. Sorry Dav, but it is the secret to your success!

Here is a great video of Steve Edward reading – “Hallowiener” by Dav Pilkey on Video via Vimeo

  1. Chatterkids We read “Hallowiener” (I posted a link to the books’ Vimeo recording above just in case you do not have the book) then we found character traits from a list on my Smart Board to match Oscar’s behavior. Next the kids found a favorite book character and followed my same procedures for their “ChatterPix” projects. I used the free ChatterPix Kid App to create a talking Oscar after I read the book to my class to show a digital example of character trait development for setting up my students’ project that they would complete independently or with a partner.  My “Oscar” ChatterPix Video

2.Pic Collage Next we read several “Pete the Cat” books and found overall characteristics from each book which took a bit more critical thinking. We used the Pic Collage App to create a Character Collage to display different overall characteristics of “Pete the Cat” from each of his books. Students share their collage and the evidence for each trait. The collage can be saved to student camera rolls and iPads can be set to automatic Camera download in Dropbox for all the kids to see each others’ work when they open the Dropbox app on our class iPads.

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3.Educreations- NewThen on to the Educreations app for a screencasting of close reading procedures for a character of choice. The Educreations App best known as an easy to use screencasting app for kids, was used to show an in-depth look at close reading techniques. For my example below, I took pictures from the book, Ira Sleeps Over and inserted them in the app as I annotated how I found character traits for Ira, the main character.

“Ira Sleeps Over” Book Talk by Mrs. Limpert

4.Tellagami Finally, we ended up with carrying over what we learned in our Character Unit, to our Fairy Tale Unit, by choosing a Fairy tale character to compare and contrast either two versions of the story or the main character talking about their perspective looking back at their story.  I love how the Tellagami App allows the option to place my own image in the background as my “Gami” (Avatar) can be recorded speaking in my voice or I can choose from four different male or female voices to read the text that I enter. Pretty awesome! My kids have a blast with this feature. I have an example I used for my character & fairy tales unit.

My “Jack Tellagami” Project Starter Video

Let me know your thoughts or if you have other app ideas to share! I love gathering new resources. 🙂

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Personalized Learning with Mobymax

MobyMax Tutorials

About MobyMax

I am so excited to share with you a web tool that I absolutely love,… MobyMax! MobyMax is a powerful and efficient web-based Adapted Learning Platform (ALP) that has been a vital part of my personalized and blended learning classroom. I am constantly amazed at how they are evolving each year to meet the needs of students, teachers and parents. MobyMax offers the only complete web-based K-8 curriculum covering English language arts, math, and science at a very reasonable cost of $100 per class or $700 per school.  MobyMax identifies skill gaps with find-and-fix technology that targets instruction and they advertise that they help students increase one full grade level in just 40 hours. When a student opens a portal for the first time, Moby automatically gives them a placement test to best personalize their lessons in that subject area, automatically! The Writing Assignments portal (Explained in the video) even gives students an opportunity to write an opinion, informational or narrative writing piece and teachers can use Moby’s installed Common Core aligned rubrics to grade student work according to their grade level. Amazing!

MobyMax can be used on any device that has internet access, iPads, Chromebooks etc.. It has reached the “Wow Factor” at many of my RTI meetings when I display to parents and administrators Moby’s varied progress charts and percentage data that is collected as students progress through the video lessons and formative assessments. Moby’s comprehensive system includes multiple motivation tools, test prep, assessments, messaging, parent portal, progress monitoring and my favorite tool- Clicker for easy formative assessments that you can choose from a bank of pre-made questions, some including diagrams and photos, all Common Core aligned. Scrub the Advanced video time bar below to the 31:00 timestamp for quick access to the “Clicker” section of the video.

MobyMax is used in more than half of all K-8 schools in the United States and has more than 11 million students registered. Watch both videos below and you will see why!

  1. Getting Started in MobyMax Video. (5 min.)

2.  Advanced Moby Tutorial (30 min.)  If you do not have an uninterrupted 30 minutes to spare, I recommend opening the videos’ table of contents page (See image below) to see the timestamps on the video for the topics you are interested in. The Science portal is not included yet since it just came out in August 2015.

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 In the fall of 2015 they are adding 3 new portals for struggling readers, “Early Words”, “Early Reading” and Early Writing”. I am so excited about this! Check it out!!

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Transfer Your Old Cassette Books on Tape to MP3 Files

From Cassette to MP3

Did you spend a small fortune on children’s books on cassette tapes back in the day? I know I am dating myself, but I guess if you are reading this, you are close to my age as well or maybe inherited old cassettes from an older teacher. 🙂

I had over $2,000 in books on tape collected from my many years of teaching that were just sitting in my basement. It made me sad to see them when I would come across them every now and then, the waste of this resource beckoned a response. I thought I would try to research a way to access these great stories for my students listening station in my classroom. After many hours of searching, I found the answer, a Cassette Tape Converter. Of course Amazon to the rescue! Those of you that know me, know that I am huge Amazon fan. I then waited on the ever notorious sound of the UPS truck entering my neighborhood. This sound usually meant I had been shopping again.

So, you will need:

1. Those old cassette tapes. 🙂

2. Your laptop or computer that you use to access you iTunes account.

3. Your Dropbox account with folders that you wish to transfer the audio files to.

4. Audacity downloaded on your computer.

5. A cassette converter

Here is one like the one I purchased:

Cassette to MP3 Converter at Amazon for under $20

Here are the Step by Step directions for converting cassette tapes to mp3’s. (Hopefully, Audacity has not changed this process since last summer.) You are basically downloading the audio from the tape through the converter, via Audacity. Then using iTunes to store the file and then transfer it to your Dropbox to allow access to students at school.

*I did this over the summer and let the tape record while I did things around the house.

1. Open Audacity and iTunes. Drag the outer frame of each window until you can see both.

2. Rewind & Load tape into Converter

3. Push play on converter 1st- usually long lag at beginning

4. Click red record at the top of the Audacity screen once the audio begins- watch for sound waves to begin.

5. After recording, may need trimmed- click somewhere in the gray band to drop a line, select/ highlight what you want to trim off.

6. After the area turns a darker gray, click the scissors to trim that section off.

7. File-export-save to Music folder on Computer HD- then the inside folder, I named-Audio Books-Type in book title. It will ask again to imbed into file.- click ok

8. Now we need to retrieve it from the computer/folder to upload to iTunes. So open computer file, find that book- click. It should download in the recently added playlist in iTunes.

9. Drag and drop to list.

10. I would wait until you have all files in iTunes before you save to Dropbox. Or practice with one before you try them all?

      You can see my file if you zoom in on the photo above.

11. If downloading more, you will need to click the “X” box, upper left, to close out previous recording.

You may need to practice this process a few times but once you get the hang of it, it is pretty sweet!

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