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 Educators.com 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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Great Audio Recording tools for Students and Teachers

Audio Tools for iPads & Chromebooks

Why Record Student and Teacher Audio Files in Our Classrooms?  I can tell you why….

#1. Because many of our Common Core “I Can” statements for Language, Reading and Technology involve skills that many of us are still learning how to teach and hold students accountable for mastery. We see standards that include words like, read fluently and with expression, sound out new words, retell in correct sequence just to name a few. We then also see words like; explain, answer, describe, retell, and identify all of which indicate the importance of verbal communication.

Speaking and Listening Standards-

SL.2.5. Create audio recordings of stories or poems; add drawings or other visual displays to stories or recounts of experiences when appropriate to clarify ideas, thoughts, and feelings.”

Then for writing-

W.2.6. With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish student work, including in collaboration with peers. ”

So, how can we collect that data or even share this data with a colleague or parent? You guessed it! Record your students’ performance using whatever technology you have access to.

#2. Audio and visual recordings utilize technology to engage students and make our jobs more enjoyable and a bit easier. In the last few years, as I have taken steps toward integrating new technologies into my classroom, I have found that on several occasions, I wanted to preserve an audio recording. 

*To document and share what a student has learned or show mastery of a skill.

*To allow a non-reader to understand content and so that they can participate in classroom activities with their peers.

*Further develop my students’ language skills by hearing stories read to them by other readers and to record their own thoughts for an authentic audience.

What Tools do I use?

Depending on your tech resources, I would recommend the following apps that I have used myself.  Click on the links below to see the iTunes App description page.

iPads: 

Tellagami -Free   Tellagami

Educreations – Free  Educreations- New

ChatterKid Pix – Free   Chatterkids

DropVox – $1.99   Dropvox  This app records the audio and save it directly to your Dropbox account.

Literably– Free   Literably App I love this app/webtool! It records students reading a leveled book and scores it for you!

Notability – $.99 – $3.99 (Price can Vary)  Notability

Book Creator – $4.99   Book Creator Creates an actual ebook. There is a free version but only allows one book to be stored at a time.

Draw & Tell HD – $1.99    Draw & Tell

RecorderHQ – Free   RecorderHQ I use this when the kids want to just record an audio file. It can be uploaded to their Google drive.

Google Keep – Free  Google Keep Note taking with a new audio capability. I was super excited about this. You can see my other post about how I use Keep for student portfolios.

Shadow Puppet EDU – Free Shadow Puppet

Sock Puppets–  Free  sock_puppets_main_icon_07

 

Chromebooks or PC-

Google Slides   Google Slides (Free) create content, go into the PRESENT mode and then have students create the “ScreencastifyScreencastify Ext video (Also free)  using the Screencastify extention from the Chrome web store. This is awesome for Google Apps for Education districts because there is only one sign in and once the extension is added to a student’s Chrome account, there is automatically a Screencastify folder created that saves each recordings upon completion. No lost or unsaved work and it can be shared with peers, teachers and even parents.

Recording Booth -Chatterbox Blog Post Image  Need a quiet place to record audio any of these projects in your room? Try my Chatterbox for $45.99!

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New! Portable Recording Box, Perfect for Classroom Recording

Portable Recording Booths For Classrooms- Two Models

Amazon Link to Black Cardboard Model -$49.99

* This model is our hottest selling of the two. If it is out of stock, please revisit Amazon again a week or two later as we are having trouble keeping up with the demand. 🙂

 

Amazon Link to Red Linen Podcaster Model With Pouffe Lid & Pop Filter $79.99

Okay, how many of you have finally gotten your tech routines in place and ready to get your students started with recording audio into their presentation projects, only to be thwarted by the frustration of a noisy classroom?

This was a huge issue for my class last year, so this year, I was determined to come up with a solution to my problem! My students wanted to record and share their “Show what they know” audio recordings in Educreations, Google Slides, Tellagami and Chatterkid Pix. They would be so upset if there was background noise in their recording, so they would ask to go down the hall to a quieter room that was often times used for small group intervention. Students being unsupervised was not a smart option for anyone, so I began researching options for an in-class recording booth. They say, “Necessity is the mother of invention”, so I came up with two small, collapsible and portable box with velcro acoustic tiles inside, the perfect size and weight for my students to carry across the room. We have affectionately named them our “Chatterboxes”. They have worked great and my students love to just grab one off of my shelf and take it anywhere in the room or even in the hallway just outside our door. If you are interested in purchasing a “Chatterbox” for your room, you can purchase one from one of the Amazon links above.

Kits Features Includes:

1 Sturdy portable cardboard box with easy to carry handles on the sides

4 Acoustic Soundproofing Foam Tiles that are Class A fire retardant -12” X 12″ X 1″ (Made in USA) 5th Foam Tile not necessary for base surface. Recording device (iPad/Chromebook) lays on sturdy bottom surface to discourage movement noises which produces better quality sound retention.

Velcro tab sets to adhere foam tiles to the inside top, back and sides of the box. 

Easy to follow assembly directions included along with some suggestions for digital tools my students use.

Light enough for even young students to easily carry

Can be collapsable for easy summer storage

 

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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, Literably.com.

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, “edshelf.com” 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.” ~ edshelf.com

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 www.literably.com/login. They’ll click “I’m a Student,” type your username in the box and choose their name from the dropdown.
Notes:
  • 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 hello@literably.com or (513) 673 6662.

 

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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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