Using Word Study Apps and Managing Rotations for K-3 Centers
“What apps can I use during my morning Language Arts center rotations that fit Common Core Standards for word study?” “Are there apps that collect formative data so I can hold my kids accountable for their work and to also help me form my skill groups more easily?” “How do you manage those stations with only a few iPads?” I have been asked questions like these many times as colleagues inquire about my Blended Learning format that I am using in my classroom. My answer is always, “I am so glad you asked!” They typically receive way more suggestions than they had in mind since I do get carried away sometimes, loving the opportunity to share exciting new resources that I know will help my friends engage and teach their students. I am going to give you app suggestions that I have been impressed with and answer both the content and the timing management questions below.
To manage the content of those rotations, I post the icon and name of the apps that have been previously introduced for the iPad stations on our Class Rotation Board so the students know what their options are for that station. These obviously will change as the year progresses. I have created differentiated LA and Math charts that I use so I do not have to rotate them everyday. See my TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) Differentiated Rotation Boards link below (One for LA and one for Math) if you would like a few ideas about organizing stations using iPads or whatever tech you have available to you.- Station Rotation Charts with Suggested Free Multiple Timer App
To help me manage the timing of those rotations, I found a fantastic free app called – Timer + App that you can preset a time to loop as many times as you want and give it a title to be saved within the app. You can see the screenshot below of my timer settings. I will have this iPad facing the students so they can manage their time, in my experience, amazingly enough, I find that my students do a much better job staying on task knowing they are being timed and using this visual from the app. I really like the alarms in “Timer +”. They are subtle and not too startling. My favorite is the Marimba tone. 🙂
When my school received our first iPad cart, consisting of 30 iPads, I set off to find shiny new apps to download on them. I soon discovered that there were many apps out there that looked like they were going to target various reading skills, but were just not rigorous enough or not a good fit for Common Core Standards. It is very challenging to find appropriate and rigorous word study/phonics apps for young students. Particularly, ones that offer formative data on the skills students have acquired.
My shorter list below is in order of priority and sorted by apps that collect data. I will be adding to this Apps for Rotations List in the next couple of weeks, but I wanted to get my top apps out here for you first, so stay tuned! 🙂
Content Apps for Rotations-
1. Spelling City App- iTunes – *Collects Data. Free app & Web tool. Spelling City is by far my heaviest hitting tool in my “Word Study Tool Belt” that collects data on everything my students do, even on the games that they play. The free version allows you to enter and save any word lists of your own or even search by teacher name or list from other teachers’ list to import into your own library! Many of us use the “Words Their Way” series and those lists are searchable by lists or by teacher (Feel free to search for me) however I have found that the numbers and words are not always the same but since the focus really is applying the spelling feature, you can decide which ones to use. You may also give spelling tests with the free version. Talk about saving time on grading and immediate feedback for students and the parents can login to the results tab on the website to see student data, I know…how awesome is that?! Like many other great resources, there is added value in the yearly subscription, which at the time of this entry, is now $53.00 a year. I do pay for this because the data tracking is more conclusive, there are many other vocabulary and grammar lessons, along with the additional 11 games that the kids absolutely love. Click here to see more details – Premium Spelling City vs. Free Account
2. Word Wizard – Talking Alphabet (Currently $2.99- Subject to change) – *Collects Data. This app is truly a “5 Star” app. I love how my students can explore “Talking Movable Alphabet” by dragging letter tiles to create words. Seeing and hearing each phoneme is very helpful in our word study group activities. There is a funny feature, no naughty words will be pronounced, when it recognizes the naughty word and changes it to “Oops”. 🙂 There are three activities- Word Practice, Scrambled Letters and spelling quizzes. Give it a try!
3. Hairy Phonics 1 App -Hairy Phonics Series by Nessy Learning. There are three for higher level phonics skills and one for basic blending letters into simple words, called Hairy Letters. (Price Ranges from $2.99 to $3.99) *This app does not track data.
4. Phonics Tic-Tac-Toe Interactive Game by Lakeshore (Free) *This app does not track data.
*I have more on lists on the way! 🙂
*Coming up in my next few posts will be management solutions that have worked for me, like how to organize all those student logins for you and the kids, more apps for LA rotations. Then to follow will be posts on sight word apps, reading comprehension, math apps and my favorite- “Mobymax.com”.