Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Podcasting in Education

What are Podcasts and how can I use them for Education? Podcasts are multimedia digital files made available on the internet for downloading to a portable media player, computer, etc. But even more importantly, you can make your own!

But how can you use them in Education you ask? The possibilities are endless...

Intrigued? Want to make one? Watch the Youtube video below and follow the step by step directions that follow. You'll be podcasting before you know it!

Click here for the 5 steps to Podcasting.

Happy Podcasting!

Pin Your Interests...PINTEREST!

If you haven't discovered the world of Pinterest, then this post is for you!

A common saying I have encountered as a teacher is the phrase "work smarter, not harder." Why make an activity when a fellow teacher has made it already and is willing to share. This philosophy is not just relevant in your school, but it can transition to a global philosophy as well. This is where Pinterest comes into play. Pinterest is a wonderful site where people can find or share things that are interesting to them online. It also allows you to organize those interests as well into categories. You can search for things via categories (Education, Home, etc) or you can type in keywords in the search bar.

What is Pinterest you may ask? Why tell you, when I can show you!

Below is a wonderful slideshare that explains the concept of Pinterest:

In addition, here is a Youtube video that gives a brief overview of Pinterest:

Learn how Educators use Pinterest:

16 Ways Educators Use Pinterest
From: Online Universities Blog

If you need an idea of how to set up your boards, take a look at mine by clicking on the link below:

Ashley Stevens' Pinterest Pinboards

Happy Pinning!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Listen to Reading

Listening activities are very important in a Balanced Literacy Program. They provide a fluent model for students to hear and learn from. When listening activities are made available, students can listen to examples of fluent readers and then understand what goes into being a fluent or prosodic reader. (i.e.; phrasing, intonation, expression, & rate)

All levels of learners can benefit from the practice of Listening to Reading. By developing good fluency, they will be able to recognize a vast majority of words instantly and effortlessly, thus leaving more cognitive capacity for comprehension. (Rasinski & Kuhn, 2007, P. 205) In addition, they may be exposed to a text they otherwise would not be able to read independently, thereby increasing exposure to higher level vocabulary.

Here are FREE resources that you can use for "Listen to Reading":

Barnes & Noble has an online storytime that is free. Click here.

The Screen Actors Guild has a free online video streaming program where famous actors read popular children's books. Click here.

Read to Me is a online youth reading program. Watch online streaming of videos of children's books read aloud by celebrities. Click here.

Robert Munsch is a great author who has recorded himself reading his wonderful children's books. Click here.

Mem Fox is an award winning author who has many read alouds available on her website. Click here.

Kizclub has a variety of books read aloud for beginning readers. Click here.

Starfall is a great site that isn't just for phonics practice. It also has read alongs for a variety of primary readers. Click here.

Don't forget the power of Youtube. Here is a blogger who has posted great read alouds she found on youtube. Click here.

You can also search for your own on the following sites:




Here are resources for "Listen to Reading" that require a fee:

Scholastic's new online literacy resource. Click here.

Educational and fun animated children's books. Click here.

Raz-kids is a compilation of hundreds of interactive ebooks for students grades K-6. Click here.

Tumblebooks is an online collection of animated talking picture books. Click here.

Happy Reading!

Gambrell, L.(2007).Best Practices in Literacy Instruction: Third Edition. New York: Guilford Press.

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Organize an Outstanding Classroom Library"

Did you know that when a classroom library is well organized, easily accessible, and full of a wide variety of books, there is an increase in student independent reading? That's what Regie Routman says in her book "Reading Essentials" and she also goes on to say that "the better the classroom libraries, the better the reading achievement as measured by standardized tests." (Routman, 2003)

So with that said, are you ready to give your classroom library a face lift? This post contains resources for your own classroom libraries.

First, here is a set of fast facts from Regie Routman's book "Reading Essentials: The Specifics You Need to Teach Reading Well." This set focuses on Chapter 5 "Organizing an Outstanding Classroom Library."

Ch. 5 Organizing an Outstanding Classroom Library

Second, here is a list of web resources for organizing and labeling your classroom library effectively.

Classroom Organizer

Classroom Library ~ The Heart of the Classroom

Library Organization & Labels by Beth Newingham

Primary Classroom Labels - TPT

My Classroom Library Pinboard

Third, here are some ideas to increase the book count in your classroom library on a budget.
  • Talk to your PTO about raising money for classroom books.
  • Have students bring in their favorite books from home on loan.
  • Watch for sales during Teacher Appreciation Week at B&N and Borders.
  • Borrow from local libraries. Some libraries allow you 50 books at a time on loan.
  • Organize a classroom or school-wide book swap.
Give Your Classroom Library a Boost - Article

And fourth, here is a survey that you can take regarding your classroom library. The survey is two-fold. One, you can fill out the survey if you need help with your classroom library or two, you can use the survey as guiding questions for yourself as you reflect upon your classroom library.

Classroom Library Evaluation Questions

Happy Reading!

Routman, R. (2003). Reading Essentials: the specifics you need to teach reading well. Portsmouth: Heinemann Publishers.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


To be consistent with my last two posts, I also wanted to post a Youtube video I found that follows "The Daily Five's" I PICK for choosing a just right book. I think this song is BRILLIANT because there is no way a student will forget each part of I PICK after learning this song.

See the embedded video below. I will also provide the link at the bottom for you to use at your discretion.

Link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfecFjBHfc8

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Daily 5: Fast Facts Edition

You've waited for them, now they've finally arrived!!! DAILY FIVE FAST FACTS! Yay! Below are chapters 1 through 7 of my fast facts (otherwise known as cliff notes for teachers). The Fast Facts below help to highlight the key points to help you implement the Daily Five in your classroom.

Daily Five Fast Facts

Chapter 1: Introduction

Chapter 2: From "Management" to "Principled Habits": Foundations of the Daily Five

Chapter 3: What's the Difference?: Key Materials, Concepts, and Routines for Launching the Daily Five

Chapter 4: Read to Self

Chapter 5: Read to Someone and Listen to Reading

Chapter 6: Work on Writing and Word Work

Chapter 7: Putting it All Together and Troubleshooting

I would HIGHLY recommend reading the book if you want to implement the program with fidelity. If you don't have the book, there are a couple of things that you can do:

1) Borrow the book from me!:)

2) Check out the book from the NSE library. (Our wonderful librarian ordered it for me last year)

3) Buy it from Amazon.com. Its quite reasonably priced.

Remember, the Daily Five is not a literacy curriculum, but merely a framework you can use to foster independent readers & writers during your literacy block.

Happy Reading!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Daily 5: Resources Edition

Have you decided to implement The Daily Five in your classroom, but need resources? Well you are in for a treat! This post is a compilation of resources that I have found on the web that would prove to be very helpful during your literacy block.

First, I wanted to start with this amazing slide share I found overviewing the Daily 5. See below:

Second, I will be sharing a Google doc that I made compiling some of the most useful resources that I have found and my Daily 5 Pinboard. See below:

Daily 5 Resources

Daily 5 Pinboard

Third and final, a word of caution. There is a large amount of Daily 5 resources out on the web. Be careful with what you choose to use and make sure it is reflective of the Daily 5 management system for your literacy block.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Be a SMARTie

A Harvard study was conducted to explain why 3% of their graduates from the MBA program made 10 times as much as the other 97% of graduates combined. What did they conclude? Those 3% of graduates had clear written goals, and plans to accomplish them. Hence one of the reasons for the popularization of S.M.A.R.T. goals.

But what are S.M.A.R.T. goals? S.M.A.R.T. is actually an acronym for the following:

Specific: Good goals are clear, precise, and definite. If your goals are too broad, too general, or too fuzzy, they will be hard to achieve. Ask yourself what do I want to accomplish? Why? (specific reasons, purposes or benefits of accomplishing the goal) Who is involved?

Measurable: The goal must be written so that you can measure your progress toward it, so you'll know when you've achieved it. It should answer questions such as how much? How many? and How will I know when it is accomplished?

Attainable: Make sure that your goal is not too difficult or too easy. Think about the steps you will have to take to achieve the goal. Think about HOW this goal will be accomplished.

Realistic/Relevant: Set a goal that really matters or that is aligned with and supports other goals. Ask does it seem worthwhile? Is it the right time? Does this match our efforts/needs? What will it look like when it's reached?

Timely: The goal should have a definite timeline.

This year at our school, each grade level is working on their own S.M.A.R.T. goals. As the Reading Specialist & Literacy Coach it is my job to help each level with their goals. But, it is also imperative that I have goals for myself as well. Remember, "setting goals helps improve our experience and performance. It also shows that we are happier when we are progressing towards our goals." (www.101-smart-goals.com)

Here is how I am tracking my goals this year...101-smart-goals.com is a free online platform to track your goals. It allows you to set, track, and achieve your S.M.A.R.T. goals. Take this tutorial to see more: S.M.A.R.T. Goals Tour.

See my goals below:

S.M.A.R.T. goals are meant to be long term anywhere from 1 to 3 years in length. What's nice about this program is that it allows me to input time frames and constantly check and update my progress towards my goals through the use of tasks.

When setting your S.M.A.R.T. goals, here are some things to keep in mind:

Suggested words when setting S.M.A.R.T. goals:
  • Choose a verb: increase, decrease, reduce, improve, deliver, grow
  • Define the object: what you wish or will work toward to get better at and for whom
  • Identify how much: target goals and a reference to the meeting of success
  • Identify by when: time frame for completion of goal

Happy Goal Setting!