Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ready & Looking ;) ... for Books!

One of our goals as educators is to create independent and lifelong readers.

We work hard to introduce our students to a variety of genres.

Our libraries are well organized with a plethora of books to engage all readers.

We spark their interests with new topics and exciting plots.

We do book previews to try and hook students into reading instead of
watching yet another TV show or movie.

But with everything going on in our classrooms these days, its hard to
drill down on each student's favorite type of book or find the time
to make a good suggestion for another alluring read.

However, there are options and tools to help us with this:

The first option is a website called Basically, the student goes to the website, types in what they've just finished reading, and then the site generates a list of books similar to the one the student just read. For a student who finally found a book they love to read, this site is great because it helps them find similar books so they can continue to grow in that love of reading.

Book Seer

Another site that also generates book recommendations is Yet another great tool to help students find that next great read!

What Should I Read Next?

Have you ever heard of Pandora? That great music site where you can type in a artist or song and it plays songs similar for you to listen to? Welcome to the book version of that site. is an online database where you can type in an author or book and it generates similar ones. The goal is to connect readers to a larger world of books.

Book Lamp

When children read, their minds are able to travel to places they never thought possible. Let's keep their imaginations soaring and put the tools at their fingertips.

Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Making the Most out of your Listening Resources

Listening resources are a great tool that are heavily used in the primary classrooms, however, there are lots of benefits to using "Listening to Reading" in the upper elementary classrooms as well. They provide a fluent model for students and can help to increase student's vocabulary. This is especially important in classrooms where there is a larger population of Learning Support or ELL students. One problem that many teachers encounter though is that there are not enough age appropriate resources for those upper elementary students or they do not have time to fit "Listening to Reading" into their busy schedules...until now...

This year our Language Arts block is transitioning from a 120 minute block to a 90 minute block. Therefore, that doesn't leave a lot of time for students to be able to listen to reading. The reasoning is because our teachers now have to teach Science and Social Studies everyday. Therefore, we need to be clever with how to implement this. One way is to use cross curricular resources for listening.

: Many programs come with their textbooks on CD. During this block of time students can use the CD for "Listen to Reading." Our new science program "Interactive Science" by Pearson has a leveled reader database available. You can register your account (via the green cardboard case with the registration code inside) and access content leveled readers that are available by many different leveling systems, including the DRA. You can then electronically assign readers to students where they can listen to the selection read aloud online by a fluent reader.

What more could you ask for?

Scholastic Readers: There is a student view for your student's scholastic reader online. You can put the link on your website and have students access it from their net books. You can have it read to them using the on level feature or below level feature. View the online user guide below to see all of the Scholastic Reader's features:

Scholastic Online User Guide

Cross curricular resources are a great way to fit in those standards
that that we need to teach to help our students become better readers.

Happy Listening!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lesson Plans Made Easy

I feel like every year I look for an easier way to create my lesson plans and I believe I may have found it. is an online program for creating lesson plans.

It boasts that you can do the following:
  • Develop custom schedules for each class.
  • View and print lesson plans by day, week, or class.
  • Create class templates for any day of the week.
  • Adjust your lesson schedule with a single click.
  • Share your plans with other teachers.
  • Easily re-use lessons from one year to the next.
Why do I like it?
  • I can easily access it from anywhere; work or home.
  • I can color code my classes or subjects.
  • If I don't get to an activity, I can use the bump feature to push it to the next day.
  • I can print my plans to a PDF format to e-mail them to my principal.
  • It has a section to easily add standards, even common core.
  • I can create templates, even use a district one if necessary.
  • It helps me keep my schedule!
Why is it so easy to use?
  • Its similar to any other program our district uses whether that be Microsoft or E-Chalk.
  • It allows you to transition from old versions of your lesson plans by allowing you to upload your lesson plans to the program.
  • It also has an entire section devoted to videos showing you how to work different features of the program, like this one:

Click here for a list of the tutorials available.

My only disclaimer about the program is that is costs $12.00 to sign up to use planbook. But that will give you a subscription for an entire year! I'm not sure about you, but I am willing to pay that that amount if it will help me create lesson plans faster and focus on my students more.

Happy Planning!