Infuse Learning- an AMAZING tool!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

With many amazing assessment tools available, it is rare for a new one to come along and blow my mind!  However, with Infuse Learning, that is exactly what has happened!

What sets this tool apart?  You can use it on any device- it is device agnostic.  This is a huge benefit.  This means you can use it with any tablet or computer with internet access.  In addition to the normal tools like multiple choice, true false, etc.... you can also have students submit drawings!  One of the greatest features- it will also read aloud to students- IN THEIR NATIVE LANGUAGE!

Here is a great snapguide to help you get started.  Also, check out this video!


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5 Tips for Supporting Young Bloggers K-2

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Blogging with younger audiences can seem daunting.  Here are a few tips to help you be successful!

Tip #1- Demonstrate and model before turning them loose!

Tip #2- Teach digital citizenship skills as you go..... no personal information should be shared, don't share full name, etc.,

Tip #3- Have plenty of scaffolds in place.  For students who are just learning to put sentences together, you can have them use resources around the classroom to help them with writing and spelling- anchor charts, etc.  Mini whiteboards work great as they allow the kids to move around freely to locate what they need.

Tip #4- Utilize students as peer helpers.  Those who are ahead of the curve will love helping a pal!

Tip #5- Don't forget that students can share in many modalities- voice recordings, digital images of work (snap them with your camera phone), and drawings.


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Ways Technology Can Support Family Engagement

Thursday, December 5, 2013

One of the best ways you can support family engagement is to get your families involved in the learning process. I think all teachers, when we think of family engagement, want more authentic participation- an actual 3 way partnership between the parent, child, and teacher.  Technology, along with strategically designed learning activities can help us meet this goal.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is through blogs.  A teacher can set up a blog very easily and can use it in ways that allow parents to become active in the learning process.  With the use of smartphones, parents and their children can participate at anytime, anywhere.

Ideas for activities include posting story starters that students and families can add to collaboratively, challenges, journals, curiosities they see in the world, to name just a few.

An interesting site published by John Hopkin's University is TIPS- Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork.  The site lists ways that parents can become involved more authentically with homework.  According to the site:

  • TIPS helps all families become involved, not just the few who know how to discuss math, science, or other subjects.
  • TIPS makes homework the student's responsibility and does not ask parents to "teach" subjects or skills that they are not prepared to teach.
  • TIPS asks students to share and enjoy their work, ideas, and progress with their families.
  • TIPS allows families to comment and request other information from teachers in a section for home-to-school communication.

I believe we as educators could easily weave together the power of technology (in this example, a blog) along with the ideas shared on the TIPS site.   Here is an example of a TIPS activity for English Language Arts.



This activity could easily be re-worked onto a blog.  The teacher could post the requirements and ask families to reply to the post with work.  

Here is another activity from ReadWriteThink.  This could also easily be adapted and shared to families via a blog.  Parents and kids can post their responses as well.  



As you can see, working these activities into a blog allows families to engage with each other as one large learning community.



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Quantitative Text Complexity Tool

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Pearson's Maturity Matrix can be found at:  http://www.readingmaturity.com.  This tool can be accessed after you sign-up for a free account.
It is very simple to use- cut and paste the text in question and the tool will analyze it for you.
Take a look at a sample I did:

First, I copied and pasted the digital text then clicked on "analyze passage":



Here is what I got:


Provides you with word & sentence count and a reading maturity matrix score that matches with a CCSS grade band.  Then, it identifies what it calls "top maturity words".... some of the more difficult words from the passage.




Here you can see it shows you the words in context.  


It also compares the RMM with other readability indexes.  


That is it!  


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Google Docs Collaboration & Feedback Tool

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Kaizena is a very cool tool that connects to your Google account and adds another layer of collaboration tools.  After connecting, you will have the opportunity to pick a document that you want to use for the collaboration.



After you select your document, you will see your collaborators (those who you have granted sharing privileges in Google).



After you have selected who you will be communicating with, you will be asked how you want to share your feedback:




You will then start adding comments to your document.  You have three choices- voice comments (seen below)-







You can also share via typed comments, or add links to resources!  (See screenshots)






As you can see, this tool has great potential for authentic, meaningful feedback.  This could be providing feedback to students, or even collaborating with colleagues on projects.  They can even use Kaizena to respond back to you.  




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Great Tech Tool for Struggling Readers

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Have you heard of Rewordify?  This is a neat online tool that assists readers with vocabulary and thus reading comprehension.  Here is how it works-  the reader copies and pastes the text (web URL, words, or passages) they are struggling with into the text box and hits the button "rewordify".   The system will "reword" the passage with alternative words for some of the original difficult words.  The words that have been replaced will be highlighted and when the reader hovers the mouse over those words, the original word appears.  This is a great tool for building vocabulary.

Some of our struggling students would greatly benefit from having this as a tool to help them with text they are having a hard time understanding.

See a screenshot below for a visual of what this tool looks like:

Check it out:  rewordify.com


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Parent Permission Letter for Blogging in a Primary Classroom

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One of the best parts of my job is working with creative and wonderful educators across the state of Nevada.  Recently, I have been working with some teachers in Washoe County School District on blogging.  Cheryl Doetch, a first grade teacher at Booth ES has created a really great parent permission letter for blogging- and has graciously agreed to allow me to share it!

What I like about this letter is that she explains the "why" behind blogging- why it is important, how the kids can benefit, her plans for safety, and how it links to the curriculum.

Check out her letter!  It is well written!




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