Thursday, June 25, 2015

Good summer reads, available on Learning Ally - and in the library too!

Summer is my time to read up on children's books, and I've found some good ones already!

Under the Egg (Benchmark library orange section, Learning Ally VoiceText):  I loved  From the Mixed up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler as a kid, and this book brought it to mind - a New York City setting, an art mystery, and a spunky heroine.  Lots of fun twists and clever history tie-ins.

Image result for under the egg        Image result for escape from mr. lemoncello's library         Image result for moxy maxwell does not love stuart little
Speaking of twists and tie-ins, Trina and students inspired me to read Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.  (Benchmark library orange section, Learning Ally VoiceText) Mr. Lemoncello is a very Willy Wonka-esque character, but who loves books and board games instead of candy.  I appreciated the inside jokes about children's books, but I also found myself caught up in rooting for Kyle and team as they tried to win the game of escaping from the library.

Finally Moxy Maxwell does not love Stuart Little (Benchmark library brown section, Learning Ally Classic Audio) is a hilarious study of the last day of summer vacation as procrastinator Moxy does everything she can to avoid reading her assigned summer reading book, Stuart Little.  Author Peggy Gifford creates such a vivid and familiar character in Moxy that I found myself wondering if Gifford had spent time at Benchmark interviewing some of our students in preparation for writing this book!

So what good children's books have you run across?  I definitely added Moxy Maxwell to my book order for the 2015-16 school year.  I'd love your thoughts on ordering Under the Egg - I enjoyed it, but at 250 pages, is it too long for a curriculum book?  Would the Learning Ally support help students move along more quickly?  Lemoncello weighs in at 350 pages, so probably too long for an assigned reading, even with learning ally support.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

ending your eBook with an "about the author"

I'm editing student eBooks on my first day of vacation - guess you could say I'm having a little trouble winding down.  But a great idea struck me and I wanted to share it with you all while it's fresh on my mind!  The endings of informational eBooks can be a little awkward because you've given some interesting facts about a person or animal or location, but these facts don't always tie together in a concluding page. What about an "About the Author" page at the end?  It would be something the students could create early in the year as a writing assignment (Julie and Deedie's Me Me Me project comes to mind) and then inserted into the last page of any eBook the student creates.  Depending on the audience, you could also insert a photo or avatar.  An author page would also personalize the book if it were being shared with another class. For class eBooks, I imagine you could create a class profile.  Have you come up with another creative way to end a book?  Add your comments to this post (my email customers, if you can, click on the link to respond rather than respond via email and everyone can benefit from your thoughts!)

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Blogging and Art

I just read the post Helping students respond to art in a museum from TeachThought,  The teacher helped students interact with art in a museum by either describing the art, drawing a picture of the art, or telling a story from the art.  While we don't bring the students to museums too often, it did remind me of the Google Art Project extension I have on my computer, which brings up a new work of art each day as I open new tab.  What about turning that art into a blogging activity?  Students view the painting, then respond with a sentence or two describing something in the painting, or telling a story about what is happening in the picture, asking a question about the painting, or maybe a message the artist was trying to give.  Here is a recent work of art - how would you respond?

Summer Reinforcement of Language Arts

June already!  When did that happen?!  As the summer approaches and you think about how to encourage your students to keep reading and writing over the summer, you might find the following list helpful.  I also have the information on a google doc which I will share with all lower school teachers.  If you have a great site or app to add, please feel free!  One site in particular that I wanted to mention was the Scholastic summer reading challenge, which allows you to sign up your students as a class so they can track reading over the summer.

Reading and eBook sources

Benchmark library:

Epic Books:  (5.00/month charge but large selection available, can set up by age, some read aloud options) – app also available

Learning Ally:  Benchmark holds an institutional membership to this online reading service, so there is no charge but you need to be signed up.  (Please contact for more info and to sign up) App also available

Wonderopolis  :  interesting question answered each day – text has a read-aloud feature.  App also available

News-o-matic:  is a daily kids’ newspaper with interesting features and videos.  There is a small monthly charge for a home subscription

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge:  Scholasitic offers a free program to track reading over the summer.

Vocabulary, Phonics, and Spelling practice

Turtle Diary  a variety of short language arts games that reinforce literacy subskills. Website

Sheppards Software   games and activities around vocabulary reinforcement.  Website

Spelling City:  Comprehensive spelling and vocabulary site with multiple levels of difficulty available.  While it has a charge to use the full program, there are some options available for free.  Website and App

Sight Words Ninja  Sight word reinforcement for 1st and 2nd level readers.  App

Bluster!/id416160693?mt=8  Vocab reinforcement for 2nd-3rd level readers.  App

vocab reinforcement for2nd-4th level readers.  App

The Opposites  Learn vocabulary, particularly with a focus on opposites/antonyms for 2nd to 4th level readers.   paid App Cost:  $1

also from the same company:  same sound express, same meaning magic, same sound spellbound,

Splat-o-nym:  a game that reinforces synonyms and antonyms.  paid App.  Cost 5.00

Typing practice

BBC Dancemat typing practice  game-like typing practice  more straightforward keyboarding practice without a lot of bells and whistles