Saturday, September 3, 2016

Apps for Daily 5 (1st grade)

Daily 5 is a huge part of our day in first grade and is a time that students are working independently while I work with small guided reading groups. As anyone who teaches young children knows, this can be one of the best times of the days for both students and teacher or the most disastrous if your students struggle with independent work habits. 

As mentioned in my previous post, "Creation Apps Are Where It's At", creation apps are a majority of what we use and that holds true for a majority of my Daily 5 rotations as well. Don't get me wrong, as you will see, I do have some skill-based apps in this area as well, as I do believe there is a time and place for skill-based apps.

So, as promised here are the apps that my students utilized for Daily 5 time. 

The first picture below is a look at our main D5 page. As you can see, this page is categorized into folders to help students know which apps fit the Daily 5 area that they chose. I have screenshots below of each of these folders as well so you can better see what was in each one. Like my previous creation apps post, I won't go into specifics of each app. Although this is our D5 page, kiddos also used creation apps from the Creation page such as PicCollage, BookCreator, and Drawing Pad to show their learning at the area they were working at. I should also mention that my students had options for all Daily 5 choices that were not tech based as well. For example, for my Word Work station, we had a set of "Rainbow Drawers" that had a variety of options as well such as building sight words with popsicle sticks or using rubber stampers. This post is simply about sharing the apps that were part of their choices.
Daily 5 main page
Read to Self-
Epic!- Our main go to for Read to Self time (not including our Browsing Boxes of just right books) was Epic! This is a  FANTASTIC, FREE site for educators that offers great quality ebooks. (You can access Epic on iOs, web based-including Chromebooks, Android and Kindle) As a teacher you will set up a classroom profile with each students' name. When kiddos access their profile for the 1st time, they will pick from a variety of interests such as: sports, adventure, mysteries, etc and then Epic will provide recommendations for them based on their likes. Epic also offers Read to Me selections which is great for our early readers who just aren't quite able to read on their own. What a great way for them to have the extra support and feel just like their peers by using the same app. As students read they will earn badges for a variety of reasons (they read on Earth Day, read 5 days in a row, favorited a book and more). As they move up levels they will also unlock a variety of options to customize their avatars ( My kiddos loved getting to Level 21 when they could say they were a "Book Boss"!). My 1st graders were so motivated by the gamification aspects and as a teacher I loved that the gamification did not overshadow the true purpose for using Epic. I truly can't say enough about Epic and the variety of features available to teachers and students. It is DEFINITELY one that you want to investigate. In the future I'll be doing a post about some of the additional features that are AWESOME for teachers such as creating collections. Students were also able to participate in the #EpicPals reading/Padlet board project during their Read to Self time. If you want to know more about that click here

The first folder above, the "Read to Self E-J" was a folder that had leveled book apps from Reading A to Z. I had purchased several copies of the level E to J apps and kiddos could access these during read to self time. Here is a list of all of the levels and books in each level. If you click on the colored LAZ Level icon at the top of each list it will redirect you to the app store for each level. There are 10 books in each app, both fiction and nonfiction. The apps are a bit pricey at $6.99 each. BONUS- there is one free book for each level so you can take a peek and see if you feel it's worth spending the money. You can find those at the very bottom of each list. Again, if you click on that Free book, it will take you directly to app store to download. 

Word Work folder:
Word Work folder
Teach Me 1st grade- I've always loved the Teach Me apps. They have several levels including Toddler, Kindergarten, 1st grade through 3rd grade. The Kindergarten app is great for your very low kiddos coming into 1st grade and offers the same great format. Each app has several skills to work on and you can toggle them on and off depending on what you want your students to focus on. If you have shared devices this app is great since you can add up to 40 students. Students earn coins for correct answers and can then use their coins to buy virtual stickers, stretchy bands, etc. Again, a bit of gamification, but it does not overshadow the purpose of the app.

Word Bingo by ABCya- Practice reading and spelling over 300 Dolch sight words by playing 4 different games. My kiddos really enjoyed this and it is leveled by preprimer, primer, 1st grade, etc so kiddos can start on a level that is most appropriate for them. I found that 90% of my kiddos could start with this right at the beginning of the year. 

Making Words- I used this app during my intervention time more than the kiddos used it independently during D5 Word Work time, but it was a still a good choice for students. The app has 50 different word family lessons where students are told a word and then asked to spell it using the provided tiles on the bottom of the screen.

ABC Spelling Magic "ABC1"-This app focuses on learning to spell 3 letter, short vowel words. I found this to be a great beginning of the year app for kiddos.

Spelling Magic 2 "ABC2" This app focuses on learning to spell 4 letter, short vowel words.

Jumbled Sentences 3 and 5 - You can read more about all 9 of these free apps. I also used this during my intervention time on occasion. It was a great option for helping students to create sentences using correct sentence order. There are 3 levels that offer various amounts of support. 

iSort Words- Again, this is one that I used on occasion with my intervention group. This app offers several different games to help students sort/recognize word families. Speed Sort, Swipe Sort (like Fruit Ninja), and Push Sort.

Reading Ninja- Slice your way through 150 different 3 letter words. Teachers are able to choose the difficulty level from easy to hard.

Magnetic ABC- the link is for the free version which only includes uppercase letter. My class used the paid version which includes upper case, lower case, numbers, and more. My kiddos would use this app to practice building word families or their spelling words and would then save their creation to the camera roll. From there they would add it to Seesaw and record the words that they built. Adding it to Seesaw was a fantastic way to hold them accountable and to give them additional practice reading their words.

Word Wizard- I found this app to be useful during Writer's Workshop in addition to Word Work time. When kiddos weren't sure how to spell a word, I asked them use this app and "Have a go" at the word. 

Tic Tac Toe Phonics - Great partner game to work on various word building activities. My kiddos really enjoyed this one and would even play it during indoor recess.

Lost on Prankster Planet- by the Electric Company. We used this app more as an educational indoor recess choice but it could easily be used during D5 times. This is a collaborative game and can be played with 2-4 players and covers various 1st and 2nd grade literacy and math curriculum.

Handwriting Folder:
Handwriting folder
Letter School- Seriously the most engaging handwriting app I've found. My kiddos LOVED this. Teacher can toggle on the format that their district uses (Handwriting Without Tears, DeNelian, ZanerBloser). This app uses the guided release of responsibility method to have students practice their letters. It's definitely one to check out!

Letter Reflex- Great app for your students that struggle with b/d, p/q that uses a Tilt It or Flip It activity. I love this app and have found students make gains with their visual perception. I didn't want my kiddos that utilized this app to over do it and become sloppy, so when using this app, they would grab a 3 minute sand timer and work for 1 or 2 flips of the timer. They often would do this after they were done eating their snack while they were waiting for the rest of the class to finish their snacks.

Dexteria- Helps with fine motor skills. Fun, game-based activities. This was developed by OT's to help kiddos with fine motor skills. Letter Reflex above is made by the same company. Both are great quality apps and worth the money for the students that need help in these skills.

Letter/Sound Folder
Letter Sound folder
This folder was used mainly at the very beginning of the year by most and for my most struggling readers for as long as needed as all of the concepts revolved around letter/sound relationships.

ABC Ninja- Letter identification. Students swipe the target letter. Teachers can toggle on/off which letters you want kiddos to focus on. I also used this with my b/d, p/q, n/u reversal kiddos and turned off all letters except for the b/d or whatever letters they needed to focus on. I did this after we had done several activities together that they could scaffold off of so they could be successful. 

ABC Magic 4- Students match pictures to beginning sounds in several different formats.

Sound Sorting- by Lakeshore Learning. I LOVE this app and highly recommend it for the beginning of the year. It is a GREAT complement to Words Their Way alphabetic sorts. Students choose 3 pictures (letters) to start. They are then given 9 different picture balls which they must drag to the correct matching picture. My kiddos really loved this one. I also used this after doing Letter/Sound testing (PALS testing) at the beginning of the year by tracking which sounds students were missing. I would then have a parent helper of one of my parapros work with kiddos on the sounds they struggled with. We would choose 2 sounds that they struggled with and 1 sound that they already were secure. Doing this always gave them built-in success along with working towards securing sounds they didn't know yet.

ABC Magic Phonics 3 "ABC3" In this app only the 'sounds' of the letters are used not the letter names. I found this to be a nice progression for kiddos as we were working through letter sound correspondence.

Work On Writing:
Since you can't put apps in 2 places, we didn't have a Work on Writing folder. The Write About It app was the only Work on Writing app on our D5 page. Many of my students used Book Creator to write their own stories during Work on Writing time. Our Work on Writing station was probably the most popular area to go.
Independently done Minecraft story done in Book Creator
during Work on Writing time.

Student chose to independently add on to his plant 
journal during Work on Writing time. 

Write About it- This app gives kiddos a picture along with a writing  prompt. My kiddos often didn't care for the prompts or didn't have enough background knowledge or skill base to write about the prompt provided so I allowed them to  use the picture as their prompt but then write about it how they wanted.

If you have any questions about the apps listed above or need more information on how we used them in class, please don't hesitate to get in touch with me.
I will admit  that it does take a little more time to get your Daily 5 rotations up and going but I found that in the long run I got SO much more out of my kiddos and they were excited and engaged during Daily 5 time which gave me more quality time to read with kiddos during guided reading groups instead of playing police officer.

I'll share apps that we used in math (both creation as well as specific skill-based apps) in an upcoming post

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Flexible Seating Mini Posters

Are you implementing flexible seating this year in your classroom space or library area? I utilized flexible seating last year in my first grade classroom and LOVED it! I don't think I could every go back to everyone having an assigned spot. 

This year in my new position I don't have a classroom space, but I do have a library space in both of my buildings that both utilize flexible seating to some extent. One of the libraries was just restructured and decked out with new furniture over the summer so the students have not yet experienced it. Not only have they not experienced the new furniture, but they haven't met me yet either- so one of the first things I want to do is introduce myself and the expectations for the new space. I want students to to take ownership of this space and don't want to bog it down with tons of rules so I came up with what I hope will be 4 simple expectations that I plan to go over with each class as they come and visit.

For those that are interested, I created the mini posters to fit in these awesome little, 2 sided, 4 x 6 inch frames that I got from Michael's. IKEA has similar frames called TOLSBY frames. I love that I will be able to stand these up on some of the tables as a gentle reminder of the expectations.
If you are interested in a set of these posters you can find them on my Teacher's Pay Teachers store for free. There are 8 mini posters all together with 4 different boy and 4 different girl clips.

Click here to go to my store to download.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Creation Apps Are Where It's At (1st grade )

Over the years I've had many people ask me what apps I have on my devices or which apps I feel are the best for (insert content area here). Back when I first started using iPads there were far too many to share as I was a self-proclaimed "App-aholic!"  Over the years though, I've become much more critical of what I feel is a quality app and what I'll put on my devices for my students to use. 

This year, I felt I was finally in a place that I could say I was happy with the apps that I had on my devices and could share the purpose for each of those apps. 

Before turning my iPads in this summer, I spent some time taking screenshots to share with you. I'll start by saying that I spent a fair amount of time setting over the years up my devices so that apps were organized and categorized in a specific way to make it easier for my students to find what they needed quickly so we didn't lose any valuable learning time. Altogether, I have 4 pages on my devices-

Page 1- Creation apps

Page 2- Daily 5 apps

Page 3- Math apps

Page 4- Hidden apps 

Below you will see my main page or what we called our Creation page. This is truly where we spent a majority of our time so it only made sense for it to be the main page. For the most part I have the apps ordered in order of how I introduce them (no, I'm not so structured as to say this is exactly the order we always go in, but it seems that more often than not, Drawing Pad and PicCollage for example are the two that we always start with and so they get top spot.  

I won't go into specifics about each of the apps as you can easily go into the app store to take a closer peek and you've likely heard of many of these but here is a bit of info for you. 

iDress (by Phyllis Brodsky an ADE I met last summer who is passionate about assistive technology) was inspired by her desire to create assistive technology that would lead to great levels of independence for individuals with disabilities. This is not a creation app but rather a great tool for students to better understand how the weather correlates with what they should wear outside. My students enjoy checking the app and have become more independent in knowing what to wear out for recess rather than asking me and then grumbling because they didn't like the answer I gave them. Another nice feature is that you can customize the clothing in the closet to better align with what's appropriate in your region. There are several other great features and ways to customize as well. You can read about them on the iDress for Weather page of Pebro Productions

Drawing Pad is a great drawing tool with a lot of functionality but not too difficult for 1st graders to easily grasp and maneuver around. We used this for drawing our mental images, text-to-self connections and even students doing their own drawings for their informational text books.
Mental image from My Father's Dragon
done in Drawing Pad
Students took pictures showing
the forces of  pushes and pulls
PicCollage for Kids is one of our go-to apps. A great app when needing to use multiple pictures and then label them. Skitch works in a similar way although you are only able to use one picture at time.
Skitch- Labeling the
parts of a penguin 
Book Creator- Love this app! My students used this to create their information text projects as well as during Work on Writing to create their own stories. We also used Book Creator to create our plant journals and journal about our Mystery Skype sessions. Students are able to add text and pictures but they can also add their voice. Book Creator is a versatile tool and definitely worth the money.

Explain Everything and Doodlecast Pro are wonderful apps that work like an interactive whiteboard and you're able to also add audio to both. We used these apps quite often in math to explain our thinking. My kiddos loved the laser pointer in Explain Everything.

Popplet is a mind mapping app. We often used this for our Words Their Way sorts or showing how things were inter-related. I found this to be a wonderful tool to track my reading groups as well. 

ChatterPix Kids and Sock Puppets Both of these apps give students the ability to make things talk. In ChatterPix, students take a picture or use on from their camera roll, add a line for a mouth (all done in the app) and then record what they want their object/picture to say. Sock Puppets is great for collaborative work. Students can choose their sock puppets, you can use more than one, and then act out a social skill scenario or describe a concept.

Down on the dock I keep the apps that we use daily or weekly. The Dog Blog is my classroom blog. I use this as a portal for students to get to certain sites so they don't have to type in url's. For example, when we are doing our research projects and students need to find copyright-free images, they go to The Dog Blog to access the Links for Kids area to go to Pics4Learning. This has been an easy way to get students to various sites and also gets them excited about going on The Dog Blog at home to share things with their parents. It's a Win! Win!! scenario.

Seesaw is by far our most utilized app. Not only do we upload all of the things we create from the apps above into Seesaw, but using Seesaw also allows us to record our voice to apps that don't already have that feature built in (like Popplet or PicCollage) so that students can explain their thinking and what they have learned. Seesaw also allows students to annotate on pictures, has a drawing feature, and so much more and it's FREE. Best of all though, is the ability for parents to be connected to their child's work in Seesaw. Students now have an authentic audience and that is a GAME CHANGER!! 

If you have questions about any of the others or how I use them, feel free to ask.

In my next post, I'll share my Daily 5 page.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Totally EPIC update you don't want to miss!!!! (#EpicPals)

Collaboration is a WONDERFUL thing and Twitter is an amazing platform to bring those collaborative efforts together. 

I've had some amazing people reach out to me this summer and have created some fantastic connections to help me in my new position. One of those people is Bobbi Hopkins (@bhopteacher), a K-6 Instructional Technology Coach from New York. We've had multiple conversations over the past weeks, but yesterday after posting this month's #EpicPals info,  Bobbi contacted me to ask if I would mind if she would put together an intermediate version of #EpicPals. We tweeted back and forth and came up with a plan that we hope will allow more students at multiple grade levels to benefit from this collaborative project!!

So here it is....

Bobbi will be following the same format and will be putting together books for intermediate readers along with the coordinating Padlet boards! We're collaborating on the same Google doc so both projects will be in the same location- 
Click pic to access the GoogleDoc

1 click now = 2 choices 
(a primary and intermediate version)

The primary version will mainly be geared toward 1st and 2nd grade readers and the intermediate version will be geared more for  3rd and 4th grade readers, however, we want you to pick what you feel is best for your individual students as we all know that just because you're in 3rd grade doesn't mean you're a "3rd grade reader".

The format will look and function the same way so if you need to utilize both versions in your class there won't be a noticeable difference for your students.

I'm totally pumped about the collaborative effort behind this project and am so excited that it's able to be rolled out for the new year! 

We hope that you will be too. If you have any suggestions regarding book genres, titles, etc, please don't hesitate to reach out to myself (@smalchow) or Bobbie (@bhopteacheron Twitter with the #EpicPals hashtag.