Reading Fluency with Explain Everything

There’s so much more to a book than just the reading. -Maurice Sendak

8435321969_8c5a154a0a_zWe are 35 days into this school year and several of my students are reading.  They are excited when they find words and phrases they know in books and in environmental print.  They love to share with anyone who will listen words or books they can read.  Even at age 5, my students see the treasure that is unlocked when one can read.  The fire has been lit and my fervent hope is nothing and no one comes along and puts that fire out.

We are a classroom immersed in literacy all day long.  Our iPads have certainly facilitated my ability to deliver personalized literacy instruction through the “Just Right Books” I create for my students as well as various apps that we use that adapt to students’ responses. My students also have the choice to read regular books in the book center or books on their iPads.  I want them to love reading and to be able to get lost in a story, so that when the story is over, they will wish it wasn’t.  There are books I have read and when finished, I missed the characters and I thought about them long afterward.

Part of building strong readers includes assessing students, listening to them read, working on fluency, and well…just reading, reading, reading. Having 23 students makes it difficult for me to listen to every child read every day.  The iPads definitely help. I had the students in one of the reading groups open the app Explain Everything and take pictures of each page of a leveled book they wanted to read.  They then used the laser pointer to track the print.  They saved the movie to their camera roll and then uploaded it to Showbie. I am able to then listen to the child read at any time.  I can use it as documentation for running records assessment, see where the child is having trouble and then go back work directly with that child if needed.  I can also email to parents.  This also allows the child to also re-visit the recording, listen and practice along for fluency.  By saving a few of these, you can show growth (or not) at a parent conference.  Here is one example:

Explain Everything is truly a versatile app.  It is definitely one of my go-to apps in all subjects.  Consider trying it for reading.  It engages students of all reading levels and that’s never a bad thing!

Today we will do exciting new things.  Let’s get to it!

 

Book photo credit: Creative Commons

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iPads and the Common Core Standards

You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself.
― Galileo

common core 6One of the big questions I am repeatedly asked is about using iPads and implementing Common Core State Standards (CCSS).  When you study the standards and the purpose behind them, and you understand personalized learning, you can see how the two fit nicely together.

Personalized Learning is the tailoring of pedagogy, curriculum and learning support to meet the needs of the individual student.  Typically technology is used to facilitate personalized learning environments.  The CCSS are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our students need for success in college and careers. In Language Arts, the CCSS focus on students learning to read and write complex texts independently at high levels of proficiency and at a rapid rate to be effective.  The focus is on proficiency and complexity, yes, but also on independence.  We want our students to be able to do quick, on-the-run research when needed, to express their thinking verbally and in writing, and to summarize, analyze, and design without needing teachers to insert the key questions along the way or to walk them through step by step.  iPads are an ideal learning tool for these goals.  Having constant access to information, students are able to research when needed.  They are able to to write, compose, and create with various applications…all without having to wait their turn on a classroom computer.  The CCSS emphasize that every student needs to be given access to the thinking curriculum that is at the heart of the standards.

The Common Core standards is, above all, a call for accelerating students’ literacy development.  We must lift the level of student achievement.  This is not achieved by simply transferring a worksheet from paper to the iPad.  The CCSS call for true reform.  Reform needs to revolve around creating systems of continuous improvement that result in teaching toward higher expectations, personalizing learning for students-which in turn, increases rigor as well as student engagement. One way we can use iPads to implement the standards is iBooks Author.  iBooks Author allows us to create our own texts to move students up levels of complexity by providing them with many just-right, high-interest texts.

As educators, we have to enable our students to become strong and proficient readers and writers.  Using iPads, we are able to fortify our own teaching, our students’ learning and meet the high standards of the Common Core.

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