Wednesday, October 29, 2014

By Request - 5 Good Sites and Apps for Elementary School Language Arts Lessons

Earlier this week I received an email from a reader who was looking for "the best sites and apps for elementary school students." That is a very broad question and I rarely say that any site or app is "the best" because what's best for my students may not be the best for another teacher's students. That said, I'm putting together a response to the question in the form of four lists of sites and apps for elementary school. There will be a list for math, science, social studies, and language arts. The math list is available here. Today's list is about language arts resources.

Building Language for Literacy is a set of three nice little language activities from Scholastic. The activities are designed for pre-K and Kindergarten students. Leo Loves to Spell asks students to help a lobster named Leo identify the first letter of a series of spelling words arranged in a dozen categories. Reggie Loves to Rhyme features a rhinoceros that needs help identifying the words that rhyme with objects found in places like the home, the garden, and the supermarket. Nina the Naming Newt needs help identifying the objects that belong in places like the home, the store, and the firehouse.

Sproutster is a free iPad game that has a concept similar to the one behind Free Rice. The difference between the two games is that Sproutster wants you to spell words and Free Rice wants you to guess the definition of words. Sproutster asks you to spell three to five letter words by catching letters in a bucket as the letters rain down on you. You don't need to catch all of the letters. You just need to catch letters in sequence to spell any word that you like (proper nouns don't count). When you have spelled a word dump it out to make a plant grow. When the plant has reached its full size you move on to the next level. For each plant that is grown Sproutster donates 30-50 grains of rice to the UN WFP.

Reading Bear is a free service that offers narrated lessons on recognizing and pronouncing letters and words. There are also some lessons on prefixes and suffixes. Students can control the pace of each lesson to match their needs. After each lesson on Reading Bear students can take quizzes to test their skills. The quizzes present a picture and a set of words. Students have to match the correct word to the picture that they see. Through the narrator, students receive instant feedback on each question in the quiz.

Vocabulary Spelling City offers a database of more than 42,000 spelling words and sentences. The words and sentences can be customized for your students. This means that Vocabulary Spelling City supports US and UK spellings of words like "favorite" and "favourite," "color" and "colour." Teachers can use Vocabulary Spelling City to create custom lists of words for their students to practice spelling and to study the definitions of those words. To help students learn the proper pronunciation of the words on their practice lists Vocabulary Spelling City provides clear, spoken recordings of every word. Students can play games, study words, and quiz themselves on the spellings of the words on their lists. Vocabulary Spelling City allows teachers to print activities for use in their classrooms when their students don't have access to computers. Vocabulary Spelling City offers an iPad app to complement the website.

The Early Childhood Education Network's Literacy Center provides young students with online learning activities in four languages. The Literacy Center provides tutorials and games in English, Spanish, German, and French. The tutorials and games are designed to teach students the alphabet, writing the alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors, phonics, and basic spelling. Each section begins with a tutorial before moving on to ask students to apply their new knowledge to an activity. For example, in the alphabet section students first hear and see each letter before being asked to form the letters.

Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments - An Open University Series

Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments is a short series of instructional videos produced by The Open University. Each of the four videos in the series features a short lesson followed by directions for an experiment that you can carry out to see the lesson's concepts in action. The four lessons are on avalanches, tornadoes, floods, and dust storms.

Applications for Education
The videos in the Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments series probably aren't terribly engaging. That said, Wild Weather Kitchen Experiments could be a good place to find ideas and directions for activities that your students can do in your classroom. Depending upon the age of your students, you may have to modify some of the experiments.

Visualizing Emancipation - An Interactive Map for U.S. History Students

Visualizing Emancipation is an interactive map developed by historians at the University of Richmond. The purpose of the map is to show how the institution of slavery slowly came to an end during the Civil War. The events on the map are based upon newspaper reports, official military and government records, personal papers, and books.

While viewing the Visualizing Emancipation map you can choose to display emancipation events according to source type or event type. There are ten event types included on the map. Those events types include topics like "African-Americans Helping the Union," "Orders or Regulations," and "Fugitive Slaves." You can also choose to view the map as an animated heat map that depicts emancipation activities as the Civil War progressed.

Applications for Education
The "for teachers" section of Visualizing Emancipation offers a small collection of lesson plans and questions to guide your use of the map in your classroom. One of the lesson plan activities that I would use is the activity on local emancipation. The local emancipation activity features a series of questions designed to get students thinking about the reasons why slaves in some parts of the United States were emancipated before others. The questions prompt students to utilize some of the information found on the interactive map in formulating their answers.

H/T to Maps Mania

How to Import Quizzes Into Your Socrative Account

Last night and this morning I had a handful of people ask me for guidance on finding and using quizzes on Socrative's spreadsheet of more than 1,000 shared quizzes. As is often the case, the best way to help is to create a quick screencast of the process. In the video embedded below I demonstrate how to find quizzes and import them into your Socrative account.

Disclosure: Socrative's parent company, MasteryConnect, is an advertiser on this blog.