Wednesday, November 29, 2017

WriteReader - Honoring the Emergent Writing of Young Learners

This is a guest post provided and sponsored by WriteReader.

Last spring, I discovered WriteReader. Sign-up was easy and free, and the site is very user-friendly. I was pleased to find that it didn’t take hours of my time to figure it out before using it with my students.

Most importantly, it’s “kid-friendly.” It’s designed with K-5 students in mind. They can log-in easily and the simple format allows young learners to manage the site independently. There are embedded supports for students, such as large buttons and an accessible picture bank or a safe search for photos. It’s appealing, engaging, and fun!

Emergent and Conventional Writing
Our elementary school was so impressed with WriteReader that we quickly bought subscriptions for the upgraded version. The students, parents, and teachers all love it! One thing that we really love about it is that it honors the "emergent" writing of young learners. Audio support can give either the letter name or sound to the students to encourage independent work. Also, there are two spaces for writing on the screen – one for emergent writing (child) and one for conventional writing (adult). The adult does not edit or delete the child’s work. The space below is for the parent or teacher to offer feedback or encouragement, or to transcribe the child's writing into "adult" writing (using language conventions, such as correct spelling, grammar, sentence structure, sequence, and punctuation).

Another feature that we love about this app is that it encourages fluent reading. Once students have finished writing and an adult has added conventional writing underneath, the child uses his or her own writing for reading practice. Since the writing is about the child's own experiences and knowledge, it makes word prediction much easier; not all words need to be "sounded out" because the child already knows how the story unfolds. This is known as the reading-writing connection, which is deeply grounded in educational research and is widely recognized as a necessary component of effective literacy instruction.

Cross-Curricular Tech Tool
WriteReader is a cross-curricular tech tool. Other than story books, you could also use it for math/science journals, lift-the-tab books, dual language texts, makerspace logs, cards, song booklets, poetry collections, or self-assessment statements. Check out their website for lesson plans; their blog and monthly newsletter offer lots of innovative teaching ideas too.

You’ll be amazed at how engaged the children are when using this app. They are proud of their creations and are excited to read their stories aloud. Young writers and readers deserve no less.

Vicki Den Ouden (M.Ed.) is a Reading Intervention Teacher in Kelowna, BC, Canada. She has been a sessional instructor at several Canadian universities and is the TV host of “Learning Lab.” Her blog is and you can find her on Twitter at @vicki_den .

Why You Should Get a Flu Shot Every Year

I was at my local pharmacy yesterday and they had a sign encouraging people to get a flu shot. The small print on the sign pointed that you should get a flu shot every year. Your students might be wondering, "why do I have to get a flu vaccine shot again this year?" If that's the case, have them watch the new TED-Ed lesson titled Why Do You Need To Get A Flu Shot Every Year? The lesson does a nice job of explaining why influenza changes and why a new vaccine is developed.

The Top Ten of the Last Ten

My little blog is now ten years old. Yesterday, I shared a list of the things that I've seen change over those ten years. One thing that hasn't changed is that I like to share what you're reading most. Here are the ten most read posts of the last ten years.

1. Google Forms Can Now Automatically Grade Quizzes Without an Add-on
2. Click to Spin - A Fun and Free Random Name Selector
3. Vanilla Forums - Open Source Forum Software
4. 5 Handy Chrome Extensions for Teachers
5. Two Ways to Visually Show Classroom Noise
6. How to Create a Jeopardy-style Game in Google Spreadsheets
7. How to Enable Automatic Grading in Google Forms
8. Six Tools for Creating Classroom Quiz Games - A Comparison Chart
9. A New Lesson Plan Tool for Google Docs
10. Whisper for Google Classroom

Online Basics - Three New Videos from Common Craft

For those of us who use social media on a daily basis and who do most of our shopping online, it can be easy to falsely assume that everyone else is equally comfortable online. That's why I was happy to see Common Craft's new videos about online basics.

Common Craft's new online basics series contains three videos that are designed to help those new to social media, online shopping, and other elements of a digital lifestyle learn the basics.

Digital Lifestyle explains what "digital lifestyle" means and some of the benefits of social media.

Online Identity explains why a person would create an online identity.

Online Accounts explains how to create a secure username and password on a website. This is a good review for anyone, not just those who are new to using the web.

Disclosure: I have an in-kind business relationship with Common Craft.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

EquatIO is Now Free for Teachers

EquatIO is a popular tool that math and science teachers like to use for using handwriting, equation and formula prediction, and graphing in Google Forms, Sheets, Slides, and Drawings. The service is provided by TextHelp who also makes the popular Read & Write add-on for Google Docs.

This afternoon TextHelp announced that EquatIO is now free for teachers to use. To get a free teacher account just create an account on TextHelp then complete this form. Upon approval, you will be granted access to all of the premium features that EquatIO offers.

Learn more about EquatIO in the video that is embedded below.

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