Most school districts have moved completely to digital learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, so I wanted to share some of mine, and my colleagues’, favorite online tools since we’ve been 1:1 for quite a few years now.
Gimkit is […]
Most school districts have moved completely to digital learning for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, so I wanted to share some of mine, and my colleagues’, favorite online tools since we’ve been 1:1 for quite a few years now.
Gimkit is a gamification system created by a high school student. He loved the games in class but his teachers didn’t use them very often, so he interviewed his teachers to find out what would help them want to use a gaming system in their classrooms, and VOILA! He created Gimkit based on their suggestions. I love Gimkit and so do my students.
I use Canva in my personal life and in my classroom. Canva allows you to create posters, flyers, infographics, etc. In my classroom, I’ve had students create book recommendation flyers and infographics. A new feature that Canva has that I cannot wait to try out is Story Boards! This tool would allow for a sequenced creation for so many different classes.
EDPuzzle allows educators to make interactive videos. The videos can be filmed or an external video can be used. Then throughout the video, you can add check ins, quizzes, etc. for students to complete. Also, you receive a report of who has and has not completed the video and data of how they did on the check ins.
Screencastify allows you to record your screen with audio or video of yourself.
Quizizz allows educators to create a quiz or pick from an already created quiz for many different subjects. The quizzes are student-paced yet still a gamification system.
Nearpod takes a PowerPoint and moves it to the next level! Create or upload a presentation and add many different options such as videos, quizzes, images, drawing boards, web content, activities, etc.
Quizlet is a study tool that allows educators and students create study guides and flashcards. With each set, there are study games like matching, tests, and educators can even assign a game called Quizlet Live.
Flipgrid is a website where videos are the discussions and assignments. Teachers create grids to allow for video discussions. The grids have topics and students create videos to reply to the topic.
Pear Deck makes any Google Slide or PowerPoint presentation interactive and allows students to see the presentation on their own device. AND it pairs directly with Google Drive.
Sutori has so many uses! Students can create timelines or stories collaboratively or individually, teachers can created to share as a lesson, or teachers can create assignment templates for students to complete. This is the tool that my students used to create their interactive timeline about the fight for equal rights in America.
Padlet is like an interactive bulletin board! It has multiple ways it can be set up and can include likes or responses if the moderator wants it to. Padlet is what my class used to discuss focus questions when they were reading the same book as another class in a different state.
Any other digital tools you find super useful you want to share?
And good luck for the rest of the year!
Typically, our teaching-related posts fall on Tuesdays, but today I feel inspired, so it’s Teaching Thursday! I can’t say enough good things about my son’s kindergarten teacher. She’s so good at her job that she inspires me regularly. Whenever I volunteer in the class, I am fascinated with the ways in which literacy instruction is […]
Typically, our teaching-related posts fall on Tuesdays, but today I feel inspired, so it’s Teaching Thursday! I can’t say enough good things about my son’s kindergarten teacher. She’s so good at her job that she inspires me regularly. Whenever I volunteer in the class, I am fascinated with the ways in which literacy instruction is similar and different for kindergarten.
One of the things she does is called “book in a bag.” All of the kindergarten team uses this method/idea and maybe this is an idea that is common for this age level, but it makes my son very happy, so I thought I’d blog about it from a parent’s perspective! The children each have a bag that is labeled with their name. They bring home a book to read in the bag. Their job is to reread it as many times as they need until they can master the book. The teacher stressed that this should be fun. If the children get frustrated or aren’t having fun, then the program is not serving its purpose.
This is what I love about my son’s kindergarten teacher. She has them doing data analysis on mittens and gloves and she makes learning fun for my son. He looks forward to going to school every day. For me, this is what I want for him—I want him to love school as much as I do. Also, this is differentiation!
So my son excitedly brings home his book and slowly reveals it from his backpack for the whole family to see his next book before dinner. He taps at the door when I am feeding his baby brother and whispers, “Can I read my book in the bag to my baby brother? He’s the only one who hasn’t heard me read it yet.” And he holds up the book to us as he reads it, so we all can see the pictures. The repetition is helping him, and this is rereading at its best. So before we hop into bed to read, he pulls out his book one last time for the day to practice the words and to proudly show off his reading skills. As a parent, I love how happy this makes my kid, and the ownership feels with his book makes him enjoy reading even more. <3
My students love the Weird but True books by National Geographic, but one thing they don’t like about the books are the lack of information found in the books. Because of this, as we chatted in class, we decided to make a class “Weird But True” presentation with not only the weird and true facts but with extra information and sources!
All three of my classes all worked in the same Google Slides presentation and built this amazing document of fascinating facts:
Weird But True
Please view the Google Slides presentation to see the extra information in the Speaker Notes.
This was such a fun and interesting project! It made students check on facts, learn about reliable sources, and learn all sorts of interesting and fun facts!
Orange County Public Schools’ Innovation Office opened in 2018 to support identified “Schools of Innovation” and to support staff in the implementation and development of innovative practices within and across these schools. My school was lucky enough to be considered a “School of Innovation” when the learning community […]
Orange County Public Schools’ Innovation Office opened in 2018 to support identified “Schools of Innovation” and to support staff in the implementation and development of innovative practices within and across these schools. My school was lucky enough to be considered a “School of Innovation” when the learning community opened in 2018. Then, in the Spring of 2019, the Innovation Office began recording their Appetite for Instruction podcast, and my colleague, Caitlin Chacon, and I were so lucky to be asked to participate.
Our podcast episode was titled “Unleashing Young Readers,” I’m assuming as an homage to this blog, and we shared what literacy instruction looks like at our school, both in the podcast and the companion write up:
Happy listening 🙂
The best way to learn what kids are thinking & feeling is by listening to them, so I am happy to share my students’ voices!
Books That Made Me Realize I’m a Reader by Jacque S., 8th Grade
- So B. It: While reading this book, it put me in an emotional level and game me a reminder of reality.
- Dark Life: I loved reading this book. I really enjoyed reading it.
- Percy Jackson series: While reading this book, it was so good that I needed to talk to someone about it, so I recommended it to a friend so we could talk about it.
- Stung: This book blew my mind, and I just had to read the second one. I could reread this book and never get bored.
- The Eleventh Plague: This was one of the first books I read and enjoyed, and it got me into reading more.
- False Prince: While reading this book, there were many plot twists and it did surprise me.
- Feedback: This book was amazing! I never expected anything that happened. It was very suspenseful.
Top Ten Books for a Book Club by Jacob & Cooper, 6th Grade
- The Honest Truth: Lots of twists that create emotion and conversation.
- Mark of the Thief: Lots of action and plot twists that lead to intensity and conversation.
- The War That Saved My Life: Not predictable plot leads to mystery and entertainment.
- Life on Mars: An emotional book that keeps the reader turning pages and conversations flowing.
- The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: A bestseller that is very magical and has heart.
- The False Prince: Lovely book about truth and doing the right thing.
- Grenade: Lots of plot twists that keep the book exciting and readers talking.
- Middle School: The Worst Years of my Life: Very fun look at school that middle schoolers can relate to.
- Orphan Island: Very interesting book that leads to questions and mystery.
- Ravenmaster’s Secret: Did this one in class, and it was very fun. Many great conversations and opinions.
Top 10 Fantasy Series We’ve Read (in no particular order) by Maria & Lisa, 6th Grade
- Emily Windsnap series: It is a really exciting and colorful story, but there is also lots of adventures in it.
- Dog Man series: It is a really fun story and is also super funny!
- School for Good and Evil series: You won’t know what will happen next; it’s always a surprise! It’s so detailed and super adventurous. Lastly, you will find out something new each chapter.
- Ever After High series: A great series! It’s all about team work which makes the dream work. It has many books in the series. You will never know what will happen next!
- Phoebe and Her Unicorn series: Super funny and always puts our frown upside down. Lots of books in the series, and I hope there is more to come with Phoebe and her unicorn.
- Hazardous Tales series: Such a good series. It mixes history, fun, and excitement in one story.
- Warriors series: It has a lot of adventure and so many great characters. Such a great series!
- Amulet series: The drawings are super creative just like the story. Each book connects to the next!
- Captain Underpants series: It’s a great series! It is super funny and makes my day happy!
- Percy Jackson series: It makes Greek mythology into a story and an action packed adventure that keeps you on your toes.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events: Super mysterious and adventurous.
Quick Book Talks for 10 Must Read Books by Jordan Klinkbeil, 7th Grade
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan: Percy isn’t expecting to wake up in a magical camp full of Greek demigods, but he does and he has to try and save his mother as well… fun.
- The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen: The prince of Carthya is dead… right?
- Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter: There’s no spy training school! Are you sure about that?
- One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus: Wait…what?! A major gossip-spreader dies in detention. Was it the jock? The brains? The beauty? The criminal?
- Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick: What is up with the kid, Patch Cipriano? And why has Nora’s life spun out of control since he appeared?
- Renegades by Marissa Meyer: Tale of good versus evil, but who is the good and who is the evil?
- War Cross by Marie Lu: Hacking into a broad-casted video game? No problem. Get a call from the game’s creator? Problem.
- The Fault in our Stars by John Green: Cancer brought them together but loves keeps them together. Boring? Not.
- Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones: What will happen when an illness cure gives people superpowers?
- Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard: Mare Barrow is a Red. A normal. However, how come can she control electricity then?
Top 5 Anthropomorphic Books by Alexandra, 8th Grade
- Lone Wolf (Wolves of the Beyond #1): Faolan, a wolf pup, was born with a splayed paw. The laws of the pack say that any pup born with a deformity is to be left to die. This book is a story about how Faolan defied his fate and survived, with help of a grizzly bear. This book is a good story about survival, feeling outcasted, and family.
- The Escape (Horses of the Dawn #1): This book is about a herd of horses who were thrown out to sea. Estrella, a young foal, knows the way to land. Once they reach land, it’s up to her to lead the herd to safety, away from the dangers of humans, and the wilderness. This book is really exciting to read, especially all the adventures the herd goes on and reading about all their new experiences on land.
- The Dragonet Prophecy (Wings of Fire #1): This book is told from the point of view of dragons, which is interesting to read about. The five dragonets are destined to fulfill a prophecy that will stop a war that has lasted 20 years. For now, they’re stuck living under a cave in order to stay hidden, but they want to see the world. Little do they know about the dangers that await them.
- Mez’s Magic (Lost Rainforest #1): In the world of Caldera, animals are separated by who is awake at night and who is awake during the day. Mez, a nightwalker panther, finds herself still awake during the day. Mez begins to discover mysterious powers and learns a big secret when a strange snake appears outside her den. This book is a great story told from the point of view of Mez, and there is a lot of action and mysteries in this book.
- Into the Wild (Warriors #1): Rusty, a housecat, has always been curious about the outside world. One night, he ventures out into the woods despite warning from his friend. There, he finds a few wild cats who invite him to join their clan. Rusty makes the choice to join them and finds it a challenge to fit in and live wild. This is an interesting book told from the point of view of Rusty, and it is a new concept of wild and stray cats forming clans and traditions.
Favorite Books Read this Year by Molly, 7th Grade
- The Ascendance Trilogy by Jennifer Nielsen
- The False Prince is a fiction fantasy that puts 4 boys up to the test to be a prince. This book reveals the truth about Sage and everyone shows their true colors.
- Runaway King shows how everyone betrays each other. Sage has to overcome pirates with a few other friends. This book is amazing because the plot twists are brilliant.
- Shadow Throne shows how war is brewing throughout the kingdom.
- The Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu
- The Young Elites is a dark fantasy fiction. Many people are affected by the blood fever which also comes with supernatural powers.
- The Rose Society is an incredible book because it shows the inner thoughts and voices going through the main character, Adelina.
- Midnight Star definitely is the book that made me love reading. Adelina and her friends show courage, strength, and bravery. This book teaches sacrifice, kindness, bravery, and courageness.
- War Cross dulogy by Marie Lu
- War Cross is a science fiction novel about a virtual reality game where teams play to win it all. There are hackers, team players, romances, and friendships.
- Wild Card has Emika solving the mystery of who is actually the bad guy while she makes new friends along the way.
- Hate List by Jennifer Brown: A traumatic event at school changes everything.
Ten Book Series for 6th Graders (in no order) by Olivia, 6th Grade
- Jedi Academy by Jarrett J. Krosoczka & Jeffery Brown: The first 3 books of the series are about one group of kids and the next ones are about a different group of kids. I like that it is an illustrated novel, so it does have pictures but also a lot of words. It is a very joyful series.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling: I love this sereis because you go through all the books going through Harry’s and his friends’ lives. Also since the series is so long you can grow closer to the characters. Last, it is never boring and is always action-packed.
- Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson: I love this series because I love Diseny, and it talks about Disney but is not kiddish–it has a lot to do with villains. Last, the kids are in middle school, and I can relate to them.
- Smile series by Raina Telgemeier: I like this series because it is a graphic novel about the author’s life. It has one book about her and one about her and her sister.
- The Baby-Sitters Club graphic novels by Ann M. Martin, Raina Telgemeier, and Gale Galligan: I love this series because you can read it as a graphic novel or a standard book. Also, each book is from a point of view of a different character.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney: I like this series because there are so many books. Also, it is an illustrated novel which I like.
- House Arrest series by K.A. Holt: I think this is a good series because it has action and drama. Also, it has an interesting storyline.
- Who Is/Was series by Various: I like learning about famous people in very fun ways.
- Track series by Jason Reynolds: I like that each book is about a different character. I also like that it is about track.
- I Survived series by Lauren Tarshis: This series is great because it teaches you about important events in history but in very interesting ways by having kids go through the events.
Recommended Books for Middle Schoolers by Damon & Nathan, 6th Grade
Five Books/Series You Should Read by Duda, 7th Grade
- Nyxia series by Scott Reintgen: Nyxia is about Emmett Atwater who is chosen by the Babel company to go to a planet called Eden and mine the strange substance known as nyxia. In return, he gets money to support his family forever; however, Emmett isn’t the only recruit, and they all need to earn their ticket to Eden. But the ship is full of secrets. Is the money worth losing his humanity? A super fun read with a complex, well-developed, and diverse cast. The plot is incredible with plenty of twists and turns.
- Heist Society series by Ally Carter: Many families have family businesses, but Katarina Bishop’s is especially interesting: her family business is pulling heists. But Kat decides she wants out and scams her way into boarding school… that is until her best friend, Hale, shows up with her expulsion. Five paintings have been stolen and her dad is the prime suspect. Will she be able to steal them back and save her dad? An amazing read. You can’t help but fall in love with the characters. Super witty and funny with a well thought out plot.
- War Cross duology by Marie Lu: Emika Chen is a bounty hunter tracking down players who illegally bet on the popular virtual reality game Warcross. She’s in a financial situation where she needs money, so she takes a risk and hacks into the International Warcross Championships and can be seen! She attracts the attention of the creator of the game, Hideo Tanaka. He wants her to spy from the inside to uncover a security issue. But when she discovers a plot that could topple the Warcross empire, what will she do? Not only are the characters wonderful and the plot has an amazing pace plus incredible twists, but the setting adds an amazing element. It’s fascinating how the book completely transports you into another world.
- V is for Villain by Peter Moore: Brad Baron may be a genius but compared to his superhero brother, he’s pretty lame. Especially in a school full of people with superpowers. So when he meets the mysterious Layla, he decides to join her crew of like-minded individuals. He even hones his own power! But with wicked criminals, battles, and family secrets, what side will Brad choose? Complex characters and a completely different world will make you question who the good and bad guys are.
- Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling: Moving to a new school and house is always hard, but it is a little harder when you don’t have arms. But Aven Green doesn’t let that stop her! She can do whatever she wants including making a new friend who knows what it is like to have a disability. He joins her in uncovering a mystery and from there, the sky is the limit. An amazing and sweet read! Aven is an incredible narrator who puts a fun twist on her life when others can’t.
Books I Hope Get a Sequel (and that you should read!) by Elsa, Max, & Kaley, 8th Grade
- Maybe a Fox: Although the story had a great ending, I would have loved to see a story about Jules’s friend and how his brother came back from the war as well as his spirit animal.
- Ghost Boys: I loved how Ghost Boy was made, but I would love to see another book about how one of the Ghost Boys help MLK keep going and eventually make an act that all men are equal.
- Eliza and her Monsters: I loved the way that the plot of this book unfolds, I just wish it lasted longer! A sequel could include Eliza in college with her new-found confidence.
- Everything, Everything: (SPOILERS!) The end of the book purposely left a lot of loose ends, and I’d love to see how Maddy and Olly’s relationship develops in the new setting.
- The Darkest Hour: I’d love for a sequel to this book even though it may not need one. I would like to see how Lucie dealt with the after effects of the war and what job she would pick up after.
- Heartless: Simply because after reading Heartless, I was left heartless and empty. I want more.
Thank you everyone for your great lists!
In-Class Book Clubs are one of my favorite units that I do in my classes. They are my version of lit circles but with the only job of all students is to read, analyze, and discuss. These book clubs build community, stamina, and reading love in my classroom.
I’ve shared a few times about these in-class book clubs. First in April, 2018 where I went over the basic procedures of the book clubs and then in November, 2018 where I shared my students’ choices for this year’s clubs. Now, I am happy to share how this school year’s clubs went!
I did things a little bit differently this year. I had noticed that students were understanding the basics of the narrative and loving the reading but weren’t meeting the standards. I had to make sure to help guide their thinking but also I didn’t want to make the act of reading tedious. It is a slippery slope that I know I am always going to be reflecting about.
Because of this, I went with thought logs this year. A thought log was a strategy I was introduced to by my teacher friend Sarah Krajewski. Thought logs have four boxes for students to take notes while reading. My thought logs had two constant boxes: 1) Important details & 2) Conflict. Important details allowed them to just take notes on anything important that happened and the conflict box had them track the progress of the conflict. The other two boxes changed for each thought log: Confusion, Characters, Setting, My Feelings, Change, & Theme/Impact. Additionally, I added a bottom to my thought log that asked the students to come up with three open-ended discussion questions. Here’s our first thought log, so you can see an example:
Other than the new thought logs, everything else stayed the same: Students chose their books, I made their groups, we came up with class book club norms, they created their schedule, they met once a week, at the end of the unit I gave an individualized standards-focused assessment, and the kids LOVED it.
Well, everyone stayed the same until the end. At NCTE 2018, I went to one of Kelly Gallagher’s sessions and he shared a way he connects nonfiction and fiction when his students are reading novels: He has the students find nonfiction text features that connect to their novel. I decided to try this with my students, and I loved it!
As a book club, my students found two nonfiction elements (maps, graphs, images, etc.) that would help the reader of their book have their experience enhanced. They then said what page they would place the element and explain why it is important.
Here are some of my favorites:
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
Rules by Cynthia Lord
Resistance by Jennifer Nielsen
Ravenmaster’s Secret: Escape from the Tower of London by Elvira Woodruff
Reflection: I’m not completely sold on the Thought Logs yet. I don’t want to kill the joy of reading. Ever. But my job is to teach standards, too. Always a conflict within me, and we’ll see what I decide next year! I will say that I loved the nonfiction element, so I think that will stay. Until next year!
I am in the struggle zone, and I’d love your help. Next semester, I am teaching a co-taught college course with a history professor. Students will be examining several social movements and forms of collective action. The history professor is in charge of the historical background and currency of each social […]
I am in the struggle zone, and I’d love your help. Next semester, I am teaching a co-taught college course with a history professor. Students will be examining several social movements and forms of collective action. The history professor is in charge of the historical background and currency of each social movement, and I am in charge of the stories within the movement. Students will then go on to explore a different social movement of their choosing and read a YA text that relates to the movement. I am VERY excited.
For three weeks, we will be considering the #metoo movement. For whatever reason, I seem to read more books related to issues of race, immigration, sexuality, etc. than books about sexual assault. I’ve created a list of the books I am considering, and admittedly, I’ve only read half of them. Now that I know it is a weak spot, I am going to fix it. However, I’d love your help in narrowing this list to the books that you recommend that I read first.
These are the books that I’ve read and plan to include because they offer a lot of opportunities for discussion:
- McCullough, J. (2018). Blood water paint. New York, NY: Dutton.
- Reed, A. (2017). The nowhere girls. New York, NY: Simon Pulse.
(Also, excerpts from Kelly Jensen’s Here We Are.)
I need to decide on three more titles. Listed below are the books that I want to read in the next three weeks to see if they will work well within a discussion of the social movement. I am looking for books that are very well-written and that will give much fodder for discussion:
- Anderson, L. H. (2019). Shout. New York, NY: Penguin.
- Blake, A. H. (2018). Girl made of stars. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
- Hartzler, A. (2015). What we saw. New York, NY: HarperTeen
- Kiely, B. (2018). Tradition. New York, NY: Margaret K. McElderry.
- Mathieu, J. (2017). Moxie. New York, NY: Roaring Brook.
- Russo, M. (2016). If I was your girl. New York, NY: Flatiron.
I have all of these books on my nightstand, so access isn’t an issue. I plan to read them all within the next couple of months, but I’d love your advice of which I should read first! If I am missing a great book, please let me know. I’d like it to be a book published within the last 3-4 years because students tend to have read books older than that range.
Feel free to message me if commenting isn’t your jam. 😉 Thank you in advance!
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