Monday, February 18, 2013

All good things...

...must come to an end! My classmates and I have spent several weeks researching, reflecting, and using various Web 2.0 technologies. It's been very inspiring to see all of the creative and innovative tools that everyone has found and used. But, it's time to bid adieu to this little blog. Although this is the final post, this is not the final time we will be seeing and sharing Web 2.0 technologies. We will continue to talk, collaborate, and share technologies that have worked in our classrooms. So, this isn't "good-bye" but rather "see you later". 

Before you go, check out the cool Web 2.0 technologies I have found on my classmates' blogs. Linked are the comments I made.


**Note: this does not include the comments I have made on my own blog in response to others. **

Super Teacher Tools-Tools I Use!

Previously, I posted about the website Super Teacher Tools. I use this site in my classroom regularly, but not daily. I decided to show you some of the tools that I use from the site more frequently. So look below to see some of the tools I use to help manage my classroom!

The tool I use most frequently is the countdown timer. As you know, students need a lot of classroom structure to be successful. Often when we are doing writing, I tell the students how many minutes they have to complete their work. I might say "Look at the clock, when the big hand is on the 9 then we are going to be finished". This helped guide the students, but they still have a difficult time conceptualizing how long time really is. Using the countdown timer helps them visually see how much time they have left and keep track of their work.
It has also helped with my new student intern. This is my first time being a mentor teacher and my intern has had some difficulty with the timing and pacing of the lessons she is teaching. Having this countdown timer has helped her in the classroom as well!

I also use the Instant Classroom feature of Super Teacher Tools to help manage my classroom. You can create several groups (I'm not sure how many) and can manipulate the groups several ways to help plan your classroom.

The first thing you want to do is create your group/class list. You can add up to 100 students in a group! This would be ideal if you were doing a whole grade activity. All you have to do is type your student names and click save! Then you will be able to use those names to do any of the other features on the site. You can also upload a class list if you have several names to type.

You can also upload pictures to your class lists and match them to student names. This would be great in the beginning of the year, especially if you are a middle or high school teacher, and have a lot of student names and faces to learn! I tried doing this with my first group and found it less than ideal. It took a LONG time to even upload one picture-so long, in fact, that I only uploaded two pictures. Once the pictures were uploaded they were very small. Many of the features won't even let you use the pictures. Since I only work with about 20 students, this feature isn't necessary for me.

I use the group maker a lot during content and math games when materials are more limited. All you have to do is select how many students you want in each group and the site groups them for you. IF you have any remainders, you can distribute them to other groups. I wish that you could also tell the site how many groups you want versus how many students in each group. When I teach science I know I have four kits and therefore need four groups, since my personal math facts are not the quickest, it can be hard for me to figure out how many students would be in each group quickly. Other than that, this is a very useful feature since we do a lot of cooperative group activities in first grade.

I also use the random name generator in my classroom. We use this a lot in writing when we brainstorm lists together and each student has the job to write about one thing. Then we create a class book. We do a lot of Alpha-Charts when we are learning a new topic and this tool helps me to assign students to each letter. It's also useful when picking students to sign up for Clubs on Club Friday. All you do is hit the arrows and it goes through your class list. At the end, you have the option to start again!

This is an example of one of the names in the random name generator. I also wanted to include this so you could see the size of the photo after you upload it.

One feature I wanted to dive into a little bit more was the seating chart. Sam had asked me about this in my previous post, so I wanted to learn a little more. This feature is ok, but there could be improvements. You can change the size of the desks, which is nice because the default ones are huge and difficult to manipulate on one screen. The movement is an easy click and drag option. I wish you could rotate the desks as well, so it's easier to visualize your classroom set up. What is nice is that you can include empty desks to help arrange the classrooms, but the empty desks disappear even after you click "save changes". It's also nice to be able to print your set-up. I change my desks every quarter and I like having the paper plans in my hand as I'm moving all the desks around the room so I don't have to keep running back to my computer.

I hope you enjoyed learning about some of the Super Teacher Tools and I hope that you find something "super" to help you in your classroom!!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Raz Kids-Teacher Features!

From my previous post, you can probably tell that I LOVE the website RazKids and I use it in my classroom daily. In my last post I showed you a lot of the student aspects. But, as a teacher, I actually use this site a lot to help guide my instruction and see the individual needs for all of my students! I took some screenshots of some of the amazing features that RazKids offers in their teacher section of the site.

This is a screenshot of my log-in. In the top right corner of each teacher's home screen, you will see a place for the teacher to log-in with their given password and access additional information about your class. You can add students to your roster, change reading levels, and check-in to see how your students are doing. Parents can also request access to view reports on their individual child.

One of the features that I use frequently are the class messages. I can send a little message to individual students who are working hard or to the class as a whole. I can also attach extra stars to the message. They students always love seeing the notes I write and it keeps them motivated to check in often to their page to see if they have any new messages or stars from me!

This is a screenshot of the active students in the class. You can access this by logging into the teacher account, but I also have this emailed to my school account weekly. Here I am able to see which students are using RazKids, how long they spend on the site, how many books they have read/listened to/took a quiz on, how many stars they have earned, and even how much time they spent in the Raz Rocket.
One feature that the students really like on the site is the fact that they can record and listen to themselves reading a story. I also have access to all of the recordings that the students make. They are listed in the "assignment" section of the site. This is great because you can listen to the recording and see the book at the same time. They also have an option to take notes on the students as you are listening to the recording. (ex: needs work on blends, rereads often, fluency, expression, etc.) This is wonderful to talk to parents about at conferences so they can see what they need to work on with their child at home.

You can also assign running records to students. You can select between fiction and non-fiction texts, and the students must complete the running record before they are able to do anything else on Raz Kids. It's very similar to the recordings, but you also are given a running record sheet and are able to calculate how well they do on a given level text based on the number of errors.
 
The feature I use the most often is the Skill Reports. This is a screenshot of the skills of my class as a whole. It shows you how many questions of each comprehension category has been answered and the percentage the class gets correct. It shows me which comprehension skills I could be focusing on when doing read alouds or in reading group with the students.

You are also able to access the Skill Report for individual students. As you can see this student needs continued work on Fact and Opinion and Phonological Awareness. These are skills that I can hone in on when the students are working in reading group or while I'm conducting individual reading conferences with students during Read to Self of Daily 5.
I also use the quiz summary. This shows me the score each student got on each quiz they took and also the skills that they missed. If a missed skill keeps occurring, like Fact/Opinion or Vocabulary, I can make sure to hone in on that with the student. This is different than the Skill Report because this also gives you the date, which allows me to see if this problem is persistent, new, or seems to be resolved.

All in all, Raz Kids is a great site for students, teachers, and parents alike. It really gives you a comprehensive overview on your individual students as readers.

Claco Revisited!

I was really excited to learn about the website Claco. It sounds like such an interesting idea: a place where teachers can share and organize different files, videos, games, and websites that are all aligned with the Common Core curriculum. I requested an invite right away, but unfortunately, Claco is still in the beta phase of development. Because of this, it can take 4-6 weeks for a request for an invite to be met. This timeline isn't ideal for our Web 2.0 blog projects, but fortunately I was still able to explore some of the features. I was able to look at different profiles of current Claco user and see some of the features the website has to offer. Just from browsing around, the website seems very user-friendly and can be customized to fit the needs and the lessons of each individual teacher using it. I did a small screen-cast of one of the profiles I explored, so check it out and see some of the exciting features I discovered. If you currently use Pinterest, Claco is very similar except that it is solely for education! I hope to get my invite request granted soon, because it seems like a very promising site!!

video

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Super Teacher Tools

One of the Web 2.0 tools that I've started using this year has been Super Teacher Tools. It's very user-friendly and has a wide variety of tools that can be used in the everyday classroom. I can see teachers using it in kindergarten through grade twelve classrooms. The site is broken down into four main sections. You can easily access these sections by using the top toolbar. 


The Games section consists of different review games that are customizable for the teacher. The games range from Jeopardy, to Who Wants to be a Millionaire, to original board games. Once you click the game you want to use, you can add your own questions and answers so students are able to review the content which they need. You can also view games in the library that are created by other teachers. Since I don't usually give tests in first grade, aside from the quarterly math tests, I don't use this feature as often.

The Tools section is the one I use most often. Here, you are able to create seating charts, a random name generator, student groupings, and a timer/countdown. By creating a free account, you can save a class list so you are easily able to form groups and use the name generator without constantly uploading your student names.

For Fun has a few games and sites that allow the user to get information on the world. There is a population counter, a random fact desk, and flash lottery to name a few. These are resources used to help enrich the curriculum in classrooms.

The final section is Webmaster Tools. This links you to a sister site called Classroom Update. On this site, you are able to create free classroom websites. This is a useful website for those looking to create a free and simple site, but the number of layout options are limited and it seems less user friendly. I still find Weebly to be a superior website creation site.

If you have some time, check out Super Teacher Tools! I hope you find a lot of useful resources that you can incorporate into your classroom too!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spelling City Update

I have been exploring the web 2.0 site, SpellingCity.com, to get a better understanding of some of the features it has to offer. One area that was new to me were the teaching resources. On the teacher resource section, teachers are able to explore articles, find already created-useful word lists, and get lesson ideas for teaching different phonics and parts of speech skills. The teaching lessons were the most intriguing to me, but many of them seemed suited for intermediate aged (3rd-5th grade) elementary students. Some example topics include: analogies, verb tenses, and figurative language. There were a few categories that I discuss with my first graders, so I decided to look at compound words. Once you click on your topic, you are taken to a page with different in class activities to teach this topic and sample word lists that range from first grade all the way through twelfth grade! You are also able to watch videos, see enrichment activities and play games with already created word lists! I could see myself using this with some of my reading groups in the future. Right now, my on grade level students are working on contractions, so I'm excited to see if this aspect of the site helps them!

video
This screen recording shows some of the different activities I explored when checking out the teaching resources. Take a look!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Claco

I recently became aware of a Web 2.0 site for teachers. It's called Claco and it's a website that allows teachers to share and explore different lesson plans that align with the Common Core curriculum. From my understanding, it seems like a bit of a mixture between Facebook and Pinterest. Teachers are able to create "binders" for their different classes/subjects that they teach. They are able to put lessons found on Claco into their binders so they are able to easily refer to them and implement them into their own classroom. To become a member of the site, you must be invited. I requested an invite and hope to learn more about it soon! In the meantime, check out these videos I found which describes some of the features of Calco.


This is a video from the creator of Claco. He describes basically what Claco is and why this website came to be.


This is a video made by a Claco user. He is describing a basic how-to get started with the site.

Raz-Kids

Raz-Kids.com is a great Web 2.0 tool for teachers of reading in the elementary grades. It allows teachers to create a customizable class reading page where students are able to read both fiction and nonfiction texts that are on their individualized reading level. Each teacher page has a maximum of 36 student pages. Each level consists of about 19-20 books. Students must listen to, read, and pass quizzes (except on the emergent level) on each book before they are able to move onto the following level. A task bar at the top f each student page allows the students to monitor their own progress. Students earn stars by completing activities. They are able to "spend" their stars to decorate their own Raz Rocket. It's a great site because students are able to work on it independently, it's customizable to meet each individual student and their level, and the levels correspond with the benchmark system used in Howard County. The only downside is that it's not a free site, but luckily my school pays for it! Below are some screenshots to help you get a better understanding of this website! Enjoy!!

 This is a screenshot of my class home screen. Each student clicks on their icon to access their books. As the teacher, I am able to download log-in cards which explain to their parents how to get to Raz-Kids and it has the student icon as well.

This is an example of one of my student's pages. At the top you can see the task bar and the number of stars she has earned. At the bottom, you can see a sample of some of the books. After this student reads a book, listens to a book, or passes a quiz on a book a green check mark will appear so the student is able to keep track of the tasks they have already completed.

This is an example of one of my students' Raz Rocket Room. Everything in the room the student has bought using stars he has earned by reading and taking quizzes!