The Gifts That Keep on Giving

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I love when I find things that can be helpful to my colleagues. Sometimes I stumble across them, sometimes I find them because I am on Twitter at the right time, and other times they find me because I am a subscriber to a particular site or blog.

Today is one of those days.

While scrolling through Twitter, I came across this tweet from @KarlyMoura:

How can we move away from traditional homework especially in elementary?

Try ditching those homework packets with family choice boards! Brilliant post by @TechCoachSusan Includes ideas, examples, and a template to get started!

Who would not click on that?! So of course I did and found a fabulous idea and set of resources for Pk-1 teachers in both English and Spanish which I am sure that teachers in grades 2-5 could easily modify to create their own. The teacher who wrote the blog post shared that she and her colleagues wanted to move away from traditional homework packets and create activities that would bridge school and home. Thus the interactive home activity choice boards were designed. Each week a new board with nine different options is sent home. Parents, guardians, and students can access these activities and instructions via QR code scanner or web browser allowing them to interact with them on the go as well as at home. The teachers have thought of everything and send home the reusable tools students may need at the beginning of the school year and throughout in the homework folder. You can click to read more about it here and then view the choice boards and templates for PK-1.

You know I am a big fan of Epic and recently Rivet and that is not changing. This next website/app is also free for teachers and students and has thousands of leveled books for children Preschool through 6th grade. It’s called Reading IQ and in it you’ll find popular titles of Newbury and Caldecott winners and other books in English and Spanish grouped by pre-readers, early readers, growing readers, independent readers, and Spanish readers ages 2-12. Like Epic there is a read-to-me option and like Rivet you can find books by Lexile and Guided Reading level. Sign up is easy and free. Create your account, select the grade level along with the leveling system you use in your class (Grade level, Lexile, Guided Reading, Accelerated Reader), add your students, and go! You can choose to have them take an assessment the first time they log in or not. Teachers can assign books to the whole class and students will find them both in the class library with the books at the class level at the top of their page and then books by category below; they’ll also find them on their own shelf with books at the classroom level. Definitely a great find! For reluctant or challenged readers from late elementary through high school and beyond, check out StoryShares. You can read what I wrote when I first shared StoryShares in this post.

Hello Flipgrid, how can you get any better? Well, pretty easily and actually almost daily! If you have not checked out the DISCO library (short and fun for Discovery) you should stop what you are doing and go now. The DISCO library has numerous weekly hits and featured topics ready for you to use with your class and new ones are regularly being added from places like The Met and California State Parks to name just the most recent two. So even if you are not sure what to have your students do on Flipgrid, you can just pop in to the DISCO library, find a topic, add it to your grid, and get started!

When Opportunity Comes Knocking . . .


“Teachers open doors, but you must enter by yourself” ~Chinese Proverb


When I was trying to come up with a title for this post, I thought about what kinds of things I was sharing. I realized that much of it, while presented as tips, tools, and readings, are really opportunities. Opportunities for our own learning, opportunities for our students’ learning, and opportunities to try something new.

Opportunity #1

I am excited that the Innovator’s Mindset Massive Open Online Course or #IMMOOC for short, is offering another opportunity for us to learn together as it is coming back for round 4. Whereas rounds 1-3 revolved around the reading and discussing of Couros‘ fantastic, thought-provoking book, The Innovator’s Mindset, this round includes two additional books to choose from: Katie Martin’s, Learner-Centered Innovation and A.J. Juliani and John Spencer‘s Empower. I loved participating in the previous round and looked forward to each week’s live video session as well as the weekly Twitter chat. If you would like to learn more about the previous round, you can read about it here.  This is a learning opportunity you will not want to miss.

Opportunity #2

This next opportunity is for World Language Teachers. Eric Curts always has great resources to share and this is no different. In his post, he shares 5 tools for increasing your students’ fluency with the target language including one that you probably had not thought to use this way. One of my colleagues has been using Google Hangouts with her students and she loves the authenticity of the conversations.

Opportunity #3

Equally as fantastic is this opportunity from Shake Up Learning to enhance your teaching life:  50 apps/sites that integrate with Google Classroom. As many of you know and can attest, Google Classroom makes your workflow that much smoother with your students. Having apps that integrate with Google Classroom makes using those sites even easier with their share to classroom option. I have personally used the Flipgrid, PBS Learning Media, Padlet, Nearpod,and Screencastify, as well as the Share to Google Classroom extension (which anyone who is using Classroom should immediately install) and find the integration to be seamless. It is really as easy as click, share, choose class, done!

Opportunity #4

While browsing the above post, I saw an opportunity to learn about a new resource and clicked on a site I had not heard of before– Open Ed. Open Ed is resources for teachers and students K-12 including videos, assessments, homework, lesson plans, interactives, and more. You can search by key word, grade, type of resource, standard, or school subject. Once you get your results, you can then share them with your students by printing or sharing to Google Classroom. If you create your free account, then you can create a class and assign things to your students individually, in groups, or as a whole class (similar to your options for assignments in Google Classroom). Your teacher dashboard shows you what you have assigned, what your students complete, how they did, and then offers specific additional resources for each student for each question they need more help with which you can then assign to those students. Talk about differentiation! Pop over to Open Ed to check out what they have to offer; you will not be disappointed!

Opportunity #5

This last site is an opportunity to engage your reluctant or struggling readers. A few weeks ago I heard about this next site and am excited to share it. Storyshares is a site dedicated to pairing books with struggling or disengaged readers that are compelling, age appropriate, and at the same time, are at their reading level. You can read about StoryShares here. What is great about Storyshares is it’s interactivity. You can search by interest level (late elementary through post high school), reading level (Fountas and Pinnell), or grade level (K-5). These are books written specifically to address the need for high interest and relevant books for those whose reading level is not the same as their age and maturity level. It’s really a win-win for everyone involved.

photo credit: PMillera4 Two Doors via photopin (license)