Friday, July 31, 2009

Into the Book

I really like this resource! Into the Book allows teachers to view short video clips related to effective reading strategies. Teachers can see observable behavioral objectives related to each strategy, and there are videos that model each objective in the classroom. There are also student activities that allow them to practice each strategy in an interactive format. It's perfect for a K-4 literacy center!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Amazing Tool for Collaborative Writing

Collaborative writing has risen in popularity with the advent of web 2.0. Mixed Ink, a new site, fuses all of the elements of collaborative writing in an easy-to-use format. I think that secondary students would be very empowered by this site because it allows them to use a variety of students' facts and ideas to craft an essay. Evaluating and synthesizing the ideas of others... talk about higher levels of cognition! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Free Text to Speech Conversion

Want to make fluency practice more relevant and interesting? Want to provide access to sophisticated text for struggling readers in the middle grades? Try It is free text to speech software that operates fully "on the cloud!" Here are my favorite features:
  • Free, free, free. (Did I mention it was free?) Note that your account expires after 7 days but you can always use multiple accounts to fit your needs.
  • You can create a recording from a webpage address, .pdf, .doc, or .ppt file
  • Your recording can be downloaded in a variety of formats (even iPod format)
  • You can share recordings publicly for easy student access at home or school
Students could listen to the recordings as they follow along with the text or download recordings to their ipods to listen on-the-go. For students in higher grade levels, this can be a fantastic adaptation for difficult text. Feel free to let me know what you think!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A New Age

Thanks to Richard Bryne (an outstanding tech educator) for posting this video created by Steven Hopper at Iowa State University. It is a short, sweet video that incorporates the new view (political and pedagogical) of education. Be inspired!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Etherpad-- Great for Classrooms and PD

We've all been there-- one person is trying to scribe the thoughts of the group (students, teachers, administrators, etc.) and the general discussion breaks off into a million sidebars. Essentially, general mayhem ensues. Okay, well maybe not mayhem exactly, but you get the idea. Keep your group engaged in brainstorming this year by using Etherpad.
  • Benefits of Etherpad
  • allows multiple users to type in real time on a single document
  • free (pay versions with more bells and whistles are available)
  • no sign in is required by anyone
  • it tracks authors on the document (i.e. Who said that? Now you know.)
  • eliminates the need for someone to type up meeting notes to share with the group

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Keeping Track of Online Resources

Here's a typical conversation that I hear in classroom hallways: "I searched decimals on google and it was the third link from the top." Are you kidding me?!?!? Make your life a lot easier by using social bookmarking sites. Then you can simply direct people to your site to view direct links to all of your best resources. You can also see the resources of thousands of other people. Ahhh, works. There are lots of social bookmarking sites like diigo, and del.ic.ious but now educators have their own social bookmarking site! It is called SCHOOLNOODLE It is free. Give it a spin today. Here are the benefits of social bookmarking:
  1. Add and rate your resources
  2. Access your resources from any computer (not just your personal one)
  3. Share resources easily
  4. Access the resources of others
  5. Annotate the resources (highlighting, post it notes, etc.) online

Friday, July 24, 2009

3 Ways the Brain Creates Meaning

Tom Wujec summarizes three ways that the brain makes meaning. His insights offer excellent tips for teachers of reading and content areas. Tom uses the most current brain research available to provide information about designing graphics and making emotional connections. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Wake Up Your Faculty

Do you need to wake up your faculty to the changing needs of students today? Check out this amazing video that helps individuals recognize the power of digital media and digital communication. I think it would serve as a wonderful conversation piece for faculties at the beginning of the school year. If you are familiar with the "Shift Happens" video, I believe that this video is more current and more relevant to instruction.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today's Meet

Are you seeking to keep students engaged during movies or student presentations? Try "back channeling." Back channeling is a method where students post to a "twitter-like" site to answer questions and pose questions as they watch presentations. Today's Meet is a service that allows teachers to create "twitter-rooms" where they can monitor or print student responses. It is a very engaging way for students to respond in real-time to movies or student presentations.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Leveraging Technology to Increase Reading and Writing Fluency

The more we practice reading and writing, the better we become. Kelly Gallagher uses his books entitled Deeper Reading and Teaching Adolescent Writers to help educators realize the necessity of CONSTANT reading and writing. Web 2.0 tools can help us increase the amount of reading and writing that our students do. Check out this cool video (not created by me!) on the new, "networked" student. What do you think?

Monday, July 20, 2009


Remember: vocabulary instruction aids student achievement. For more information about that, click here. Weboword is a website that illustrates useful academic vocabulary with student-friendly sketches and illustrations. There are a variety of features that make this site useful to teachers, including featured words, puzzles, and opportunities for students to submit word illustrations.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amazing Literacy Videos

Check out "Watch Know" for an amazing collection of school based videos. The site boasts a whopping 547 videos on reading and literacy. I was most impressed by the videos on phonemic awareness and sight words. The videos can be embedded in wikis and websites with ease. It would create a great center activity for students! This site can make searching for relevant videos easier and faster!

Saturday, July 18, 2009


Teaching children to use a small repertoire of comprehension strategies can boost reading achievement. Check out Michael Pressley's research on the subject here. (Michael Pressley is a professor/researcher at the University of Michigan.) Summarization is a great reading strategy to use with children after they read both expository and narrative texts. Specifically with narrative texts, an emphasis on the "beginning," "middle," and "end" is necessary. Try using Make COMIX to help your students summarize narrative texts. On the site they can create a three paned comic that coincides with the "beginning," "middle" and "end" structure of most narrative summaries. The site is free and interactive. Most students find it highly motivating.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Reading Intervention Lesson Plans

The following resource is invaluable when planning "intervention time." It is a FREE engine that searches all of the FREE "center activities" created by the Florida Center of Reading Research. Click here to access the search engine. You can search according to grade level and skill domain. Your search results are always .pdf lesson plans and materials that can be used exactly "as is." Since all of the activities are research validated, you can rest assured that these interventions will provide results. Especially in the early phases of RtI adoption, these activities can drive your "intervention time" instruction. Here is an example of a single lesson plan. All of the materials are right there. Can you believe how well prepared it is!?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Handy Chart of Reading Screenings

RtI requires a universal screening in reading for every child in the Fall, Winter, and Spring. The United States Department of Education and The RtI Network has created a concise chart that compares all of the research validated universal screenings available for reading. The .pdf version of the file is available here and the interactive web version of the chart is available here. Hopefully this resource helps you make good decisions about your screening tools!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Model Comprehension Strategies

One of the fundamental components of RtI is effective Tier I instruction for all students. In reading, teaching students to use different reading strategies can help them succeed. When students role play procedures or situations using these strategies, they are more likely to engage in strategic reading. However, many upper elementary students or middle school students may find role playing intimidating. The free online tool that can help with this is This site lets students type out a script and it creates an animated movie automatically. Students can even add hand motions or camera angles if they wish.
Check out this sample that I made for "Click and Clunk."
PS- This tool would also have a variety of other uses as a vehicle for reading responses. Students could create conversations between characters in different books, students could reenact summaries of books, or other ideas. The possibilities are endless!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Increase Reading Comprehension in Grades 4-12

Did you know???
  • Vocabulary is the best predictor of reading comprehension in grades 4-12.
  • Vocabulary is the best predictor of overall academic success in high school.
  • Beginning in 4th grade, the reading scores of students with low SES begin a steady decline that becomes greater with each successive year. The decline is primarily due to lower vocabulary and background knowledge than that of their peers (Marzano).
We need to explicitly, systematically teach vocabulary instruction. Check out Marzano's method for vocabulary instruction here.
One of the biggest components of explicit vocabulary instruction is providing students with verbal and visual examples of words and concepts. Try using TAG GALAXY the next time you need to collect images of a vocabulary word or concept. Simply type in the term and click on the floating orb. Then a "world of images" will populate using public images from Flickr. It is SO COOL and SMART BOARD FRIENDLY! (Note: You may want to try your search a few times before you do it "live" with students to ensure that you are happy with the results you generate. I haven't seen any inappropriate pictures in my travels but you can never be too careful.)
Let me know what you think of this resource. I think it's very motivating to students and teachers!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Increase Student Fluency...Online!

The Screen Actor's Guild of America has created an excellent site for K-5 students to improve their reading fluency at . Storyline Online has a collection of high quality literature (Stellaluna, Thank You Mr. Faulker, etc.) that is read aloud to students online. Students can follow along with the captions at the bottom of the screen. Some of the stories are even read by the authors themselves. I highly recommend using this site to motivate elementary readers to engage in repeated reading. Remember, reading fluency is the highest predictor of reading achievement and reading comprehension!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Curriculum Based Assessments for FREE!

As RTI begins to be implemented in grades K-8, many teachers are concerned about the validity of using fluency probes as an overall measure of reading performance. While considerable research links reading fluency to reading comprehension, classroom teachers may wish to supplement specific students' fluency probes with comprehension measures. However, this can be time consuming and unreliable if you develop the probes yourself. is a FREE website that allows teachers to create classes and assess students. Students can take quick passage comprehension sets based on their reading level. Students can take their assessments on the computer (where tests are instantly scored, recorded, and reported) or do a printed paper copy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Great Video of RTI in Action

RTI Network ( has produced a series of short video clips that demonstrate RTI in action. The video clip from below is the best one I have seen to date from RTI Network. It is a great clip to use with your staff to review the principles of RTI as they return from summer break. Leave your thoughts on this video clip. I'm interested in your thoughts. Is this vision feasible at your school?

Friday, July 10, 2009


Welcome to my new blog! Inspired by the work of Will Richardson, Richard Byrne, and Robin Ellis, I have decided to create a blog dedicated to finding and sharing new technology resources for teachers. While I will share everything that I find interesting, I will try to focus on resources and models that help teachers implement RTI initiatives. Thanks for joining me on my trail through education, and happy reading!


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