Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Using Technology in Small Groups: Phonics and Word Study

While you are reading this, I'm at the beach. Hopefully having a great family vacation with my whole family. I'm sure we're having a wild and crazy time with three kids 5 and under. But it is definitely needed.
I can't believe I'm actually able to post two blog posts in a row. I've set my goal of posting once a week. If I post once a week for the next few months, I'm going to reward myself with a facelift to my blog. I have missed blogging. I enjoy having something to share and focusing on the content rather than getting caught up in the whole "business" side of the blog. There is so much pressure through social media to be a certain way and to keep up with the newest trends. When I couldn't keep up because of my sweet girl, I kind of gave up on blogging. But I am finding my groove again and I'm remembering why I started the blog to begin with.
Anyway, moving on from that tagent. This week I'm going to share a few activities to use in your small groups that have to do with phonics and word study.

The first activity uses the app Post-It Plus. This is a free app from Apple iTunes but I wasn't able to find the app on the Google play store. I learned about this app from the Apple Education event I got the opportunity to go to in April. It was a great training and I learned about several great activities. This app is used organize and sort information. The app is billed as a way to capture information from collaboration sessions and then share it. There are so many applications for education. You take a picture of the post its and then you can move the post its and create different boards.
In the small group, we had been working on short vowel words. I had post its with different words on it. The students took a picture of the post its and sorted the cards by medial sound. We did it with words but you could do it with pictures as well, provided the pictures are the size of a post it.

You can move the post its into several different groups within the app. Yes you can do this with the post its and not add the tech component. But technology offers a little higher engagement for students which gets them more into their learning. When I first saw this app, the first activity I thought of was a can, have, are chart. Once completed as a class using post its. Students could reorganize the information during a center and create their own chart. I plan to try this next year with my first graders. 
The ABC - Magnetic letter app that I talked about in part one can be used for phonics as well. You can use the letters to build words from a word family. What I liked about this, is there is a line magnet that students could use to underline the rime and onset of the words. Here's an example using the -ot family. 

You could also use the Doodle Buddy app like I suggested for the sight words for word work.

I really want using the iPad to be more intentional that just getting on apps and playing. But there are some great apps out there for students to use to practice skills that they need practice with. I use this time during small groups to show students specific apps that I want them to practice on. For example, there was an RTI group that I was working with that was really struggling with rhyme. I had this app Bud's Rhyming Words that I showed the kids and we worked on some games with. Then they knew when they were using the iPad during center time I wanted them to work on this app.
This is a paid app. It costs $3.99. But one of the things I like about it, is that kids can have their own username on this game and you can track what they are doing.
Here are a couple of other phonics apps that I like.

  • Montessori Crosswords - Fun Phonics Game for Kids to learn sound letters and alphabets ($2.99)

  • Alpha Writer by Montessorium - $4.99 - So this one is expensive but I like it because it has all the digraphs, blends and other vowel teams already in chunks for kids to work on.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Using Technology in Small Groups: Sight Words

I am brave to be posting something and then adding part 1. That means I'm promising at least at part 2.  But I'm passionate about this topic and I hope you can learn something. I had the opportunity to present at the East Tennessee Technology Association - Instructional Technology Academy yesterday.  It was my first time presenting to a group of teachers. Oh my. I was so nervous but so excited. I have tell you a story about when I was in fourth grade. For 4H we had to do a food demonstration. I demonstrated making a carrot salad and placed first in my class. So, I got to go on to "compete" with other schools in the county. Well, I got up to do my food demonstration and I was done in like 5 minutes. According to my grandmother, the carrots were flying and I was sitting down before it could settle. So I haven't quite lived down this nightmare speaking event. I tend to get nervous and talk really fast. The room filled up quickly yesterday and there were even people sitting on the floor. Then two of the teachers recognized me from my teachers pay teachers store. So, I sped through the first half of my presentation barely taking a breath. But hopefully, some of the participants got something out of it. I am going to attempt to break down my presentation into several blog posts.

Technology is definitely a passion of mine. I would love to have a class set of iPad for my students but the reality is that I have 1 iPad, 1 iPods, 2 computer and an interactive white board. So I do the best I can. I love using the iPad during my small group time. I really wanted to work this past year on doing more with technology than just putting kids on apps and on websites. I wanted them to learn to create things using technology. By using the iPad during small group time, I am able to teach students to use different apps to practice skills and create with them.
During small group time, I tend to focus on sight words, phonics/word study, comprehension and writing. If you haven't read, The Next Step in Guided Reading: Focused Assessments and Targeted Lessons for Helping Every Student Become a Better Reader, you need to. It really helped me to focus my small group instruction. On this post, I'm going to share a few ideas for sight words.
The first app I like to use is ABC- Magnetic Alphabet for Kids. There is a lite version that is free and the paid version is $1.99. I paid the $1.99 because I wanted lowercase letters and some pictures. This app is available on the apple app store and on google play.
It is a simple app that works just like magnetic letters. There are different backgrounds to choose from and other pictures.
We use this app to build sight words, find missing letters in sight words and unscramble them. These sight word routines can be found in The Next Step in Guided Reading. (Read my post about these routines here.)

The next app is Doodle Buddy for iPad.  This app is free on iTunes. I wasn't able to find the exact same app for android but there are similar apps. It is basically just like a white board. But I like to change things up and this allows students to chose what colors they write with and the medium they write with. There are also stars and shapes they can use to illustrate sentences. So we practice writing sight words and writing sentences with our sight words. 

The last activity I wanted to share using the app Show me Interactive Whiteboard.  This is a free app on iTunes and I wasn't able to find this exact app in the google play store. There are other interactive white board apps. For this activity, you have cards with the sight words that you are working on. Students pick a sight word, take a picture of it, then write the word and record themselves using the word in a sentence.  This is what it looks like. 
You can check out the show me by clicking here and hear the sentence that she said. I didn't have any of my class doing this activity saved so my niece who is going into first grade next year did it for me. She loved helping me with technology for my class.  The kids love this activity because after they each get a turn to record a sentence, they like to listen to each others' sentences. 
After students have practiced these activities in small groups, you can move these activities into centers. You can even move the magnetic letter app and sight word routines into a center. I have my students in partners for centers. They can "quiz" each other by removing letters and scrambling the words. 
I made a handout for my presentation that has a list of all my favorite apps I use with my kids. I'll be honest, a lot of them are paid apps. But I have found you get what you pay for with somethings.
If I can get my act together and utilize nap time appropriately, I'll be back next week with part 2 of this series. We're going to the beach with my family so I'll need to get on it and get  a post scheduled. I would love to hear how you use technology in your small groups, leave me a comment with your favorite apps and activities.