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. 


  1. Love this Part 1! Can't wait to see more. :)

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