Thursday, January 21, 2016
Oh my goodness, y'all. I love it when I find an app that is mind-blowingly good! I just had to share this in case anyone else has been living under a rock and didn't know about it.
**UPDATE: While this is a free app to download, it appears that after 10 days (10 news editions) you will be prompted to subscribe for a fee. So, really it's just a free trial. *whomp*whomp* You know what they say about things that seem too good to be true, right?? The subscription fee is a one-time $19.99 fee. After using this app, that is WELL worth it in my opinion. I think it would be the best twenty bucks ever spent on my classroom, but you may feel differently. I would encourage you to try it and see! There is something called an "early bird special" for $9.99....not really sure what that means. Maybe I'll find out soon since I've only had the app a few days myself. It that's an option I will JUMP all over it!**
The app is called News-O-Matic and, no, I'm not getting anything in return for this review. I just can't contain my excitement about it! Do you subscribe to Scholastic News or another kids' newspaper for your class? Do you want to get more non-fiction in your students' hands? Do you want to expose them to more article text? This app is for you!
When you open the app, you will be presented with that day's news articles. Simply click on an image to pull up that article. Or, you can swipe up to see the last 10 news pages to select different articles.
There is truly something for everyone - history, current events, world news, pop culture, sports....you name it, it's there! Let's take a close up look at a sports article.
As you can see, the article is presented along with a photograph and caption. Students just use their fingers to scroll down to read the entire article. The articles are geared towards grades 3/4, but most of my 2nd graders can read them. If not, no worries. See those little round circles to the right? There is one that says "Read to Me" and by clicking that, students can have the article read to them. The voice is not robotic at all - I was impressed with its fluency.
Let's take a look at all of the other options on an article's page. See that globe at the very top? Students can click on that to visit the location for the article's subject.
Not only does it take them there, it shows all kids of interesting facts. Students can tap the propeller to have an airplane fly out with a fun fact, too! The map is interactive in that students can use their finger to drag it to see the rest of the world. I love that it shows them exactly where THEY are and how long it would take to travel there.
Now, let's focus that column or circles on the right-hand side. The top circle is a Fast Fact. Students click on that to get a quick little fact about the subject of the article. I like to think of these as "hidden text features."
The next circle is "Act." When this is pressed, another text box pops out with a prompt for students to DO something related to the article. It may be to draw a picture, write a letter, or in this case, play a new sport! It's possible that students will need to have a profile to complete this task (I'll talk about that at the end).
Next up is the "slideshow" circle. This will make a slideshow of photographs and captions pop up. Love, love that students can see so much about the subject with just a click of a button. They just swipe their finger across the pictures to go through the slideshow.
There's also a video circle, but not all articles have videos. This one did not. And then, of course there is that "Read to Me" circle. What an amazing option for those struggling readers!
Think that's it?? Not a chance! See that arrow beneath the circles? Click there to see more!
Students can rate the article to give feedback to the app.
Students can "Ask Russ." This is one they'll need a profile for - see that little monkey in the bottom corner. That is my profile - we'll look at that at the end. If students have a question or comment about the article, they can send it to Russ! I'm not really sure who Russ is, but he seems really awesome to let students write to him. More on him in a bit, too.
The next circle says "Draw It." If students click here, they are given a drawing pad. Sometimes this will be used for the "Act" task. For example, we read an article about a car show today and the "Act" task was to draw your own car of the future. Students could come to this pad to draw and then click "SEND" to send their drawing to Russ!
Let's take a look at those buttons again. There's also a "Highlight" circle. This allows students to highlight important words right on the article. And, finally, there is a Spanish circle. You guessed it! Click on that and the entire article is instantly changed to Spanish! See that little arrow still? Keep going - there's more!
Students also have the options here to save an article. From what I can tell, you only have access to the past 10 news pages, but if there's an article you want to save for later you could do that with this button.
There is a print option if you are connected to a printer.
Then, there's an Author circle that will give you a little blurb about the author of the article.
Finally, there's a citation circle that will give you all of the citation information in case it is needed for a works cited page.
I'm telling you, this app has thought of it all!! Let's go back to a news homepage. There's a few more items to look at.
See those three blue buttons at the top of the news homepage? They're pretty awesome, too!
The game button gives you access to three games. All of the games will be related to the articles. You know what that means, right?! Students will still be learning while having fun!
The puzzle, gives students a photograph and asks them to ShAkE it. This scrambles it into puzzle pieces and then they have to reassemble it.
The Mystery Word game is kind of like Hangman. Students must figure out the word to build the robot before draining all of the power in their drill.
On This Date, gives students an event with a timeline. They have to move the rocket to the section of the timeline when they think that event happened. Then, they click the rocket to see if it blasts off!
The second blue circle at the top of the homepage takes you to the News Room. This is Russ's headquarters. On the left, you can see the questions/comments that students have been sending to Russ and you can read his replies.
Students can click on the picture hanging on his wall to see drawings that have been sent to Russ. He has a pretty cool set up going on!
The last blue circle is an "info" one - you can get more information there about a paid version of the app which would give you multiple Lexile reading levels, common core aligned assessments built in, and more! I don't have that version, but it's tempting!
Last of all, students can set up their profile by clicking the circle in the bottom left of any news page (my monkey pic is there). This profile section is where they can view any of their saved articles or drawings, too!
By clicking on "Change info" they can edit their profile at any time.
Creating a profile is SUPER easy. Just type first name, add a birthdate, and then take your picture OR choose an animal profile pic instead. Click SAVE. Students don't need profiles to read the articles, but if they want to send questions or pictures to Russ, they will need to set up a profile.
Are you as impressed as I am with this app??? SO much engaging content that changes DAILY and it's all free!! Plus, the extra bells and whistles make is easy to navigate and classroom friendly. Go download it today, friends!
We just downloaded it in my classroom yesterday and I introduced it to my kids today. During self-selected reading time, my students all sit in cozy spots around the room (and these rotate daily). Since my class is a little larger than usual this year, I was short a couple of cozy spots. So, I have those two students "buddy read" as a little perk. Well, I decided that I would assign the buddy readers of the day a job with this app. Their job is to find an article to read and then report back to the class on it at the end of self-selected reading time. I want them to pretend to be news reporters (with a microphone) and really "sell" that article to us. Today was only day 1, and my reporters did an amazing job telling us about the final four football teams in the playoffs! They were so stinkin' excited about choosing their own article and reporting back to the class about it!!
Do you have a favorite app that you use in your classroom? Share it on Instagram using the hashtag #appyclassrooms to share it with other teachers! I'm always looking for new apps!
Do you have questions or ideas about using this app in your classroom? If so, leave them below. I would love to hear from you!
Monday, January 18, 2016
Teachers should love jokes, too! Why?
1. Jokes get kids reading! I mean, do we really care what they're reading as long as they're CHOOSING to read?!
2. Jokes show kids that reading can be for enjoyment. YES! Even those reluctant readers who seem to hate every book they come across enjoy jokes. They're short. They're funny. They make their friends laugh. Hook.Line.Sinker.
3. Jokes actually help kids understand words. Many jokes use homophones or multiple meaning words as the punchline. These are skills we're trying to teach our students, but jokes do this in a real-life setting.
4. Jokes engage students with higher-level thinking. Many times they won't get the joke at first, but keep watching because that "AHA" moment is usually coming soon!
5. Jokes lead to more jokes. They're contagious! Once you get students reading jokes, they'll often start writing them down. Either new ones that they've made up, or ones they don't want to forget. This is great reinforcement for punctuation and sentence/question structure.
My students' love for jokes led me to create this newest set in my "Fun Facts" series. My students love to grab a set of these to take to their seats for early finishers. Talk about the perfect task for those who finish one or two minutes before their classmates. I just fold the answers back before laminating and they're the perfect self-checking center or early finisher activity. Students are engaged and learning every single second of the day in my classroom! <3
You can grab the 72 card set from my shop by clicking the image below!
Sunday, January 17, 2016
Holidays in the classroom are so much fun! I'm always on the lookout for new holiday books to share with my students. I'm joining some other fabulous bloggers to share some books that we are in LOVE with for Valentine's Day. You can hop through to all of our blogs and grab a freebie that we created to go along with each book....and....you can enter to WIN all 12 of the books so you can use them all with your class!
The book I chose is A Crankenstein Valentine by Samantha Berger. I just love this little cranky guy! I know a lot of the boys in my class will agree with his view of Valetine's Day and all that mush-gushy love stuff!
In the story, Crankenstein goes from cranky to cheerful when he finally finds someone who feels the same way about Valentine's Day as he does! This immediately inspired me to create a little antonym activity.
You can grab this freebie from my shop by clicking on the image below.
Before hopping over to see The Glyph Girls and grab the next freebie, you'll need to jot down my number on the image below, so grab a piece of paper! You'll collect a number at each of the 12 blogs in this hop. Just add up the numbers to find the "mystery number." You'll enter that number into the Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway for your chance to win all 12 books!
This giveaway will end on Saturday, January 23. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Sunday, January 3, 2016
If you haven't visit Target's Dollar Spot lately, RUN! I am not even kidding. So much cuteness to help you get organized for 2016.
Here's a little peek at my stash.
That caddy is an instant favorite. It was $3 and so worth it! Unfortunately, my Target only had two of these, but if there had been more I could definitely see using them for my students.
Since not, I will be using it for my teacher area. I used my Cricut to add vinyl lettering to each side (Sharpies, Sharpies, Highlighters, Flairs, Gel Pens, and Pencils). I can't wait to get it to school and fill it up, although I kind of want one for home now. There's a handy little knob on top that makes it easy to pick up and carry and since I'm always working in the oddest places around the house, I can see it being useful around here, too!
Friday, January 1, 2016
Often our students don't get to go outside for recess as much during the winter. This can cause restlessness in the classroom. I like to keep my students moving as much as possible during lessons to combat this, and one of my favorite ways to do this during winter is through Snowball Fight Learning!
They eat it up! Here's how it works. Have each student write a two- or three-digit number on a blank page. Then, wad it up into a snowball. Divide the class with half of the students standing on each side of the classroom. Have them thrown their snowballs on your signal. After throwing, they race to pick up a snowball and head back to their seat. I partner students up with the person sitting next to them. They straighten out their snowballs and solve the problem with their numbers. Compare. If their answers match (both got it correct), they wad the snowballs back up and head back out. If not, they work through them together to find their mistakes. Once all students are armed and ready, we repeat!
Sounds super easy right? It is. But, I found that students would ALWAYS write 99 or 999. If I told them not to use that number, they would write 98. Haha! So, to ensure that students all had a variety of numbers (and that they were legible....that would sometimes be a problem, too) I created these super easy number printables that work perfect for this. There's one set that will ensure students are practicing addition without regrouping and another with regrouping. I hope you find them useful!
Thursday, December 31, 2015
When the weather outside is....crazy. You know - super warm one day, super cold the next - raining like cats and dogs one day, sunny as summer the next. At least, that's the way winter break has been in these parts. How about you? I actually think it's going to make our weather unit super fun when we go back to school next week!
It's already one of my favorite science units to teach because it is so interactive!
We make our own wind vanes to observe the wind's direction.
We make a class anemometer to observe the wind's speed.
Students make "practice" thermometers that they can use with a partner to quiz each other on reading thermometers correctly.
Students bring in water bottles so they can construct their own rain gauges.
We also do a few fun experiments like this one that shows us how clouds work!
(Just a shaving cream cloud sitting on top of water. Students add water droplets (food coloring) one at a time and when the cloud gets too full, they will begin to fall (rain).
Since my school requires us to use Interactive Notebooks for science. I have made it my mission this year to create them in the same "No-Cut" format that I use for math...it has made my life so much more sane! :)
You can grab it below, if you're interested. It has recording pages that we use for all of these tools, plus more!