Thursday, August 23, 2007

7 Resource Books I'd Never Be Without

1. Graphic Organizers...Helping Children Think Visually by Kris Flynn has over 75 classroom ideas that span the curriculum and 29 reproducible forms. A wide selection of open-ended, creative organizers, including story boards, sorting circles, and building plans, offer students unique ways to brainstorm, classify, map, evaluate, and more!

2. The Big Book of Reproducible Graphic Organizers by Jennifer Jacobson and Dottie Raymer is just what the cover says….50 great templates to help kids get more out of reading, writing, social studies, and more. See the table of contents here, but it only lists just a few of the organizers found in the book. Worried about copies? Most of these are so simple I re-create them on the board and we complete them together in class or students draw them and complete them on their own for a quick assessment. It’s a great way to get inside student’s heads to see how they are connecting things.

3. 10 Ready-to-Go Book Report Projects by Rebekah Elmore and Michael Gravois
This book is written by two fifth grade teachers, so they know what they are writing about. The projects detailed in this book challenge and motivate students. They are great. Here's a link to the table of contents.

4. Quick and Creative Reading Response Activities by Jane Fowler and Stephanie Newlon.
Sometimes you just feel like you can’t ask students to complete one more essay or drawing. You need to change it up every now and then and the ideas in this book certainly have recharged my asssignments from time to time. Many of my unmotivated readers suddenly get excited to complete their book once they know they have a choice of some of the activities in this book. You can use these activities with books or stories you have assigned or with books that have been read independently. For example, when students are studying fact and opinion students can complete French Fry Facts. If the assignment concerns analyzing problem and solution students can use Light Bulb Lab. Want more ideas? Purchase the book!

5. 40 Rubrics and Checklists to Assess Reading and Writing by Adele Fiderer
I’ve purchased other books by Fiderer and I’m always pleased. This book includes reproducible forms for reading and listening comprehension, story character analysis, content-area research reports, personal experience essays, letters, and more. Instead of photocopying some of the student pages that give easy directions, scoring tips, etc. I write this information on the board. Here's a link to a page.

6. 3-Minute Reading Assessments by Timothy V. Rasinkski and Nancy Padak
This link takes you to the version for grades 5 and above; however, I actually own the version for grades 1-4. While I always pay attention the state assessment for reading I don’t use it exclusively when I am trying to get a picture of a child’s reading ability. I try to use as many tools as I can throughout the year to assess my teaching and student learning.

3-Minute Reading Assessments is a great resource because the passages are leveled with ready-to-use assessment pages. I can screen students for low word recognition, poor fluency rate, and inadquate comprehension. The book also includes rubrics and grade-level norms that make interpreting the data simple and easy. The record-keeping forms benefit documentation.
there is also a version for grades 1-4

7. 75 Language Arts Assessment Tools by Mary Sullivan
This resource contains rubrics, checklists, rating sheets, evaluation forms. Here's a link to the FIRST page of the table of contents. There are over 160 pages in this book and I refer to it often when I need some sort of of check off list. Rather than waste time reinventing the wheel I’ll find exactly what I need in this source.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tools to Help Students and Educators Evaluate Websites for Use in the Classroom

I like to use the Internet in my classroom. Personally, I use it to e-mail colleagues, authors, parents, and students. I use the computer to research content, plan lessons through research and formulation, and as a tool to teach with by utilizing power point, etc.

Perhaps that’s your same experience.

What abut your students? Are they using your classroom computers regularly?

One of those first of the year activities I complete with students is a few lessons on how to use my computers, and most importantly….how to review a website. It is true that most students know how to use the computer probably better than I do, however, my job is on the line if they do something they shouldn’t, and I have posted rules that must be adhered to.

We want students to use the computer for personal enjoyment, but we also want them to understand that information is there at their fingertips waiting to be tapped. The computer isn’t just a place to watch videos and build a MySpace site.

One of the downsides to the Intenet is the wealth of information that can be obtained. Educators and students need to know how to evaluate various websites to determine if the particular site has an hidden agenda in the information it contains and if the site is credible for education use.

In the book Teaching With the Internet K-12: New Literacies for New Timesthe authors provide a checklist for students and teachers to use to evaluate a website and the information it presents in the form of five questions that help develop new insights and more critical awareness about the sites they visit:

1. Who created the site?
2. What is the purpose of the site?
3. When was the site created?
4. Where can I check the accuracy of this site’s information?
5. How will the information at this site be shaped by the stance of the sites creator and sponsors?

Even with these questions answered it is easy to be led astray on the Internet. Some sites are simply misleading or even fraudulent. Many are owned by various hate groups and their agenda is carefully hidden. Many of these sites relate to social studies especially in the area of civil rights, history, and biographies.

Media Awareness Network is one site you can investigate to help set up procedures and lesson plans to help students.

Teaching Zack to Think is a lesson from Media Awareness Network that is especially effective and is mentioned in the book I refer to above.

Happy searching, but be careful out there!