Keeping up with Blogs

I became a proud iPad 2 owner this week and it’s been a steep learning curve to learn as much as I can about my shiny new tool!

After getting my iPad I was inspired to work on updating the blogs in my Google Reader.

I know I’m not alone in being a little neglectful of my Google Reader from time to time, but it is a very useful tool.

If you are unfamiliar with Google Reader, you can find out more about it here. In a nutshell, Google Reader captures all of the new content from your favourite blogs and websites so you don’t have to be checking them all the time. Google Reader describes itself as a “personalized inbox for the entire web.”

One of the reasons I was neglecting my Google Reader is I had too many blogs in there and I guess it became a case of “I don’t want to look as I know how many unread items I’ll have!”

I have now condensed my Google Reader to include blogs that I have a particular interest in and connection with.

Using Flipboard and Reeder on my iPad, I hope to keep more up to date with all of my favourite blogs!

There are so many fabulous education blogs out there and along with Twitter, reading blogs is my top form of professional learning.

Image: 'Flipboard' http://www.flickr.com/photos/38305415@N00/4818276266

Image: 'Flipboard' http://www.flickr.com/photos/38305415@N00/4818276266


Blogs I Subscribe to via Email

I like these blogs so much that I don’t want to miss any of their posts. I have signed up get new content delivered to my inbox.

chrisbetcher.com – Chris Betcher is an ICT integration teacher in Sydney and always produces interesting and well written posts.

whatedsaid.wordpress.com – Edna Sackson is a Teaching and Learning Co-ordinator at a PYP school in Melbourne. Her posts are guaranteed to make you think!

langwitches.org/blog – American teacher/consultant Silvia Tolisano and I share a passion for globally connected learning and I have learnt a lot from her posts.

teachingliteracy.global2.vic.edu.au – I team teach with Kelly Jordan so I can’t miss any of her blog posts about literacy in junior primary.

ilearntechnology.com – Kelly Tenkely, an American teacher/consultant, never fails to be on top of the latest web 2.0 tools. Always something new to learn.

theedublogger.com – if you’re into blogging, this is a must read. Everything you need to know about educational blogging by Australian member of the Edublogs team, Sue Waters.

Blogs in my Google Reader

Blogs about Education and Technology – I prefer to follow blogs that are updated fairly frequently (but not daily!) and I enjoy following blogs from people I “know” on Twitter. It usually doesn’t take long to figure out whether a blog has a style and content that appeals to you.

Class Blogs – there are some class blogs I like to keep abreast of such as Mrs Yollis’ class blog, Mr Salsich’s class, Mr Avery’s classroom blog, Open the Door to B4 and A Peek Inside.

Student Blogs – Sue Waters has an excellent post about how to add student blogs to a folder in Google Reader. While I don’t have any current students blogging just yet, I do like to keep track of my former students who are still blogging such as Rhiannon and Bianca.

Vanity Alerts – If you’re active in the online world, you might like to set up vanity alerts to keep track of your name or sites being mentioned. This is good to form relationships, satisfy your curiosity and monitor plagiarism.  Sue Waters describes in this post how to set up these alerts using various online tools and Google Reader.

New bloggers – I like to support new bloggers where I can and Google Reader is a good way to do this. Two new blogs I have enjoyed lately are PrimEd by third year out graduate teacher, Kirby Goodey and An Aspiring Primary Teacher by student teacher, Ashley Azzopardi. Both Ashley (@ashleyazzopardi) and Kirby (@KirbyGoodey) are active on Twitter too.

Finding other Blogs

I have found that Twitter is a fantastic way to keep track of other “must-read” blogs. Popular blog posts are often retweeted and easy to find out about if you’re a regular Twitter user. Finding out about blogs via Twitter is a bit of a lucky dip but you can find some real gems As Sue Waters said, it is a bit like an (ever changing) buffet!

What blogs do you like to follow?

How do you use RSS feeds or email subscriptions?

What do you use Google Reader for?

Super Teacher Worksheets

super teacher worksheets

Super Teacher Worksheets is a useful site for primary teachers that contains free, printable worksheets.

The worksheets are divided into the categories of

  • maths
  • reading and writing
  • grammar and phonics
  • spelling lists and worksheets
  • puzzles and brainteasers
  • holidays
  • science and social studies
  • teacher helpers

In each of the categories, there are activities suitable for a wide range of ages and abilities.

I have found some great activities for my grade two students especially for place value and reading comprehension.

Check out Super Teacher Worksheets and see what activities may suit your class!

Leave a comment. Do you use Super Teacher Worksheets or any other sites for ready-made resources?

MeeGenius

MeeGenius is a new site that has been popular on Twitter recently. MeeGenius is an online library of picture books for young children. Currently there are nearly 30 books available to read, most of which are popular fairy tales.

meegenius library

The books can be read independently or there is an option to hear the book being read to you with the words being highlighted as you hear them. If you choose the read along option, you can pause the books as they are read aloud. This is useful as it allows you to ask the students questions and focus on teaching points.

One of the most exciting features of this site is the ability to personalise the stories. This could be a great way to entice reluctant readers and a fun tool to make the stories more meaningful to your students. You simply answer a few questions and the book is rewritten to include new character names and locations etc. You can also click on the “edit” button to rewrite the whole book. This could be useful for creating “Fractured Fairy tales” with students.

meegenisu

You don’t need to sign up to read the MeeGenius stories, however you do need to sign-up if you wish to save and email your personalised stories.

These stories would be great on an IWB or classroom computers. While the site is completely free, you can buy MeeGenius Apps from the iTunes store for iPhones, iPod Touches or iPads (currently AU$2.49)

Leave a comment. How could you use MeeGenius in your classroom?

New Blog: Teaching Literacy in the Early Years

This year I have been team teaching with Kelly Jordan. Combining our two grade two classes has so many benefits and we are finding we are really meeting the needs of our students this year.

Our open plan classroom is a fantastic place to teach and learn!

DSC05869

Kelly has recently started a blog called Teaching Literacy in the Early Years. If you or someone you know teaches in the junior primary area you should definitely check this blog out.

Kelly posts about Literacy sites, ideas, thoughts, resources and strategies with others.

Teaching lit in early years

Drop by “Teaching Literacy in the Early Years” and leave Kelly a comment!

Smories: Stories for Children

Smories is a website with short videos of children reading original stories for kids. There are 50 new Smories added every month. Writers are encouraged to submit their original children’s stories to be featured on the website.

The stories are advertised as being suitable for children aged three to eight although there are many stories that would also appeal to children older than eight.

There is a special version of Smories available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and there will soon be an iPad version.

I have been using this site with my Grade Two class as a means of modelling reading with expression and also as a comprehension activity. I have been encouraging the students to picture the story in their mind as they listen. Listening to Smories is also a good way to revise the features of a narrative.

My students have really enjoyed the stories and find it quite appealing to listen to children their own age.

Next time we do a story writing activity I am going to get my students to publish their work “Smory style” which we can then put on our class blog.

Smories

Do you have any other ideas of how you could integrate this site into your classroom?

Two Reading Sites for Younger Students

I recently came across two sites that would be useful in the lower primary classrooms for reading lessons.

SIGNED STORIES

This British site contains a collection of free animated stories. Each story is read, signed and also has the words down the bottom of the page for students to follow along. There are hundreds of popular children’s stories available in a range of genres and the site is growing all the time. While this site was created for hearing impaired children and their families, it has many  uses in the classroom. The videos can be paused to focus on particular teaching points. The fact that the story is read aloud also means that students can independently “read” a more difficult text than they would be able to on their own. Click here to check it out.

signed stories

READING IS FUNDAMENTAL: LEADING TO READING

Although this site is publicised as being for children age 3 to 5, I believe it is a valuable resource for students up to Grade Two. It contains a collection of stories, songs and games. The animated stories highlight each word as it is spoken which makes it easier for students to read along. The story can be paused to focus on teaching points. The collection of stories for school age children is limited at this stage although I expect it will continue to grow. The site is very easy for non-readers to navigate as each option is spoken when you hover your mouse over it. Click here to check out Leading to Reading.

leading to reading

Leave a comment if you have any thoughts about using these two sites in your classroom.

Read Write Think

Read Write Think is a site from the UK that offers a collection of online Student Materials to support literacy learning in the P-12 classroom.

While this site includes lesson plans and web resources, I have found the most useful aspect of the site to be the Student Materials. There are over 50 interactive resources that would be great to use on the IWB in any literacy classroom.

There are many “thinking tool” type resources that could be used as an after reading task such as a plot diagram, book cover creator, character trading cards, story map and timeline. Here is a Venn diagram a group of my Grade Two students made this week after we read a book in Guided Reading.

Grandmas Venn Diagram

There are also some great “learning centre” type games for younger students such as Word Wizard, ABC Match, Word Family Sort and  What’s in the Bag? My Grade Two students particularly enjoy Construct-a-word.

construct a word

The site also includes some useful “writing” resources such as Acrostic Poems, Animal Inquiry, Postcard Creator, Flip Book and Letter Generator.

There are some limitations to this site such as the fact that some work can’t be saved although it can be printed and there is always the option to screen capture your work. Overall, Read Write Think has some great resources for all year levels.