Sat.May 09, 2015 - Fri.May 15, 2015

EPISODE 142: What If Everybody Understood Child Development? [PODCAST]

The CoolCatTeacher

An Interview with Every Classroom Matters Guest, Rae Pica Rae Pica is joining a cacophony of voices calling the US national standards for kindergarteners as “developmentally inappropriate” and “unrealistic.”

3 Digital Tools to Encourage Close Reading

Ask a Tech Teacher

‘Close reading’ entered the teacher’s lexicon with this Common Core literacy anchor standard: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text. Dr. Doug Fischer defines close reading this way: Close reading is a careful and purposeful re-reading of the text. If you’re looking for a longer definition, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) defines it this way: Close, analytic reading stresses engaging with a text of sufficient complexity directly and examining meaning thoroughly and methodically, encouraging students to read and reread deliberately. Directing student attention on the text itself empowers students to understand the central ideas and key supporting details. It also enables students to reflect on the meanings of individual words and sentences; the order in which sentences unfold; and the development of ideas over the course of the text, which ultimately leads students to arrive at an understanding of the text as a whole. (PARCC, 2011, p. 7). …and explains its importance: A significant body of research links the close reading of complex text—whether the student is a struggling reader or advanced—to significant gains in reading proficiency and finds close reading to be a key component of college and career readiness. (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, 2011, p. 7). It’s not just getting kids to read that’s important; it’s getting them to read with understanding and memory that matters. This is not instinctual. Students need to be taught how to read complex texts. First, don’t be intimidated by the word ‘complex’ For many, that term conflates with ‘complicated’ and ‘advanced’ It isn’t. In fact, complex text is the most beneficial to learners because it’s choc full of meaning, evidence, and connections. Close reading is a great approach to turning ‘complex’ into ‘simple’ by providing concrete steps to decode material. Here are three approaches to evaluating whether students have closely-read the complex text: ask questions that are open-ended and require evidence. ask questions that require students to think and understand what they’re reading. ask questions that plumb the depths of the text being read while considering only information contained there, not from outside sources. Three tools make these happen: iAnnotate. Snap! Learning. Reading A-Z. iAnnotate ([link]. Fee. IAnnotate enables students to read, mark up, and share PDF, DOC, PPT and image files. It is a feature-rich app (80+ tools including a highlighter, text and notes, images, underline, and cross out) that makes it easy to indicate confusing sections, evidence for a point being made, or specific issues to be covered in more depth. A document can be opened from within the app, an email, or a wide variety of cloud locations like Dropbox and Google Drive. This app has won a variety of awards from Moxie to Tabby in categories like collaboration and productivity. IAnnotate has a moderate learning curve because of its large number of robust features, but once accomplished, the app fulfills promises. Pros. Documents are auto-saved where opened with additional options for emailing–perfect for sending completed work to the teacher. If you save files locally, you can access them without an internet connection or a wifi. Files can be flattened, making mark-ups uneditable if students are sharing their work. Or not–whichever approach the user selects. This ‘flattened’ document is especially important in emailing documents signed in iAnnotate. Cons. Long documents take a while to open. PDFs must be opened from a pre-arranged cloud source (DropBox, Google Drive, or another cloud drive) or from an email (as an attachment opened in iAnnotate). There is no web version so you can’t open a file by browsing to your ‘My Documents’ folder or the server that contains the data you’re looking for. Emailed annotated documents don’t always match what you had on the screen. Specifically, words get lumped together, losing their spacing. Not always, but occasionally. I don’t see an option for an education account. I hope they plan that for the future. Insider tips. IAnnotate is intuitive, but robust. Take time to read the tips and review the tool use. Use custom stamps to create your own personal signature. Then, you can sign student work with two clicks. Educational Applications. IAnnotate is perfect for these three close reading skills: Mark up a short passage and note a variety of characteristics, point out evidence, and make comments. Because the program has so many tools, it’s easy to differentiate for multiple characteristics using highlighting, underlines, and arrows in a pallet of colors. Note what is confusing using the above tools. Note patterns. Because iAnnotate can access multiple DropBox and Google Drive accounts, it’s easy to view and annotate student work, then return it to them. This one from Simon McKenzie , an educator for over 33 years, might be the most compelling application of all: In combination with one or two other apps, iAnnotate has enabled me to establish a paperless classroom. In our rapidly changing digital world, I see no need for schools to be constantly consuming ream after ream of paper. Conclusion. There are other PDF anotators– Adobe Reader , Goodreader , and SlingNotes –but iAnnotate does the most, easily, with a rich collection of features that accomplish pretty much anything I need. This works well for me as a teacher and for my older students. Design: 4/5. Functionality: 5/5. Availability: 5/5 (iOS, Android). Overall: 4/5. Click to view slideshow. Snap! Learning ( [link] ). Free app with yearly membership. Overview. Created by Sullivan Learning Centers, Snap Learning provides a Close Reading Program for grades 2-8 with a series of interactive exercises that guides students in reflecting on the meaning of words and sentences, the sequence in which these sentences are arranged, and how ideas are developed over the course of the text. All content is Common Core-aligned. Here’s how it works: Students select a book. This will be read multiple times, concentrating on a different skill each time: review and explore. first read. second read. third read. reader task. fluency practice. book check. This totals approximately 90 minutes on each book: There is a modest learning curve for teachers, from setting up a class to selecting books. For students, it’s easy. They log in and access their books. Grammaropolis is aligned with both national Common Core standards and Texas Expected Knowledge and Skills Objectives for grades K-6. – See more at: [link]. Pros. It is obvious Sullivan Learning Centers included educators in the preparation of this program. The presentation is student-friendly, clear, and supports important Common Core ELA Standards for each grade level. The lessons are straight-forward and easy to implement for teachers and students. They clearly call out the four steps with appropriate tools to accomplish required goals. The Book Check questions are well-constructed and quick. Students will not feel like they’re being ‘tested’ Cons. It sounds like a lot of books, but they’re spread over grades 2-8, fiction and non-fiction. I’d like to see more books available or a way to import class books. The reading voice is a bit robotic for me. This, of course, is only an issue when students choose to have the book read to them. Educational Applications. Students can practice close reading skills that will be required for Common Core testing, college, and career. Teachers can track student progress using their dashboard. Each book portfolio includes: 5-step Teacher Edition Lesson Plan for every portfolio. Reader Tasks and Quick Writes for fluency practice. Conclusion. SNAP! Learning is an excellent add-on to any reading curriculum. Its reading material, digital elements, and assessment tools are well-constructed and responsive to specific student needs. Plus, the program is affordable. I recommend SNAP! Learning to anyone looking to improve student reading. Design: 5/5. Functionality: 5/5. Fun Factor: 4/5. Availability: 3/5 (Web). Overall: 4/5. Click to view slideshow. Reading A-Z ( [link]. Free trial. Reading A-Z’s 2500+ K-6 books (in English, Spanish and French) provide 27 levels of developmentally appropriate texts for students to practice the skills and strategies of close reading. Close reading materials include: Close Reading Packs. Graphic organizers. Shared Reading Books. Comprehension Skill Packs. Paired Books. Pros. Teachers can search by interest, level, or Common Core standard, and find authentic materials that add rigor to student close reading skills. Reading A-Z has won several education awards including a Parents’ Choice Recommended Award, a Global Learning Initiative Award, and a Teachers’ Choice Award. Cons. This program functions more as a library than a student management system. Tracking student progress online requires an upgrade to the RazKids companion program. Insider tips. Teachers can download free apps and leveled libraries from the iTunes App Store. A lot of teachers I found online were excited about the ability to print these books. That doesn’t appeal to me, but maybe that is just my teaching style. You may think this is the best reason to subscribe. Here’s a free sample they make available on the website: Animal Discoveries Print Sample. Educational Applications. Once you set up your classes, students can access all the reading materials you’ve marked for their reading level. I was impressed they had the same book available at different levels. Here’s a sample from their website: Webinars are available with helpful teacher strategies for using the site in the classroom. Single classroom licenses are under $100 with school and district licenses also available. Conclusion. This site is great for targeted reading instruction with ebooks that effectively differentiate for reading styles and engage students. Design: 5/5. Functionality: 3/5. Fun Factor: 4/5. Availability: 5/5 (iOS, Android, Web). Overall: 4/5. Click to view slideshow. There are a lot of tools out there to assist with close reading. These three are a great starting point, but whatever you pick, be sure it works well for your unique student group. More on reading: 32 Reading Websites. How Minecraft Teaches Reading, Writing and Problem Solving. Common Core Reading–What if Students Don’t Like Reading. 14 Projects to Blend Technology with Common Core Reading. Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-8 technology for 15 years. She is the editor/author of dozens of tech ed resources including a K-8 technology curriculum , K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is webmaster for six blogs, CSG Master Teacher, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers , CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on tech ed topics, a tech ed columnist for , and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Follow me. Reading Reviews app reviews website review

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Ed-Tech Startups Win Big Money at Education Business Plan Competition

Ed Tech from the Ground Up

A handful of ed-tech startups won $140,000 from the Milken-Penn GSE Education Business Plan Competition Wednesday. Click the headline to read the full post. Questions? Email

iTunes U and You

iTeach with iPads

The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education. Martin Luther King. Thinking critically and intensively is not reserved for older students.

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5 Costly Inventory Management Mistakes Schools Should Avoid

If your school is like most, inventory and/or asset management plays a critical role in daily operations.

FREE WEBINAR: Living and Learning in 2025

The CoolCatTeacher

Understand the Future of the Classroom, sponsored by Intel On May 20, we will get a glimpse into the future. Many education leaders complain about the difficulty of long-term planning when we don’t have a clue what the future will look like in the classroom. Now we can have some insight.

More Trending

Turn Students from Passive Listeners into Engaged Learners with imakiku

A Principal's Reflections

The following is a sponsored blog post by imakiku. Student engagement that leads to actual learning is the goal of any pedagogically sound lesson. With that in mind have you ever pondered the following questions? What do the students think while in class?

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Lessons We’ve Learned on Education Leadership

Digital Promise

In our work with schools across the country, we see everyday how students benefit from personalized, deeper learning opportunities. Yet, we’ve also found that it’s not enough to simply supply schools with technology tools.

EPISODE 144: The Elements of a Great Educational Game [PODCAST]

The CoolCatTeacher

The Every Classroom Matters Show: Matthew Farber, Expert on Gaming in the Classroom Matthew Farber does a masterful job of explaining game mechanics, Bartle’s player types, and how to use gaming in the classroom.

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3 Apps to Prioritize Your Day

Ask a Tech Teacher

Every teacher I know juggles an exhausting teaching schedule with parent conferences, administrative tasks, and specialized student needs.

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Teachers’ Guide to Plagiarism

This article provides teachers with a step-by-step guide on how to handle plagiarism in the classroom: it examines the definition of the term "plagiarism" and its types with examples, describes common reasons students plagiarize, and provides tips for teachers to detect and prevent plagiarism among students.

Meet Your Stakeholders Where They Are

A Principal's Reflections

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to have an article published in the digital version of ASCD's Educational Leadership. The title of the article was Transforming Your School with Digital Communication.

Technology for Adult Learners: A Market Ready for Innovation

Digital Promise

While the main focus for education investment is the K-12 market, millions of American adults too need and want opportunities to learn.

The Fans, Fanboys, and Fanatics of OER

Doug Levin

I have a confession to make. I work in K-12 education in the U.S., and I am merely a fan – not a fanboy – of open educational resources (OER).** I suspect that some will claim that this is a difference without a distinction. Others surely see me as some sort of OER fanatic.

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Dear Otto: What’s a good End-of-year Tech Show?

Ask a Tech Teacher

Dear Otto is an occasional column where I answer questions I get from readers about teaching tech. If you have a question, please contact me at askatechteacher at gmail dot com and I’ll answer it here. For your privacy, I use only first names.

Custom eLearning: What to Consider as an L&D Manager

A custom eLearning project is an exciting opportunity, but any L&D Manager will also tell you it can be challenging. Inno-versity shares 5 points to consider before kicking off your project. These concepts are critical to addressing the most common pain points which, IF addressed, will ensure success.

A Culture of Numbers, Spreadsheets, and Accountability

User Generated Education

Yesterday I was one of several speakers at a mini-conference sponsored by a New Mexico agency whose sole purpose is to raise the reading achievement scores of the student body of low performing skills. My piece was to present on the Growth Mindset (the interest of the agency in Growth Mindsets was due to its potential to raise test scores – e.g., see ).

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10 innovative Google lessons from the EduOnAir Conference

Ditch That Textbook

Technology isn’t the genius in education, but it can be the catalyst for amazing things. It was a given that the Education on Air Conference, put on by Google for Education, would produce a long list of great ideas and tools that can be leveraged for impressive learning experiences.

Two Frank Letters

Battelle for Kids

May 12, 2015, Volume 2, Issue 6, Number 6. Driving Question: How do we forge and sustain healthy relationships between school systems and communities? Let's talk frankly. Most relationships between the school systems and their communities are dysfunctional - like a bad marriage. Each has suffered deeply crushed expectations. If each party were to write a letter to each other trying to save the relationship, letters might read like this: P21 Blogazine

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Happy Mother’s Day!

Ask a Tech Teacher

Mother’s Day in the United States is annually held on the second Sunday of May. This year, that’s May 11th. It celebrates motherhood and it is a time to appreciate mothers and mother figures.

Key Elements for Successful eLearning Projects

Discover how this rapid development process creates engaging, custom learning solutions on a timeline that works for you, why a strong learning culture is important, and how to showcase your Return on Learning (ROL) using data to tell the story.

Why LIbrarians Are Awesome #TLChat

The Web20Classroom

Librarian Media Coordinator Teacher-Librarian Superman Whatever you call them, those folks who work in our libraries and media centers are amazing. And you should be paying more attention to them. From an early age my Mother instilled in me the value of reading. I was read to constantly as a child.

5 Concerns School Leaders have about Digital Transformation

Tom Murray

From Atlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, Washington, I've had the opportunity to travel and work with over a thousand district leaders over the past year. Regardless of which region of the country the conversation takes place, a number of concerns arise regarding a district's digital tranformation.


5 Things to Avoid When Providing Feedback for Learning

Brilliant or Insane

Brilliant or Insane. One of my favorite education blogs, TeachThought, posted an excellent article that sparked some inspiring conversation on providing feedback for learning at the Facebook group, Teachers Throwing Out Grades.

Tech Tip #104: Need a File on Your iPad? Try This

Ask a Tech Teacher

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents about their home computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each Tuesday, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy! Q: I have a video on my classroom computer I want to use on my iPad. How do I do that? A: There are ways to do that–email it to your iPad, open through DropBox–but those have issues: emailing requires extra steps and time you may not have.

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The Ultimate 12 Step Guide For Choosing The Perfect Learning Management System

Picking the wrong LMS can cost you. Don’t settle for a disconnected, hard-to-use, expensive system that doesn’t meet your needs. Follow these 12 steps crafted by Lambda Solutions' LMS experts, and find your perfect eLearning solution!

PL Summit: Making it Safe to Try

Education Elements

Last week, 225 personalized learning leaders descended on Silicon Valley for the Education Elements PL Summit, which included visits to schools and businesses, and dynamic discussions about personalized learning at the San Jose TECH museum.

School-Community Bridges for poor and minority students

Battelle for Kids

May 11, 2015, Volume 2, Issue 6, Number 5. Driving Question: How can community partnerships help poor and minority students bridge the success gap? As a high school educator for 30 years, I have long understood the value of community partnerships, beginning with the development of my first medical pathway program in Illinois three decades ago. It was a 'no-brainer' for me, as I had been a nurse before I became a teacher.

6 Ways to Flip Your Parent-Teacher Conferences

Brilliant or Insane

Brilliant or Insane. You know the drill: each fall and (if we’re lucky) every spring, parents are invited into the classroom to visit with teachers and discuss the strengths and the needs of their children. Experiences vary, but not enough in my opinion.

Most educational games teach skills, not thinking

Dangerously Irrelevant

Jordan Shapiro said: The majority of [learning] games fail because they attempt to teach skills rather than thinking. They focus on retention rather than understanding.

Leveraging Learner Variability to Elevate Equity in EdTech

Speaker: Vic Vuchic, Chief Innovation Officer & Executive Director, Learner Variability Project

In this webinar, Vic Vuchic, Chief Innovation Officer of Digital Promise, will share his insights into the modern boom in neuroscience and learning sciences research. You'll discover how much more we know now about how students learn - and how we can use that knowledge to create EdTech-enabled classrooms that can meet the diverse needs of all students.