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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Using iPad apps for RTI success!

In a continuous effort to support Tier 3 students in our classroom and incorporate technology seamlessly with instruction, I decided to create a RTI (for those of you who aren't familiar with RTI learn more about it here) Tier 3 intervention with some of my struggling readers by utilizing an iPad app.  I decided to focus on only 1 component of their reading, sight word acquisition. I choose this for multiple reasons. Primarily, I believe that in order to advance through our Guided Reading levels (especially from a B book to a C book) that we use in Kindergarten one of the main factors is a student's knowledge of sight words. Secondly, these students are falling below our targeted benchmark for this time of year. If you know RTI you know that at the heart of it all is data based decision making, so data we will use!

My plan is this: each student who I determine is in need of a sight word intervention based on current sight word assessment scores will receive 10 minutes of solo activity time on the Little Spellers Sight Word App in addition to the interventions they are currently receiving.   I chose this app versus all the other sight word apps out there because it is the one I am most familiar with, I can customize their sight word practice lists, and I like the format of the app.  The students will see the word written on the middle of the screen, surrounded by the letters of the word. They will then hear the word and they then drag the letters to the bottom of the screen, where they respell the word. The voice then repeats what the word and immediately loads the next word.  Not a lot of fuss, but that's what I like about it. Direct, to the point, but yet more engaging & teaching for my students than doing boring old flashcards.
I will be scoring the students weekly on their sight word assessments, and after 6 weeks I will report to your our progress! Hopefully my iPad Sight Word Intervention will be a huge success--just like my hard working KinderFriends!

And make sure you check out Little Spellers Sight Word App, its a staple on all of my classroom technology!  Leave us a comment if there are any apps that you like to use in interventions!                                         
iPhone Screenshot 3
Screen shots from iTunes showing the app's awesomeness!            

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Recommended Apps!

Its FINALLY here! I get asked all the time what apps I use in my teaching and I have finally been able to compile a list sorted by skill and hyper-linked directly to the app in iTunes! I think its important to say that all of the apps on this list have been used in my classroom repeatedly. I will often download an app thinking it will be the next greatest thing, only to find out that it isn't so great. So before an app gets added to this list it has to stand the test of time in my classroom--which is tougher than you might think! And of course, this will always be a working document, so please stop by often and check it out! If you have any apps that you think should be added please let us know! We LOVE recommendations!  I am currently working on skill based cards with the app icons on them (my Spring Break project-teachers are really never done working are we?!?!) and will post those here as well for you as soon as I can! Happy app hunting!

The Techie Teachers Recommended Skill Work Apps for Early Elementary

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

App Review: Fetch! Lunch Rush

My students LOVE this app! And I'll be honest, I'm a fan too! Here's why and the basics of this app:

First, this is a FREE app that focuses on basic addition and subtraction by PBS Kids. View it in iTunes here. The premise of the app is based on the PBS character Fetch. He is a movie producer and is in need of some sushi to feed his crew.  Your job is to figure out how many pieces of sushi he will need by completing addition and subtraction problems. Sounds simple.....but wait, there's more!!

Fetch is an AR (augmented reality) app. Which basically means that it uses your iPod/iPad camera to infuse elements from the app with your environment. What does this mean to Kindergarten students (and their teacher)? Something that is SUPER cool!

Before you start you will need to print off the number game pieces by going to Fetch on PBS Kids. They are small pieces with numerals and a small black box on them (looks similar to a QR code). Once printed, cut apart (I laminated mine for durability) and place around your house/classroom. I scattered mine in the hallway a good distance apart. This is my favorite part of the app-the students move! Math + movement = perfection in this teacher's world!

Once the pieces are out, open the app on your device and follow the cute story dialogue and basic instructions to start. I like that its easy to use and the students can do this part on their own after receiving the initial instructions.  After you are set up as a player you will get your first math problem at the top of your screen. The main part of the screen is showing the camera view. The student then solves the problem and walks to the correct answer. They hold the iPod/iPad over the black box on the printed cards and, viola! that amount of 3D sushi appears! The student pushes the sushi to see if they found the correct answer. If they are incorrect, it will tell them if their answer is too much or too little (love that!) If they are correct they will collect the sushi pieces and move on to the next problem. After getting multiple correct answers they are advanced to the next level.

Student's responses? They are BIG fans! They like: getting up and moving around (normally those iPods can NOT leave the table), the 3D sushi that flies at you when you answer, and the fact that they are still seeing their 'world' on an app! Teacher observation: my students were very engaged in this activity. We've been working hard on addition, and this was a great reinforcer for those students who are leery of going to 'mental' math and prefer to use manipulatives still-even if they aren't needed. Instead of hearing 'I don't know' or 'I can't do it' I heard 'This is so cool!' or 'Ooops, I need a bigger number!'  Great independent practice that is engaging and incorporates movement--that IS so cool!!!