Friday, March 27, 2009

RtI Intervention - TUNEin™ to READING

While having a reflective conversation with Nancy Cutler at Groton Elementary, I was privileged to observe her students using the program called, TUNEin™ to READING. When I entered the room, each student was sitting at a laptop wearing headphones and operating the keyboard. Nothing too exciting here, I know. But what I heard was awesome. Each one of the students was singing a different song outloud. Too cool!

TUNEin™ to READING is a reading intervention tool for grades 3-12. Nancy has participated in the training and highly recommends this research based intervention. Here is a brief explanation of the joy experienced when using this program, "Music is the catalyst behind this breakthrough success: students sing with all of their heart and soul, striving to achieve a high score, and in the process improve their reading. Unlike “skill and drill” exercises, TUNEin™ to
READING breathes life and joy into learning, leveraging lasting gains in vocabulary, fluency and comprehension. The software is scientifically based and research proven with literacy experts agreeing: it’s extraordinary!"

Check it out.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Response to Intervention (RtI)

One of the several topics I know just a little about is RtI. And because a little information can be a dangerous thing, this post is about locating resources if you wish to know more than a little.

What is Response-to-Intervention (RtI)? The website that I have found that provides excellent explanations is called The Iris Center

Following is an excerpt from an information brief called A Parent's Guide to Response to Invervention. "The RtI process is a multi-step approach to providing services and interventions to students who struggle with learning at increasing levels of intensity. The progress students make at each stage of intervention is closely monitored. Results of this monitoring are used to make decisions about the need for further research-based instruction and/or intervention in general education, in special education or both.

The RtI process has the potential to limit the amount of academic failure that any student experiences and to increase the accuracy of special education evaluations. Its use could also reduce the number of children who are mistakenly identified as having learning disabilities when their learning problems are actually due to cultural differences or lack of adequate instruction."

If you wish to learn about RtI or if you find you are in a position that you need to educate others about the program, this website takes you through real-life situational modules, case studies and information briefs for educators and parents.

IRIS STAR Legacy Modules are Web-based instructional materials that provide information about working with students with disabilities. Each interactive module is made up of five components:
Challenge – a realistic scenario relevant to education professionals
Initial Thoughts – questions that allow students to explore and consider what they currently know about the scenario presented in the Challenge
Perspectives and Resources – nuggets of information (e.g., text, movies, audio interviews, activities) that allow students to actively engage in learning the module's main content
Assessment – an evaluation tool that offers students the opportunity to apply what they know and to evaluate what topics they need to study further
Wrap Up – a summary of the information presented in the previous components

Check it out and then you also will know a little about RtI.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Media Resources

The "best of"... Teacher's Domain is an online library of more than 1,000 free media resources from the best in public television. These short digital videos, podcasts, and lessons are sorted by grade level, topic, and content area. Registration is required, but all the materials provided are free - there is plenty available for literacy educators, and the site is especially strong in science and math:

St. Patrick's Day

From the Kidsread website, an annotated list of children's and young adult books for St. Patrick's Day:

The blog A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy has a lovely round-up of Poetry Friday offerings from a couple years back that feature many St. Patrick's Day poems:

Expedition Mondays

Andrea Smith creates Expedition Mondays as a way to expand her students' exploration of nonfiction resources. The routine is a melding of routines from Poetry Fridays and First Facts Mondays, two popular activities in many K-12 classrooms:

Poetry Blogs

The Chicken Spaghetti blog has more on how Poetry Friday has spread across the "kidlitosphere." If you want some basic information and resources for this activity, you can find them at this link:

The blog A Chair, A Fireplace and a Tea Cozy has a lovely round-up of Poetry Friday offerings from a couple years back that feature many St. Patrick's Day poems:

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Career Cruising

The South Dakota Department of Education Office of Career and Technical Education (CTE) is on to something wonderful. They are fully invested in an online program called Career Cruising. Career Cruising is embedded in the SD My Life program.
Career Cruising has been designed with one goal in mind: to help your students plan their future. With exceptional assessment tools, detailed occupation profiles and comprehensive post-secondary education information, students move seamlessly through the career exploration and planning process. At the same time, you have access to the real-time information and statistics you need to track your students' progress and achievement.
Features of Career Cruising include:
· Complete Guidance System
· World Class Assessments
· Intuitive Career Exploration
· Comprehensive Education Planning
· Engaging Career Portfolio Development
School guidance counselors across South Dakota have been provided training on Career Cruising. If you have students in grades 8-12, make sure they are finding out how to use this great online tool. For more information contact your local school guidance counselor.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Trouble With Technology...

… is that we keep talking about technical features and not benefits. Sure, we’re on the cutting edge of modern technology; Millenials can’t remember a time without computers and cell phones. But it often seems that we are so fascinated by what it is (8 gig i-pod©, a ‘Smartboard©’, Twitter©, a Linksys© router, a Blackberry Curve© with e-mail and internet access, etc.) that we forget about what it does.

It’s especially true for tech educators. Programs at tech conventions are full of features. (Digital storytelling, Inspiration© software, Facebook©, Myspace©, Quia©, Teachertube©, etc.)

So what?

Until we begin to talk about the benefits of technology, we are less able to teach each other. A laptop example comes to mind. Schools around the state have adopted laptop programs. Did the “sale” relate to the big benefits to students, that almost no question could not be answered? Or that the traditional role of teacher as fount of knowledge might shift powerfully to student-centered collaboration? Answers 24/7?; MS Word docs that help a student edit their words for specific audiences and improve writing?; a GPS system that helps our students really learn South Dakota geography?

Should the technologies used in classrooms be stated in terms of benefits to learners?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gran Torino is a Must See

I don't go to a lot of movies but this one really caught my interest and has me thinking about it still a week later. What is it about life today and the world we live in that makes everyday life in the old neighborhood so difficult? Why is integrity, responsibility and respect so foreign a concept? Gran Torino is a thought provoking film about how we go about our daily lives, without concern for those outside our circle, until someone or something breaches that comfort level. I challenge you to go to this movie and come out unchanged. If nothing else, it will make you think about the stereotypes and slang immigrants in this country face everyday, and what we as conscientious Americans can do to make this country a better place.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Is This Country Ready for a Web 2.0 President?

What a difference 8 years can make. When George W. Bush took office Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter were not even an option for communication with the nation. Obama is a new president in a new era. His campaign laid the groundwork and scratched the surface for what is to come in Web 2.0 communication. Thousands of people are turning to YouTube to find President-Elect Obama's taped weekly video addresses.

Read about this and more on CNN:

"In the old model, the president talks to the people on television [and] the people talk back in polls. In the new model, communication is online, and two-way."

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What about the other kids?

A former student of mine is a counselor at a group home for troubled teens. This year, he said he would have 8 kids who would have to stay at the home for Christmas. In an effort to make things a little easier, his mom (of her own free will and kindness), made each teen a gift bag filled with Christmas goodies. For the holiday, my former student escorted the kids to church, then they returned to the group home to the beautifully wrapped goodies. Sometimes, it's the little things that make the biggest impact.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


ScreenToaster is a free beta (in testing) application that records your computer screen. This is a handy tool if you need to demonstrate a process for your students. Also, the students will benefit from using ScreenToaster as another web2.0 tool that may enhance any projects they work on. I've attached my first attempt at using ScreenToaster. It was very easy to use. Currently, there is not an audio option, but that is something ScreenToaster is working on.

My video

Saturday, December 13, 2008

2008 Best Free Lessons

Readers' Survey 2008: Best Site from Which You Can Download Free Lessons and Materials. ReadWriteThink made the list of favorite sites for free lessons on the web in Edutopia's 2008 Annual Survey. Other picks include Thinkfinity, Merlot, and BrainPOP. You can access their choices and a teacher discussion of the list at this link:

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What does "integration" look like?

Do you find yourself asking this question? Watch this 5 minute video, "The Networked Student," and you may have a better idea.

The Networked Student or find it on Kathy Schrock's Blog

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Technology Integration

Welcome to CITEd!
The Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd), a technical assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, is a cooperative effort of the American Institutes for Research (AIR), the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), and the Education Development Center (EDC). CITEd supports leadership at state and local education agencies to integrate instructional technology for all students to achieve high educational standards. CITEd provides support through identification of evidence-based practices, innovative online technical assistance tools, professional development, and communities of practice. Learn more about CITEd on our webpage, About the Center , or through our information sheet . This site has lots of excellent resources for technolgoy integration. Check out the free on-line class for Differentiation.

American Authors Resource

Mark Twain, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and John Steinbeck are featured on America's Authors. Each author has his own page full of links, lesson ideas and other resources. The Mark Twain page even has a recorder embedded so users can record themselves reading a passage from Huckleberry Finn. Once recorderd the user can submit his/her recording for a contest. It's a great resource. Check it out.

Wikipedia Should Be Used By Students

Scott McLeod wrote an interesting blog article for TechLEARNING entitled, "Teaching administrators about wikipedia." He addresses the concern we have all heard from educators, librarians, and media specialists about Wikipedia. The concern voiced is most often regarding accuracy. McLeod compares the accuracy of print materials that are universally given the thumbs up to the updated, highly used wikipedia that is often banned. Every educator, librarian and media specialist that currently bans wikipedia should take a look at this article and re-evaluate if this is such a bad thing after all.

The blog article can be read by following the link below:

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Helpful Source Right to Your Inbox

You are pressed for time, and the last thing you want to do today is start surfing the web for web2.0 tools. Fortunately, you don't have to. Subscribe to Kathy Schrock's Help for Busy Teachers, and you will receive a weekly update from her on new web tools. Kathy includes the name of the tool, the link to the tool, and what it does. Often she includes a link to a project she's created using the new tool.

Sign up here to receive the new sites (and descriptions of how to use them in the classroom).

This link will take you to the site:

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Literacy & Learning in the 21st Century

Watch David Warlick's keynote address, "Literacy and Learning in the 21st Century," recorded at a technology literacy institute in Westport, Connecticut in August 2008.

Warlick inspires, cajoles, and covers new ground as he describes the potential of new technologies for teachers and students: The video is approximately 1.5 hours long.

(The video may take a minute to start after the page loads and you may have to upload a new version of Adobe).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

National Writing Project: Letters to the President

What a timely idea for real-world teen writing. The National Writing Project has partnered with Google in creating the "Writing Our Future: Letters to the Next President" project. You can visit their interactive map to see if anyone has participated from your area, as well as read the letters, see what issues are mentioned most by students, and hear more about the activity: