Monday, November 24, 2008

Non-Fiction Reading for the Younger Students

I have been unable to link to one of my favorite blogs lately and I have once again found his blog - not quite figuring out yet why he is not appearing on my RSS Feeds. I will figure that out in time, but tonight I had a chance to read of some of his latest posts that I had missed. He never disappoints me in finding good websites that work well with students who may be using English as a second language or just need some extra help with reading and writing. His name is Larry Ferlazzo and he is a leader in the field of ESL.
What I found interesting on his site tonight is something that is a part of the Scholastic Network and I had not noticed how its content had grown. Larry posted it like this:

Scholastic has been publishing excellent “Listen and Read” nonfiction stories (with audio support for the text) for several years on their website. They’re accessible to Beginning English Language Learners. It’s not easy to find expository text that’s accessible to Beginning ELL’s.

The problem has been that each story hasn’t had a permanent url address — they’ve kept changing it as they’ve published the stories in their monthly online newsletters. It’s been pretty frustrating.

However, now they’ve compiled permanent links to all of them on one page. Explore all fifty of them now at Listen and Read.

I think Listen and Read will allow your students to have much practice using non-fiction material, hearing it in order to promote understanding.

I am in Toronto, CA tonight after presenting in my home town of Cleveland today. We got to the airport and waited for a delayed plane, then puddle-jumped in a prop plane over Lake Erie. I felt like I could have made it faster by swimming across. Tomorrow ends the week and although my participants will not be looking forward to Thanksgiving here in Canada, BER is off for the rest of the week. I look forward to Thanksgiving with friends and a weekend hop to Vegas. What could be bad?

I hope that all of you will be surrounded with family and good friends and enjoy this wonderful day of too much food and football! Enjoy!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A New Online Story Site - A Really Fun One

I believe that all of the online story sites that I have recommended are not meant to be in any way a replacement for parents and/or teachers reading to students, but an additional opportunity for children to fall in love with the idea of "story". The excitement of the characters, the different settings the "trouble"that erupts, and resolutions hold the children spellbound, especially when enhanced with beautiful pictures and an animated storyteller. Enter Mrs. P., the storyteller on the website Mrs. P. Com.
Actress Kathy Kinney tells delightful intro stories and expertly reads the books. On the homepage, click on the various items around the warm room to find intriguing, sometimes outlandish, stories about Mrs. P. The book on the stand is a fully loaded dictionary. The Title game as an amusing way to listen to one-liners about the stories at this site. And… the reason your students will want to stay in Mrs. P’s library is the book stacks themselves. Click on the stack to find a healthy assortment of stories to listen and view. When you choose a book, click on ‘options’ to turn on or off ‘show the words.’
The one thing that I did notice when listening to Little Red Riding Hood in its original version from the Grimm Brothers was that Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother are both eaten by the wolf. I wasn't certain how appropriate this was for young children, however, the woodcutter who finds the wolf is able to cut him open and release Red Riding Hood and Grandma from his stomach. So, we still have "happily ever after".
You just have to browse around this site - it is really done well.
I found out about this website through my subscription to Teachers' First. If you would like to get these featured sites every Sunday, go to Teachers' First Subscription Page to join.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Best Thanksgiving Website I Have Seen

As very often happens, the participants in my workshops very often share with me some websites that I have never visited and am not aware of. Today in Syracuse, NY, was one of those days. One of the teachers stayed after the closing of the session to show me the site that she uses when studying colonial times and the First Thanksgiving. It gives the student the role of the Historian and asks them to discover what really happened at the first Thanksgiving. There is a spectacular introduction (sometimes I skip over these, but don't do it here). Then there is a section where they dispel some common myths about Thanksgiving. The next section allows the students to really look into the lives of a Wampanoag boy and an English colonist girl. There is just so much on this site, that you have to examine it and will want to visit it with your class before Thanksgiving. It can be found at the Plimoth Plantation Website - You Are A Historian . Enjoy!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You Tube For the Littles Ones

I am getting ready to go on the road this week and my addendum is ready as is the reworked presentation, but, of course, then I start reading blogs and listening to podcasts! More and more wonderful websites keep popping out and the decision is to I add them at the last minute or just have a "stopping point" for adding new things.
This one just blew me away! Of course I found this by reading a blog that referred me to another blog and then that blog had this link. I totally can get lost in the intertwined network of educators all willing to share what they know.
This is a You Tube for the very youngest. It is called Totlol. There are some wonderful learning videos (alphabet and early literacy) and ones that just entertain. You can build a collection for your class so that your students will know exactly which ones are available for them.

Take a look at it - I think you will like this sight or if it is not for your grade level, pass it along to a colleague who teaches the little ones.

On to more exploring!


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Lots of Copyright Info - Free Digital Materials

I am so sorry I have not blogged for a while. I must tell you that I have put on my political hat for the last few weeks and stayed up late last night to revel in the victory that I had worked so hard towards. I know that many of my readers would have liked a different outcome and I respect each and every one of your views. I should probably not give any political thoughts within this blog - but this is who I am and I have just spent the last week with little sleep, lots of enthusiasm, and enormous passion - and well, I am very proud to be an American this morning and I just can't contain it!! Now on to my passion for educational technology!!!

Backed up on my blog reading, I did see where Vicki Davis shared this morning on Facebook an outstanding website on copyright and where to get wonderful resources for free images, audio, and videos to include in projects worry-free. It is called Digital Media Ethics and Royalty Free Resources . It is from a presentation that Vicki did at a conference and as always, she is so willing to share. Included on her wiki (shared document) is the Disney film about copyright that I show in my workshop. On the side, look through all of the links. There is an excellent video really explaining how to use Creative Commons with images on Flickr. There are also many, many resources for images that will be copyright-free.

If you are ready blogs, do be sure to include Vicki Davis's Cool Cat Teacher Blog as one you want to read.