Engaging Young Readers
If you read my blog, you know I am a Pinterest addict. While many (thousands really) of my pins go unread, some of the resources I find on Pinterest are very exciting. One such resource that I stumbled upon recently is a website called Biblionasium (think GoodReads or Shelfari – for kids).
Biblionasium is a great tool to get kids excited and engaged in their reading. Research has shown us that in order to get students to read better, we must get them to read more. Biblonasium is working to do just that in my classroom.
The site is a social network that allows students to share recommendations with one and other, and review books they have read. On the site, thousands of books are categorized by their Lexile scores (but can also be change to Guided Reading, DRA, or Reading Recovery) and are displayed in personal virtual bookshelves. As you input books you read, they are placed on your bookshelf with your reviews and recommendations. What I love most about this is that the students are more passionate about what they read. This is because they are given the opportunity to think about how they felt about each book, and then share it with their peers. Where normally, they just grab a new book and move on.
- Has a very simple interface that is kid-friendly.
- Teachers and parents have access to reports with information including time spent reading
- Medals are awarded to students for participating on the site
- Easy to involve parents and share vital information about their child’s reading habits with them
- Ability to create challenges that engage students and get them reading longer!
- Pre-made letters and emails to send to parents and get them involved!
- Set-up required me to manually input each student’s information. I would have preferred the ability to use a CSV file, which most other edtech sites use.
- Students have a lot of confusion entering challenges, and so it would be nice if I could just enter them all myself.
Over winter break, I set up a Winter Reading Challenge to keep my students reading over the break, so that they wouldn’t lose all their reading stamina. While not all participated, it was nice to see that so many met the goal’s challenge of an impressive 200 minutes of reading!
Give the site a try, you will be happy you did!
I start my Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) lessons as soon as I meet me kids in the hallway each year. This way they know how seriously I take our routines and that in a WBT classroom we never waste any time! Of course there is no better way to get this across then to model it right from the start.
We start off with the Class! – Yes! attention grabber. Of course, when they are learning the choral response, they are having fun and reinforcing one of WBT’s core values- kids learn when they are having fun! I then move them quickly to any seat in the classroom, explaining permanent seats will be assigned later, and reinforcing that we will not be wasting any time in class!
Once in the classroom, I introduce Rule #1 – Follow Directions Quickly! Using a series of fun exercises I model this rule and as a class we practice this rule. Once the Class – Yes and Rule Number #1 are taught, the rest of the day breezes by as you use there 2 tools to teach all five rules and the Core Four.
The most exhilarating part of using WBT is watching how quickly the kids pick it up and how excited they are to follow the procedures. Seeing how elated they are to practice it always makes me excited to be able to connect with them so quickly. The first days of school used to drain me entirely, but since using WBT that has changed entirely and each year runs as smoothly as the last.
Just remember, kids want to feel a sense of belonging and need to know specifically what is expected of them in order to be successful. WBT does this for them from the moment you start your first hour with them, and nothing feels more empowering than that, for you or your students. So whether it’s the first hour or school, or your first day back next week, WBT can help transform your class in ways you never thought possible.
Most challenging kids want to be part of the classroom environment; this is why they work so hard, and continuously, to get everyone’s attention. – Chris Biffle
Tip: Download these great PDF cue cards on TPT to help you get through your 1st hour of WBT, and the rest of the day.
First Hour of WBT
WBT Day 1 Continued
The more educational fun we can introduce into our classrooms, the more students will learn and the fewer opportunities there will be for challenging behavior. -Chris Biffle
All seasoned educators know that a classroom that runs well, does so because of established routines. One vital routine that must be taught early on (I’m talking in the first few minutes) is the Attention Grabber. In a Whole Brain Teaching (WBT) classroom, we use one quick and easy word to achieve this…. “Class! – Yes!” That is it! 2 words that are simple and efficient!
Say good-bye to complicated rhymes, clapping patterns, bells, and the flickering of lights. Once you achieve the Class – Yes pattern in your classroom, you have set up your year for success!
The “trick” of course is to keep it fresh. When taught, the students learn that however you say “class” they must say “yes.” For example, if you say, “Class Class” then their response is “Yes Yes.” Make it fun, make it silly, and keep it changing! Consider having your kids come up with some ideas too and make it fun for everyone.
The best part is, anyone can use it with your class, and it works! This is a substitutes best friend, and soon it will be yours too!
Click Here For: Class-Yes Variations PDF on my TPT Store
Video Explaining – Class – Yes by Chris Biffle
Interested in the Brain Based Science behind Class – Yes
Class-Yes involves the prefrontal cortex which is the reasoning center of the brain. It is best to think of this area as a “light switch” that must be turned on in order for the rest of the brain to process information.
Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time – Chinese Proverb
There are no shortage of apps in the “Interactive Whiteboard” arena and over the years, I have tried most. While many of the similar apps have great features that make them unique, I have found the Educreations app to be my go to in this market. I showed my students in about 3 minutes how to use it yesterday and sent them off on their own to create videos. Amazingly, they did so quickly and without having to come to me for any help!
Why Educreations Rocks!
- Quick and easy set-up
- User friendly interface
- Ability to use camera to insert pictures, as well as ability to adjust pictures to your desirable size
- Records your voice, drawings, typed texts, images, and hand-writing ALL with the ability to pause
- Allows you to add more than one page, to create a video presentation (which you can flip back in as well)
- Crowdsource for content – not only are your videos stored, but you can search video tutorials made by others as well
- The videos are embeddable too, allowing you to easily add them to a class website
- Student accounts can be linked to teacher’s “Course” using a code, and do NOT require an email to register
- Printing options
Ideas for use in the classroom:
- Assessment of student’s knowledge (because who doesn’t love an alternative to pencil and paper?)
- Flipping the classroom
- Creating tutorials for students to revisit at home when extra help is needed
- Study Guide
- Have students create videos to share their thinking
- Reading responses
- Oral paragraph writing
- Reading fluency practice – child reads the book and records, then replays it to rehearse
- Digital Storytelling
- Jig-Saw Activities
- Parent – Teacher Communication
- Digital portfolios
- Step-by-step instructions
Time Saving Tip:
To restart a recording while recording the lesson, you can tap on the Eraser tool and then tap a second time to get a menu. The menu will have a Clear Recording option that will clear the audio, but leave the slides in place.
They do not yet have a way to re-record the audio for a lesson that you have already saved or a way to undo part of the audio. However, they are looking to add this feature in a future version of the app, so stay tuned!