Kindergarten Teacher

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Toontastic App Is Now FREE

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Google has acquired one of my favorite storytelling apps and it is now FREE (was $9.99)  If you don’t already own this app grab it and get those kids creating. Listed below are a few posts I have made previously about the app and you can read about the announcement here

Toontastic and MLK

Toontastic App 101

Toontastic Storytelling App

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Another 50 Online Readers (with audio)

Here is another 50 readers from Unite For Literacy (find the first 50 here)

They work on the iPad, read to the kids, and are available in various languages.

Set 2 click here or click on the picture below

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50 Online Early Readers (with audio)

I found an awesome website that has over 100 early readers with audio! The site is Unite For Literacy and I took the first 50 of the books and created a Symbaloo webmix for my class. The best part is these books work on the iPad as well! I will make another webmix of 50 more books soon.

Find the Webmix here or click the picture below-> Unite For Literacy Books #1

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iPod Listening Center Setup

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This year I will be using an iPod for our listening center (any version of the iPod or an old iPhone will work for this.)  I have over 70 listening centers on CD and I hope moving over to the iPod will help me streamline the process and make my class more independent. The first step is converting all the CD’s to audio files and getting them into my iTunes library. If you read below I have the step-by-step process I used to do this.

Each week I plan to add one set of books to our listening center. This year I will be using wireless headphones from Califone and I will post a review about them after my kids have used them for a few weeks. Since the iPod is connected to the wireless headphone transmitter all four headphones will play the audio from the iPod. After they have their headphones they will open the iPod Music app and search to find the title of the book in our playlist (the playlist only has books.) There are 70 titles as I mentioned so I expect this to be difficult for them at first. As they get practice I know they will learn how to use the book to help them find the correct title in the playlist and hopefully learn about ABC order in the process. Once the story starts they can sit anywhere in the room and listen to the story!

Adding CD’s to iTunes and the iPod! 

Step 1: Open iTunes (without any device plugged in) and go to the music section. On the bottom left click the plus sign to create a new playlist. You can call the playlist whatever you like, I made mine classroom books.

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Step 2: Insert a audio book CD. When I do this I get the following pop-up message. Click Yes. If the pop-up doesn’t show up see step 2A

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Step 2A: If the above step worked skipped this step. If you did not get the message above click import CD instead.

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Step 3: Once the CD starts importing I always unchecked all the boxes except the first one. I only wanted the audio with turn the page signals which was the first file on every CD I imported. Some had other files as well. You can decide which files you want to download by checking unchecking them, just do it quickly before they all download. My main reasoning for only keeping one file is so that it would be easier for me to manage in the playlists. After the download was complete I then ejected the CD (red arrow)

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Step 4: Add the book you just imported to the playlist you created in step 1. In the main search bar of iTunes (top right) search the book title or author you just downloaded. When found click the small arrow on the right side to get this drop-down box below. Click “Add to” and then click on the name of the playlist you created.

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Step 5:Insert a new CD and repeat the process! See step six for syncing iPod once you have all the books imported.

Extra Tip: Two of the CD’s I entered did not have the title of the book automatically imported. This is easy to fix. Go to your playlist and click twice on the name of the book. You will be able to edit the title of any of the books. Also, many of the books had the title plus “with page signals” or other text in the title. I deleted all the that extra to make it easier for my class.

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Step 6: Plug in your iPod or iPhone to sync.

Red Arrow: click the correct device. Black Arrow: click music Blue Arrow: click sync music Green Arrow: click sync selected music Orange Arrow: click the name of the playlist you created Click Sync!

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Using Class Dojo for Work Management

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Many teachers have been using Class Dojo as a behavior management system. If you are familiar with me you know that I avoid using these systems or any kind of reward in my classroom (read here.) However, I have been trying to find a system to allow my students to keep track of their completed work each week that would also give parents access to this information. Teaching management skills as well as time management are very important to me, even in Kindergarten. Until this week my class used a paper printout of all the jobs and colored in a box each time they filed away a job (yes, we use files)  This system has worked really well except we are wasting paper each week and there is no easy way for parents to see how much work they are completing. Enter Class Dojo. What I did was take all the behaviors they have built into the system and changed them to the names of all of our literacy centers. As the kids finished work they would pick the correct center and give themselves a point for that job. Since this was our first week I kept the iPad at my teacher table and assisted as they added their points each time. My hope is that after two weeks of working with them I can set up a computer or an iPad in the room specifically for Class Dojo and let the kids do this independently. I will update this post if that does not work out for some reason but I think it will after watching the kids use the system this week. I have pictures below to show some of the process of using the app this way.

One surprise benefit I realized is this app will give me important data about my centers. I can easily see what stations are being visited most frequently or first in the week (meaning favorite.) I can also look at each student and see what centers they are doing most often, or the ones they are avoiding each week. Since I give my class complete control over what centers they want to work on this data could really benefit me in planning stations.

Positives: Free!, easy to use as teacher, easy for kids to use, parent sign up is simple, web and app based, data for centers

Negatives: Cant add kids pictures instead of avatars (update below), can’t customize behavior icons (job icons), kids can see how many stations other kids have finished (wish there was an option to not display total) *please note these are negatives mainly because I am using the app for a different way than it was intended.

*Update: They have added a new feature this week  to allow you to customize the avatars with your own images (explained here)

This is what is displayed on the iPad for the kids to enter their points. When they tap on their avatar a menu pops up with all the center choices for my room. As noted above I don’t like that they can see the points for their friends.

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The image below is a sample image of an individual child’s progress during the week. This is what parents can see. The app shows what jobs they finish each day as well as the time those jobs are entered. The time stamp isn’t crucial to me at this point but I can see where it could be helpful given individual kids. Are they working better in the morning vs afternoon, etc. I should also note there is a pie chart above this info that shows how many of their points are positive/negative. I told the parents to ignore that part of the app and focus only on the completed centers.

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The image below is from the Dojo account on the web. I am able to see what parents have connected their account and even enter a parents email to encourage them to join. My understanding is the app will send parents a weekly update which is nice in case they forget to check. Parents can login online or use the free app to keep up with the progress in real-time.

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So how do parents sign up? Once you enter the students names into Class Dojo you can then download a pdf with the access codes for the parents. For my kindergarten class I did not worry about the student account. I just asked parents to join.

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Overall I was very impressed with the simplicity of getting my class setup and the design of the app and website. Hopefully they will consider others that might want to use the app this way and give more options that would make it more successful for that use.

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Hoopla Kidz Phonics Quiz Videos A-Z

Hoopla Kids Phonics Quiz Videos A-Z - @mattBgomez

These videos quiz the kids on the beginning sounds of words. You can find them HERE or by clicking the picture above.

 

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