Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hot Dots!

When I was at ISTE at the end of June, the technology that I was asked the most questions about was my "Hot Dots" pen.  These pens have been around for a very long time, but they are still a good way for the children to practice skills independently. 
In a nutshell, when children select the correct answer on a card the green light flashes and a happy sound is heard; the wrong answer yields a red light and a cranky buzz.  The children always seem to like the "wrong" sounds better when they are first using the pens :) There are commercially available card sets, OR (my favorite) you can get extra "hot" and "cold" dots to make your own so that your children are practicing the skills that you know they need.
I did some quick (ha!) searching online and found the pens and dots are still available.  The best prices I found were at Amazon and Education Insights. (dots $5.99)  (pen $8.05)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Work Smarter, Not Harder
One way I use technology to help with my teaching is to use Excel to help create my reading groups.

My school uses the DIBELS tests to assess our students and as one of the measures the teachers look at to set up reading groups. I enter the scores into an excel spreadsheet. Then I use conditional formatting to have the scores totalled and color coded as I enter them. By the time I have entered the last score, my three main groups--intensive, strategic, and benchmark--have been created! Easy!
Here is my blank spreadsheet--with the formatting done--for the three assessments I will be giving this year. 

DIBELS assessment form

Friday, July 15, 2011

Free Books!

I recently found out about a great interactive website that promotes reading and helping others--a win-win. It is called "We Give Books" and is sponsored by the Pearson Foundation. The way it works is simple: you sign up (free) and select a book to read online. Then you select a group you would like to support. You can read it to your own children or to a classroom of children. When you have read your book, the foundation donates a book to the campaign you have selected.

I plan to do this regularly with my kindergarten classes in the fall, to promote and practice reading as well as to help them think about others.