Phrase It

Phrase It – is a webapp that will allow you to put speech bubbles on your photos, in the same way as in a comic book.  No sign-up needed, 100% free. Phrase It  does not require registration to use which means that students don’t have to have email addresses to use it.  Students can use this service to bring life to their pictures and create picture stories.

The process of creating a picture story in Phrase.it is very easy.  Just go to Phrase It  and decide whether you want to upload a photo from your device, import it from Facebook or use a random stock photo. 

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Once the photo is uploaded you click on “bubbles” to add different bubble shapes to your image. You can upload and work with multiple images in the same Phrase.it project by clicking on “images”.  You can also change the instagram like effect of your image by clicking on ” drama”. When your image is ready you click on “preview and save” to save it.

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Students can download their completed images and use them wherever they like.  Phrase.it could be a good service for students to use to create stories in a comic strip style.

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Dr Seuss Stories

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Dr Seuss Stories online

Just in time for the celebration of Dr. Seuss’s birthday/Read Across America Day, his books (apps) are on sale. Most of them are $1.00 off but several of them are $.99. Here are links to 8 titles that are being offered for only $.99 each.

The Cat in the Hat

Green Eggs and Ham

Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Newsela

Finding informational text for the many and varied levels of student reading abilities in any classroom can be a challenge. Having a source that allows teachers to track student progress by Common Core Standards is even more difficult to find. That’s where Newsela comes in.  Newsela – unlimited access to hundreds of leveled news articles and Common Core–aligned quizzes, with new articles every day.

The product first became available in beta in June 2013. The team eventually plans to charge a subscription for the product.

The idea behind Newsela has been something of a holy grail for literacy programs: Create a way to present leveled texts, appropriate for a wide variety of learners. Newsela starts by selecting news stories published by McClatchy-Tribune papers that are likely to have some interest or relevance to students. (McClatchy-Tribune is a partner.) Newsela has hired journalists to rewrite those stories at different grade levels. Each story is published at four different Lexile reading levels as well as in its original form.

Students take short quizzes, aligned with Common Core standards and associated with the different Lexile levels to assess their comprehension. If they struggle with the quiz, they can read the story at a lower Lexile level (or similarly at a more complex level if they ace the quizzes). Because all students get a chance to absorb the same material, however, teachers can lead class discussions on the article topics with all students, no matter what their reading level. Newsela includes a dashboard of analytics so that teachers can track student progress.

How to Get Started?

1. Sign up for FREE account.

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2. Browse articles and assign to a class.

Teachers can browse articles looking for appropriate content by scrolling through the home page or by selecting one of the categories shown at the top.  While browsing for articles, notice that some articles have an anchor icon with a number next to it which indicates that it is aligned with a Common Core Standard. Those articles that are aligned with Standards also have a quiz that will ask students to answer multiple choice questions as well as prompting them to find evidence in the text to answer a question. Open an article that you’d like your class to read then click on the “Assign to” button and choose the appropriate class.

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3. Show students how to use their Binder to track progress.

Students access assigned articles by going into their individual Binder. There they’ll see a list of assigned and completed articles.  They will be able to track their overall average score as well as the average score by Standard. After selecting an assigned article to read, students can answer the quiz questions (which vary by Lexile level) and see the results immediately as well as review any incorrect responses. Students are also free to make their own reading choices by browsing through articles and selecting ones that interest them or will help them to develop skills associated with the Common Core Standards. The progress in reading these articles is also tracked by both the student and the teacher.

4. Use the teacher management tools to track student and class progress.

Teachers have a binder where completion of articles and quizzes can be viewed and progress tracked by article, student or class. Average scores for all quizzes can be seen as well as average scores by Standard. These results can be exported into an excel spreadsheet.

In my opinion, the strengths of this website are the multiple levels of text complexity available, the alignment to Common Core Standards, the immediate feedback from quizzes and the tracking tools for both the teacher and student.

How is Newsela aligned to the Common Core Standards?

Every article that has a quiz is aligned to a single Common Core Standard for Reading Informational Text. See http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/CCRA/R They currently cover reading standards 1-4 and 6-8. We have plans to include all reading standards 1-10.  Aligning a single article and all of the quizzes – at every level – to these standards allows Newsela to provide teachers and students with a standards-based report on reading achievement. With this data, a teacher is better informed about the grade level reading ability of their students along specific college-ready standards, such as: “Analyze how and why individuals, events, or ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.” (Standard 3).

WordHippo

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A dictionary tells you the meaning of a word.  WordHippo tells you the meaning and also finds synonyms, antonyms, words that rhyme with it, sentences containing it, other words starting or ending with it, translations of word.  The service also provides students with verb conjugation assistance, and pronunciation assistance.

lingro – The coolest dictionary!

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Lingro is an amazing online tool that turns any website or digital text file into an interactive dictionary where users can click on a word to view it’s definition and hear it’s pronunciation. Support by 12 languages, Lingro is also a very useful tool for translating text.  A clicked word immediately displays its definition from the Lingro dictionary pages. The website looks visually the same within the Lingro window, but all words become clickable.

Lingro is easy to use. Just copy and paste any web address into Lingro’s web browser and click on a word, or use the file viewer to upload a document and translate it in the same way. One of the most impressive features of Lingro is when students use the translation/definition tool, the site keeps a short-term record of their words and web pages, allowing them to study their own wordlists and to play games with these words. The wordlist and history feature only works short-term and at the SAME computer, unless you register for free to be able to take your personal history to any computer.

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Then, with one click of a button all words from a wordlist will open up as flashcards. Clicking on a flashcard will switch from showing a word to showing its translation.

Halloween Activities

I created a Fall Fun page on my website with a few interactives for students to play:

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Here are a few printable Halloween Mad Libs 

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FREE printable from Teachers pay Teachers – Costume Character Traits

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This Halloween character trait activity involves students using Halloween costumes as clues to character traits. For example, someone who dresses like a clown for Halloween may be fun-loving or creative. 
Students must also give details to support their opinions on the chart provided. Both color and black/white charts are included. Two lists of character traits (for different grade/ability levels) are also provided as student reference sheets.

Spooky Synonyms – FREE printable from Teachers pay Teachers

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This FREEBIE includes a synonym activity called “Spooky Synonyms” in which students must color-code candy synonyms. 

20 FREE Halloween Printables

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Pinterest Halloween Printables Board

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inklewriter – Write Interactive Stories

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inklewriter was developed by two video game industry veterans, inklewriter allows anyone to write interactive fiction (IF) stories and share them with others online. In interactive fiction, players read text-based descriptions of environments and events and then make choices to find their way through a story. Think of it as electronic choose-your-own-adventure books.

Getting Started

To start using inklewriter, click on the “inklewriter” heading on inkle’s main page, and then click on the “Start Writing” button. Register with an email address and password, and you’re ready to go. (If your students don’t have email addresses, inkle suggests using a unique name followed by “@inklewriter”—for instance, “teachinghistory@inklewriter.”)

Follow the tutorial for an introduction to inklewriter’s two modes: Read and Write. In Read mode, you can view your story as it will be seen by visiting readers, choosing options as you read. In Write mode, you have access to tools for writing and designing your story. You can type paragraphs of text, add options at the bottom of sections of text, “rewind” text to write new branches of the story, join up branching storylines, and add images. Click “Content” in the top right for a full list of your story’s paragraphs and connections; click on any paragraph in the list to jump to it, or search within your story using the search box. “Map” lets you see your story charted out visually, flowchart-style.

For more complicated stories, you can add logic conditions that track events and conditions in your story and present a reader with different choices and text depending on tracked values.

Once your story is ready, select “Share.” Your story will be assigned a unique URL that you can post anywhere you’d like.

An example of inklewriter: