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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Tech Tuesday!

Once again I am participating in a linky party hosted by Marie from Once Upon a Classroom! Be sure to visit her blog to learn about using technology in the classroom.  Today, I am sharing a website that I use as part of my literacy instruction for my students.  I currently have a bunch of kinders with severe Autism and I do the letter of the week to teach them about the alphabet and develop pre-reading skills.   ABC Twiggles is a website that uses a multi-sensory approach to teaching students about the alphabet and contains a ton of activities for each letter of the alphabet.  It is a member only website, but for $30 per year, I think it is well worth it.

One of the features of this website that I really like is the online story and game.

These stories are that are animated, but not too busy for my students and you can choose to have the story read with the programmed audio, or you can read it to your students or have your students read it.  Students can also touch the words, which highlight when they touch them to have the word read to them.  

But, the coolest thing about these stories, is that you can select quiz mode within them and students can find the target letter in the words on each page.  When the student touches the correct letter, it sprouts wings and flies away!  My students love this and it keeps them so engaged when reading the stories.

Another nice feature is that you can print the stories and read them with the students without using the SMART board for extra practice.  

The website also contains tons of printables and ideas for activities to reinforce learning and provide plenty of opportunities for practice.

For my students, I like to practice doing the worksheets on the SMART Board with them, before they complete them on their own.  All of the printables are in PDF format, so I simply take a snapshot of the worksheet I want to use and paste it into my SMART Notebook file.  Then my students are able to use the pens on the SMART Board to complete the worksheet.

The worksheets are the perfect level for my students and they love using the SMART Board to complete them.  This website is a perfect resource for anyone who follows a Letter of the Week curriculum.

Do you have a favourite website that you like to use as part of your literacy instruction?  I'd love to hear about it!  Leave me a comment below!  And don't forget to visit Once Upon A Classroom's blog for more great posts on using technology in the classroom! 

Until next time,

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Time for Another Tech Tuesday!

Once again I am participating in a linky party hosted by Marie from Once Upon a Classroom! Be sure to visit her blog to learn about using technology in the classroom.  Today, I am sharing an app that I love to use with my students to develop their printing skills.  I have mentioned this app before, but I really think it deserves a blog post dedicated to it!

The Ready to Print app progresses through the pre-writing skills in a specific order, so that children can master the visual-motor, visual-perceptual, and fine motor skills necessary for correct printing patterns. It is designed to teach children the correct patterns for printing, and to avoid bad habits that are difficult to change as the child gets older.   In the latest version, Ready to Print features 194 separate levels in 13 activities. The latest addition is the Touch and Drag activity, which helps students work on movement in one of four specific directions.

I love this app for working on fine motor skills with my little ones as the activities progress according to developmental milestones.  The first level is focused on using a pointer finger, something I usually have to teach my students.   The app then moves into ordered touch then, touching and dragging items, reinforcing the use of a pointer finger.  It then moves onto matching, use the touch and drag skill learned in the previous level.  The next level is tracing straight and curved lines within paths, with visual cues and reinforcing graphics upon completion.  Once that level is completed, students can move onto tracing shapes and drawing lines to connect dots.  The next level works on bringing the thumb and pointer finger together to bring objects together, before moving onto tracing letters and numbers.

Not only do I love the developmental sequence of this app, I also love how motivated my students are to use it!  I currently have two students, who insist on physical prompts to imitate drawing a line or scribbling when we try to teach this using paper and pencil.  They will reach for our hands for the prompt and if we don't prompt them, they will push the materials away.  When I use this app to work on this skill, however, they complete the tasks independently!  It's like magic!  

This app works so well for teaching fine motor skills and grasp, that sometimes we will use the app first to teach the skill and then generalize it to paper and pencil.  As much as possible, we try to use a variety of materials when teaching new skills, but for some students asking them to use paper and pencil just results in excessive behaviours.  I think this video will demonstrate what I am talking about!

As you can see (or maybe you can't due to the poor quality which I can 't seem to fix :() this little guy was not at all happy with completing the task using paper and pencil.  But, once the iPad came out, he was more than happy to draw several lines!  After teaching the skill using the iPad, we generalized to paper and pencil and he was able to complete an entire worksheet after a month of teaching!  This app is well worth the $9.99 if you ask me!

Have you used this app or a similar one in your classroom?  I'd love to hear about it!  Leave me a comment below!  And be sure to check out the posts linked up at Once Upon A Classroom's blog for more great tips on using technology in the classroom! 

Until next time,

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