Fluency Self-evaluations Using iPads (With Free Rubric)

Have you ever given your students the opportunity to record and listen to themselves read?  As teachers, we frequently observe and conference with our students about their oral reading fluency.  However, it can be much more meaningful for students to actually hear and evaluate themselves.  Last year I started doing fluency self-evaluations as a center and was very pleased with the ownership my students began to take toward achieving their reading goals.

My second graders used the free workflow app Showbie to complete their fluency self-evaluations.  After practicing their passage several times, they recorded themselves reading it aloud.  Once they played back their recording they filled out the rubric, along with their goals for next time, and sent it to me via Showbie.  

If you don’t have a class set of iPads, you may want to try one of the many free voice recording apps by doing a search in the app store.  One of the best and most user-friendly apps I’ve found is Voice Recorder by Tap Media (free).  Students simply press the “Record” button and then “Stop” when they are finished.  Then they press the “Play” button to hear their recording.  There’s even the option to save recordings in folders if you want to keep a record of your students’ progress. 

You can grab my rubric for free by clicking HERE or on the image below.

5 Easy Ways to Integrate More Technology Into Your Instruction

Happy New Year, teacher friends!  Is one of your professional goals for 2016 to integrate more technology into your instruction?  Today I’m linking up with iTeach Second to share some simple tips to help you motivate and engage your students with technology in the New Year.
Add a listening center to your literacy stations.  Storyline Online is a free site filled with dozens of popular children’s stories read aloud by celebrities.  If you have iPads or laptops/Chromebooks with a camera, you can opt for QR codes that link to online stories.  I made my listening center into a bulletin board so my students could easily walk up to it and scan a story of their choice.  Don’t have time to make your own QR codes that link to stories?  There are many pre-made ones on Teachers Pay Teachers, like THIS free one.

Incorporate a writing/digital storytelling center into your literacy routine.  Storykit is my favorite free iPad app for digital storytelling.  Students can create storybooks with text, audio, and photos/illustrations.  They can either upload photos from their camera roll or draw their own illustrations using the app’s drawing feature.  Check out THIS post for more digital storytelling apps. 

Download a few engaging sight word apps onto your classroom iPad(s).  Check out THIS post where I shared several of my favorite free sight word apps.
Download some fun apps for each topic you’re teaching in math.  Not sure where to begin?  I use THIS site often to find quality apps for my students.  You can also check out these blog posts where I’ve reviewed my favorite free apps for place valueadditiongeometrytime, and money.

Lastly, QR codes are one of the easiest and most engaging ways to add a little technology into your routine.  You will need to download a QR scanning app onto your classroom iPad(s), such as THIS free one.  If you’re new to QR codes, I would recommend trying out some freebies first to get your feet wet.  Click HERE or on the image below to try out this free base-10 QR code scavenger hunt.  You may also want to check out the “QR Codes” tab on my blog for more ideas and freebies for using QR codes in the classroom.

Free Telling Time Apps for the iPad

Telling time can be an extremely difficult concept for primary students to grasp.  Luckily, there are some amazing iPad apps out there that make learning to tell time more engaging and interactive.  Today I’m sharing my favorites, which all happen to be free. 

Interactive Telling Time Lite offers two engaging games—Set the Time and Stop the Clock.  For Set the Time, students move the hands on the analog clock to show the designated time.  Stop the Clock is my students’ favorite because they enjoy the suspense of waiting for the clock hands to get to the perfect position for them to press the stop button.  This app can be played at various difficulty levels and students are motivated to keep playing because of the virtual aquarium where they get to redeem their prizes.

Tell Time: Little Matchups requires students to match analog clocks and digital clocks.  The matchups get progressively harder as the students get better at matching the clocks. 

Math Tappers: Clock Master is a fun and simple app that offers various modes and difficulty levels so students can learn at their own pace.  In the picture below, my student is selecting the digital time based on the time shown on the analog clock.  The other mode requires students to move the hands on the analog clock to match the time shown on the digital clock.

Telling Time Quiz is a fun game for which students choose the analog clock that matches the time shown in words.  It starts out with time to the hour and gets progressively harder as students master and unlock each level. 

Time Teacher Lite offers a variety of activities such as: matching an analog and digital clock, setting the time on a digital clock based on the analog clock shown, and moving the hands on an analog clock based on the digital clock shown.  When students take a quiz, they can earn trophies as well as puzzle pieces to complete a hidden picture.
In addition to these engaging apps, my students had a blast working around the room on THIS telling time QR code scavenger hunt.
They also worked on THESE time to the hour/half QR code task cards as well as THESE time to the nearest 5 minutes QR code task cards.

Digital Storytelling Apps

Digital storytelling is an excellent way to foster student creativity and give them authentic experiences with reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  Today I’m sharing my favorite digital storytelling apps that I’ve used in my classroom.
Digital Storytelling Apps

Toontastic (free) allows students to animate their own stories while practicing key story elements.  The app guides them through choosing their setting, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution.  Once students are ready to record, they can move the characters around on the screen and it will record both their animations and voices as a cartoon video.
Digital Storytelling Apps

Storykit (free) lets students create a digital storybook with text, audio, and photos/illustrations.  Students can either upload photos from their camera roll or draw their own illustrations using the app’s drawing feature.  This app has been a favorite choice during Daily 5 writing, and we’ve also used it to publish various nonfiction research projects.  
Digital Storytelling AppsDigital Storytelling Apps

Book Creator ($4.99) is hands-down my favorite app for creating any kind of eBook.  Students can add videos, music, and even record their voices.  Book Creator has lots of color and font options as well as a pen tool to draw and annotate.  We’ve used this versatile app to publish nonfiction research projects, fairy tales, how-to books, collaborative stories, and even math explanations.  In the picture below, you can see how my student has embedded a YouTube video to demonstrate how wild dogs hunt.
Digital Storytelling Apps

Telestory (free) allows students to create, direct, and star in their own TV shows.  There are a variety of fun themes, costumes, and special effects to choose from and you can really let students run wild with their imaginations.  The picture below shows one of my students recording a news broadcast for her classmates. 
Digital Storytelling Apps

Chatterpix (free) can make any photo talk.  After uploading a photo, you simply draw a line to make a mouth and then record your voice.  With this app, the possibilities are endless and can range from silly to informative.  We used this last year to make characters from fairy tales talk and explain their point of view on what happened in the story.  Below you can see how one of my students embedded a Chatterpix into his eBook on penguins.  (I really wish I would have saved a recording of this video!)
Digital Storytelling Apps

Storybird (free) is an iPad-friendly website that allows students to create stories using beautiful and intriguing artwork.  Students can search by themes (or “tags”) to find and drag in pictures.  Then they begin sequencing and typing their story to go along with the pictures.  Even my most reluctant writers love this site because they are so fascinated by the artwork.  My favorite thing about Storybird is that students can publish their books to our class account and comment on one another’s stories.    
Digital Storytelling Apps

Are there any digital storytelling apps you love that are not on this list?  I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!:) 

Must-have iPad Apps for Back 2 School (All Free)

With Back to School right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about which apps we want to download and introduce to our students in the first weeks of school.  With so many incredible apps out there, how do we decide which ones to introduce first? 

For me, I tend to reflect on the apps I used most frequently throughout the previous school year because I want to take the time to allow my students to truly master them.  I’ve learned from my mistakes that introducing too many apps at once can confuse and overwhelm students and I end up wasting valuable instructional time re-teaching them. 

So here’s a list of MY must-have apps, which all happen to be free.  Many of them can be used across multiple subject areas and grade levels, but I’m writing this post with my current second graders in mind.:)

I use Popplet Lite frequently to help my students map out their thinking.  In reading we use it it for skills like sequencing and retelling, and also for vocabulary. 
Popplet can also help students visualize tricky math concepts.  Here's a "popple" of a number in standard, expanded, and word form.  

Pic Collage is another great app for your visual and hands-on learners.  Students can take pictures of things in real life, such as nouns or geometric shapes, and make a collage.  Here’s a shape collage my 2nd graders made and an angle poster my 4th graders made. 

We also use Pic Collage for hands-on math practice, like these addition and subtraction sentences. 


My students use Doodle Buddy a lot as a white board for practicing spelling words and for solving math problems. 

Doodle Buddy offers lots of fun pen colors as well as “stamps” that really motivate the kiddos.  I had my students stamp and write out addition sentences as well as arrays.   
Storykit allows students to create an electronic storybook.  This was a choice during Daily 5 and we also used it to publish various books throughout the year.  Students can choose to illustrate their books by drawing a picture on the screen, uploading their own image, or taking a photo of a paper illustration.  Students can even record their voices reading the text aloud.
If you do QR code activities, a QR scanner like i-nigma, is a must.  If you’ve never used QR codes in your classroom, I’d highly recommend trying them out.  They’re great for engaging your students and getting them up and moving around the room.  Click here or on the image below to download a free base-10 block QR code scavenger hunt.  I have many QR code freebies in my TpT store for multiple grade levels to help you get started. 
If your students need to work on sight word practice, you may want to download a couple of sight word apps, such as Sight Words: Kids Learn.  You can check out my post about my favorite sight word apps here.

Lastly, I would recommend introducing a couple of fun math apps depending on what topic you plan on teaching first.  You can check out these posts on my favorite free math apps for place value, addition, geometry, time, and money.
What are YOUR must-have apps?