Monday, June 13, 2011

Software Evaluation

Kid Pix is a great drawing program that is useful for young children.  On this program, students are able to create pictures or graphic organizers.  Students may draw, paint, use rubber stamps, and insert text into their work.  This software may be used by an individual student or collaboratively and could be integrated into any subject matter.  Go to for a how-to of how to use the program.  You need the software to actually complete the activity, but this gives you an idea of what the software looks like.  There are many versions of Kid Pix including Kid Pix Studio Deluxe and Kid Pix Deluxe 4.  This software is kid friendly and includes such aspects as "Undo Guy", which has the typical features of the undo button.  Kid Pix is highly interactive and has a high degree of user control.  It can be used by students of many different learning abilities.  I would highly recommend using this software in the classroom.

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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Technology in Kindergarten

As a Kindergarten team, we have been discussing ways to integrate more technology into our classrooms.  We have recently discussed the many different technologies available through Leap Frog, which can be found at: 
One particular technology, the Tag School Reader System includes a device that looks like a pen that students use to touch the words on a book (specific books must be used with this tool).  The device, which can be hooked up to headphones, then reads the words for the student.  This would be a great way to differentiate for our students, because not only are there a variety of books for different interest levels, but also for different reading abilities.  By purchasing a classroom bundle of these, multiple students could have access to them during our literacy block.  To learn more about the Tag School Reader System, go to: 
Students are becoming more and more comfortable with and knowledgeable about technology at a young age and integrating technology into literacy instruction will be interesting to them and will motivate them to learn more.   

Saturday, June 4, 2011

SMART Boards

I have had the opportunity to have a SMART Board in my Kindergarten classroom for the past two years.  Many people often ask, “What is a SMART Board?”.  I explain it as an interactive white board that is hooked up to my computer.  Anything that I create or do on my computer is then projected onto the SMART Board.  Students and teachers are able to operate the computer simply by touching the SMART Board.  They may access the Internet, use word processing tools, or use the SMART Board software to create files.  There are many brands of interactive white boards, and this is the brand that we use in our district.    
We use our SMART Boards for large and small group instruction as well as give students the opportunity to use them during math and reading centers and free choice time.  For example, in reading I have made games where students are doing word sorts.  They are given a variety of words with short e and short a in the middle and they need to sort the words to the correct category by moving them with their finger. 
While it is relatively easy for teachers to create files to use with their students, it can also be quite time consuming.  One great website available is  Teachers may search for lesson plans and files available based on topic, lesson, and/or grade.  You need to download the SMART Board software in order to fully utilize this site.  Another helpful website is  The authors of this site include helpful podcasts that explain how to use various aspects of the SMART Board.  An Internet search will often lead to sites such as the following: that include links to various SMART Board sites as well as online educational games that students can play. 
Having a SMART Board in my classroom has greatly enhanced my students’ education.  Incorporating 21st century literacy skills is very important for students of all ages.  My students are avid and informed users of this piece of technology and are able to use it to learn across the curriculum.
Graphic found at:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Assistive Technologies

 The Iowa Department of Education defines an assistive technology device as “any item, pieceof equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability” (Definition found at:  This website also lists federal regulations, state rules, as well as links to other web sites that are helpful to educators and parents in Iowa.  The use of assistive technologies is beneficial to many students.  Here are a few examples:
Boardmaker is a program which you can use to create educational tools to help students communicate.  I look forward to utilizing boardmaker next year to create a class schedule as well as visual reminders for students in regards to expectations in the classroom (voice off, raise hand to share, etc.).  To learn more about Boardmaker, check out:
I have had students who have used a DynaVox in the past and as I have been researching this topic, I am surprised by how many different versions are available.  These can be found at:,10825,10837&discontinued=0.  A DynaVox helps students to become more independent and communicate their wants and needs.  Teachers and students can program information into this machine.  For example, when we have Star of the Week, students can share information about themselves and their families by pushing buttons.
Websites to Attain Assistive Technologies for Students
Iowa Program for Assistive Technology (IPAT) is a great website that includes links to a variety of places to purchase the appropriate assistive technologies.  This site also has a page that helps you to discover which type of assistive technology is the most beneficial for a specific need as well as links to pages that will help you obtain loans to pay for assistive technology.  It can be found at
Iowa Educators Consortium, which is through Iowa Area Education Agencies, has a site in which you can purchase assistive technology and special needs software:  These are just two of many sites available online that are helpful in attaining assistive technologies. 
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Three-Dimensional Reading and Writing

Frey, Fisher, and Gonzalez (2010) state that the term three-dimensional reading is often used “to discuss Internet-based reading” (p. 36) in which “with hyperlinks the reader is on a self-directed journey and may never finish the original page” (p. 37).  This is the type of literacy that our current students are learning about and learning with.

 What will be the future of the written word?
With the use of sites such as BookFLIX by Scholastic (mentioned in a previous blog), students are already able to listen to stories and read along.  Some of these stories have music and other applications, such as games, that they can link to right from the page they are reading.  I think that in the future, the written word will continue to evolve and you will be able to access different types of media, perhaps not even thought of yet, from hyperlinks.
Frey, N., Fisher, D., & Gonzalez, A. (2010). Literacy 2.0 Reading and writing in 21st century classrooms. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.


When I was in school and we needed to look up information we went to the dictionary or to the row of encyclopedias, chose the correct volume, carried it back to our desks, and searched for the information.  Today, students simply need to go to the Internet, type in the word, and they will receive more sites with information than they will ever have time to read.  Typically, one of the first sites that comes up is:
  Computer KidsIn Literacy 2.0 by Frey, Fisher, and Gonzalez (2010), Margaret Santori introduces her students to the discussion tab of a Wikipedia entry, where people are able to have educated discussions about each of the topics on the site.  Santori and her students then discuss the ways the online discussion is similar to their discussion in the classroom.This activity may be a little more difficult with Kindergarten students, but I think that modeling appropriate use of the Internet and explaining to students why I am choosing the sites I am choosing is very beneficial to them.  We spend a lot of time in Kindergarten working on social skills and this activity would give us an opportunity to do so while integrating technology.  When looking up information on the Internet, I search for sites other than Wikipedia, but after reading the chapter of this book, I am able to see the importance of teaching students how to be informed users of the Internet.

Reference: Frey, N., Fisher, D., & Gonzalez, A. (2010). Literacy 2.0 Reading and writing in 21st century classrooms. Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.


BookFLIX by Scholastic is a great resource we will be able to use starting August 1, 2011.  This resource helps children to build a love of literacy through the pairing of fiction and non-fiction interactive Ebooks.  The words are highlighted as they are read aloud so students have the opportunity to follow along.

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Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson  is one of the stories featured in this resource that is also in our district’s reading curriculum.  Students would have the opportunity to listen to and watch the story online and then to read a related non-fiction text about bear cubs. 
This resource will be a great addition to our reading centers.  Students will have the opportunity to read both fiction and non-fiction texts, play educational games, and read about their favorite writers.  They may also explore the web in a safe way by choosing pre-selected links related to the topics they have been reading about.  For more information about this wonderful resource, go to: or