Beyond the App Begins in One Week!

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Ready to Zoom Beyond the App? 

There is just one week left before we engage teachers and teacher educators from Egypt to New York and Mauritius to San Diego. Are you with us? 

Beyond the App
Co-planning with the Experts
Beyond the App invites teachers to interact with experts in online and traditional literacies.
Tim Rasinski

Meet the President of AUC, President of SUNY Cortland, and the Minister of Education in Egypt. 

You will have a chance to interact and ask questions. 

President Erik Bitterbaum
Doug Fisher & Nancy Frey

Register now to save your place. 

Egyptian & Africa teachers, click bit.ly/BeyondTheAppEgypt 

US and Canada, register here bit.ly/beyondtheapp

#BeyondTheApp @TDWolsey Graphic design by Abd-Elrhman Elsadany

I’m Going Beyond the App in my virtual classroom. Find out how.

Register Now for Beyond the App

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey & Nance Wilson

Registration for Beyond the App is open now!

Beyond the App is an interactive online conference for middle grades teachers, teacher educators, parents, and educational leaders. For just $10 you get to work with experts in the field to improve your online teaching of literacy.

You can read more about it in this press release: http://www2.cortland.edu/news/detail.dot?id=a01e318d-2666-4ecd-818c-3f7a144744dc

Visit our website and register (Your registration helps us fund the conference in the future): https://bit.ly/beyondtheapp

If you are registering from Africa, please send a note for special instructions to BeyondTheApp@Cortland.edu

In addition, participants can choose to donate to our EgyptReads! Initiative to put books in school libraries.

Some of our speakers:

Jack C Berckemeyer
Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey
Maha Bali
Vicky Mac Arthur Cardullo
Zoi Philippakos
Troy Hicks
Emily Smothers Howell
Ian O’Byrne
Danny Brassell
Keisha Rembert
Jill Castek
Timothy Rasinski
Julie Coiro
Richard Beach
AND MORE!

Go Beyond the App

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Beyond the App Promo & Logo
Are you ready to go beyond the app?

Beyond the App invites teachers to interact with experts in online and traditional literacies. In contrast to many professional development activities, Beyond the App participants will co-construct approaches to teaching upper elementary and middle school students with colleagues around the globe.  The event is a joint project with the Literacy Department at the State University of New York at Cortland and Graduate School of Education at The American University in Cairo.

Participants will have the opportunity to choose strands or themes such as building fluency, motivation for learning online, assessment practices, and more. You are likely familiar with the Gradual Release of Responsibility Model represented by the phrases, “I [the teacher] do, We do, and You do.” Our focus is on the difficult challenge of providing appropriate literacy practices within the we do [it together] phase when teachers are working online, and students are learning. But, how do you do that when you are teaching online?

Join us to go Beyond the App.

Sign up for details via email on our LeadPages site.

Learning Theories at Work

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

My graduate students in the Human Development and Learning Theories course took on the challenge of showing how various learning theories look at home and at school. They created scenarios and explainers using a variety of video tools.

Theories are nice, but the real test of a theory for parents and teachers is how a theory can be useful. Parents are grappling with the challenges of working from home and helping their children through the current COVID-19 pandemic. These videos are designed to provide quick and useful ideas to ease the burden.

In this video by Rasha , Farah , and Farah, social learning theories are demonstrated for both children and adolescents. Learn more about social learning on their blog, Who Am I?

Do you face challenges with your kids staying at home? These two videos present a synopsis on how to work with kids during COVID-19 pandemic especially how to teach emotional discipline. Parenting tips that you will love! Nesma, Lamiaa, and Dina’s blog Emotional Development can be found here.

Hana, Sara, and Mona tackled experiential learning. Watch while Hana shows us how NOT to make brownies. View their blog on experiential learning: Do Think Conclude Adapt for more information.

Technology: Not Just the Internet

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey and Frances Dixon

When educators think of technology, they most often think of digital tools—computers, iPhones, and the Internet, for example. Students need these technologies to learn, but they can also learn from technologies behind (or on top of) the school building and around the grounds.

In this TILE SIG post, we invite you to meet some courageous teachers, students, and volunteers, who, through a desire to learn and serve their communities, transformed a single school into a thriving community of educational energy, cultural celebration, and purpose. Welcome to Maya Jaguar Center for Education. Read more on Literacy Daily.

Maya Jaguar

Maya Jaguar Campus, Aerial View

Which Robber Baron Are You? Quizzes to Inspire Writing

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey

You might be like me if you scroll through your Facebook news feed clicking “like” but come to a screeching halt when you find a social media quiz like this one, Which Social Networking Site Are You? on Cha Cha.  It turns out that I am Google+. Want to know which Avenger you are from the Marvel series? Take this quiz on The Escapist. According to this quiz, I’m Hawkeye.

Hawkeye
Hawkeye

Take this quiz

These quizzes that focus on the quiz taker and often combine popular culture are a little addictive. But what if they were educational tools, too? I set up a free account on Qzzr to find out.

Standards in this example:

History–Social Science Standards for California Public Schools

8.12 Students analyze the transformation of the American economy and the changing social and political conditions in the United States in response to the Industrial Revolution.

(4) Discuss entrepreneurs, industrialists, and bankers in politics, commerce, and industry (e.g., Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Leland Stanford)  (1998, p. 38).

Common Core State Standard for writing and related substandards.

I created a social media quiz that asks students, “Which Robber Baron are you?” Based on their responses, they are given a prompt for writing based on the popular RAFT technique [click here]. In this example, I gave students the option to choose the topic based on their responses. I controlled or assigned the role, audience, and format. When I learn more about social media quizzes, I will add the R, A, and F into the quiz, as well.  Try out the quiz, below—you know you want to!

Robber Baron

Click the image to take the quiz (opens in a new window)

To set this up, I designed an Excel template with two sheets (see below). One sheet is for the overall profile for each choice; in this case, Leland Stanford, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan. For each, I wrote a profile in second person (you are….) which I post as an outcome. If you would like to see the Excel spreadsheet I used, please click here. Each profile is set up according to criteria I determined in advance: Early life, interests, business focus, and so on.  The Qzzr tool allows me to choose an outcome (in this case, one of the Robber Baron profiles along with a format type), and I enter the questions from the Excel sheet into Qzzr. Just copy and paste from Excel into Qzzr and voilà!

Excel

Tabs for each sheet are on the bottom left.

Next, I create a link to a writing prompt based on the students’ responses in Qzzr and place that in the final outcome description (for example, “ You are John D. Rockefeller”).  I linked the prompt to this blog, but you may use a variety of platforms to deliver the prompt to students (e.g., Google Drive, your course management system). The great thing about Qzzr is that if the students don’t like the assigned topic, they can go again.

In this example, I wanted students to compare the assigned Robber Baron with another in the same industry. The prompt, which you may download here, is based on the format of the prompts provided at Achievethecore.org for informative writing.

Other quiz tools you may like:

http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/

http://www.playbuzz.com/

Good luck, and have fun, too. Learn more about differentiation on LiteracyBeat here. Also, check out other educational uses of social media quizzes here.

Images:

The images were found using Creative Commons image search, and the photos of the Robber Barons are in the public domain. Background image in Qzzr: https://openclipart.org/image/300px/svg_to_png/178502/robber.png

Connecting Multicultural Education and Multiliteracies

by Thomas DeVere Wolsey

During the last year, Dr. Diane Lapp and I had the opportunity to work with several prominent thought-leaders to explore how multiple literacies and multicultural education intersect and promote greater learning and understanding amongst our students. The result, under the guidance of Dana Grisham, was a themed issue of Reading and Writing Quarterly that was just released online. In the introduction, Diane and I wrote, “Digital technology, whose users comprise ever-changing communities, permits previously disconnected worlds to find commonalities and explore differences. Technology has the potential to connect students and educators across cultures, and, at the same time, make it possible for students to participate more fully in their own cultures” (Wolsey & Lapp, 2015, p. 97).

cover of Reading & Writing Quarterly  journal

The six articles in the current special issue of Reading and Writing Quarterly each address topics that demonstrate how technology can facilitate learning, build students’ understanding of their culture, and construct bridges across and to other cultures. The table of contents may be found below. Please take a few minutes to visit the special issue on the Taylor and Francis website (preview and abstracts) or through your university electronic library resources.
• Imagining Writing Futures: Photography, Writing, and Technology by Cheryl A. McLean & Jennifer Rowsell

• Fostering Students’ Science Inquiry Through App Affordances of Multimodality, Collaboration, Interactivity, and Connectivity by Richard Beach & David O’Brien

• iPad Deployment in a Diverse Urban High School: A Formative Experiment by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher & Diane Lapp

• The Council of Youth Research: Critical Literacy and Civic Agency in the Digital Age by Antero Garcia, Nicole Mirra, Ernest Morrell, Antonio Martinez & D’Artagnan Scorza

• Multicultural Education and Multiliteracies: Exploration and Exposure of Literacy Practices With Preservice Teachers by W. Ian O’Byrne & Shane A. Smith

• A Digital Tool Grows (and Keeps Growing) From the Work of a Community of Writers by Nancy L. Roser, Melissa Mosley Wetzel, Ramón Antonio Martínez & Detra Price-Dennis

Reference:
Wolsey, T.D. & Lapp, D. (2015). Introduction to teachers and students as creators in blended learning environments. Reading and Writing Quarterly, 31(2), 97-101. doi: 10.1080/10573569.2014.963906

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World: A themed issue from Kappan

Phi Delta Kappan has just published a themed issue on “Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World” (November, 2014, volume 96, No. 3). For a short time period, you may view and download all of the articles online, for free.

http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/current

magazine cover shows child reading on a tablet

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World

As literacy and technology expert Mike McKenna states in the opening to his article,

“Technology integration into language arts instruction has been slow and tentative, even as information technologies have evolved with frightening speed. Today’s teachers need to be aware of several extant and unchanging realities: Technology is now indispensable to literacy development; reading with technology requires new skills and strategies; technology can support struggling students; technology can transform writing; technology offers a means of motivating students; and waiting for research is a losing strategy.”

We have a lot to learn, a lot to accomplish, and we need to pick up the pace! I found this issue both practically valuable and thought provoking.

Please go to the Kappan website http://pdk.sagepub.com/ and search for the current November 2014 issue, or click on  http://pdk.sagepub.com/content/current to go directly to the table of contents. I’ve listed the table of contents below (note that Jill has a piece on online inquiry and I have a piece on eText and eBooks). Enjoy!

Literacy Instruction in a Brave New World – Table of Contents

Michael C. McKenna, Literacy instruction in the brave new world of technology

Joan Richardson, Maryanne Wolf: Balance technology and deep reading to create biliterate children

Christopher Harris, Fact or fiction? Libraries can thrive in the Digital Age

Samina Hadi-Tabassum, Can computers make the grade in writing exams?

Melody Zoch, Brooke Langston-DeMott, and Melissa Adams-Budde, Creating digital authors

Bridget Dalton, E-text and e-books are changing literacy landscape

Diane Carver Sekeres, Julie Coiro, Jill Castek, and Lizabeth A. Guzniczak. Wondering + online inquiry = learning

Gail Lynn Goldberg, One thousand words, plus a few more, is just right

Kristin Conradi, Tapping technology’s potential to motivate readers

Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning

Book  cover of Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning

When friends write a book, of course, you’re excited for them and can’t wait to read it.  What’s even more wonderful is when you read the book and it’s terrific – one that you know you will use in your own teaching. Using Technology to Improve Reading and Learning by Colin Harrison and fellow Literacy Beat bloggers Bernadette Dwyer and Jill Castek is just such a book.

I found this book to be exceptionally useful for many reasons, but I will highlight just two of those reasons here.

First, Colin, Bernadette, and Jill are not only experts in technology and new media; they are first and foremost experts in literacy instruction. They have taught children how to become engaged and successful readers and writers, and they have taught and collaborated with teachers on effective literacy instruction and technology over many years. Their deep knowledge and on-the-ground experiences with children and teachers is demonstrated in every chapter. They speak directly to teachers, acknowledging the realities of today’s schools and the pressure to achieve high academic standards with all students, while offering a vision and concrete classroom examples to inspire us to embrace the challenge.

Second, this book provides a comprehensive blueprint for integrating technology so that children are more successful with print-based reading and writing AND are developing the new literacies of reading, learning, and communicating with eBooks and on the Internet. Bernadette, Jill and Colin complement a chapter on reading eBooks and digital text with two chapters on Internet inquiry – one focusing on the search process and the other focusing on how to compose and communicate through multimodal products. These are areas where we need to make tremendous progress if we are going to prepare our students for a future world that will be more multimodal, more networked, and more dependent on individuals who are creative, strategic, and collaborative.

I’ve copied the table of contents below. You will see that this book offers teachers multiple pathways for moving forward on their own journeys of technology and literacy integration. Enjoy (I know I will)!

Table of Contents

  1. Using technology to make the teaching of literacy more exciting
  2. Strategies for capitalizing on what students already know
  3. Strategies for using digital tools to support literacy development
  4. Strategies for using eReaders and digital books to expand the reading experience
  5. Strategies for teaching the information-seeking cycle: The process stage of searching for information on the Internet
  6. Strategies for teaching the information-seeking cycle: The product stage of searching for information on the Internet
  7. Strategies for encouraging peer collaboration and cooperative learning
  8. Strategies for building communities of writers
  9. Strategies for building teachers’ capacity to make the most of new technologies

Recommended Preschool Apps for Literacy Learning

By Dana L. Grisham (with thanks to Darah Odelson!)

In this blog, I have focused from time to time on the literacy experiences of my own family. You probably know I am a grandmother with twin granddaughters who will soon turn five and that I have a grandson who is almost two.  Having been both a teacher and a professor, I have long been fascinated by the acquisition of literacy in our young and the changing literacy landscapes as technology becomes more prevalent in all our lives. Most of us, myself included, struggle with the rapid and dramatic changes. The field of education is similarly in flux.

My granddaughters will attend kindergarten next fall, but they have also spent two years in a good preschool environment. They are lucky to have parents who are actively involved in providing them with rich language experiences, too.

In my September 18, 2013 post, I showed a photo I called “Digital Morning” with the twins and their dad engaged on iPhone, iPad, and laptop. The girls are adept at using electronic devices, but they have traditional literacy skills also.  I decided to find out what is out there for preschoolers and write a post on the preschool apps that my family likes (and thos that are recommended by “experts”). So here we go!

First, let me emphasize that there are MANY (!!!) apps for all age levels.

I want to review two that I particularly like here.

Reading Raven is one of the Apps that I, personally, love.  The cost for the app is $3.99, which makes it more expensive than most, but it does a lot for the money. It has been reviewed favorably by many review sites.Reading Raven 1

There are five levels in the app as shown in the screen shot below:

Reading Raven 2

Level 1 is relatively easy, but fun. In the first part, a bird flies over the top of the screen with a letter in its beak. Then letter is dropped and a voice makes the sound of the letter. The child uses a finger to touch the letter as it falls  (there is a voice that makes the letter sound) and drag the falling letter to a flower at the bottom of the screen with the same letter. If the child does it correctly, the voice says the sound of the letter, the name of the letter, and a picture of a word that begins the letter (example: “n” is “net”). The raven smiles from the bottom of the screen as he moves through the levels with you. The part my granddaughters liked most was tracing the letter on the screen. A green arrow tells you where to start and end. A child’s voice encourages you.

Level 2 features a circus motif where letters are dropped from a high wire into the mouths of hungry lions. Level two also adds small decodable words such as rat and mat.  Also beginning in Level 2, children can record their voices reading the words and the program reads the child’s voice back (hat, mat). The focus moves to onsets and rimes. (h-ot, c-ot). Toward the end of level 2, the child has the opportunity to read and record a short connected sentence such as, “ant in can,” where the words match the patterns already learned. Level 2 finishes with  multiple word sentences to read and record. See the screen shot below:

Reading Raven 3

Children can earn stickers to decorate a treehouse when they complete portions of a lesson correctly.

The colorful scenes with animated movement and narration  (as well as childrens’ voices that encourage the learner, are all attractive features.

A second app appreciated by my daughter for her twins is Hooked on Phonics.Hooked on Phonics 1

 Based on the original Hooked on Phonics (the print version), this one has been updated with the same types of interactive reading games as Reading Raven along with embedded eBooks with audio, musical soundtracks, and the ability to track the child’s progress. This one is also rated 4 Stars plus, but costs a great deal more, ($49.99 for the entire program, although you can purchase portions for as low as $4.99) aside from the free trial offer. In the trial, I listened to the sound of “t” to the doo-wap sound of Earth Angel:

Hooked on Phonics 2

Like Reading Ravens, a great deal of time is spent on phonological awareness and phonics, with catchy and engaging ways to make words.

HOP Staircase HOP word families

The student goes up a staircase to each new level.

HOP Staircase

As mentioned there are numerous (!!) apps for literacy learning on the iPad. There are also groups that are dedicated to helping the consumer judge which apps are good quality for the money that parents will spend.  A brief and partial list of such websites concludes this post.

I hope that parents and educators can agree that today’s children need both traditional and digital learning for their development as literate beings!

A Brief List of Websites for Preschool Apps:

1. Parents.com 10 Best Apps for Preschoolers

http://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/gadgets/best-apps-for-preschoolers/

2. Apps for Homeschooling

http://appsforhomeschooling.com/2013/homeschool-phonics-app-review-reading-raven-app-review/

3. KinderTown Educational App Store for Parents

http://www.kindertown.com/

4. Slideshare (50 free apps & early literacy)

http://www.slideshare.net/elloyd74/ipad-apps-early-literacy-25-fantastic-free-apps-for-prereaders

5.  I can teach my child! Top 10 Educational Apps for Preschoolers

http://www.icanteachmychild.com/2012/09/the-10-best-iphoneipad-apps-for-preschoolers/

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