Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Post: First Grade Word Study and Technology by: First Grade Adventures

One of my favorite websites is . I must tell you that you have to become a member to use the site. Many districts get a district membership for all teachers and staff to use.

Reading A-Z offers leveled texts that can be printed out for students. Each book is given a level from A to Z and that level is then correlated to DRA, Reading Recovery, and Fountas & Pinnell Guided Reading levels. The book we will look at today has this correlation chart attached:

As you can see, the age and grade level are also included. This makes it easy for a teacher to find a book that will be at his/her student’s instructional or independent reading level. Many books listed have the letters ML next to them. This indicates that there are multiple levels of this book. The pictures may be the same, but the text is more rich and dense in the upper levels. Today’s book, Hibernation, is a multilevel book that is offered at levels F, I, and M. This is especially useful if you are teaching a particular topic and want students to read similar content at their own reading level.

For those of you who are not familiar with this site, once you are logged in, you click on “All Books” which will open up a page that lists each book title by reading level. As you click on the title of your choice, the next page will show the cover of the book. You can preview the book by clicking on any of the print options. On this same page will be the correlation chart. Under the book’s cover, there are options for the printed versions and lesson resources. The lesson resources range from fill in the blank to venn diagrams and comprehension work.

Initially, the purpose of the website was for teachers to print out books at a student’s individual reading level that the student could take home; quick and easy access to leveled readers that children could keep at home and reread for practice. This was a great idea that led to a fabulous idea. Reading A-Z made their books projectable.

In the Smart Board era this was pretty smart of them! Next to the links for the printable versions is the projectable option. By clicking “projectable” you will open the projectable version of the book.

The projectable version looks just like the printable book. At the bottom of the screen are tools: pen, highlighter, stamp, and text. The pen and highlighter come in a variety of colors and are great for marking words. The stamp has several options including a stop sign. The text enables the teacher to add instructions on each page. In addition to this, the teacher can frame or cover content if they wish.

Typically, I begin using the projectable version with the whole group. I want the students to be comfortable using the pen and highlighter. We do this by identifying words that have a digraph and underlining the digraph (digraph could be substituted for another word structure, like suffix, vowel, blend, etc). I also ask students to highlight sight words we have learned. Another reason for introducing this to the whole group is the add-ons the teacher can include. I want my students to be able to recognize the text I can add to each page. I want them to know that when they notice my text, it is a direction to do something. For instance, I may write, “Find the word with the suffix S and mark it,” or “Can you think of another animal that hibernates?” or “Find the two syllable word and scoop the syllables.” The student reads my instruction and uses the pen or highlighter tools to complete the task.
I can also add a stamp, like the stop sign, if I want the student to stop reading on a particular page. The teacher can print out the page, including all the marks added by teacher and student, to send home.

In the image above you can see the blue text that I have included. 
The red marks are the student’s response.

Once my students are comfortable with the projectable books, we use them on lab computers. I may have my first graders working individually or with a partner. As I mentioned before, if we are studying something like hibernation, we have access to three different reading levels for the text on hibernation. 

The students all read similar content but at a reading level that is just right for the individual. Using the computer mouse, they use the pen and highlighter tools we practiced on our Smart Board. Again, I can print a page out if I want to send the work home to share with families. This activity is great because you get a lot of bang for your buck! Students are working on word study skills while reading connected text, building science knowledge, and becoming more flexible with technology.

If I wanted a student to work on a book at home, I could open the projectable version and add the instructions for all or some of the pages. Then I could print out the whole book and send it home for the student to work on. This would be great for families who want to know how to help their children build skills. The lesson resources are also projectable. This is great for teaching children how to complete a venn diagram or a comprehension activity. They could also be turned into at-home activities.

This is how I use this website with my Smart Board to help students practice word study skills with reading. I am sure some of my more techy friends out there could come up with even more ideas for using this site!

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  1. I also use A-Z for whole group instruction. It is also very handy to use for a mini lesson in writer's workshop. We often open up an easy reader (non-fiction) and practice adding details, changing word choice, etc.

  2. I love that idea! Thanks for sharing!