Thursday, June 30, 2011

IPad vs.LeapPad for Kids?

Apple iPad for Kids vs LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer For Kids!

The LeapPad e-reader/tablet is due to hit stores in August. The LeapPad will have instant appeal for families and teachers already using LeapFrog products. The $100 e-reader/tablet will be an instant success if they deliver a true e-reader, with all the LeapFrog educational software that is available! 
     Can you compare the LeapPad Explorer, head to head with the iPad, not really, but for those that want an e-reader/tablet to help their children learn, this may be a great entry into mobile learning. Kids will love the LeapPad, the true test is the educational value of the apps and the usability. 

LeapPad Update December 14th: LeapPad Price Gouging on Amazon!
The price on Amazon is now double the suggested retail and that makes no sense to gouge parents during the holidays. I would suggest going to the company website and order your LeapPad. http://www.leapfrog.com/leappad/

The LeapPad Green Bundle looks like a fun way to start your LeapPad experience. LeapPad Bundle 

Bundle includes: LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet - green, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Mr. Pencil learning games, green case, adapter, battery recharger with 4 AA batteries and 1 LeapFrog® App Center Download Card (value of $20)


LeapPad Product Description

Amazon.com Hands-On Review

Help your child create and learn with the LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer. The learning tablet gives you access to more than 100 educational books, games, videos, and apps. Subjects like mathematics, reading, and science are covered in a fun and interactive way. The LeapPad's built-in camera can shoot video, allowing kids to make animation and art to share with family and friends.

At a Glance
LeapPad Explorer
At a Glance:

Age: 4 to 9 years
Requirements: 4 AA batteries

(not included)   
Warranty: 1-year limited



  • Library of 100+ games and apps
  • Works with all Leapster Explorer game cartridges, eBooks, videos and more
At a Glance
System Specifications
Screen5 inches, 480x272 pixel resolution
Camera640 x 480 resolution capability
Video Recorder320x240 resolution capability
Input ControlsD-pad, touch screen, embedded microphone, camera, motion sensor
ConnectorsCartridge slot, AC adapter, audio jack, USB connector
Battery DurationApprox. 8+ hours
On-board Memory2 GB
LeapPad Logo





LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer with Stylus
Sturdy design, easy to create videos and personalized stories. View larger.
Kid-Friendly, Interactive Design
Though sleek and thin, the LeapPad can withstand kids' roughhousing and dirty fingers. Designed to be flipped, shaken, and turned by little hands, the LeapPad comes with a tilt sensor for game control that puts kids in the middle of the action. A 5-inch color touch screen makes it easy for kids of all ages to learn and interact.
LeapFrog LeapPad Explorer - built-in camera and recorder Built-In Camera Encourages Creativity
Prepare to be amazed by the wacky and touching videos, photos, and artwork that your child will produce using the LeapPad. Voice-guided instructions make it easy for children to edit and share their creations with friends and family. And with 2 GB of built-in memory, the LeapPad has plenty of space to store your budding director's creations.
The built-in camera allows kids to become the stars of their own stories. The Story Studio and Art Studio apps allow children to modify pictures they take and drop them into storybooks. Both apps are free and can be downloaded once you register the device.


Leveled Reading Experience
LeapPad's book apps are interactive, cinematic experiences designed to guide children through books and immerse them in the joy of reading. Each book is actually three books in one, with different levels and modes optimized to support reading development. As a child builds his/her reading skills, the levels adjust automatically and are remembered from book to book.
The book app's innovative activities build comprehension skills and expand vocabulary with support features that allow your child to touch a word to see its image, touch an image to see the word highlighted in text, touch words to hear them sounded out, or find definitions in the visual dictionary. All of this with characters that children will love, brought to life through animation that keeps children engaged as they learn.

Each book app features:
  • 3 levels of text
  • 3 modes where children can listen to the story, read along with the story, or read and explore activities on their own
  • 6 comprehension activities leveraging the tablet's accelerometer and 3 fun games
  • Ability to record and play back personal story narration
 Discover a World of Learning
With more than 100 learning games, videos, books, and apps available for LeapPad, it's easy to keep your child entertained on long car trips or at your favorite restaurant. LeapPad has a game cartridge slot for backwards compatibility with the entire existing Leapster Explorer Library, the curriculum covers spelling, phonics skills, mathematics, science, music, geography, and more.
The LeapPad also automatically adjusts learning so that kids can learn at their own pace while staying engaged. They can even practice writing with the included child-sized stylus.

Track Your Child's Progress
The LeapPad's online tool, the Learning Path, allows you to tune into your child's progress and track achievements. You can choose to receive regular e-mail updates on your child's accomplishments, which provide insight into where your child may need additional support and give you new ideas for even more learning fun.

Registration Allows for Maximum Capability
Parents will want to register the LeapPad so that they can download the three free apps and access the online tools. The online tool allows you to track your child's play and learning progress and share your child's photos and creations. Plan to spend about 20 minutes registering, downloading the apps, and helping your child set up a user profile.

What's in the Box
LeapFrog LeapPad with stylus, four apps (Pet Pad, Story Studio, Art Studio, and one app of your choice), extra stylus with tether, USB cable, installation CD, quick-start guide, and instructions.







Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Free Text to Speech apps

Using Text To Speech in the Classroom is Made Easy With New Apps!

Text to speech avatars may be the e-teachers of the future!

iPad, iPod, smart phones, and mobile devices are the future of e-learning and will be a powerful educational tool. Teachers now can easily develop apps. to help struggling readers learn to read. Imagine every students has a customized Avatar teaching and assessing learning minute by minute and adapting to meet every student's needs! Imagine iPad apps. teaching a billion people a new language. The future of e-learning will be a mobile device. The great news for teachers and students is these devices are getting cheaper, faster, and easier for teachers to develop rich learning content and lessons. You can create a free 30 second language arts lesson in less than a minute using Read The Word.com free software.



Example of 30 second fluency drill using Text to Speech software!

Find out more at Readthewords.com

Lesson One 
a · about · after · all · and · any · an · are · as · at been · before · be · but · by · can · could · did · down · do · first · for · from · good · great · had · has · have · her · he · him · his ·if · into · in · is · its · it · I · know · like · little · made · man · may · men · me 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

IPad remedial reading apps

iPad remedial reading apps. for 2012 

Reading Sage will be creating a FREE remedial reading app. for iPad.  2012 release!

Learn to Read, Write, and Speak English in 20 days!

107 words make up over 50% of the words you read and speak!
1000 words make up 75-80% of the words you read and speak!
5,000 words make up 85-90% of the words you read and speak!


The remedial reading app. will be easy and simple to use on multiple mobile platforms. 

The reading app. will be an electronic version of a Progressive McGuffey Speller with the addition of English fluency drills. 

Working Ideas for the The Reading Sage interactive iPad reading app:

  • Phonics lessons
  • Phonemes and graphemes lessons
  • Interactive vocabulary list based on the 1,000 most written and spoken words in English.
  • Vocabulary links to native speaker for all vocabulary, phrases, and glossaries.  
  • Basic academic vocabulary lessons.  
  • Vocabulary flash card games
  • Songs and lyrics fluency 
  • Cognate lessons
  • Basic reading comprehension 








Please give input to help make an effective 
remedial reading app. for iPad 

Sample of vocabulary content:

a · about · after · all · and · any · an · are · as · at · been · before · be · but · by · can · could · did · down · do · first · for · from · good · great · had · has · have her · he · him · his ·if · into · in · is · its · it · I · know · like · little · made · man may · men · me · more · Mr · much · must · my · not · now · no · of · on · one only · or · other · our · out · over · said ·see · she · should · some · so · such than · that · the · their · them · then · there · these · they · this · time · to · two upon · up · us · very · was · were · we · what · when · which ·who · will · with
would · you · your

DOLCH WORDS
 
Pre-primer: a, and, away, big, blue, can, come, down, find, for, funny, go, help, here, I, in, is, it, jump, little, look, make, me, my, not, one, play, red, run, said, see, the, three, to, two, up, we, where, yellow, you
 
Primer: all, am, are, at, ate, be, black, brown, but, came, did, do, eat, four, get, good, have, he, into, like, must, new, no, now, on, our, out, please, pretty, ran, ride, saw, say, she, so, soon, that, there, they, this, too, under, want, was, well, went, what, white, who, will, with, yes
 
1st Grade: after, again, an, any, as, ask, by, could, every, fly, from, give, giving, had, has, her, him, his, how, just, know, let, live, may, of, old, once, open, over, put, round, some, stop, take, thank, them, then, think, walk, were, when
 
2nd Grade: always, around, because, been, before, best, both, buy, call, cold, does, don't, fast, first, five, found, gave, goes, green, its, made, many, off, or, pull, read, right, sing, sit, sleep, tell, their, these, those, upon, us, use, very, wash, which, why, wish, work, would, write, your
 
3rd Grade: about, better, bring, carry, clean, cut, done, draw, drink, eight, fall, far, full, got, grow, hold, hot, hurt, if, keep, kind, laugh, light, long, much, myself, never, only, own, pick, seven, shall, show, six, small, start, ten, today, together, try, warm
  
Nouns: apple, baby, back, ball, bear, bed, bell, bird, birthday, boat, box, boy, bread, brother, cake, car, cat, chair, chicken, children, Christmas, coat, corn, cow, day, dog, doll, door, duck, egg, eye, farm, farmer, father, feet, fire, fish, floor, flower, game, garden, girl, good-bye, grass, ground, hand, head, hill, home, horse, house, kitty, leg, letter, man, men, milk, money, morning, mother, name, nest, night, paper, party, picture, pig, rabbit, rain, ring, robin, Santa Claus, school, seed, sheep, shoe, sister, snow, song, squirrel, stick, street, sun, table, thing, time, top, toy, tree, watch, water, way, wind, window, wood

Cognate Examples:
English Spanish

accident accidente
accidental accidental
accompany (to) acompañar
acrobatic acrobático(a)
active activo (a)
 

Looking for partners to help develop the software side of application.


Please Email Reading Sage With Suggestions and Ideas!

Teachers Cheating on State Tests?

Students and Teachers Cheating on State Exams! 

Students cheating on state test, teachers and administrators erasing answer to help students pass state test is more prevalent.Why, because of NCLB mandates? We base our school ratings, teacher performance, and student performance based on test scores so we have a big incentive to manipulate the data! 

Do teachers and administrators really need to cheat or errase test answers to get ahead?  

I have been accused of cheating or helping my students cheat on state exams. This is in part perception, my students show great success in all academic areas and record numbers are passing State Reading and Math Exams! 6 years, all students passing at 95% on State Reading Exams and 85% on Math Exams! All students meaning ESL, Special education, new to the school and or district, all in a Title I school with 90% free an reduced lunch! Some classes in the same school have a 33% passing rate. 

What is the difference? I'm dyslexic and refuse to let kids pass through my class without learning to read!

I took drastic measure six years ago to stop all the failure, and decided to teach nothing but reading the first 20 days of school.75% of my class yearly was coming to me below grade level in reading and that made me sick. I teach everyone to read now, and I am accused of teaching to the test! :( I teach kids how to read and reason! I have documented the methods and data using a blog to dispel the naysayers.

Their is never any reason to cheat, kids are amazing and will meet any challenge that you give them!

Sean Taylor M.Ed.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Teaching Dyslexic Students to Read!

Teaching Dyslexic Students to Read!

Students with reading difficulties may have one of three cognitive deficits that need addressing. The easiest to address is a second language learner that needs more time learning a new language. Most difficult to address is a learner with an auditory processing deficit or cognitive impairment. Finally the least common cognitive deficit is a learner that is dyslexic. The latter two are a gray areas in many classrooms and at times never diagnosed or understood by teachers or parents. A teacher may assume a child is suffering with attention problems when they may just have very poor auditory processing skills. Teachers often see some students make great gains using a reading system while others students are stagnant or regress, and they have no clue why. Using a published reading program to address all reading difficulties is nigh impossible without a clear understanding of a students auditory processing/echoic memory ability. What is the solution to help all students succeed? Auditory processing enhancement and working memory augmentation in the form of brain work is essential to helping all students maximize learning. Academic achievement is slow or impossible if you are not augmenting working memory and enhancing auditory processing. Time and best practice will negate all but the most severe and profound cognitive deficit that hinders academic progress.



Helping all Dyslexic students learn to READ! 

  • Find a teacher that is learning disabled
  • Network with other dyslexics teachers and students
  • Get involved in a positive way with your schools curriculum
  • Try everything hundreds of time until you find what works 
  • Study multiple languages especially one that is not based on alphabets! 
  • Always read out-loud and track each word with your finger
  • Draw, paint, sing, act or sculpt tricky words and letters
  • Learn the "art" of cursive using classic fountain pens and modern parchment paper (Spencerian)
  • Learn how to use a traditional dictionary 
  • Use the Closed Caption on your TV always
  • Skip the computer reading programs and phonics programs and use great books that inspire
  • No test, no worksheets, no basal readers, and no grades when you are learning to read and adapt to a disability!
  • Sing and learn new songs, poems, and lyrics daily, weekly, yearly
  • Master all grade level Dolch Sight Words
  • Listen to Audio Books
  • Join a theater group
  • Network with other dyslexics teachers and students
My Story, Learning to Read!
Literacy for me was almost an unrealized unattainable dream! As a dyslexic learner I was unable to read, write, or decode words as a child, p,d,b and q were all the same letter. The written word was a collection of cuneiform squiggles that swam around on the page. I was identified dyslexic at age 9 and later dysgraphic. I spent the next 6 years in special education programs (limbō) trying to learn to read and write. The special education programs never acknowledged my creative capabilities, coping skills and shame and humiliation of being illiterate, they focused on "curing" my learning disabilities with under-trained teachers! Many classroom teachers assumed I would never read or write due to the severity of my dyslexia and this made me feel worthless. I eventually learned to read all words by sight the same method as learning Chinese. I am a dyslexic reading teacher that has built a reputation for finding innovative ways to teach reading and critical thinking to all students! ALL children are gifted and can learn to read! Sean Taylor M.Ed.
How do you teach dyslexic students to read, that can’t use phonics or just seems unreachable? Most teachers will try anything once, reading software, boxed reading interventions, resource help or sadly they just assume after trying, some students will never learn to read because they are beyond any help. My own bad memories learning to read, and 14 years of experience have shown me that, there are no students beyond help!



One method, put a really good book in the dyslexics students hand, and read with them for a very long time. We are talking about two or three hours a day, five days a week, for many months! You may say, I can’t justify that, or my schedule is only 45 minutes a day with the student, my school won’t allow that, but what is really important, the student learning to read, not the schedules that is the Finnish way. The only real secret to this method, is spending a very long time on task reading and the student must track each word with their finger as their partners read to them. Teachers and staff can give the read-athon to students and just keep up the marathon of reading.  I have used this with students that everyone gave up on, the method and it has never failed. I have had so many students over the years that say thank you for not giving up, showing them that books are filled with magical stories and reading is possible. 

I learned to read and overcame dyslexia because I wanted to read books like the ”The Cay” I had to find out what happened to Timothy. I wanted to read the Dungeons and Dragons books my uncle gave, filled with monsters, magical lands and endless possibilities for my imagination. This world was closed to me for many years because I could not read! Sean Taylor The Dyslexic Reading Teacher 

My Special Education teachers method was hideous
!

The method was simple but sadly as said hideous. I went to the LD resource room daily and sat with a stack of flash cards with a magnetic strip, like a large credit card, and ran the card through the reader over, and over, and over.
The Bell and Howell tape machine read my daily stack of single word flash cards, most of my early memories are sitting with that infernal machine running cards through over and over trying to read!? My grandmother bought me a record player with read along stories like Jungle Book and Journey to the Center of the Earth. This was superior to the flash cards. I would were-out needles and records listening so hard to make sense of the hieroglyphs on the page that I knew made up great stories.

At home I could read high adventure with the help of my record player at school I was reading books that I believed and thought were for the stupid kids!

Days, weeks, and years with the stupid machine! Phonics never worked for me just learning every word by sight! Today I use music and lyrics with my students, no boring methods permitted in my class.

I learned English the very same way you learn Chinese.


Telling me as a child to sound out words was like asking me to sound out Chinese. I was not word blind just "Phonics Blind/Deaf" My first compensatory skill was a deft skill at listening to the structure (syntax) of English to predict the unknown words, I was unable to decode per se, I see words as characters or shapes. Proper names were reverse engineered in my mind to similar words that I knew by sight. I have mastered, to a point the 44 phonemes today, but my mind is always over sampling a sight word to make a connection to new words. Love those extra steps to "decode" Not! My students know of my quirks and I use my odd methods to teach my students to read, no mater what!

 

One method that many teachers overlook, that greatly helped me learn to read was learning cursive. Learning to print gave me fits! A question to ponder, How would you teach color to a color blind student? That is what you must do, teach some students with dyslexia to read!

Written and spoken English (Morpheme-based grapheme to phoneme) was a bunch of cuneiform squiggles that swam around on the page. My disconnect was the morpheme grapheme to phoneme conversion. I was unable to make a bridge between the auditory and visual patters, rules of reading phonetically. Most of my teachers including special education teachers had no clue what I was experiencing. The schools solution for my dyslexia was modification, accommodation and very infective remediation, that left me illiterate and always two or three years behind my peers. For parents and teachers of exceptional learners, I would suggest a listening lab with books on tape also lots of music with lyrics. Please stop and get help from a professional before you use a software program, that is a modern Bell and Howell tape machine, as I said the learning was hideous! Students must learn and practice tracking text with their finger for all reading activities even if they cannot sight read or decode at the beginning! They need to read along out-loud as much as possible. The repetition of the songs and the books on tape will eventually make a bridge. And always the reading material has to be high interest. I was bored to death page flipping my easy read books and using my tape machine.

Remedial reading programs must meet the needs of a diverse student population. Finding great methods to use with at-risk students is difficult at times.The best single resource that I have found is a reading handbook published by New South Wales Public Schools. The book is free online and has given me many great ideas to help learning disabled students.

Reading Handbook!
Fluency Drills and Assessments for all Grades!

DYSLEXIA ASSESSMENT AND TESTING

Cure Dyslexia in 20 days?

Students with reading difficulties may have one of three cognitive deficits that need addressing including Dyslexia. The least common cognitive deficit impacting reading is a learner that is dyslexic or dysgraphic. A very few students will be both dyslexic and dysgraphic.

Free Remedial Reading Assessment 206 pp PDF


"I wonder, how did you compensate when note taking? If you have any particular suggestions for the writing part of the literacy process I will much appreciate them. Best regards", Alison

Hi Alison,
I learned to listen very carefully, and in some circumstances I ask other students to take notes. My dyslexia forced me to actively listen, think critically, sort, prioritize, and memorize academic content. Graphic and visual information was learned with ease. I tried taping lectures but that never worked for me. I will never be an editor, but a bit of irony is a dyslexic reading teacher.

My suggestion to your students, is use all the technological advances available e.g. word processors. I would have never attended college without the use of a word processors. The sad thing today is many people without dyslexia can't, read, write or spell! I feel right at home:) One point of interest is learning to print was a dead end at the start of my writing instruction. Cursive should have been taught first, with my transposed view of everything literary.

You can only teach reading some may say, writing is a function of becoming well read. I have always taught writing as a literary or sensory response. I remind my self and my students that many writers never penned a word, they just created great epics, fables, folktales, poems, and prose in the tradition of the bards. Sean

Friday, June 24, 2011

Creating a Great Student Reference Library.

Creating a Great Student Reference Library.


Hi Stephanie,
A very important step in preparing a great home or school learning experience is a student reference library. Reference books are used daily, and my students and I would be lost without them, these books are the foundation of my classroom reference library.

Student Reference Books

Reading and Language Arts Reference Books:


Writer's Express: A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers & Learners: Language Arts Reference Book Intermediate
Grade 4-6-This guide for aspiring writers is similar to, although written for a somewhat younger audience than, Patrick Sebranek's Write Source (Write Source, 1987), a popular textbook for middle-school language-arts classes. Kemper covers the writing process, its various forms, tools and study skills, and spelling and punctuation, and includes a nearly 50-page appendix of tables and lists, including maps, a timeline, the sign-language alphabet, the planets, and more. The volume is illustrated with colorful cartoon graphics, and bold headings make it easier for readers to locate information. A useful addition for classroom or home use, this title is less appropriate for library purchase as it serves better as a textbook or personal handbook.
Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.



Reader's Handbook Gr 3, 4, or 5: All are great Reading Reference Books
Reader's Handbook covers everything third graders need to become competent, active readers across all subject areas. Student-friendly and comprehensive, the Reader's Handbook can be used in a variety of ways to supplement your reading program.
Introduce key reading skills, strategies, and concepts including notetaking, summarizing, paraphrasing, and graphic organizers
Reinforce lessons from your reading textbook
Review the Before, During and After reading process
Support students as they read different kinds of text throughout the day






The Giggly Guide to Grammar: Just a fun way to learn grammar.
It's Shel Silverstein meets Strunk and White and the results are both hilarious and instructive. With over 120 illustrations and gobs of delightfully goofy examples and exercises, this book provides a lighthearted and ludicrous guide to the essential elements of language and grammar...not to mention a few writing tips thrown into the mix.



Grammar has often been taught as joyless process of memorizing rules and diagramming phony sentences, but most writers will tell you that grammar actually promotes a love of language. Not only can the study of grammar be fun and joyful, this unique primer can also be used by adults everywhere who simply need a single volume at the ready to keep them on the straight and narrow...and laughing all the way!



But How Do You Teach Writing?: A Simple Guide for All Teachers: Teaching writing is a pleasure using Barry Lanes ideas.
Through anecdote, classroom vignette, and his own experience as a writer and teacher, Barry encourages teachers of any grade level to start a writing program tomorrow and not wait until they have attained perfect understanding. Barry's motto: Let's learn along the way! For use with Grades K-12.








Good General Math Reference Books  


Everyday Mathematics: Student Reference Guide
 














Math Practice, Grades 1 - 2 (Singapore Math) Use the level that fits Brady best!
Singapore Math––the leading math program in the world! This workbook features math practice and activities for third grade students based on the Singapore Math method. An introduction at the front of the book explains Singapore Math and its common problem types. Each unit has learning objects, which clearly define the skills to be learned in that section, and an answer key with step-by-step worked out solutions that help students see how to work the problems. This book is perfect for students familiar with Singapore Math and for those who just need extra math practice








The World Book Encyclopedia: All kids need access to great encyclopedias.















A Little More to Come!
I love your blog! I'm writing to ask for your opinion if it wouldn't be too much of an imposition. My son is very bright and has mild Aspergers. He is reading above grade level but struggles with pragmatics (if it isn't specifically stated in the text he has trouble drawing inferences). I am homeschooling him for 2nd grade because we were unable to find a program that seemed like a good fit. He is labeled "twice exceptional" and has an amazing, wonderful, fascinating brain. I kept hearing the words "he can't" when he clearly can do anything he sets his mind to. He was starting to feel like a problem child and hate learning, when he has always been curious, interested, and happy to read anything interesting that I provided. So, we decided to take advantage of the large homeschooling community in our area and will be giving it a try, but I'd like some guidance from a professional that has high standards and understands learning differences. I've seen your comments on Huffington Post and read your blog and you seem to be an incredible teacher with a great understanding of kids and reading. I would really appreciate any suggestions you would be willing to share.

I am having trouble finding a good Language Arts curriculum that will challenge and interest him and we start homeschooling in 2 weeks. For 1st grade his school used Scott Foresman Reading which seemed to be almost an entire grade level above what our Virginia public schools are using. I would just skip to a 3rd grade LA curriculum but I think he needs more practice due to his issues with pragmatics which negatively impacts his reading comprehension (he remembers what he has read, but might not understand it thoroughly due to difficulty drawing conclusions). He is very good at spelling, has the vocabulary of a much older child, and is very interested in science and technology. My plan for the summer is to help him develop an ear for the English Language through reading poetry together, listening to songs and analyzing the various methods used by song writers to make lyrics interesting (double meanings, alliteration, rhyming, patterns, etc.), reading well written literature that has stood the test of time, and reading news for kids to understand writing for different purposes. He already knows what homophones, nouns, proper nouns, and antonyms are and has fun discussing them as we read so I would like to continue with grammar but it will not be our main focus. We will be using Mad Libs to continue learning parts of speech in addition to any curriculum.

I am looking for ways of determining his reading level. His teacher was unable to provide much information, but when I asked if 3rd grade books would be too advanced, she said no. I would guess that he reads at a 4th grade level. I am looking for a good reading list (chapter books, websites, magazines, and poetry).

More Information:
Writing is a struggle for him. Keeping an idea in his head and remembering all of the rules and how to form lower case letters at the same time is very challenging, so I am looking for a Language Arts curriculum that inspires him to want to write.Handwriting is a struggle, but he has asked that we begin learning cursive, so I will give it a try without pushing too hard. I'm trying to decide if narration, dictation, and copy work would be good tools for us to use until he is more developmentally ready to write down his thoughts independently and he will be using software to learn to type to see if that helps him put his thoughts down on paper more easily.
He scores 99th percentile on standardized tests (ERB).

Brady will turn 7 on July first, so he was always the youngest in his class. That is one of the reasons I was willing to take the chance on a year long homeschooling experiment; if I had it to do all over again I would have waited a year to put him in school. We didn't know he was on the Autism Spectrum until he was 5 and he was so bright that I put him in preschool at 3. His teachers said holding him back a year would be a mistake because he was already so bored, and he does very well when worked with one on one, so hopefully I am not damaging him for life!

Is there a standardized test that is a better indicator of understanding and knowledge than the school system typically uses? In Virginia we are required to test each year as proof of progress when homeschooling, but it seems many standardized tests these days are more about the teacher than the student.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, any recommendations at all would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Stephanie

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tiger Teachers Create Nobel Students

Tiger Teachers and Parents Have a Simple Wish, Creating Nobel Wise Adults. 


Tiger teaching is goal oriented, rigorous, challenging, and demanding. Today, some parents are pensive or at times unmotivated to take charge of their child's educational destiny. Teachers need to clearly set the table for learning and behavior. We must set the highest academic standards, and superlative character for all students that fall into our scope of influence. Propriety is not the goal but the path that is discovered as student master the erudition virtuis of wisdom, resilience, and self-discipline. 


Traits of a Tiger Teacher 


  • Uncompromising
  • Superlative Standards
  • Erudite Scholar
  • Prim Sense of Propriety 
  • Prim Sense of Detail 
  • Non Palliative 
  • Proactive
  • Paragon Academic Skills
  • Wise
  • Courageous 

A Student Friendly Exemplar: Superlative Standards and Prim Sense of Detail 



 Are You a Tiger Teacher or Parent?  

Friday, June 17, 2011

Best Grade Level Reading Assessment

Best Grade Level Reading and Language Arts Assessment: NWEA MAP

Teachers and parents have abundant choices for grade level reading and language arts assessment and each instrument will give useful data. For teachers and parents a measure of students growth may be a better choice to plan and adjust curriculum to meet the needs of students. The best test instrument, in my opinion is the NWEA Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) test. The NWEA MAP individual academic content area test are progressive and measure multiple learning strands for all key academic strands. The test measures academic progress in All State Standards and or Common Core State Standards.

Hi Stephanie,
     Make sure Brady has an up to date IEP and you have access to a good Special Education program in your area. Brady has access to all the Special Education services including testing even though you are home schooling, under IDEA law. An up to date revaluation may be a good idea to get a measure of I.Q., academic performance, and I would also recommend a speech and language screening. Using the data and feedback from the assessments will help develop a strong education plan that ensures a very successful home schooling experience. Find a good education advocate to help ask informed questions and make sense of all the data generated from a IEP evaluation.

Student Assessment that I recommend.

Cognitive Ability Testing

Woodcock-Johnson III NU Overview and Uses

Professionals use the WJ III NU to:
Diagnose learning disabilities
Determine discrepancies
Plan educational programs
Plan individual programs
Assess growth
Provide psychometric training
Provide guidance in educational and clinical settings
Conduct research

Academic Progress Testing

NWEA MAP COMPUTER-BASED ADAPTIVE ASSESSMENTS Overview

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Each child learns differently. So we developed computerized adaptive assessments that test differently, allowing teachers to see their students as individuals – each with their own base of knowledge.
Tests That Adapt to the Student

NWEA Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®) tests present students with engaging, age-appropriate content. As a student responds to questions, the test responds to the student, adjusting up or down in difficulty.

The result is a rewarding experience for the student, and a wealth of detailed information for teachers, parents and administrators.
Powered By Data

The underlying data driving the assessment ensures remarkable accuracy, based on over 24 million assessments given over our 30+ years. Our equal-interval RIT scale increases the stability, providing grade-independent analysis of a child's learning.

For educators, it means at last having timely information that, used well, can change the course of a student's schoolyear — and life.


I.Q.Testing

Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children® — Fourth Edition (WISC®-IV) Overview

Understanding of learning disabilities and attentional disorders has greatly expanded since the publication of the WISC–III. WISC–IV makes important advances from WISC–III in order to provide the most effective clinical tool representing cutting edge research and thinking. This timely revision is the result of over a decade of research and success with the WISC–III. WISC–IV empowers you to use your experience, skills and judgment to relate test results to referral questions.

The WISC®–IV provides more than IQ scores. It provides essential information and critical clinical insights into a child’s cognitive functioning.This fourth generation of the most widely used children’s intellectual ability assessment meets your testing needs for the twenty-first century. While maintaining the integrity of the Wechsler® tradition, the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children®—Fourth Edition (WISC–IV®) builds on contemporary approaches in cognitive psychology and intellectual assessment, giving you a new, powerful and efficient tool to help develop and support your clinical judgments.
Great Article and Overview From Wiki.

Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence Overview

WPPSI™-III — Totally Restructured Based on User Input and Expert Panel Review to Build a Better Assessment from Start to Finish

The improvements we've made to the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence™-Third Edition (WPPSI™-III) are the result of research gathered from customers, expert advisory panels, professionals in the field, and children who have been involved in the testing process. Consequently, WPPSI™-III features shorter, more game-like activities that hold the attention of children as young as 2-1/2 years. Simplified instructions and scoring procedures enhance the ease of administration for examiners. Both children and examiners benefit from the thoughtful, carefully constructed revisions implemented to build a highly respected, reliable test that completely reflects what customers and other professionals told us they wanted for WPPSI™-III.
Great Article and Overview from Wiki

Now you can have a reliable and valid measure of intelligence in young children that is more age-appropriate and user-friendly. These significant improvements provide more clinically useful information for diagnosis and planning, makingWPPSI™–III an even more powerful tool.

Home School Assessment

"Is there a standardized test that is a better indicator of understanding and knowledge than the school system typically uses? In Virginia we are required to test each year as proof of progress when homeschooling, but it seems many standardized tests these days are more about the teacher than the student."

Hi Stephanie,
     All the academic, cognitive, standardized, and I.Q. testing is valuable but must be administered by a certified professorial leaving you at the whim of their schedule's. You need a program to evaluate and assess at home and have the assurance that you are meeting the academic needs of Brady. I would invest in a copy of the BRIGANCE® Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills to help with home assessment. You can find used copies @ amazon for around $150. Brigance Inventory @ Amazon 


Easily assess students' strengths and needs in the classroom. Based on 30 years of research and experience in special education, the BRIGANCE® Comprehensive Inventory of Basic Skills–Revised (CIBS–R) is a comprehensive assessment tool that meets state standards and is nationally normed.

  • Determine Present Level of Performance or Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLOP/PLAAFP)
  • Assess for effective diagnosis and instructional planning
  • Monitor and report progress for IEPs

More to Come!

I love your blog! I'm writing to ask for your opinion if it wouldn't be too much of an imposition. My son is very bright and has mild Aspergers. He is reading above grade level but struggles with pragmatics (if it isn't specifically stated in the text he has trouble drawing inferences). I am homeschooling him for 2nd grade because we were unable to find a program that seemed like a good fit. He is labeled "twice exceptional" and has an amazing, wonderful, fascinating brain. I kept hearing the words "he can't" when he clearly can do anything he sets his mind to. He was starting to feel like a problem child and hate learning, when he has always been curious, interested, and happy to read anything interesting that I provided. So, we decided to take advantage of the large homeschooling community in our area and will be giving it a try, but I'd like some guidance from a professional that has high standards and understands learning differences. I've seen your comments on Huffington Post and read your blog and you seem to be an incredible teacher with a great understanding of kids and reading. I would really appreciate any suggestions you would be willing to share.

I am having trouble finding a good Language Arts curriculum that will challenge and interest him and we start homeschooling in 2 weeks. For 1st grade his school used Scott Foresman Reading which seemed to be almost an entire grade level above what our Virginia public schools are using. I would just skip to a 3rd grade LA curriculum but I think he needs more practice due to his issues with pragmatics which negatively impacts his reading comprehension (he remembers what he has read, but might not understand it thoroughly due to difficulty drawing conclusions). He is very good at spelling, has the vocabulary of a much older child, and is very interested in science and technology. My plan for the summer is to help him develop an ear for the English Language through reading poetry together, listening to songs and analyzing the various methods used by song writers to make lyrics interesting (double meanings, alliteration, rhyming, patterns, etc.), reading well written literature that has stood the test of time, and reading news for kids to understand writing for different purposes. He already knows what homophones, nouns, proper nouns, and antonyms are and has fun discussing them as we read so I would like to continue with grammar but it will not be our main focus. We will be using Mad Libs to continue learning parts of speech in addition to any curriculum.

I am looking for ways of determining his reading level. His teacher was unable to provide much information, but when I asked if 3rd grade books would be too advanced, she said no. I would guess that he reads at a 4th grade level. I am looking for a good reading list (chapter books, websites, magazines, and poetry).

More Information:
Writing is a struggle for him. Keeping an idea in his head and remembering all of the rules and how to form lower case letters at the same time is very challenging, so I am looking for a Language Arts curriculum that inspires him to want to write.Handwriting is a struggle, but he has asked that we begin learning cursive, so I will give it a try without pushing too hard. I'm trying to decide if narration, dictation, and copy work would be good tools for us to use until he is more developmentally ready to write down his thoughts independently and he will be using software to learn to type to see if that helps him put his thoughts down on paper more easily.
He scores 99th percentile on standardized tests (ERB).

Brady will turn 7 on July first, so he was always the youngest in his class. That is one of the reasons I was willing to take the chance on a year long homeschooling experiment; if I had it to do all over again I would have waited a year to put him in school. We didn't know he was on the Autism Spectrum until he was 5 and he was so bright that I put him in preschool at 3. His teachers said holding him back a year would be a mistake because he was already so bored, and he does very well when worked with one on one, so hopefully I am not damaging him for life!

Is there a standardized test that is a better indicator of understanding and knowledge than the school system typically uses? In Virginia we are required to test each year as proof of progress when homeschooling, but it seems many standardized tests these days are more about the teacher than the student.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, any recommendations at all would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Stephanie

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Best Reading and Language Arts Curriculum

The Best Reading and Language Arts Curriculum

Hi Stephanie,
     Finding a great published Reading Curriculum is really up to your learning goals and your child's reading preferences. I have evaluated many Basal reading programs the last 12 years and have found most lacking in diversity. They lack stimulating children's literature, usually overly controlled vocabulary, and limited censored content that leave most Basal readers flat and boring for many students. Developing strong reasoning and literacy skills using flat literature with shallow plots, and characters will make teaching critical thinking skills more difficult. What is the solution!?
MAKE YOUR OWN READING AND LANGUAGE ARTS PROGRAM!
  • Create your own Basal Readers using fairy tales, fables, and literature from the past.
  • Develop a diverse children's literature library. 
  • Create your own Spellers and Glossaries. 
  • Use board and strategy games to develop critical thinking skills.
  • Read and perform plays.
  • Teach cursive as an art lesson with water color illustrations.
  • Use rich complex language with your child daily.
  • Family reading time, daily reading time is uninterrupted and cherished. 
  • Concerts, theater, museums and zoos are special places to discover language and culture.

"I am having trouble finding a good Language Arts curriculum that will challenge and interest him and we start homeschooling in 2 weeks."

Art by Sean Taylor
     Stephanie, I make a new speller every year that includes fluency drills, reading and spelling vocabulary, poetry, short stories, academic vocabulary, academic glossaries, and strange reference pages with fun facts, jokes and riddles all wrapped up in beautiful art and Victorian flourishes. This speller is used throughout the year and is based on Webster's Blue-Backed Speller and Eclectic McGuffey Spellers. The single part that is not drawn from public domain sources is the National Reading Vocabulary List. The NRVL is a progressive list of American English Reading Vocabulary categorized and ordered for each grade level.

More to Come!

I love your blog! I'm writing to ask for your opinion if it wouldn't be too much of an imposition. My son is very bright and has mild Aspergers. He is reading above grade level but struggles with pragmatics (if it isn't specifically stated in the text he has trouble drawing inferences). I am homeschooling him for 2nd grade because we were unable to find a program that seemed like a good fit. He is labeled "twice exceptional" and has an amazing, wonderful, fascinating brain. I kept hearing the words "he can't" when he clearly can do anything he sets his mind to. He was starting to feel like a problem child and hate learning, when he has always been curious, interested, and happy to read anything interesting that I provided. So, we decided to take advantage of the large homeschooling community in our area and will be giving it a try, but I'd like some guidance from a professional that has high standards and understands learning differences. I've seen your comments on Huffington Post and read your blog and you seem to be an incredible teacher with a great understanding of kids and reading. I would really appreciate any suggestions you would be willing to share.

I am having trouble finding a good Language Arts curriculum that will challenge and interest him and we start homeschooling in 2 weeks. For 1st grade his school used Scott Foresman Reading which seemed to be almost an entire grade level above what our Virginia public schools are using. I would just skip to a 3rd grade LA curriculum but I think he needs more practice due to his issues with pragmatics which negatively impacts his reading comprehension (he remembers what he has read, but might not understand it thoroughly due to difficulty drawing conclusions). He is very good at spelling, has the vocabulary of a much older child, and is very interested in science and technology. My plan for the summer is to help him develop an ear for the English Language through reading poetry together, listening to songs and analyzing the various methods used by song writers to make lyrics interesting (double meanings, alliteration, rhyming, patterns, etc.), reading well written literature that has stood the test of time, and reading news for kids to understand writing for different purposes. He already knows what homophones, nouns, proper nouns, and antonyms are and has fun discussing them as we read so I would like to continue with grammar but it will not be our main focus. We will be using Mad Libs to continue learning parts of speech in addition to any curriculum.

I am looking for ways of determining his reading level. His teacher was unable to provide much information, but when I asked if 3rd grade books would be too advanced, she said no. I would guess that he reads at a 4th grade level. I am looking for a good reading list (chapter books, websites, magazines, and poetry).

More Information:
Writing is a struggle for him. Keeping an idea in his head and remembering all of the rules and how to form lower case letters at the same time is very challenging, so I am looking for a Language Arts curriculum that inspires him to want to write.Handwriting is a struggle, but he has asked that we begin learning cursive, so I will give it a try without pushing too hard. I'm trying to decide if narration, dictation, and copy work would be good tools for us to use until he is more developmentally ready to write down his thoughts independently and he will be using software to learn to type to see if that helps him put his thoughts down on paper more easily.
He scores 99th percentile on standardized tests (ERB).

Brady will turn 7 on July first, so he was always the youngest in his class. That is one of the reasons I was willing to take the chance on a year long homeschooling experiment; if I had it to do all over again I would have waited a year to put him in school. We didn't know he was on the Autism Spectrum until he was 5 and he was so bright that I put him in preschool at 3. His teachers said holding him back a year would be a mistake because he was already so bored, and he does very well when worked with one on one, so hopefully I am not damaging him for life!

Is there a standardized test that is a better indicator of understanding and knowledge than the school system typically uses? In Virginia we are required to test each year as proof of progress when homeschooling, but it seems many standardized tests these days are more about the teacher than the student.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, any recommendations at all would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Stephanie

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spanish Reading Comprehension Test

Spanish Reading Comprehension Test: Grades 3,4,5, and 6
Free PDF Spanish Reading Test


2008–2009 School Year, English and Spanish Reading Released Tests

GradeReleased Tests, Answer Keys, and Other Documents
3English Reading | English Reading Key | English Proper-Nouns | English Math |  English Math Key
Spanish Reading | Spanish Reading KeySpanish Proper-Nouns | Spanish Math | Spanish Math Key
4English Reading | English Reading Key | English Proper-NounsEnglish Math | English Math Key |
English Writing | English Writing Key | English Scoring Guide
Spanish ReadingSpanish Reading KeySpanish Proper-Nouns | Spanish MathSpanish Math Key |
Spanish Writing | Spanish Writing KeySpanish Scoring Guide  
5English Reading | English Reading Key | English Proper-Nouns | English Math | English Math Key |
English Science | English Science Key
Spanish ReadingSpanish Reading KeySpanish Proper-Nouns | Spanish MathSpanish Math Key |
Spanish Science | Spanish Science Key
6English Reading | English Reading Key | English Proper-Nouns | English Math | English Math Key
Spanish ReadingSpanish Reading KeySpanish Proper-Nouns | Spanish Math | Spanish Math Key
7Reading | Reading Key | Proper-Nouns | Math | Math Key | Writing | Writing Key | Scoring Guide
8Reading | Reading Key | Proper-Nouns | Math | Math Key | Science | Science Key |
Social Studies | Social Studies Key
9Reading | Reading Key | Scoring Guide | Math | Math Key
10ELA | ELA Key | Math | Math Key | Science | Science Key | Social Studies | Social Studies Key |
Scoring Guide 1 | Scoring Guide 2
ELA Make-up | ELA Make-up Key | ELA Make-up Scoring Guide 1 | ELA Make-up Scoring Guide 2
Exit LevelELA | ELA Key | Math | Math Key | Science | Science Key | Social Studies | Social Studies Key |
Scoring Guide 1 | Scoring Guide 2



 

2005–2006 School Year, English and Spanish TAKS Released Tests

GradeReleased Tests, Answer Keys, and Other Documents
3English Reading (February) | English Reading (February) KeyEnglish Proper-Nouns (February)Spanish Reading (February) | Spanish Reading (February) KeySpanish Proper-Nouns (February)English: Reading (April) , Math | English: Reading (April), Math Keys | English Proper-Nouns (April)Spanish: Reading (April), Math | Spanish: Reading (April), Math Keys | Spanish Proper-Nouns (April)English Reading (June) | English Reading (June) Key | English Proper-Nouns (June)Spanish Reading (June) | Spanish Reading (June) Key | Spanish Proper-Nouns (June)
4English: Reading, Math, Writing | English: Reading, Math, Writing KeysEnglish Scoring Guide |
English Proper-NounsSpanish: Reading, Math, Writing | Spanish: Reading, Math, Writing Keys | Spanish Scoring Guide |
Spanish Proper-Nouns
5English: Reading, Math, Science | English: Reading, Math, Science KeysEnglish Proper-NounsSpanish: Reading, Math, Science | Spanish: Reading, Math, Science Keys | Spanish Proper-NounsEnglish: Reading (April), Math (May) | English: Reading (April), Math (May) KeysEnglish Proper-Nouns (April)Spanish: Reading (April), Math (May) | Spanish: Reading (April), Math (May) KeysSpanish Proper-Nouns (April)English: Reading (June), Math (June) | English: Reading (June), Math (June) KeysEnglish Proper-Nouns (June)Spanish: Reading (June), Math (June) | Spanish: Reading (June), Math (June) Keys | Spanish Proper-Nouns(June)
6English: Reading, Math | English: Reading, Math Keys | Spanish: Reading, Math | Spanish: Reading, Math Keys
7Reading, Math, Writing | Reading, Math, Writing KeysScoring Guide
8Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies | Reading, Math, Science, Social Studies Keys
9Reading, Math | Reading, Math KeysScoring Guide
10ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies KeysScoring Guide 1Scoring Guide 2ELA Make-upELA Make-up Key | Make-up Scoring Guide 1Make-up Scoring Guide 2
Exit LevelOctober: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | October Key | October Scoring Guide 1October Scoring Guide 2Fall: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | Fall KeyFall Scoring Guide 1Fall Scoring Guide 2February: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | February KeyFebruary Scoring Guide 1February Scoring Guide2April: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | April KeyApril Scoring Guide 1April Scoring Guide 2July: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | July KeyJuly Scoring Guide 1July Scoring Guide 2



2003–2004 School Year, English and Spanish Reading TAKS Released Tests

GradeReleased Tests, Answer Keys, and Other Documents
3English Reading (March) | English Reading (March) KeySpanish Reading (March) | Spanish Reading (March) KeyEnglish: Reading (April), Math | English: Reading (April), Math KeysSpanish: Reading (April), Math | Spanish: Reading (April), Math KeysEnglish Reading (June) | English Reading (June) KeySpanish Reading (June) | Spanish Reading (June) Key
4English: Reading, Math, Writing | English: Reading, Math, Writing Keys | English Scoring GuideSpanish: Reading, Math, Writing | Spanish: Reading, Math, WritingSpanish Scoring Guide
5English: Reading, Math, Science | English: Reading, Math, Science KeysSpanish: Reading, Math, Science | Spanish: Reading, Math, Science Keys
6English: Reading, Math | English: Reading, Math Keys | Spanish: Reading, Math | Spanish: Reading, Math Keys
7Reading, Math, Writing | Reading, Math, Writing Keys | Scoring Guide
8Reading, Math, Social Studies | Reading, Math, Social Studies Keys
9Reading, Math | Reading, Math Keys | Scoring Guide
10ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies Keys | Scoring GuideELA Make-up | ELA Make-up Key | ELA Make-up Scoring Guide
Exit LevelELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies Keys | Scoring GuideJuly: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies | July: ELA, Math, Science, Social Studies KeysJuly Scoring Guide



 

2002–2003 School Year, English and Spanish TAKS Released Tests

GradeReleased Tests, Answer Keys, and Other Documents
3English Reading (March) | English Reading (March) Key
Spanish Reading (March) | Spanish Reading (March) Key
English: Reading (April), Math | English: Reading (April), Math Keys
Spanish: Reading (April), Math | Spanish: Reading (April), Math Keys
English Reading (July)English Reading (July) Key
Spanish Reading (July) | Spanish Reading (July) Key
4English: Reading, Math, Writing | English: Reading, Math, Writing Keys | English Scoring Guide
Spanish: Reading, Math, Writing | Spanish: Reading, Math, Writing Keys | Spanish Scoring Guide
5English: Reading, Math, Science | English: Reading, Math, Science Keys
Spanish: Reading, Math, Science | Spanish: Reading, Math, Science Keys
6English: Reading, Math | English: Reading, Math Keys | Spanish: Reading, Math | Spanish: Reading, Math Keys
7Reading, Math, Writing | Reading, Math, Writing KeysScoring Guide
8Reading, Math, Social Studies | Reading, Math, Social Studies Keys
9Reading, Math | Reading, Math Keys | Scoring Guide
10ELA | ELA KeyScoring Guide | Math | Math Key | Science | Science Key | Social Studies | Social Studies Key
Exit LevelELA | ELA KeyScoring Guide | Math | Math Key | Science | Science Key | Social Studies | Social Studies Key