Saturday, January 28, 2012

Digital Voice Recorders

Well, I'm a day late, but a least not a week late! :)

About this time of the school year, in my Kindergarten class, I had students who were beginning to read. If you have never been around students who are just figuring out they can read, it's a fun time! :) They are so excited and all they want to do is read to you. They want to read to you instead of going to recess, they want to read to you instead of working in their center at center time, read, read, read! I really enjoyed this time of year when teaching Kindergarten. I could see so much progress and desire in EVERY student. (This is when I usually start missing being in the classroom!)

I hate to admit, but sometimes I just didn't have the time to listen to every child read everything they wanted to read to me. Those students that wanted to read to me always got at least one chance (oftentimes more), but their eagerness to demonstrate and practice this new skill was overwhelming some days. My last year teaching Kindergarten, I decided I would let the students read to my Digital Voice Recorder. A Digital Voice Recorder is just a little device that will record whatever you want to record...digitally. No cassettes to worry with. (iPods will work too!) Yes, I let my Kindergarten students use it! I demonstrated how to use it, color coding the buttons: Green means go (record), red means stop (stop). I stressed the importance of saying their name first and the title of the book. Then, they just read the book. On those days when my classroom was a little louder than normal, I would allow students to step outside my room into the hallway and do their recording. My goal was, they could use the Digital Voice Recorder when I was busy helping other students. That way they could get the practice of reading and still feel like someone was listening to them. I told the students that I would listen to them read each night...and I did! :) I would listen to them read their story and make notes of things I needed to help each student with. Then, the next day in class, I would have an exact idea of what to work on with the students.

If you have parent permission, it would be great to post some of these digital recordings on your class website. Then parents (grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc.) would have the opportunity to listen to their child read anytime they want! What a great way to include the family in this milestone event!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reading Bear

If you like to use Starfall with your students, you will like Reading Bear too! Reading Bear is a website students can use to practice reading skills, including phonics, vocabulary and comprehension.

The website allows users to register, however it is not necessary unless you want to keep up with student performance. Each lesson has 7 presentations. You can start at the first presentation and work to the last, start in the middle and work to the end or just do a few presentations in a random order. It is great to present during whole group or small group instruction!

There are several features that you can turn on / off in the "Settings" section. One feature I really like to turn on is the video of someone showing how the mouth looks when saying a particular word. For your visual and kinesthetic learners this could be a very important feature to have on for them to see what their mouth should look like when speaking a word. Another feature that can be turned on or off are "Interludes". These Interludes provide mini breaks for young students as some of the presentations can be longer than some attention spans. The Interludes are short videos made up of famous paintings and classical music. I will caution you and say, one of the Interludes does contain nudity, Michelangelo's "The Creation of Adam." Unfortunately, there is no way to only show certain Interludes. It's all or none.

Reading Bear is a great website to help young students with their reading skills.

Friday, January 13, 2012


Yay! I'm doing good so far! :) 2nd post....

One of the most fun ways to incorporate technology happens first thing after students walk into your classroom each day.....Attendance. I know many teachers who still call roll.....not that I have a problem with that, but why not let the students in your class help you out with that task. :) I have been in some classrooms where, once a student gets to school, they move their name (frog, person, smiley face, star, etc.) from one side of the pocket chart to the other. Well there is nothing wrong with that, but let us incorporate technology using that same concept!

First, I will start with those of you who have Interactive Whiteboards (SMART, Promethean, Mimio, etc.). If you have an Interactive Whiteboard you can create a simple attendance file and use it everyday, all year or create a new one each month. The attendance file could be something as simple as putting every student's name (or picture and name or even just a picture) on the board and having the students drag their name from the "home" side to the "school" side like the example below.
If you want to be a little more creative, you could create an attendance file to fit the theme you are studying or to go along with a holiday / season. The example below is one I created to use in January when it is supposed to snow. :)
The snowmen on bottom are "Infinitely Cloned*", so students simply touch the snowman they want and drag it on top of their name, picture and name or just their picture. The teacher can simply look and see which names do not have snowman on them and immediately know they are not in class. Fast and easy!

If you do not have time to create an attendance file yourself, do not give up! SMART Exchange, Promethean Planet and Mimio Connect all have files you can download and use! Simply go to the site for the brand of Interactive Whiteboard you have and search for "attendance", download and use! Viola! There are some creative ones out there!

For those of you without Interactive Whiteboards, do not run away thinking this post is not for you! :) You can create something similar using Microsoft products or Apple products, depending upon what platform your district uses. I created this file using Microsoft PowerPoint, however it could easily be created in Microsoft Word as well.
The snowmen in the bottom corners have been copied multiple times to match the students I have in my class. The concept is the same, the students pick a snowman and drag it on top of their name, however, they will have to do this on a computer, since an Interactive Whiteboard is not available.

One easy way to incorporate technology in your classroom!

*Our district uses SMART Interactive Whiteboards and this is a term SMART uses. I am sorry to say I am not very familiar with Promethean nor Mimio to know if this is available in their software applications.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Here I go!

Well, it has been a long time dream of mine to start a blog and have millions of people from across the globe reading what I write! I'm not sure about the last part of that dream, but here I go off to start my dream! :)

I'm also not exactly sure which direction this blog will end up going in, however I am going to start it off as a blog for Early Childhood teachers who are looking for ideas to incorporate technology in their every day activities. The way I vision this blog, I hope to include not only ideas to incorporate technology, but also share resources (websites, etc.) that I find through my research. Though my target audience is Early Childhood teachers, it is my hope that this blog might be a great resource for any teacher.

Now, you are probably asking yourself, "Where did she come up with 'Crayons and Mice?'" Well, one of the common tools in an Early Childhood classroom is, of course, crayons. (My favorite!!!) Since my blog is about technology in the Early Childhood classroom, I needed a term that had a technology tie in, which is where "Mice" comes in. :) Crayons and Mice.....A blog for Early Childhood Teachers who are looking for ideas to incorporate technology.

Please feel free to comment and share your own thoughts as I blog. I look forward to learning from my readers!

Here I go..... :)