Summer's Here! Reflect, Relax and Most of all Enjoy!

If you're like me, you just ended another school year.  It's now time to relax, reflect and enjoy this time off.  But wait, let's make one thing clear.  For those of you who don't know, public school teachers ARE NOT PAID during the summer.  It is NOT paid time off.  We just do not work.  Since we don't work, we don't get paid.  Now, that that's out of the way, let's do some reflecting.

Time to Reflect.  What Worked, What Didn't?

This has been my second full year teaching in a 1:1 classroom.  I learned a lot that first year, which made the second year much easier.  This year, students were able to do a lot more with the technology.  I continued to make and use Interactive Digital Notebooks for Google Slides.  The students learned a great deal about America's landmark and symbols and animal adaptations to name a few.  I also started using, which is a wonderful way to integrate visual media and note-taking and answering questions using videos.  This next year, I'm fine tuning what I did and will probably add some more paperless resources to go along with our curriculum

The thorn in the side has been writing instruction.  Though I believe I was effective in teaching the students the three genres that they needed to master (expository/explanatory, narrative and opinion), I felt the students actually became confused between the genres.  It was hard to get them out of writing in one genre into another.  They would use writing structures particular to one genre to write in another genre (such as including facts but no opinions or not writing from a narrator perspective when writing narrative).  So next year, I plan to make several anchor charts so students can clearly see structural differences between genre types. I also want to experiment with genre to genre writing in which a student takes a piece of writing written in one genre and transforms it into another type. For example, writing a fairy tale type story and turning it into an opinion piece.


Last year my boys and I did not get to travel anywhere for a vacation.  This year we are planning to take a trip up to Northern California (we live in Southern California).  We will be driving to San Luis Obispo then heading over to Highway 1 (Pacific Coast Highway) to drive up to Big Sur and see some California Redwoods!  From there we will drive to Monterrey, California.  There we will, of course, visit the Monterrey Bay Aquarium.

Then we will head north to San Francisco.  In the City by the Bay, we will ride cable cars, visit Ghiradelli's and Fisherman's Wharf, drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the San Francisco Presidio and Golden Gate Park.

Our next stop is the state Capital, Sacramento.  We hope to take a tour of the state house while also taking a day trip over to Coloma and Placerville to see Sutter's Mill, where gold was discovered.  From there it's back home.

Relax and do Some Window Shopping!  So Many Updates!!!

If you haven't visited my Teachers Pay Teachers store recently, please do.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at all the updates to my resources.  Over 25 resources have been updated.  Some have been major, while some just needed a face-lift.  Click on THIS LINK to see all the updates, or click individually below.

Here are some highlights of the English Language Arts resources updates:

  1. Hot Seat!  Major update with a whole new look.  I've added character description printables for each of the characters included (20 fairy tale characters).  Each Hot Seat character card has more information and instructions for use are included.
  2. 4 Character Trait Activities. Major update with a whole new look.  The Character Trait Printables have been expanded and included activities such as Photo Booth, Play Date, Character Text Chat, and Riddle Me This!
  3. Point of View Comparisons PowerPoint. Major update with a whole new look.  Expanded with photos and new sound effects. The included printables have also been expanded with new activities to examine point of view.
  4. Point of View Examining Perspectives.  Major update with a whole new look.  Added more printables and non-color versions of posters.  Also added comparing and contrasting printables.
  5. All of the ELA games have now been updated to include non-color versions for non-color printing.  They've also gotten a whole new "wooden game board" look!

Here are some highlights of the Math resources updates:

  1. Multiplication Tic-Tac-Toe.  Big update with updated look.  Also added some more resources such as QR codes to help your students master those multiplication facts.
  2. The Concept of Multiplication PowerPoint.  Major update with all new look expanded lessons and an added lesson using number lines to multiply.  Lots more printables added!
  3. Geometry Games and Area and Perimeter Games.  These math games have been updated with non-color versions for easier printing as well as, a whole new "wooden game board" look.

Plan Ahead for Next Year!

If you're a teacher, you're already planning for next year.  Take a look at these resources for Back to School.  I developed these resources as not only fun activities to get to know the students, but also as a way to gauge student abilities at the beginning of the year. Can students cut? Color? Follow directions? Listen to a story and retell it?  Write a description of themselves?  With these resources which have undergone updates and expansion, you'll get this and more!

The Diary of a Back to School Kid is a book students make during the first week of school.  They fill it with the rules, procedures, ideas, and some memories.  There's even a parent page for parents to ask questions.  I like having the students make this book because it helps them remember all the information given to them at the beginning of the year.  Use it as a resource all year long!

A Fine, Fine School Literature Support Pages is a companion pack designed to support the introduction and teaching of the Common Core Standards for Literature. This is a funny story of how a principal keeps adding days to the school year until the students have to come every day of the year!  The printables help the students identify the central message of the story, infer answers to some questions about the story, analyze the main characters and more.

I use the Back to School iPortraits as a get-to-know-you activity during those first weeks of school. Students get to know each other better using the student's character traits.  Each student has to identify a positive, negative and neutral character traits about himself/herself.  Students also draw a selfie portrait.  The template has the appearance of a tablet and can make a great project to send home, leave out at Back to School Night or even an Open House project.  This resource has been significantly expanded to now include more tablet templates such as, Who's That Cute Baby, 
Put Yourself in the Spotlight, If My Life Were a Movie and My Favorite Vacation Book to name a few.

Enjoy Your Break!

Summer is a time for teachers to recharge and reflect.  I've planned some exciting blog posts this summer so please do come back and check for updates.  Follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store for updates on new resources that are added as well as, updates to existing resources.  Have a great summer!

Fun End of the Year School Activities

The end of the school year approaches, and it's now time to celebrate and have fun!  State testing on the Smarter Balanced Assessment is complete.  Grading work is complete. Report cards are finished and printed.  The end of the year awards are ready to be handed out. Desks are cleaned out. Textbooks returned.  Bulletin boards cleared.  Materials packed and put away.  What's left to do when you have 6 more days of school left? It's time to have fun!

Over the years, our end of year activities have evolved, and we reward our third graders with many fun activities for all their hard work during the year.

Here's a breakdown of our end of the year activities:

  • Field Trip to San Juan Capistrano Mission
  • Game Day
  • Field Day
  • Pizza Party Picnic and Yearbook Signing
  • Movie and Popcorn


For the past four years, we have raised enough through fundraisers to take the entire third grade to the San Juan Capistrano Mission in San Juan Capistrano.  Instead of a school bus, we take the Metrolink train!  There is a train station about 5 minutes from the school.  The students and parents meet us at the train station.  From there, we board the train for a one hour ride to the San Juan Capistrano train station.  Once there, we walk about 3 blocks to the mission.

We spend the entire day at the mission and do not return home until 5:00 pm!  During our visit, we take a docent tour, watch an amazing assembly on Native Americans and participate in an adobe brick making activity!  We also have pizza and chips for lunch, ordered from the local Dominos Pizza.


The next day is Game Day!  During the entire morning, students play games with their classmates. Initially, we asked the students to bring a board game from home.  I also had some board games that I would put out as well as, dominoes and puzzles.  But then we made it even better because for the last two years we've also let students bring electronic games from home!  This year we also let the students use the Chromebooks to play online games.  I set up a unique Google Classroom with links to kid-friendly sites with online games.

If you do this, make sure the students understand that they can only play games that do NOT require an internet connection.  This is because we can not add their devices to our network.  So any App or game used must be a stand-alone App.  Also, we do not allow students to bring cell phones as one of the devices (we don't want them accessing cell service to download Apps or take phone calls!).  They may only bring tablets and DS2 type devices.  They may play alone or share with a friend.  At recess time and lunch times and after Game Day is over, the students leave their devices on my desk with a sticky note with their name on it.  That way, they are secured and kept safe.


Since there are usually three third grade classes, we have three to four activities for the students to participate in during Field Day.  The activities really depend on what P. E. equipment is available.  My school is fortunate in that we have itinerant P. E. teachers who come to our school weekly.  So we have lots of cool P. E. equipment including hockey sticks, cones, portable goalie nets, all kinds of balls, jump ropes, and even more.

The students rotate between the three to four activities during the morning.  One teacher supervises each activity area.  Depending on the weather (it can be June Gloom cloudy or scorching hot in SoCal), we play all morning until recess.


Even though we are an elementary school, we do have a yearbook.  So each year, we have a pizza picnic out on the lawn outside our classrooms.  The students bring blankets and their cameras.  Instead of eating in the cafeteria that day, we provide them with a picnic of pizza, chips, and juice.   After lunch, they now have time to take pictures and have their yearbook signed by their friends.  Those who do not have a yearbook, have made a memory book that their friends can sign.


It's the last day of school.  We watch a movie and have some popcorn.  I pick the movie and it is usually WALL-E.  Why that movie?  Because I also teach a unit called "The Future" which is all about the students' future.  What will life be like in 2035?  I show them how technology has progressed from the first phones to cell phones.  How quickly the world is changing.  We talk about what kinds of jobs they may hold in the future (robots will be taking over a lot of them!).  This movie has a timely message about protecting our planet (WE MUST NOT WITHDRAW FROM THE CLIMATE TREATY!!!), and the overreliance on technology.

What are your end of the year activities? Share them in the comments!

Fun Times! Watch Out! Shark Sighting at my School!

A Great White Shark was spotted at my school recently!  We recently had an interactive science assembly at my school sponsored by our PTO.  The Aquarium of the Pacific, located in Long Beach, California, brought their mobile assembly to the delight of our students.

The assembly was done in two parts.  The first part was an assembly in our multipurpose room in which we met some marine biologists who recounted their scientific exploration trip around the Pacific Ocean. The presentation focused on animal adaptations, which was perfect for my third graders who had learned that back at the beginning of the year.  The biologists visited Alaska and Palau, before returning to California.  The students were shown videos of the animals encountered on the trips, including the walrus.

But wait, they brought a walrus with them! Not really, it was an inflatable walrus. But first, the students had to guess which animal it was from the clues the biologists gave.  The biologist gave adaptation clues until the students guessed it was the walrus.  Then, they inflated the walrus.  It is actually life size, and those animals are huge!

When the biologists returned to California, more studying of California's ocean coastal animals, including the Great White Shark.  Did you know these animals have a sixth sense?  The inflatable Great White was also life size!

The second part of the experience was a 20-minute activity touching tide pool sea creatures brought on their mobile tide pool truck.  It is a specially designed vehicle that holds tide pool tanks, keeping them oxygenated with moving water that simulates a tide pool.

Students went in in groups of four to dip their hands in the water and touch starfish, anemones and even baby sharks!

You can find out more about their 

More Amazing and Inspiring Children's Literature Books

As we approach Mother's Day, I wanted to share some books that showcase some amazing and inspiring women.  Women that lead the way or pioneered the way to inspire girls and women to live up to their potential and to dream big.  I've used these wonderful children's books as read alouds to for a unit on Women's Suffrage and Rights.

When I speak to students, it's obvious that they have no clue how restricted, controlled and demeaned women and girls were until about the 1970s.  Did you know that before the 1970s, a woman could not get a credit card on her own?  We've come a long way, but there are still wage disparities, glass ceilings and push backs.  I feel it is important to let those girls sitting in our classrooms how fortunate we all are that these courageous women fought for a woman's right to an education.  And it's important that the battle continues!

Susan B. Anthony.  By Dona Herwick.

This is the perfect, short biography to introduce students to the probably the most influential woman of her time and maybe the most influential American woman of all.  Susan B. Anthony was a Quaker, and this book explains in very accessible language the philosophy of the Quakers and how it influenced Susan B. Anthony's outlook on life.  Her parents taught her all people are created equal and that every adult should have the right to vote.

What I really enjoyed about this book, is that it details Susan B. Anthony's early life as a child and young woman.  As a Quaker, she believed in hard work and simple living.  Did you know she had to bake 21 loaves a day for her family?  It's an eye-opener for kids who don't know about life without all the modern conveniences we have today.  Life, in general, was harder back then, but it was even worse for women because they had little to no options to life outside of being married and having many, many children.  The book is non-fiction and has many photographs and illustrations.  A timeline is included.  Susan B. Anthony changed the world, and this book is an excellent starting point for young children to learn about her life.

Bloomers by Rhoda Blumberg.

I think most girls looking at this book would think that the dresses worn by women back in the 19th century look like princess's gowns.  They were anything but!  Before reading this book to my class, I show them some pictures of a corset, petticoats and those long heavy dresses.  I ask them how much do they think it all weighs together?  Did you know that it weighed about 25 - 30 pounds!  Imagine trying to clean, care for children and cook with 30 pounds added to you!  Now you know what women had to endure back in the 19th century and before.

This book is about Amelia Bloomer, the woman who invented the bloomers (pants worn with a short dress).  Of course, wearing bloomers, as they were soon to be called, was very improper for a proper lady.  She even got Elizabeth Cady Stanton, her cousin,  to wear bloomers for a time.  But Amelia did more than just invent the bloomers, she was editor of The Lily, a journal that at first promoted temperance but later expanded with the writings of Elizabeth Cady Stanton to promote equality for women.

Marching with Aunt Susan. By Claire Rudolf Murphy

This story is based on the true story of Bessie Keith Pond who lived in California.  Did you know that California granted women the right to vote in 1911?  This story though was from the first campaign to give women suffrage in California in 1895.  It details how Bessie met Susan B. Anthony, who had come to California to campaign on behalf of the women.  The author states that she researched about women's suffrage in the Western states and came across Bessie's journals, letters and newspaper articles by her suffragist aunt, Mary McHenry Keith.  Bessie lived from 1886 - 1955.

I believe that one aspect of the Women's Suffrage movement that is apparently overlooked is the pushback these women faced. Many of these girls and women suffered violence at the hands of men.  This book gives one example, but I also show my students real life examples of what happened to the protesters outside the Wilson White House and the Pennsylvania Ave Parade and March.  This book also has a short biography of Susan B. Anthony, a timeline of Suffrage History and photographs of newspaper articles about the Suffrage Movement.

Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride.  By Pam Muñoz Ryan

I had no idea that Eleanor Roosevelt had a student pilot's license!  This book is also based on a real story of the night Amelia Earhart took Eleanor Roosevelt on a night time airplane ride over Washington, D.C., over the objections of the Secret Service.  First off, the black and white illustrations are fantastic (illustrator is Brian Selznick) and lend an air of 1930s black and white films to the story.  Amelia is invited to dine at the White House with the First Lady.  There the conversation turns to flying.  The First Lady asks what it feels like to fly at night.  That's when Amelia comes up with the idea of flying that evening.  And of course the Secret Service objects!

As Eleanor points out, if Amelia can fly across the ocean by herself, she can take a short night time flight to Baltimore and back.  Reporters were waiting for them as they landed back in Washington, D.C.  Of course, the questions sound very condescending in today's world, but they were still asking if it was safe for a "girl" to fly a plane!  I always use this opportunity to point out to the girls (and boys) that calling a woman a girl is condescending and demeaning.  Would you call your dad boy?

Cool Women.  By Dawn Chipman, Mari Florence, and Naomi Wax.

This book is a non-fiction book that details over 50 women who were pioneers or just plain cool!  From women pirates to women baseball players.  From women scientists to women artists.  The book is not just about American women, but women from all over the world and from all historical periods.  There are even portraits of goddesses, queens, and femaleSoviet Flying Aces.

With the advent of Title IX, more and more girls and young women are given the opportunity to play sports and be part of sports in general.  Before that though, women athletes were not even considered on par with male athletes.  During WWII, the shortage of manpower to fill major and minor league baseball teams brought about the All-American Girl's Professional Baseball League.  There's that "girl" label again.  Even though these women were certainly pioneers and proved that women were just as capable as men to play baseball, I do have a discussion with my class about the sexist treatment these women endured to play the game they loved.  From the ridiculous uniform skirts they wore to the even more ridiculous team names (Milwaukee Chicks?), these women had to look coiffed on and off the field.  And of course, there's no crying in baseball.

What are your favorite books about inspiring women? Share below in the comments!

And Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there!

Beautiful and Amazing New Children's Literature Books

I hadn't bought any new children's literature books in quite awhile until I discovered these beautiful and amazing new children's literature books.  I'm using these books with different units in my class as well as, for inspiring my students to take their education seriously.

For the Right to Learn:  Malala Yousafzai's Story.  By Rebecca Langston-George ©2016

Let's start with the incredible tale of Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani young woman almost murdered by the Taliban in her home country just for wanting to be educated.  We learn that Malala is the daughter of a teacher (her father) who believed everyone should receive an education, including girls.  But when the Taliban moved into Pakistan's Swat Valley where Malala lived, they started intimidating the populace and implementing their archaic views of the world in which NO females should can be educated.

But Malala persisted.  She began blogging for the BBC and became known worldwide.  Her outspokenness and fight for girls to be educated put her on the Taliban hit list.  On a school bus, Malala received a bullet in the head, but with the help of the international community, she survived by being flown out of the country to England.  She continues to fight for a girl and woman's right to an education.  She has received the Nobel Peace Prize and spoken at the United Nations.  As she says so eloquently, "One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world."

This book is one of my all-time favorite books to read to children.   It worked itself right into my unit on Women's Suffrage.  It also worked perfectly to motivate my students for State Testing which started this week.  Imagine what this young lady had to go through just to get an education.   I tell my students that it is because of people like her, they are sitting in my classroom receiving an education.  Let's not squander that opportunity or waste it! Let's do our best!

Martin's Dream Day.  By Kitty Kelley ©2017 

My school recently had a book fair, and that is where I found this fantastic book with even more amazing photographs.  The story is all about the famous March on Washington back in August of 1963. It tells how Martin Luther King, Jr. had a speech prepared for that day.  But, those famous words....I have a dream... were not actually in his original speech!  That part was all ad-lib!

But what really sets the book apart from other stories about Martin Luther King, Jr., are the beautiful black and white and color photographs used.  It is as if the entire day, August 28, 1963, was recreated in those pictures.  The photographer, Stanley Tretick, is the same photographer who shot the iconic picture of John F. Kennedy, Jr. playing under his father's desk in the Oval Office.  There are also photographs of Martin Luther King, Jr. meeting with President John F. Kennedy.  It is a very inspiring book that makes history come alive.

The Youngest Marcher:  The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist.  By Cynthia Levinson. ©2017

Did you know that children as young as nine were jailed during the Civil Rights Movement?  And that more than 3,000 children were arrested in Birmingham, Alabama for protesting?  Yes, and this story about Audrey Faye Hendricks is the actual story of one of those young children who went out to protest segregation.

The plan was to fill up those jails so that not one more person could be arrested for demanding their rights. And it worked!  But the story also recounts how African-Americans were treated in Birmingham during that era.  The story also details the week Audrey spent in Juvenile Detention.  But in the end, Birmingham integrated, and her work for integration succeeded.

Separate is Never Equal:  Sylvia Mendez and her Family's Fight for Desegregation.  By Duncan Tonatiuh. ©2014

If you're a teacher, you know about the Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka.  It's the 1954 Supreme Court decision ending segregation in schools.  But did you know that there was actually a court case BEFORE that ruling that ended segregation of schools in California in 1947?  Yes!

This book is the story of a young girl named Sylvia Mendez who moved with her family to Westminister, California to farm.  When her aunt tried to enroll her children and Sylvia at the local school, only her light skinned cousins were allowed to register, while she was told she had to go to the Mexican school, because it was the rule.  Eventually, Sylvia's family and several others filed a suit.  The book retells the court proceedings and the very racist testimony of the then Superintendent of the Garden Grove District.  After a year, the judge ruled for the Mendez family.  The district though appealed the ruling, and it made it to the Court of Appeals in San Francisco which eventually ruled in favor the Mendez Family again.  That same year, the Governor of California signed a law integrating all public schools in California.

I think too many times the story of the battle for integration neglects the fact that in other parts of the country like California and the Southwest, those of Mexican or Latino heritage also were victims of segregation.   As a California teacher and teacher of mostly Latino students, this book is essential to teaching about this troubled time in our history.

What are some of your favorite new children's literature books to use with your class?  Leave a comment and let's spread the word about these books!

How to Easily Integrate Technology with Guided Reading Groups Part 2

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

As my school has acquired more and more guided reading materials (little books in sets of 6), I had more resources from which to choose from for each group.  But we now live in the digital age, and it has opened up, even more, resources to use with students.  

Instead of reading from a traditional little book, my guided reading students read a text on the iPad.  What is exciting about using the iPad is that I can select ANY text passages that I find (within copyright limitations and Fair Use) and put it on the iPad for the students to read.  There are several ways to do this.  Any document or text that is a PDF or JPG (picture format) can be displayed on the iPad.  You can also download the PowerPoint App to use PowerPoint presentations as well.   So, the possibilities are endless. 

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

Getting Text or Materials onto the iPads

Once the file (PDF or PNG) is in the Google Drive folder, I can now download it to the PDF Expert App because the App will sync with Google Drive, DropBox, OneDrive or nearly any other cloud service!  Another reason to get PDF Expert is that if you want students to annotate on the PDF file, you will need this App.  

Other Apps can annotate, but in my opinion, PDF Expert is the best one for annotation.  PDF Expert also has the capability to create documents as well!  So you can create your own text and save it as a PDF file.  Please note, I have no affiliation or contact with the company that produces PDF Expert.  I just really love this App!

Here's how I get the passages onto the iPads.  For this, you will need a Google or Dropbox account synced to each iPad.  I've created a folder on my iPad Pro to store the passages I want.  This folder is on my Google Drive.  I've also purchased the App PDF Expert.  I've written about how I use this fantastic App before. Once you've purchased it, install it on every iPad.

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

Can I Copy That?  Fair Use Doctrine

If you're going digital, most copyright holders would require that you upload these documents to a secure, private location such as Google Drive account or DropBox account so that it is NOT available to anyone else EXCEPT your students.   Please be a good digital citizen and DO NOT upload copyrighted resources to just any location.  With Apple products, files can also be shared wirelessly through AirDrop.  

I pick resources from PDF documents I have created or found through Google Search (free, but copyrighted resources that are offered to teachers for use in their classrooms).  Sometimes I use free and paid resources I have found on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Always check the Terms of Use of the copyright holder to see what is and what is not allowed.  

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

Teachers, under the Fair Use Doctrine, may copy a story for student use though the amount varies depending on story length.  I am NOT an attorney nor a legal expert, so please make sure you understand the legal ramifications before you start.  If you already have existing copies of a text for your students (let's say six copies of a guided reading book), and you are digitizing the book to use on the iPads, Fair Use seems to cover this use.  However, if you are making copies of the book because you only have six and need 10, then Fair Use does not apply because you should buy the extra copies from the publisher.  If you already own sufficient copies or have a license to use a resource, Fair Use applies.   The best solution for finding PDF resources is to use resources from publishers that offer digital content such as:

Reading A-Z. (paid site)

Classroom Aid (website with links to free e-books and PDF digital libraries)

Sundance Publishing (an example of a publisher offering print and digital versions)

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

Why Bother?

Why do this if I already have copies of the books?  Because in PDF Expert, the students can use the tools to annotate or even zoom in on words.  Again, please make sure you understand how the Fair Use Doctrine applies to educators as well as, reading the Terms of Use of the copyright holder.

Once uploaded to the Google Drive folder, I open the PDF on the iPads.  PDF Expert syncs with many cloud services.  So it's just a matter of finding the folder in the Google Drive folder and it quickly uploads to the iPad and opens in PDF Expert.  You're now Ready for Guided Reading!

Then I conduct a guided reading group as I normally would, but instead of giving them a book, I hand them the iPad.  When you first start, you will have to do a separate lesson on how to use the tools in PDF Expert or whichever App you will be using. This way, when they are in the guided reading group, they can concentrate on reading and not get stuck with the technology.

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

Using the PDF Expert Tools

  • Highlighter Tool
Depending on the group, I may have them highlight unknown words using the highlighter tool.  Unknown words are words that the students do not understand but can read.  Many times I have seen students highlight the same word, so those words become teaching points or mini-lessons on using context clues for word definitions.  Teaching students to use context clues is one of the most critical skills students need to be successful at comprehending text.  I can also use my teacher iPad (or the students can do this on their iPad, too) to search Google Images for the word for further clarification.

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

  • Dictionary Tool (define)
Tap and hold any word, and you get an option for define.  Great again for learning unknown words.  Sometimes though, the definition are geared for adults, so they are not kid-friendly definitions.

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

  • Draw Tool
If a student can't read a word, I have them circle it with the draw tool.  Then I quickly copy it on my iPad using the ShowMe App, and I start prompting the student to use different strategies to solve it.  The ShowMe app allows me to use different colors so that I can even write parts of the word in various colors (great for finding the known such as sight words within bigger words).  

  • Note tool
This is such a great feature of this app. Originally intended to use for marking up PDFs, this handy tool allows students to answer questions, make predictions, add their own information, or any other task. Think of it as an electronic sticky note!

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

  • Arrow Tool
This is a handy tool which is part of the shape tools can be used for students to point to text features.  Have students make an arrow to show headings, titles, captions, hyperlinks, etc.  Or you can use the arrow key to point out specific academic vocabulary (describe, explain, infer, etc.). 

  • Shape tool
This tool allows the student to make squares, rectangles, and circles.  Use it to have the student box or encircle key paragraphs that contain evidence.  

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

  • Text tool
As the name implies, you can add more text with a textbox to any part of the PDF.  You can use this in place of the Note Tool or have students make connections or predictions.  

  • Sound Tool
You can add audio to PDFs!  Just simply tap and hold on the PDF, and you will see an option to add sound.  This is a great way for students to practice fluency, intonation, and rate.  They can record themselves reading directly from the iPad.  Then play it back to hear.  Upload a Reader’s Theater to use so students can practice reading with expression.  When the student record’s himself/herself, it automatically keeps track of the time to show how long of a recording.  That’s a great feature to use to practice rate.  Beat your time!

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

  • Text to Speech

Yes, it has a text to speech function!  Located in settings.  You can also just tap and hold a word to get the option for speak.  It will speak aloud the word.  I prefer students NOT use this feature as it takes away the possibilities for word solving.  However, if the student is reading something independently, then it’s a nice feature to have to help students complete the reading without getting hung up on words.

Two Boys and a Dad Productions

In short, this powerful App brings guided reading into the digital age.  I predict that more and more publishers will not only offer their guided reading materials in digital format but create Apps that integrate many of the tools found in PDF Expert.

How are you integrating technology with guided reading?

/> type='text/javascript'/>