Digital Assessment Tools for Teachers

 I have another article posted for the Yellin Center! Below you will find a copy of my latest piece. Enjoy!

Digital Assessment Tools

Assessment is a large, important, and oft-debated necessity in education. The traditional view of assessment hinged strongly on summative evaluations –  assessments after the fact, such as a comprehensive exam or final paper. However, the current best practice in evaluating learning is to deploy frequent and thoughtful formative assessments, where teachers build in “check-in points” during the learning process that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. The goal of this evaluation framework is to inform the educator of what specific needs are present in their students and whether they need to augment their future lessons in response to those needs. It is important to note that the post-evaluation reflection and intervention is the defining feature of a formative assessment. Measuring student performance or collecting data is not formative unless you use the information to help your students.

Continue reading “Digital Assessment Tools for Teachers”

Top Five Resources for Special Education Teachers

IMG_5079The past month I had been asked by a few sources to cull my bookshelves and devise a list of my tried and true manuals for special education.  One list I comprised for my former University will be coming out to showcase 10 exceptional resources.  However, today, for the Yellin Center, I whittled and augment my list down to a mere five texts that make my life as a Learning Specialist a touch simpler. In my article, which you will find below, I elected to focus on technical texts, rather than teaching resources.  The literature detailed in the article are resources on the current research and practical strategies for applying the best practices in learning theory.  I hope they are as helpful to you as they have been for me. Continue reading “Top Five Resources for Special Education Teachers”

Classroom Organization: Google Classroom

google-classroomYesterday, Google launched Classroom as an app, which is currently available for both Android and iOS. With the mobile app extension of Classroom, students are now able to take and upload photos and share, integrate and streamline content from other apps.  For example, teachers and students alike could integrate class notes from  Evernote or scanned documents from Genius Scan into their Classroom Framework. In addition, the new app edition now offers archiving so you are able save the content from old classes and offline caching allowing students’ access to the content even when they aren’t connected to the internet.  These two features hold huge merit for authentic tech integration into a real life learning environments since today’s schools and learners still don’t have ubiquitous access to the internet.  So basically in short, once again Google absolutely nails it.

In celebration of this development I have another article up on the Yellin Center Blog which highlights the efficacy of the entire Google Classroom for managing a paperless, 21st century learning environment. You can find the article here.

Kindergarten Readiness

SesameworkshopataglanceMy new article on Kindergarten Readiness is up on the Yellin Center Blog.  So often parents are unsure how to gauge the readiness of their child, or if they are developmentally on course to being a successful kindergarten learner.  Sesame Workshop, the amazing research engine behind Sesame Street, has recognized parents’ concerns and also the marked discrepancy in early learner readiness (their Kindergartners’ Skills at School Entry report released in July 2014 reveals 44% of children entering school with one or more risk factors that have the potential to impact their success in school).  As such they have made public their research data on kindergarten readiness, as well as the robust Framework that they use to inform the creation of their exceptionally educationally sound programming. So head over to my article to read about the Kindergarten Readiness Framework, and how to use it to understand or prepare your child for school.

Gift Ideas: Books to Teach Social Skills

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Another article authored by yours truly is up this week on the Yellin Center Blog, and getting lots of traction.  Last week I highlight a few of my favorite developmental learning toys, which would make great gifts for teachers and students alike.  This time around I am sharing some of my favorite books for teaching social skills (We all know how much I LOVE integrating picturebooks into my curriculum).   Social learning can be hard for children to grapple with, and it can be an even greater challenge to effectively teach social skills in an enjoyable, nonthreatening manner.  In my own classroom I often wrote my own social stories, or social building tales based on the needs of the students in my class.  However, a teacher’s time is precious and there are a few remarkable authors out there, like Janan Cain and Julia Cook, who have done all the heavy lifting for you.  So head over to my post, Books to Teach Social Skills, for a list of resources for teaching skills like sharing, controlling your voice, learning when to speak and expressing one’s feelings.  On the Yellin Center Blog you will also find a discussion on why mastery over social conventions is so vital to a child’s overall development.  Happy Reading!

Ed Tech Review of TumbleBooks and The Importance of eBooks and Audiobooks for Reading Development

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Another Ed Tech review is up on the Yellin Center Blog, this time about a suite of eBook and audiobook resources called TumbleBooks.  You can head over to my review to learn about the ages each application is appropriate for, as well as all the teacher and librarian resources that are integrated right into the program.

However, what my review doesn’t elaborate is how vital eBooks and audiobooks are for developing the literacy skills of struggling or reluctant readers.  Beyond being below grade level in reading ability, one additional challenge struggling readers have to combat is a lack of background knowledge.  Often we glean vital information from texts that help us create connections, encode new ideas and enrich our learning experience across curricular areas. However, without exposure to this content struggling readers are unable to build a wealth of prior knowledge which can often lead to challenges in all academic areas.  Therefore, when designing literacy interventions the lack of exposure to new vocabulary, a variety of content and diverse ideas needs to be accounted for.  This is where audiobook and eBooks become an invaluable resource.  These mediums allow students to access the same rich content as their peers, and build their knowledge base without hinging on their decoding or comprehension skills.  I work with a lot of students with reading difficulties, and eBooks and audiobooks are two of my most recommended reading support strategies.  Personally, I have witnessed a lot of success using alternative reading materials, but don’t simply take my word for it because research backs this evidence based practice also. So if you are looking to bolster your students interest in reading, as well as their content knowledge check out TumbleBooks because they offer a great variety of resources across grade levels and genres.

Teacher Resource: Blends Bingo -A Letter-Sound Game

CaptureAnother resource is up on the Yellin Center Blog, and this time is it for the Blends Bingo game I designed. This game aims to improve student’s understanding of different letter-sound relationships which are critical to the development of a child’s early reading skills. Mastery of this fundamental phonological awareness skill has been linked to overall success in reading decoding and comprehension.

I use this game primarily in special education and reading recovery settings.  However, it can be easily adapted to a whole class environment.  If adapting for a large group, it is important to note that every sound is on every card. Therefore, you should expect to have multiple winners at a given time. The reason every sound appears on every card is that this game was designed as a purposeful play activity. As such, Blends Bingo has the objective of each student participating by locating a new sound every time a new playing piece is drawn by the teacher. There is no waiting in this activity, and every child is able to continually work to manipulate sounds.

For detailed description of the research that backs the creation and implementation of this game, how this activity aligns with the standards and detailed instructions of how to run this activity in your classroom please head over to my in depth discussion on the Yellin Center Blog. There, I also discuss how I have used this tool as a formative assessment measure, as well as a few alternate game play structures to keep your students engaged.

This activity was rather labor intensive to create due to formatting and finding images that clearly represented each sound.  As such, this game is one of my paid TpT resources but today it is on sale! The sale lasts through the weekend, so you can head over to my Teachers pay Teachers store to download Blends Bingo.  Furthermore, since my Blends Bingo Post went up on the Yellin Center Blog I have been routinely asked where I procure affordable or free materials for my curriculum designs.  I understand how tough it can be to find copy write free materials, so for this game and most clip art infused resources I often use Classroom Clip Art. It is an affordable membership service, with a pretty robust selection of images that are education centric.

Educational Technology Review: Animation-ish

icon-aiAnother ed tech review is up on the Yellin Center Blog.  This time it is for an incredible animation software program that has the power to assist educators in differentiating their instruction and cultivating a maker culture in the classroom. I was over the top excited to learn that one of my personal all-time favorite children’s authors has launched an award-winning software program titled Animation-ishPeter H. Reynolds is the bestselling author and illustrator behind the incredible titles IshThe Dot and The North Star. Each of the aforementioned held a very prominent and special place in my curriculum when I was a classroom teacher.  Now, Mr. Reynold has moved beyond books and into the digital space with the launch of Animation-ish, which is described as “an easy-to-use animation software program that inspires creativity and enables children to show what they know.”

For more on how to use the app, its undeniable merits for the classroom and more unabashed praise singing of this amazing tool head over to my review at the Yellin Center.

Freebie Friday: Noggle

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Another activity I designed is up on the Yellin Center Blog. Noggle is a math game that I developed when I first started substitute teaching since it is flexible across grades and required little material prep. Noggle follows the same rules as Boggle but with numbers instead of letters.  For more information on the game rules, how I have used this activity, its alignment to the educational standards and an example of the Noggle game board I designed head over the the Yellin Center blog.  As always, I hope you enjoy it and can make great use out of it. I know my students have loved it.

Like what you see? I would love to connect. Let’s be FRIENDS!

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The Jordan Project Teachers pay Teachers Store

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I have been guest blogging and creating resources on my own for awhile now and a couple of exceptional teaching friends were kind enough to encourage me to open a Teachers pay Teachers store to share some of my resources with the greater education world.  It is still a work in progress but I have officially launched The Jordan Project Teachers pay Teachers store with 30+ resources I have developed for you to explore.  Many are free, and I would love for you to use them, share them and send me feedback on what you think. Everything from math games to literacy center activities to worksheets to general classroom resources are available. Furthermore, materials across grade ranges are up for grabs, and many are great substitute teacher activities due to their portability and minimal additional materials required.

You may have noticed, but there is now a dedicated page on the blog for the The Jordan Project Store so you will be able to access it seamlessly (since it will continually be updated for you).  I truly hope you enjoy the content, and that some of the materials can help make your classrooms or home learning environments a little more exciting.