Saturday, October 18, 2014

My Letter to Raz-Kids!

This time last year, I was asked to try out Raz-Kids (a leveled reading program available through Learning A-Z) and I must say I am so happy that I accepted the trial!

As my year trial period comes to a close, I thought I would share with my readers my favorite parts of Raz-Kids.

1.  Highly motivating!  My kids love Raz-Kids!  The students I have in reading resource ask to get on Raz-Kids and you will hear no moaning and groaning when I ask them to use the program.  Sometimes, computer based interventions are not that exciting and don't hold a student's attention.  There could be various reasons for this ranging from the program being not interesting to students finding a program too difficult.  (Which leads to #2)  Oh...wait!  Don't forget that cute little robot you can dress up as your earn points for reading the books and passing quizzes! :)

2.  Leveled reading.  Raz-Kids is never too easy or too difficult for my students.  Using the assessment provided with Raz-Kids or available on Reading A-Z, I know exactly the level in which each of my students are working.  Each student has a program individualized just for him or her.

3.  Immediate feedback.  I can track progress immediately and so can the students.  The students immediate see how they are progressing through the books.  The students earn stars and coins that they can use to build and decorate their virtual robot.  I can also send messages of encouragement and bonus stars to my students to let them know I can see how hard they are working, motivate them to keep going, and reward bonus stars to reward them for their efforts.  The data that the teacher sees is also invaluable information!  From sound assessments, to running records, to comprehension scores, I can see exactly how my students are performing and which standards students are hitting or missing.  Guys! This program is aligned to Common Core! You can look right at the quiz skills report and see exactly what standards your student is mastering.

4.  Students make growth!  The teachers can see it, the students can feel it, and the parents can watch as their child's reading ability improves.  I have had parents tell me how much their child love Raz-Kids and that they ask to get on and use it.  One of my tutoring students was so excited about all of the stars he had earned by reading his books and passing a level.  He saved all of his stars to buy something for his robot until the day I tutored him so that he could show me what he was going to buy with the stars earned from his hard work!  Raz-Kids really does make learning fun and the kids are making growth in such a motivating way that reading doesn't even feel like work to even the most struggling student.

5.  Support and training!  Training on how to use all of what is offered on Raz-Kids is right there for you.  If you have a question, there is a probably a video that can teach you exactly what you need to know.  Also, the people working at Learning A-Z have been amazing about answering my questions and incredibly friendly.  They really take pride it what is produced through Learning A-Z and they make quality products that ensure student growth.

6.  Wide range of subjects and interests! There really is something for every student on here!  Fiction and non-fiction, every subject under the sun, Raz-Kids has it all and in every level.  There is no reason for a student to be bored.  There are so many books that even the most reluctant reader is sure to find something they will love.

Raz-Kids: The kids view

7.  Mobile app.  Hello!  We are all using a tablet or a phone these days and Raz-Kids is ready for that, too.  Mobile apps are available for Apple, Amazon, and Android products.  My kids in resource love to use the iPad to access Raz-Kids.  One of my sweets created a recording corner/sound booth to have a private spot to record her readings.  They love wearing the headphone/microphone combination (think Britney Spears headphones) to read and record themselves.
8.  Combine with Reading A-Z for a beautifully blended reading solution!  Reading A-Z is a CODiE Award winning website for teachers with an amazing amount of resources for reading.  Lesson plans, printable and projectable books, quizzes, and Common Core aligned resources make Reading A-Z my go to spot for all things reading in my resource classroom.  Raz-Kids then joins in to deliver hundreds of ebooks with 24 hours access to provide practice to make students better readers!

I really cannot say enough good things about Raz-Kids and Reading A-Z!  If you are looking for a reading solution...look no more!  This is your solution!
Finally, to sum all of my feeling about Raz-Kids, here is a copy of the letter I sent thanking them for their trial of Raz-Kids:

Hi Jan,
I just wanted to let you know as this year's subscription to Raz-Kids comes to a close how much I have appreciated this program over the past year.  I am so grateful that the people at Learning A-Z found my blog and asked me to use their product.  I love Raz-Kids and believe in the program wholeheartedly.  Most importantly though is that my student are making tremendous growth and they love to use the program.  They ask to use Raz Kids.  Parents love it, too!  I have had several parents tell me that since using Raz-Kids that their child is actually interested in reading and motivated to use the program.  The kids even get on the app without having to be told to do so!  Raz-Kids is such a confident boost to so many of my struggling readers!  
Thank you for creating such a wonderful program and choosing me to use the program!  I truly appreciate it!
Kim H.

Friday, October 10, 2014

October Currently

Don't judge...but I may be 9 days late to Farley's Currently this month...
Better late than never, right?  I have been enjoying Fall Break this week.  It has been a week full of relaxing and doing nothing.  Sometimes you just need a week like that!

Here is October's Currently:

Listening:  I love all things Halloween!  This is my favorite time of year!  Halloween Wars on Food Network is something we can all watch together here and everyone loves it.  I am amazed by the food artists that make the amazing and scary sculptures out of pumpkins, sugar, and cake!  So awesome!!

Loving:  Fall Break!  This week always comes at the perfect time.  We are far enough into school now to feel the stress of the daily grind and everyone is in need of some refreshing time.  I love my job, but I needed this week just to be able to get back to being relaxed and let go of the burnout that comes at the beginning of the year! 

Thinking:  I "need" to make a Costco run.  Well, actually the hubby is telling me that he wants to, so how can I say no to that?!  

Wanting:  It is cold...I need coffee. Period! :)

Needing:  I need to prepare for next week back to school.  Hmmm...maybe later!

Fall Skip Counting Puzzles are now FREE!  
Click the pic to go to my TPT store

Happy October!!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fall Break

It's Fall Break here in Kentucky!  Yipee!  This week I hope to get caught up on some things, but not before taking time to relax and hanging out with my own kiddos!  I hope you are enjoying fall wherever you are as well!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day-Tech on Tuesday: Virtual Manipulatives

Raise your hand if you hate pulling out manipulatives, because a.) The kids want to play with them, b.) the manipulatives fall in the floor and make lots of noise and inevitably one, two or ten of them get lost, or c.) it just takes so long to pull everything out!

Well, fret no more friends!  This app/website will be a lifesaver for many of you!  Virtual Manipulatives through has your answer to your manipulative woes when it comes to fraction bars, decimals and percents!  And the best's FREE!

Available here through ABCya is a great tool to use when teaching students about equivalent fractions, comparing fractions, and converting fractions to decimals and percents.  You  can use it as a teacher to demonstrate any of these concepts using the fraction tiles we all have in our classroom, but ABCya has made the fraction tiles more engaging and easier to manage by making them high tech!  Another beauty of these virtual manipulatives are that the students can use them too.  Instead of students pulling out the "real" fraction tiles, you can have the app on an iPad ready for the student to use and manipulate right at their desks.

Click the picture above to check out the Virtual Manipulatives

A quick user guide is included to teach you and your students how to use the fraction tiles!

Click the image above for the iPad app!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Oh "Appy" Day: Tech on Tuesday-Calm Counter App

I am constantly on the look out for calming tools.  I have stress balls and sensory bins galore in my room, but this app adds a unique and engaging piece to my collection of calming tools that may just help the kids that love technology.  It is motivating and easy to use, even for the youngest student!
Calm Counter is an app that is used as a visual to teach students how to regain their composure and to become calm again.  (PS...this works great as a technique/strategy to use with the Zones of Regulation curriculum that I love so much)
When a student becomes upset, we often use the strategy of counting to ten and taking deep breaths to help a student become calm.  However, some students need help doing this.  Some students just count and really do not connect the counting or deep breathing as a way to become calm.  This app helps to teach this concept.  The student keeps an iPad, iTouch, or other app enabled device at his/her desk.  When the student becomes upset, the student touches the screen that says, "I need a break."  The app begins counting down from 10.  The student touches the app each time he/she is ready to count down to the next number.  The face changes from red and upset on number 10 to a smiling face and a calmer color on face 1.  The final step is a deep breath and one more touch brings you to "All Done."   Visual and verbal cues are used on each screen, but verbal cues can be turned off in the app settings.  The app also includes a social narrative about anger and how to handle anger.
Screenshot of the changing faces in the app
The app costs $2.99 and is made by Touch Autism.

Monday, September 1, 2014

September Currently

It's September...already!  Labor Day is here, we've already been in school for 3 weeks, and routines are almost established.  Wow!  Where did August go?

I'm joining Farley from Oh Boy 3rd Grade for the monthly Currently! :)

Listening:  Any moment that I get to have the TV remote to myself, you can guarantee that I will be watching the Today Show (if it is morning) or HGTV.  I love having a weekday off so I can watch the Today Show.  My favorite part is Kathie Lee and Hoda, so I better hurry and post this so I don't miss any of their segment! :)

Loving:  I love my kids and I also love that they are old enough to take care of themselves.  I enjoy that they both can get up and fix their own breakfast, find something to do to stay entertained for a while, and get themselves up and ready to go in the mornings.  Sure,  I sometimes miss their baby days and there are times (everyday) when they need their mom, but I am thankful that they can be independent and not need me every second of the day.  I am blessed with great kids!

Thinking:  You know that routine I mentioned at the beginning of this post?  Well, it is slowly starting to get back together.  The beginning of a school year is tough around this house as I learn my new schedule at school all while learning my kids new schedules too.  Football, band, running, church, academic team, doctors appointments all have to be scheduled in the after school hours again and sometimes fitting everything in after 3:00 can be tough!  So, that sort of explains why blogging takes a back burner for me.  I really do want to stay on a blogging schedule and now that after school activities are beginning to have a regular time and day, then (hopefully) blogging will too!  How do some people do it all and stay sane?  If I figure that out...I'll let you know! :)

Wanting: Coffee!  I need coffee! :)  I'm in love with McDonald's Iced Caramel Mocha right now.  They are not good for any type of diet, but they are amazing! 

Needing:  I need this weekend to not end.  Three day weekends always come at the most perfect time.  The stress of the beginning of the year really gets to me some days and I needed this weekend to unwind and get my mind back on track. you think we can make it last for just one more day? :)

3 Trips:
1.  Smoky Mountains:  I love visiting the Smokies!  The fog rolling in over the mountains is one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen.  I enjoy going to the mountains more than the beach and since we moved to Central KY we are closer than we ever have been before.  It is a short 3(ish) hour drive to the Smokies from here and long weekend visits are my favorite.  

2.  Disney:  During Fall Break last year, I visited Disney World for the first time.  It was iconic.  It was one of my favorite vacations and those memories will last a lifetime!

3.  Home:  My "home" is in Western Kentucky and all of my family still lives there.  I miss my parents, sister, brother, nieces and nephews.  I don't get to go home as often as I would like (partly due to that busy schedule mentioned earlier and partly because it takes 4 and a half hours to get there).  It's not just a quick trip there and is a trip that has to be planned.  Maybe they will read this and come to see me ;)

Happy September, friends!!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

We Love Special Education Teachers-Bloghop!! Freebies and Giveaways!

Did we mention how much we love special educators??! 
Well just to show you how much, 24 of us have joined together to help you start your new year out with a BOOM! 
We are beyond excited and even more excited for you! Ok, maybe even just a wee bit jealous! :)
These 24 awesome special educators, including me, have put together 5 fabulous giveaways and a freebie hop with over 20 freebies just for you!! 
Shall we get this party going!!? 
Are you ready?
The first 3 giveaways are split into 3 categories; early childhood, primary, and intermediate! So be sure to enter the one for your grade level! You can click on any of the pictures to view the product in their store or to wishlist it in case you don't win!!{wink}
Here's a look at everything one teacher will win in the Early Childhood Pack!
Here's a look at everything one teacher will win in the Primary Pack!
Seriously!!!!?? Are you feeling the Love?!
Here's a look at everything one teacher will win in the Intermediate Pack! As you know, it can be a challenge finding resources on TpT for this level, but we did manage to put a few things together that we think you'll love!
a Rafflecopter giveaway But wait! There's MORE! David at "Attainment Company" was generous enough to give two lucky teachers a copy of this e-Book for their iPad. (This e-Book is compatible ONLY for iPad, so if you do not have an iPad do not enter!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway How many of you have seen this book, or are even using it in your classroom to assess and determine presents levels?? Brigance CIBS

Last year a new and improved updated version was released...... Brigance CIBS II

and we're super excited that Robin at "Curriculum Associates" has generously donated it for us to give to one of you!! Folks, this is a $339.00 value!! Now this one definitely makes us just a wee bit jealous!  (Our apologies, but this one is for U.S. residents only) a Rafflecopter giveaway And now it's time for a............... FREEBIE HOP!