Monday, December 17, 2012

Extending Education Inside & Outside the Classroom

I have a student in my Technology 6 course that is able to complete his assignments before the other students within my classroom.  To extend his learning on the Technology components taught each week, he's begun to create & publish short Quicktime Tutorial Videos.  Once I have approved the videos, they are posted to my class website for use. As this tutorial bank grows, I will have a collection of videos to direct students to who may have been absent or just need a quick reminder on the correct steps to accomplish their tasks.

At this point, the videos are short and very elementary tutorials however the student who would generally wait for the others to catch up to him is now able to teach others and have his videos published on the web.  He is learning how to speak clearly and be concise in his instructions. It is exciting to see his excitement in this on-going project.

Mrs. Chapman's Class Page - How to Videos



Friday, December 14, 2012

Google Apps Ninja Program at Work

Earlier this year we started the NCS Google Apps Ninja Program in Leading Edge and PFAA Middle School.  This online resource allows students (and teachers if they are interested) to navigate through course materials and assessments to demonstrate mastery in Google's suite of tools (Gmail, Calendar, Sites, Search, and Docs).  As users pass tests they can earn white, green, black and master ninja belts.  What has been interesting to watch is how students use the information they learn in often unexpected ways.

For example, just a few days before Thanksgiving Break Karisa Bibayoff's 6th grade students started exploring the Google Apps Ninja Program.  On the Friday night at the start of Thanksgiving Break one of her students, also the class accountant, sent out the following email,
"Hi Everyone!
If you have noticed in class today during store there was the spreadsheet that we made. As you can see, everybody's account does not have the complete information because we are still working on putting your money in and what you brought in store. Sorry for the delay! For those of you who were absent or didn't want to buy anything, this is what happened. 
We think that by Friday everyone will be able to use the spreadsheet. If there is a delay, we will let you know either by email or telling you in class. Remember, if you don't know yet, you are on view only mode so you cannot do anything to the spreadsheet after you turned in the form or if we put your information in. If you have turned in the form twice please let us know so we can fix it. This spreadsheet is convenient for us accountants and Mrs. Bibayoff by letting us know who bought each item. 
Thanks for taking your time to read this email and have a great rest of the week."
On its surface the email itself might not seem that remarkable.  However, Karissa shared the background behind the message
"After starting the Google Apps Ninja Program our class accountant made a Google Spreadsheet for her job to keep track of pay for each student. She then emailed me for a list of the students she could import into her Gmail Contacts (something else she learned in the Ninja Program).  Once her email group was set up she sent out a Google Form for the class to complete with their names and job titles.  Then by sharing the Google Spreadsheet she delegated the input of the prior balances to her assistant accountant.  The rest of the class through the View Only option can view the overall account balances."
This story is a great example of how our students are using technology to minimize the transactional and maximize the relational.  I also think it demonstrates their comfort with technology and ease for learning how to use these tools.  Often, all we have to provide them is direction and opportunity and they are ready to do amazing things.  This story also shows that this digital prowess may be something we can leverage in our classrooms by providing them opportunities to share their expertise with others.  After the break Karisa had her accountants show her and the class just how they created these documents so that they are able to use tools like these for upcoming projects.

Joe

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Edmodo in the Arts

Occasionally, the NCS Ed Tech News blog has guest writers. This week Karen Pollard, our PFAA Theater and Performing Arts Chair has created a piece sharing her recent experience using Edmodo.
_____________________

I just had a great experience using Edmodo in my Acting II class – and no one is more surprised than I am!  

Before I tell you about it you should know that as an acting teacher I’ve been very concerned and confused about how to integrate technology into my Drama classes. I’ve been worried that it would take stage time away from my students and plunk them down in front of a computer.  I realize that our school has recognized and acknowledged the need to have an increased focus on expanding our student’s access to and understanding of technology and I think that’s extremely important. But I always worry that implementing a common direction for all will force the art classes (which are steeped in classical arts practices) to create inorganic strategies in the classroom that may not enhance a hands-on artistic environment.


So – why did I create this assignment? Well, first and foremost our students need it and this movement is clearly happening. The second reason (and the funnier one) is because this is an evaluation year for me and I had to come up with professional goals, so I came up with one related to technology. The assignment was very simple. I filmed my student’s final performances of their Shakespearean monologues. I uploaded them to YouTube and then pasted the links onto Edmodo. I booked the Media Center for a day and got them all online. I had all the students pick one other student to formally critique (using my rubric for terminology) and then they were required to respond to three other formal critiques after having viewed those pieces as well. I was a little nervous about this day because it was outside my comfort zone. I have no problem teaching teenagers to fall in love, kill or kiss each other on stage – but computer classes? No way!

Here’s what I didn’t expect. The crazy, positive energy the kids felt when they watched themselves on YouTube. They felt like stars. They also felt a heightened sense of importance and responsibility to be thorough with their critiques because it was being posted publicly. When I asked them to discuss the value of this assignment the next day in class the overwhelming assessment was the lesson was “so cool.” They said they were far more engaged than they would have been if this were a traditional writing assignment.

The other unexpected benefit of this assignment was it actually bought an entire week of stage time for my kids. I have always taken a week to view their performances in class and then openly discuss aspects of each piece.  Now I can add a class exercise and they get more time to develop their skills on stage. I know this won’t work for everyone but I thought I would share a tiny success.

Karen Pollard
Theatre Arts Department Chair
Natomas Charter School Performing and Fine Arts Academy

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pinterest & Twitter - ETLN Notes


Every month during the school year CTAP 3 at the Sacramento County Office of Education hosts a Ed Tech Leadership Network (ETLN)meeting where educators from across the community come together to discuss and exchange ideas for using technology in the classroom. 

December's ETLN topic of discussion was Social Media.  Gail Desler, from Elk Grove USD, shared how educators are using Twitter and Laurel Lyda, from San Juan USD, presented on another social media resource, Pinterest. 

What is Twitter?  Twitter is an online social media service that is often referred to as "micro-blogging" because each "Tweet" (text-based message) has a limit of 140 characters.  Micro-blogging allows users to exchange small elements of content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links.  And, there is no minimum age restriction!

Education Tweeters by Gail Desler (@GailDesler)

  • Robert J. Marzano: Education expert and consultant who tweets about practical applications for available studies. http://twitter.com/MarzanoResearch
  • Will Richarson: Author, speeaker, instigator, blogger about the Web anad its effects on schools, education and learning.  Author of Why School? http://whyschoolbook.com. https://twitter.com/willrich45
  • Steven W. Anderson: One of Edublogs' Twitterers of the Year, predominantly writes, talks, and researches effective strategies for web 2.0 educational tools.  https://twitter.com/web20classroom
  • Vicki Davis: Flat Classroom Project co-founder Vicki Davis (alias "The Cool Cat Teacher") enthusiastically embraces all things educational technology. https://twitter.com/coolcatteacher
  • David Warlick: Educator, technologist, programmer, author & public speaker, exploring the realms of edtech or educational technology. http://twitter.com/dwarlick
  • Larry Ferlazzo: Sacramento's own-EL teacher (Luther Burbank), writer, activist. https://twitter.com/Larryferlazzo
  • 2012 Edublog Awards- Best Individual Tweeter - International annual competition- a great Twitter sampler!
  • Catlin Tucker - High school English teacher in Windsor, CA that wrote the Blended Learning book mentioned by Joe. https://twitter.com/CTuckerEnglish

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a virtual pinboard. Pinterest allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. You can browse boards created by other people to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.
  • Education Technology - Edudemic's recommended Pinterest boards for learning more about technology in the classroom.
  • Learnest - A Pinterest-like website geared towards educators.



Jennifer

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Helping Teens Think About What They Post

This morning as I was getting ready for work I heard two stories on the news, one from NPR and another on the Today Show, that were great reminders for the importance of talking to students about the appropriate use of technology.  In the past few months two mobile device apps, Snapchat and Wickr, have appeared on the market.  Both of these applications allow users to send content in the form of photos or text messages to other individuals and set timeframes for when the content will automatically delete itself from the recipient's device.  Here is the catch though...with a few additional clicks a screenshot of that material can be easily captured for later use.  Digital data is never gone forever and that is a key digital citizenship concept our students must fundamentally understand when it comes to using technology.

Digital citizenship is something that can and should be easily integrated into any content area and grade level.  As a matter of fact, schools are now required to
"...educate minors about appropriate online behavior, including interacting with other individuals on social networking websites and in chat rooms and cyberbullying awareness and response."  
The exact lessons and amount of instructional time spent on this content are left up to individual teachers and school sites to decide based upon the needs of their students.  As a school we have selected Common Sense Media's Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum to assist teachers with integrating this content into classrooms lessons.  The curriculum has age-appropriate lessons from elementary through high school built around eight categories.

  • Internet Safety
  • Privacy & Security
  • Relationships & Communication
  • Cyberbullying
  • Digital Footprint & Reputation
  • Self-Image & Identity
  • Information Literacy
  • Creative Credit & Copyright

The Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum can be introduced as part of a technology elective in the grades where we offer that course, however the concepts need to be reinforced throughout all our classes.  As a matter of fact, last year NCS teachers identified lessons they planned to teach, but each of us needs to find ways for bringing this content into our classrooms through authentic classroom lessons and experiences.  The lessons within the Common Sense Media curriculum are designed so that teachers and can easily modify the content and use the lessons independently from other lessons within the curriculum.  For example, if you are using Edmodo with your students for classroom discussions you might consider using the Build Your Ideal Community lesson to work with students on appropriate conversations and interactions for promoting positive online communities.

After Winter Break we will spend some of our professional development time reviewing the Common Sense Media Curriculum and developing links between these lessons and the units each of us already teach.  However, to get things started you might consider your own lessons and technology use and explore the Common Sense Media curriculum to begin making your own connections.

Joe

Photo: IMG_5503 by Tray on Flickr

Friday, November 30, 2012

Videoconferencing in the Classroom

This morning an article from Time Magazine, How Teachers Use Skype in the Classroom,  popped into my Facebook feed.  As I read the description of teachers stranded in New York due to Hurricane Sandy still virtually teaching their students in Texas and elementary students studying geography by Skyping with students in different parts fo the world I was reminded of a powerful and engaging power of video conference.

Earlier this year 6th grade Leading Edge students had the opportunity to learn about archeology from an expert.  As Dr. Robert Cargill from the University of Iowa described what it was like to discover historical objects and interpret their uses you could hear a pin drop in the room.  All 90+ kids were together in one classroom, but through the power of Skype they were each glued to the lesson being taught by this real life Indiana Jones.

Just a few years ago most schools did not have the hardware or bandwidth to support effective video conferences, however today schools like Natomas Charter School have all of the tools in place.  You can easily set up video conferences in your classroom through one of two tools - Skype or Google Hangouts.  All you need is an account, and Internet connection (hardwired is better than wireless for this task), and a web camera which all of our iMacs and Macbooks have built right in.

Your next challenge is just to find a guest speaker or collaborative classroom that ties in with one of your upcoming units.  From my own classroom experience I have found friends and family, as well as requests posted to Facebook and Twitter to be quite helpful for finding these individuals.  However, as is mentioned in the Time article Skype actually has an entire website dedicated to using Skype in the Classroom.  Through their website and search function at the top of the page you can easily connect with experts and entire classrooms for collaborative projects.  This video does a nice job demonstrating one way Skype can be used with your students.  However, you can also connect with scientists at NASA and chat with authors through Penguin Books.

Take a moment to check out both the Time article and Skype in the Classroom.  They are worth the read.

Joe

For Your Reading Pleasure

Between the Holidays and cold, rainy afternoons that simply beg for a book tis the season for finding great reads.  Whether you are shopping for yourself or for your students...or looking for gift ideas for friends and family, here a few online resources to find new books!

Elsa

Net Galley
Want to read books that have not been published yet? Check out NetGalley!

Sign up on NetGalley and search books by recently added, most requested, themes, title, author, ISBN or by publishers. You send a request to the publisher to have access to their book; to improve your chances to be granted access (especially for the most requested titles), make sure to include in your profile that you work for a school, as well as your blog or Twitter, if you use those to talk about the books you have read. The more (good) publicity you will bring publishers, the better chances you will have to get access to the books you want.

Here is an example of a book that is on my shelf: I can send it to my Kindle, or download it to read on my computer through an Adobe program.

The ARCs (Advanced Reader Copies) do have an expiration date however (though it is usually weeks or months into the future) so make sure to not forget the books you have on your shelf!


Gnooks & Literature Map

Gnooks is similar to Pandora, but for books! Go to Gnooks, and enter up to three authors whose work you enjoy reading.  Gnooks will suggest one author; click the "I like it!", "I don't like it!" or "I don't know it!" to help Gnooks suggest more authors that will fit your preferences.

You can also click the "on the map" link to see an interactive Literature Map of authors whose bodies of work are similar to the one suggested. As the website states, "[t]he closer two writers are, the more likely someone will like both of them." 

You will not get recommendations for titles, but you get lots of recommendations of authors to look up!








The Staff Recommends
Created by professional readers, editors, and authors, TheStaffRecommends calls itself an "advertorial publication". This is because publishers send them books they would like them to review; and publishers pay for the books that do make it on their website.

While there is no search feature here, you can still have the online version of the "Our staff likes these books" that can be found in bookstores.




WhichBook
More targeted towards high school students and adults, WhichBook gets you to use the sliders on the left hand side of the screen (up to 4 sliders) to describe the kind of book you want to read: happy or sad? Funny or serious? Safe or disturbing? Expected or unpredictable? You can also change the sliders to focus more on character, plot or setting.

The results appear on the right hand side, and each record includes: title, author, quick summary, image of the cover, as well as links to an extract, books with the same themes ("Parallels"), its full profile (where the book ranks on each slider), other books like it ("Find similar") and a function to share the information about that book to others via Facebook or email. The "Buy" button will take you to (where else?) Amazon, and the "Borrow" button shows you which libraries have a copy of it.





Reader2
Enter a title in the "What book to read next?" box on the right-hand-side of the screen, and you will be given a list of books related to your search. You can continue looking for books by clicking on any title in the results page, or by following the tags that interest you.








Yasiv
Based on the "Frequently Bought Together" bar you can find in each product page on Amazon, Yasiv offers you a visual guide of what people purchased in conjunction with the item you looked up (tip to find gifts for the holiday season: Yasiv is not limited to books!).
Clicking on one item will easily get you to its Amazon page, including its price and customer reviews.








What Should I Read Next?
One of the simplest tools out there, What Should I Read Next allows you to enter the title of a book or the name of an author and find books related to your search. You can register (it's free) to create booklists.  Once registered click on the titles in your results page, and it will lead you to the Amazon page for that book.



The Book Seer
The Book Seer is one of the most basic book recommendation tools out there, needing a book title and an author's name to generate a list. However, it seems to be down at the moment. Hopefully it will come back online soon.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Play and Technology in Education: A Reminder

When I step on campus at 6:30 I am never alone. Coffee in hand, I often open the door to a colleague and fellow technophile’s classroom for inspiration. Yesterday, she bubbled over with excitement about a Lego Movie App. Instantly, I knew that I had to try it out with my five year old son at home. He has already produced his first public service announcement to warn others against throwing their money away for unfulfilled wishes, but I knew he would jump at the chance to make Lego Movies. 

The app is officially called Lego Super Hero Movie Maker, but it really is just a stop motion animation movie maker that allows the user to choose preloaded title pages, sound effects, and visual effects. I found the limited number of choices and features helpful in keeping my son from becoming frustrated. In fact, he picked up pretty quickly on the concept. All I had to do is ask him what his movie would be about. What else? A movie about Dr. Evil and then a movie about a  robber breaking out of jail and getting away on his motorcycle. You will notice two things about these movies, my son’s fingers and that it is upside down. Yep, the iPhone was upside down when we took the pictures. Each movie took about 5 minutes to make. His third attempt involved a crash, legos, and a long piece of floss. He was determined to film a helicopter crash. It took some trial and error to figure out how to keep the lego helicopter under control as it fell without using something too obvious that would ruin the effect. 

Both movies focused on single scenes of a larger story. When I asked him about what happened before and after the crash, he clearly described a typical plot complete with exposition, rising action, climax, and falling action. Narrative structure and Lego movie making, together at last! This experience has reminded me that play and technology have a place in education. In this case, it helped a 5 year old transform into a storyteller.  As a high school English teacher my challenge is to engage students who have been digital storytellers since kindergarten!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

EdTech Leadership Network (ETLN) Notes

Every month during the school year CTAP 3 at the Sacramento County Office of Education hosts a Ed Tech Leadership Network (ETLN) meeting where educators from across the community come together to discuss and exchange ideas for using technology in the classroom. Each meeting consists of casual dinner, professional development, resource sharing, and time to network with like-minded educators.  The next meeting is on December 11th and you should consider attending!  The presenters will be sharing how they use Twitter and Pinterest for instruction.

Last month I attended by first ETLN meeting. It was interesting and insightful to be able to talk with other teachers and learn what they are doing in their classrooms.  The October meeting focused on technology resources that support home/school communication. Below are links to some of the resources that were mentioned.
  • MentorMob - MentorMob allows users to collect, collate and share information on specific subjects. These collections of information—or playlists, can be accessed by anyone wanting to learn more about the subject matter. 
  • Weebly - Weebly is an easy way for students or teachers to create a website. 
  • ClassDojoA classroom tool that helps teachers improve behavior in their classrooms quickly and easily. It also captures and generates data on behavior that teachers can share with parents and administrators.
  • Ms. Forst Independent Study - Online resources for Math, Science, Language Arts and History
  • Voicethread- Voicethread is a web-based tool that gives users the choice to comment in voice or text, increases online community and enhances the instructor-to-student relationship.
If you are planning on attending the December meeting, RSVP by filling out this online form or calling the CTAP3 office at (916) 228-2748. Jennifer

Searching the Web More Efficiently

Does this graph accurately represent what your students do for their research papers?




Here are a few resources that they can use to find more, and better, online resources:

#1: Carrot2
Carrot2 is a "clustering search engine", which means that, on top of the regular list of results found on the right half of the screen, results are grouped for easier reference. Carrot2 offers three ways to shows those groups of results:


-as a Circle:





-as a Foam Tree:






-as Folders:




This clustering approach appeals to visual learners as well as both global learners (they have all the results showing at once and how they relate to one another) and analytical learners (results are divided into small chunks and relationships between each is easily defined). 


Carrot2 also pulls resources from the Web, Wikis and News as well as offers an image search, all using the results from the Bing search engine.



#2: SimilarSites

Just enter the URL of a website that you found helpful, and SimilarSites will find more like it! You can install the extension on your browser so that you only have to click on the SimilarSites button instead of going to the site, copy/pasting the URL and then click enter. 


One note: SimilarSites will find websites, not webpages. If for example you found a great article about your research topic (let's say that you are researching Abraham Lincoln) on the New York Times website, inputting the URL for that article will bring up websites for other reputable newspapers, and not other articles on Abraham Lincoln published by reputable newspapers. 





#3: Blekko


Blekko calls itself "the spam-free search engine", focusing on a smaller part of the Web, but choosing what they consider to be quality websites. They also organize those websites by topic, which you can search by using slashtags.

How do the slashtags work? You enter your search terms; let's use "New York". Using the slashtag "/travel" in the search bar: [New York /travel] will bring up websites about tourism in New York, and will bring different results than entering [New York /photography], for example.  







Blekko has a whole directory of slashtags to use from, divided into sections like: arts, business, culture, education, fashion, food, government, health, humanities, media, science, sports and more. 

You can create your own slashtags. You will need to register to Blekko (it's free), and then it will walk you through the creation of your slashtags.


#4: Search Commands 


Here is a small cheatsheet of the commands you can enter in Google or Yahoo! to find exactly what you need, including (but not limited to): 
-what websites linked to a certain page (valuable to see the reliability of a webpage);
-searching in a certain timeframe; 
-searching for a certain type of file (when searching for documents). 


Monday, November 26, 2012

Search Engine Tip: Duck Duck Go



You probably use Google for all your online research, and rightly so (Google does seem to bring better results than most search engines or even meta-search engines). However, there is one search engine that you might want to start using for searches that involve your personal life: it is Duck Duck Go.

                 

Get past the terrible name and childish logo that make it look like a resource for little kids, and you will find a search engine that does not track nor bubble your results. What does that mean? Whenever you use a regular search engine, it stores information about you AND sends that information to the websites you go to. Duck Duck Go, on the other hand, hides that information from the sites that you access. So your online presence is much safer with Duck Duck Go, since companies cannot track you, nor see how often you visit their website or even what search terms you entered to find them.

It also does not “bubble” you, which means that it does not save your search history, nor does use it in your future searches to find resources that it thinks you might like - it gives you everything that it finds about your topic, and allows YOU to do the sorting. This is very handy when you want to research a topic that controversial (politics, religion, etc...). Any other search engine will give you results that are influenced by your past searches and the websites you have gone to. For example: did you follow one political candidate more than the other during the past few months? Google knows it, and will present results that reflect your political preference, which will not be helpful if you want to find unbiased resources. Duck Duck Go does not save your history, and thus gives you results that are not influenced by it. As such, it is a great resource to share with your students for their academic research.

At a personal level, the fact that Duck Duck Go does not save nor share your information and history means that it is a safer search engine to use to find your bank’s website, or other websites that you access that you would not want someone who gains access to your computer without your knowledge, to see.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Blended Learning Book

A few weeks ago I finished a great book by a Sonoma County high school teacher that is available in my professional library for anyone to check out.  In Blended Learning - Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create Student-Centered Classrooms, Catlin Tucker lays out a clear vision for using technology to extend learning beyond the school day through online discussions  multimedia, and technology projects.  A few of us have had the opportunity to see Tucker present and ironically she teaches at a school that is fairly technology poor and many of her student have very basic online access at home.  However, she has found that even limited technology and a blended learning model can  "make me more effective, decrease my grading load, and teach my students critical 21st century skills they will use long after they have left my class."

During the first half of the book Tucker discusses the benefits, research, and models of blended learning with concrete models from her classroom.  The book is written from a very practical standpoint, so Tucker also includes rubrics, example lessons, and student guidelines from her own classroom.  The second half of the book consists of a series of chapters for each of the four content areas (math, ELA, science, and social studies) describing strategies for using blended learning an online resources to meet the demands of the Common Core State Standards.

In the preface Tucker provides three reasons why a teacher might purchase her book
  1. It advocates for a teacher-designed blended learning model with concrete strategies, ready-to-use resources, and examples grounded in the Common Core State Standards.
  2. It shows teachers how they can use an online environment to give every student a voice, increase engagement, drive higher-order thinking, and make homework an interactive experience instead of solitary practice.
  3. Teachers will learn how to integrate technology into their existing curriculum in order to build community and create a student-centered classroom that challenges students to be active participants in the learning process.
If any of these sound good to you, feel free to pop by my office, send me an email, or post a comment below to check it out.  I also have some digital resources related to the text developed for our VLA program.

Joe

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Lexile Measures (Common Core Standards)

The Common Core Standards mention Lexile numbers for different grade levels, as a way to measure the complexity level of the texts given to students. As explained on the Lexile Measures website, "[a] Lexile measure is a valuable piece of information about either an individual's reading ability or the difficulty of a text, like a book or magazine article."* They are computer-generated numbers, after the text is analyzed for sentence length and vocabulary.

The Lexile system is set up to target a 75% comprehension: "[f]or example, if a reader has a Lexile measure of 1000L, he will be forecasted to comprehend approximately 75 percent of a book with the same Lexile measure (1000L)"*, in order to encourage the student’s reading skills. If a student understood 100% of the book they read, they would not be challenged and thus would not improve their reading. At the same time, making comprehension more difficult (at 50%, for example) would be discouraging, and students might lose the desire to continue reading.

A word of caution: the content of the book is not taken into account in the Lexile measure. Moreover, missing punctuations in the text submitted to the Analyzer can greatly influence results.

It means that we get measures like these, at the 500-750 range, which is designed to cover students from 3rd to 5th grades:
500 Judy Moody saves the world (McDonald)
550 Thirteen Reasons Why (Asher) --- book about high school, rape and suicide.
560 The Lorax (Dr. Seuss)
600 The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Alexie) --- book mentions racist points of view, offensive language, violence and sexual content.
630 Of Mice and Men (Steinbeck) --- includes profanity, racial slurs, and violence.
680 Charlotte’s Web (White)

So the Lexile measures are not without fault; they can be a good starting point to assess a book or match books to a particular student’s level, but, as always, common sense and flexibility are necessary to make a good match.






Lexile thus allows you to assess both books and students to match one with the others.

To assess students:
"The California Reading List (CRL) number denotes a reader's Lexile zone. For example, a CRL number 8 means that books in the Lexile zone of 800L to 890L are well-targeted for independent reading." Look for the California Reading List number on their STAR report or on Illuminate. I have created a Google Doc spreadsheet with current students' CRL numbers for the past three years, so that you can see their progression. I can share it with you if you would like it, on Google Doc and/or as an Excel document.

You can thus use the California Reading Lists and the Lexile measures for struggling readers as well as for advanced readers, to quickly assess their reading level and find materials that will be a better match for them.

California Reading List Number / Lexile Range correspondance*:

CRL NumberUnderlying Lexile Range
01199 or below
02200 - 299
03300 - 399
04400 - 499
05500 - 599
06600 - 699
07700 - 799
08800 - 899
09900 - 999
101000 - 1099
111100 - 1199
121200 - 1299
131300 - above


These are the measures that most students should be at, at mid-year, and the measures of texts that can be given to each grade*:

GradeReader Measures, Mid-Year
25th percentile to 75th percentile (IQR)
2012 CCSS Text Measures*
1Up to 300L190L to 530L
2140L to 500L420L to 650L
3330L to 700L520L to 820L
4445L to 810L740L to 940L
5565L to 910L830L to 1010L
6665L to 1000L925L to 1070L
7735L to 1065L970L to 1120L
8805L to 1100L1010L to 1185L
9855L to 1165L1050L to 1260L
10905L to 1195L1080L to 1335L
11 and 12940L to 1210L1185L to 1385L



To assess books and texts:
Go to www.lexile.com, where you have a couple of tools available to you:
-Use the "Find a Book" feature allows to search for books either by Lexile measure/range or by grade.

-Create a free profile, which will allow you to:
-get the databases of Lexile measures for English and Spanish titles
-use the analyzer (tips: try different parts of the same text, and make sure that the text you submit is the exact copy of the original, down to each period).

We also have Lexile numbers at NCS:
In the Destiny catalog, click on “Natomas Charter School”. You can search by Lexile numbers/range, or you can look up a title and see if there is a Lexile number for it.

In CaliforniaLearns: portal.californialearns.org (teachers) and teens.californialearns.org (students)
EBSCO Student Research Center, History Reference Center, Kids Search include Lexile number for their articles.


*www.lexile.com

Bad Wolf Press


Engage your learners from Kindergarten to grade 9 with music and theater! -- and this is not only for PFAA teachers and students!

If you’re looking for a fun and easy way to teach curriculum and Common Core Standards, check out the musical plays by Bad Wolf Press. They have over 50 plays for grades K-9 that cover just about every subject taught. Every single play fulfills multiple Common Core Standards in Language Arts, and many fulfill Social Studies, Science, and Math standards as well.

All the plays come with a CD for practice and performance, plus a Teacher’s Guide with lots of helpful tips and information. You don’t have to play music or sing a note (though sheet music is available for those who want it). Bad Wolf Press offers a lifetime return or exchange policy on all of their products, so there is no risk.

For more information, visit Badwolfpress.com and check out the first third of every script, song snippets, teacher reviews, and Common Core Standards for every show.