Tag Archive: apps

EPS eBooks

IMG_0030I am so geeking out right now it’s not even funny!  I first off just need to send a BIG thank you to Ann Hollingworth from EPS/Handprint Books as she has provided my students with an AMAZING opportunity.  After weeks of chatting with publishers and Ann really getting the ball rolling (no, I didn’t get a book deal, but writing a children’s book would be a dream of mine–Ann if you ever want to co-author anything let me know!), Ann was able to get for us free access to Handprint’s eBooks via their FREE app EPS Books to test out their new app.

I skipped my lunch today to monkey around with setting things up and will be starting to roll this out with some of my Reading Recovery kids.  If you are a parent to one of my 1st-4th graders, have an iPad/tablet at home, and would like to have access at home, let me know as I can create accounts for my kiddos and assign them books they can access anywhere.

For those of you out there looking to get your reluctant readers on board I would encourage you to download the EPS Books (type that into the search bar in your app store) app and get started.  I flipped through some of the books on my iPad mini and my kids will be drooling over getting to read on the iPad.  If you are using the app leave me a comment.  I would love to know how you are using the app and books with your kids in your classroom.

Once I fully roll this app out I will post back on how it’s going for us.  I can’t wait to share with you all!

3rd Grade: Informational Brochures

IMG_8198My 3rd graders are such a joy this year (not that my other kids aren’t) and greet everything we do with such enthusiasm.  They are some of the hardest workers I’ve seen and we have been packing in a ton every 30 minute session.   We’ve been learning so much and having so much fun while we’re learning that one of the 3rd graders said, “I hate Wednesdays because we don’t have group with you!” (Wednesdays are early out so my schedule doesn’t allow me to see my group kiddos)  What a great compliment and a testament to the learning they are taking on.  I love that enthusiasm.  Ok, enough bragging about how awesome my kids are.

This week we read a book called All About Redwood Trees.  (If you are a follower of my blog then you surely know by now how much I love the All About series)  The kids were blown away by the mere size of the redwood trees and other new facts.

IMG_8201I only have 3 kids in this group, which is my smallest group of the day.  It’s really nice because we have plenty of room to spread out and I really get the chance to sit down with the kids and conference with them longer.  They are so excited when we read that we had such great dialogue and question asking regarding this book.

After the kids finished reading, they were asked to make an informational brochure about the information they read.  They needed to come up with 4 facts; one fact per page and a quick illustration to go with it.

This was an opportunity for the kids to practice picking out what was the most important part that they read and also taking what the author wrote and putting it into your own words.

IMG_8211We finished with a few minutes to spare and the 3rd graders had been begging to play an iPad game.  This actually ended up being a perfect time since we did finish early.  I have to share with you a REALLY good iPad game from Lakeshore Learning.  It was free and it’s called Tic Tac Toe Phonics.

We split up into 2 teams: boys vs. girls.  Wow!  It was fun.  The app is just like regular tic tac toe except you have to answer a phonic question before you can put your X or O down.  You pick where you want to play and answer the question.  If you are right you get to put your letter down, if you are wrong then the play goes back to the other person/team.  There were questions about word parts (blends/digraphs), vowelIMG_8212 sounds, syllables, and rhyming.  I thought it would be super easy for the kids, but it wasn’t.  It gave me a lot of great insight as to things we still need to work on.

The boys ended up defeating us 2 games to 0.  The girls will need to rally for the “W” next time we have the opportunity to play.


I’m not sure I would consider myself a technology guru, but I am a technology lover (and I’d like to think a technology innovator) and I’ve had lots of people ask me about the apps I have been using with the school iPad.  I felt the best way to answer this question is to write about it.  Here are some of my app essentials that I use every day.  I’m always looking for additional apps so please feel free to email or comment if you have any good apps you are using with students.

whiteboardThe app I use the most is Whiteboard.  IMG_0075

This is a free app where you can basically use it like a whiteboard.  I use this with my students when I am doing word work time during a lesson.  I can write the word part or the word down and display it for students.

As an incentive I usually allow the student who puts the word together the quickest and with the best handwriting to re-write it on the iPad.  This has gotten some of my students more motivated to put their words together quickly and correctly.

DojoAnother app I use daily is Class Dojo.dojo 2

This is another free app where you can track student behavior, participation, preparation, and a bunch of other behaviors.

As you can see to the right students are either given points or points or taken away based on their behavior in group.  I use this as a way to track behaviors during group.  I have this setting out for students to see, but they know if they discuss/brag/complain about points then I will deduct points as their job is to focus on their work.  Please note that when you download this app you will then need to complete your class profiles on a computer at the Class Dojo website.  You can have as many classes as you want–I have one for each group.  But all changes on class rosters will need to be made outside of the app.IMG_0074

RIMG_0071 - Copyecord of Reading from Clemson University has become one of my very favorite apps.

This is a free running record app from Clemson University and has become my #1 communication tool with the teachers I work with.  It says you can either use your finger or a stylus, but I have not found a stylus that this works with.  Now, I have to be honest that I am much faster at writing a running record with paper and pencil.  So I often do the RR (running record) on paper and pencil first and then transfer it over after school, during lunch, or any other free time I might have.  From there you can EMAIL this running record to anyone in a PDF format or as a picture.  You can also record your student reading (which sometimes I will record the student reading while I take the RR on paper and pencil so I have the words per minute WPM ready and then save it so I can enter in the RR portion later) and anyone with an iPad can listen to the recording via the email.  This app figures out the accuracy, self correction ratio, and fluency for you.  You just have to enter in running words and number of errors and self corrections.  When you tap on error or self correction it pops up the M-S-V automatically for you to highlight.  You can save each running record under a student folder, which is fantastic.  I try to send out 1 running record per student each week to their classroom teacher.  It’s been a great communication tool between a classroom teacher and myself with a student who has been having trouble being successful.  Now she can see every day how things are going.  If you teach reading (which we all do!) YOU NEED THIS APP!

IMG_0072Dragon Dictation is my newest app obsession.IMG_0079

This is fabulous for the writing portion of a reading lesson when you are asking some of your younger students to tell you a sentence or sentences that they’ll be writing about.  How often does a student get 3 words into a sentence before you hear, “Uhhh, Ms. Acuff.  What was my sentence?”  All the time!!  And when you’re working with 3, 4, 5+ kids let’s be honest–we don’t remember!!   Dragon Dictation has been my life saver because you can speak into the microphone and it will type what you said.  This is fabulous because I can’t write quick enough to get their sentences down.  Each student speaks their sentence and I have it right there for me to check if there are any confusions.

It’s quick and the students think it’s like magic.  It’s fun to speak into the microphone and have your sentence pop up.  Plus if you are running short on time and need to continue the writing the next day–no worries!  It’s saved for you and ready to go that next day, or whenever you are able to write again.  Don’t you already feel the stress melting away?

AlphabetIMG_0071 Racing is a great app for helping students with letter formation.IMG_0073

As a Reading Interventionist, I work with a lot of struggling readers and writers.  One of the things I have to work on constantly is letter formation.  It gets old really quick having to practice writing on the white board or the aqua doodle.  This app has made it more fun to work on letter formation.  The students are shown with a little train the proper way to for the letter.  They are then able to trace over the letter.  They have upper and lowercase letters along with numbers.  The beautiful bonus is you can pick your tracing color OR fabulous print–like zebra or pink glitter as your “marker”…my girls absolutely LOVE the pink glitter and surprisingly my boys love the many different animal prints.   The app even says the letter name and gives an example of the letter used.

Cimo Spelling is Cimoa fun spelling app.IMG_0076

Cimo is a penguin on a quest for fish.  He can only get a fish if he is able to cross the ocean on little glaciers with letters.  These letters must spell the given word otherwise Cimo falls into the ocean and he doesn’t get his fish.  Wow!  What a mission.  You can’t let Cimo down!  Cimo doesn’t get to come out and play very often, but it’s nice if there are a few spare minutes.  This would or could be a good center activity if you were looking for student mastery in basic sight words.  I don’t use Cimo very often, but it’s a good app for a game day/reward/possible center.

The above are some of my favorites that I use the most.  Other apps I have are:

  • YouTube–great for recently when my students didn’t understand the venus fly trap and we could see it quick.
  • Word Family–great for word families.  Another possible reward/center app.
  • Photo album/Camera (pre-installed)–used to take pictures of my anchor charts and I can easily flip through the album if I want students to focus on a particular topic.  This is essential for me since I go into the classrooms to teach and am not able to hang up anchor charts.
  • ShowMe–great for wanting to show students a “how to” video on a particular subject.  You can even make your own.
  • Phonics Genius–lots of different phonics examples/ideas.
  • iMovie–($4.99) turn your classroom videos into something a little more spectacular.
  • Reminders (pre-installed)–use this so you never miss a meeting or coverage or whatever!  It will start an alarm at a specific time or GPS when you arrive or leave a certain location.
  • Read Me–stories app which will read stories to students.
  • Splash Pad–projects your computer/iPad onto your promethean board from where you are in the room–so you can work Class Dojo on your promethean while you are at the back table teaching reading groups. (I believe this app is around $5)

These are some of the apps on the iPad I use.  Like I said before, if you have any additional apps you think are worth while please share!



I must confess I am beyond lucky to work in a district and in a building that supports the use of technology in the classroom.  I’ve even more lucky to have a principal that supports that use by me as a reading interventionist.  Many times reading teachers are looked over for some of the things classroom teachers receive, but I like pushing the envelope for what I can use to help engage students in the classroom.

I had asked my principal for an iPad when I heard other teams were getting them for the classroom.  She found somewhere in the budget to get one for me and the team.  Yesterday I received it and I’ve been having a lot of fun trying out some new apps.

Today I tried out the whiteboard app for one of my Reading Recovery students.  Before we got started with the lesson, I let him practice some words for fluency on the iPad.  You can see him in the photo above practicing the word not.  He’s my technology lover and I plan on using this with some of my word work time and also as an incentive for him.


Clemson University developed a Record of Reading (or Running Record) app where you can take a running record on the app.  This is great because all you have to do is type in the number of words and it will figure out accuracy and self correction ratios for you.  You can tap the error and self correct box and it will pop up the M S V analysis section for you to figure out.  The amazing part is you can email this running record in a PDF file to anyone–so the classroom teacher or principal or teacher leader, etc.  (I tried doing this, but I couldn’t figure out my email settings.  My Reading Recovery student laughed and put his head down at my technology illiteracy!)  You can even record your student reading and another iPad user can/could listen to the child reading when you send that user the record.  They recommend using a stylus pen, but I tried and it didn’t work for me.  Perhaps I just haven’t played with it enough.  To the right you can see the running record I took today.  It’s not super pretty, but it definitely is very neat.  This would be nice for those times that you might not have what you need for a running record.  I carry the iPad with me around all day to my different groups for whenever I might need to take a picture of something, video, or pull up Google to gather more information.  I think this could become super handy as well.

It’s been suggested to me that I download the ShowMe app and a story retelling app.  I haven’t played around with those yet, but I’m anxious to get started.  The world is my oyster.  If you have any recommendations for any great educational apps that I could use with my students please let me know.  I’m always looking for additional ways I can engage my students and help them grow as readers and writers while still making it fun.


UPDATE: After posting this blog, I had a technology teacher from the UK like this post and it took me to her blog where she does iPad app reviews.  She has a lot of really great resources so please visit The iPad Investigator to see some of the reviews if you are looking for good educational apps like I am.