Tag Archive: iPad

1st Grade Hybrid

IMG_8056My 1st graders have been doing an Interactive Writing/Guided Reading Plus hybrid.    They aren’t quite ready to transition fully into Guided Reading Plus, but they don’t solely need Interactive Writing…so we’ve been doing both!  We’ve been reading a new book every three days.  We do a lot of building words, word work, etc. to build our reading and writing vocabulary to give the needed boost.

On the 2nd day we write a group message based on the story we read the previous day.  Each student gets to pick a sentence they want added to the group message.  This is the exact same process that Kindergarten does, except we write about the book instead of a labeled picture.  We don’t label a picture in 1st grade.

On the 3rd day we do something that looks a little bit different.  I have 4 students so I have 4 rotations.  The full 30 minutes just proved to be too much time for them all to write so I switched it up since we have multiple needs.  (I wish I had pictures of this, but I am SO busy during this 30 minutes I don’t have time to take any pictures!)

Rotation 1: write an individual message about the story we read.  The student tells me their message before they start so I can write it down. When they are finished writing (about 7 minutes per rotation) I conference with that student about their writing.

Rotation 2:  Rereading the story while Ms. Acuff takes a running record.  This allows me to track individual reading progress and collect data weekly on each student to make sure I’m providing the correct level of instruction.  I also get to talk to students about strategies they are using and provide positive feedback for growth.

Rotation 3: ipad!!  Woo hoo we love the ipad!  We play a word building and writing game on the ipad that incorporates high frequency words they need to know!

Rotation 4: ipad!!  Woo hoo!  We love getting to use the ipad AGAIN!  This time we play a sound sorting game of some kind.  This could either be vowel sounds, rhyming sounds, beginning sounds, or ending sounds. This game changes each time, but sounds are important so we continue to work on them!

My 1st graders are HARD WORKERS and they keep me VERY busy during our 30 minute session.

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!

Combo Interactive Writing


This year one of my groups include a 1st/2nd grade combo and it’s fun having kids from different grade levels.  So if you see me talking about my “combo kids” you’ll know it’s my group with both grade levels in it.

IMG_5182This group is working on Interventions That Work’s Interactive Writing.  We have been working on letter identification, letter sounds, word building, directionality, and word by word matching.  I JUST received another iPad from Donor’s Choose (Thank you!) so some of our word work is able to be done on the iPad since both boys have one to use.  You can see them above working on beginning sounds.  It’s just a nice way to differentiate what we are doing.

We started out with a group poem that helped us work on fluency, directionality, and word by word matching.  Kacie Rogan, one of our 2nd grade teachers, came in to observe us on day 1 since she will also be doing Interactive Writing with some of her groups in her classroom so it was nice to have another teacher in to watch.

After we worked on our poem we wrote a group message and worked on building up some more known words such as has, red, go, we, will, or.  We are wanting to see some rapid acceleration in letter ID and known writing vocabulary.IMG_5176

Once we created our group message we then extended our message by writing individual messages.  Once the kiddos were finished with their individual message then I was able to conference with each child and check the sounds they correctly produced in their words.  We are working hard on stretching the word out and writing all the sounds we hear.  Keep checking back on us and see how we work to be the best readers possible.

iPad Accommodations

IMG_1962We are full swing in end of year testing with our kiddos currently.  This can be a really stressful time for our kiddos who have worked REALLY hard all year long and have made so much growth.  It can get easy to focus so much on a number, when we, as teachers, parents, teacher colleagues know there is so much more.

It’s hard to have to tell students they didn’t “beat the timer” for fluency so we have to move to a lower level–especially when these students can accurately read on grade level.  Fluency continues to be an area of focus I work on with many of my students.  It unfortunately holds several students back from technically being considered on grade level.

Some students go into the testing portions of the year already feeling defeated.  I’m blogging today to get your thoughts:

  1. What do you do to help your students go in without the defeated mentality?
  2. What are some possible special accommodations that you utilize with your students during testing times to get them motivated or keep them motivated?

While at one of my CIM (Comprehensive Intervention Model) OPD (On-going Professional Development) (Have I used enough acronyms for you today? Ha!) the Special Needs CIM Coach brought up the idea of taking pictures of the books and having the child be able to read the book from the iPad.  This had never occurred to me as being something I could do.  For one of my students, he really doesn’t want to do the tests.  Despite whatever way I spin it, it just isn’t his forte.  I checked in on him several days with him begging not to go before I suggested to his teacher that we put his books on the iPad.

This seemed to be the trick.  While this isn’t appropriate for all of our students, it’s nice when we can make special accommodations for students to help with incentives and motivation.  I was blown away by how considerably better the reading was on the iPad (for the same exact books mind you) than in December when we had tested previously.

So what are some accommodations you use to help your students during these last few weeks?  It can be a rough time on ALL of us as we are anxious to be outside, some students are anxious to not be at school with the structure, etc.  Let’s all hang in there together!

3rd Grade: Rocks and Minerals

IMG_9117My 3rd graders have spent the last week working on a high interest non-fiction book from National Geographic Kids called Rocks and Minerals.  We started by making a list of what we knew about rocks and minerals and where we thought we could find them.  Initially when we started the kiddos thought rocks and minerals were just the round things we find on the ground out in the woods or lakes.  It was fun to see their learning grow about how rocks are all around us almost everywhere we look.

IMG_9120We learned about the 3 types of rocks: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic rocks and charted the differences on an anchor chart we hung up throughout the entire book and process.

At the end of the book the author told us rocks are everywhere and listed how different rocks are used to make buildings.  Both 3rd graders noticed their counters in their kitchens matched the marble and granite looking rock in the book.  They were surprised that rocks really were EVERYWHERE.

From there I took the kids on a mini-field trip around our building.  The kids took the ipad and were able to take pictures of everything in our building that was made out of rocks or appeared to be made out of rocks and minerals in some way, shape, or form.  We printed off the pictures and using IMG_9121the anchor chart and the book we categorized the pictures we had taken around the school to figure out if our building was made out of igneous, sedimentary, and/or metamorphic rocks.

After they labeled the parts of our school then they had to write about the different parts of our school and what they were made out of.  We learned that our school was made mostly out of sedimentary rock even though igneous rock makes up most of the world’s rocks.

I brought in a bunch of rocks from my son’s rock collection for them to analyze and categorize whether they were igneous, sedimentary, or metamorphic rocks.

IMG_9122I was extremely impressed with the information and facts they kept talking about and having a discussion over.  Rocks are everywhere!  I’m proud of all the great work 3rd grade did with their rock and mineral study.

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.

IMG_8087The iPad arrived today and I just want to again thank the following people for their extremely generous donations:

  • John and Julie Nystrom
  • Nicole Britzman
  • Alison Britzman
  • Mark Britzman
  • Sharon Britzman
  • KIA Motors
  • Lynn Booth
  • Gretchen Webster
  • Patricia from New Jersey
  • Yellow Chair Foundation
  • Erin Rosburg

I saw some of the biggest smiles I have ever seen when I introduced the iPad to my students today.  Some had never even seen or touched an iPad today.  They couldn’t believe that they were actually going to get to use one.  In the photo above you can see one of my students working on letter formation.  I am looking forward to sharing more pictures as the year progresses.


Donors Choose & KIA

Hi there–would you be willing to donate to my project to get an ipad for my beginning and struggling readers?  KIA has agreed to pay for half of my project for an ipad for my students to accelerate reading skills. I also qualified for an additional promotion where money is matched. so essentially for every $1 someone donates, KIA and Donors Choose donate $3. Last year I was able to do a lot more with the ipad until budget and staff changes were made and the reading teachers no longer had access to an ipad.   It would help me out tremendously to donate even $1. You have to enter in coupon code ‘inspire’ at the check out to get the donation matched, which they are only offering until Thursday. 

Most of the things I post on my blog are with the help of an ipad.  I would love to be able to continue to share all of our successes with you through your generous donation.

The link to my project is: http://www.donorschoose.org/project/ilearn-with-an-ipad/1059688/?utm_source=FB&utm_medium=FBactivityfeed&utm_content=title&utm_campaign=promo_partial


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.