Sunday, December 30, 2012

Talking WeeMee

Using the Talking WeeMee App to Record Student Reading Fluency

I was looking for a way to provide ways for my students to record their reading in order to build fluency.  As we all well know, one of the best ways to "drive a point home" in terms of students and their reading is to have a student LISTEN to how they actually sound when they read aloud.  Case in point...I had a student who had a "Happy Swede" thing going.  When she'd read aloud, she'd insert an "a" into her words.  It sounded like this:  "aOnce upon a timea, a littlea girla wasa walking..."  (You get the point!)

Anywho, having my student really listen to what she sounded like did worlds of good...and the problem was corrected quite quickly.  In order to do this, we used Garage Band on the Mac to record her read-aloud.

Now, with iPods and iPads, there are more portable options to record my students read-alouds.

I've used the AudioBoo App to record my students reading and AudioBoo is really quite effective, however, it lacks a bit in terms of "kid appeal."  

Enter Talking WeeMee.  This App can be purchased on iTunes for $0.99 and is designed for the iPhone and iPod Touch, however, it works great on the iPad as well!  The great thing is that you can email the final "video" to yourself or your student's inbox or you can post it to a FaceBook page easily within the App.  I've actually sent these to a few of my student's parents and have received rave reviews.  An added benefit:  parents actually watch and LISTEN to these clips.  This is, in my opinion, a much better way to present feedback to least better than a paper report!

The student can choose an "avatar,"  a background and a "voice" for the personalized WeeMee.  In order to have the student really "hear" his/her reading, I insist on using the "Normal" voice.  Try the "Chipmunk" voice just for fun, but a student should really hear himself/herself in order to get the most out of this App.

Talking WeeMee only records 20 second clips, but in 20 seconds you can really get a feel for how a student sounds and how fluent he/she is with their reading.

My fourth graders love the interactivity of using Talking WeeMee to record their reading and the clip gives a quick taste and a wonderful snapshot of student reading fluency.  All 23 of my students have grown at least 2 reading levels since I started using Talking WeeMee with them during our Reading Fluency stations.  It's kid-friendly, easy to use, and easy to access as a video clip.

There are bunches of these Talking WeeMees on youTube.  Check them out!


Sunday, December 16, 2012

Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Friday was an ordinary day.  Teachers dressed for work and pulled together the final few items they needed to make an ordinary Friday feel extraordinary for their little ones.  A principal went over the mental notes needed to organize the day ahead.  Parents kissed their little ones and sent them off to a school day filled with learning and laughter.

But Friday was far from ordinary...extraordinary circumstances turned classroom teachers and a principal into heroes...small children became leaders as they helped their classmates out of a catastrophe that none of us can ever imagine.

Our weapons are few...we come only with quick minds and more love than any one heart can really hold.

And as we've all watched from the sidelines with horror, one thing stands out...this could be any of us, on any given day.

Aside from my faith, the only thing that gives me hope is that I know of NOT ONE SINGLE TEACHER who wouldn't do the same as our brave colleagues at Sandy Hook.  That's right...every teacher I have ever known would do the same...put their lives behind that of their students.

In honor of the staff and students at Sandy Hook Elementary, I'm observing a day of silence.

At this time of the year, under these circumstances, it would be easy to just take the path of least resistance and get by for the next few days.

On Monday, in their honor, I'm teaching OUT OF MY MIND!  For them.  For my kiddos.  For the families who trust me with the ultimate honor...teaching their children.  For me.  

Join me.