TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Sep 4, 2016

Here are this week's features. Clicking the tags in the description area of each listing will present a list of other resources with this topic. | Click here to return to the Featured Sites Archive

 

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Reading Glue - James Stubblefield

Grades
1 to 7
1 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Track reading level changes, assessments, how much is read, and overall performance over time with Reading Glue's dashboard for parents and teachers. Turn reading logs into an online,...more
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Track reading level changes, assessments, how much is read, and overall performance over time with Reading Glue's dashboard for parents and teachers. Turn reading logs into an online, interactive experience for everyone. Use the teacher dashboard to take anecdotal notes, set goals, and see how each student is performing. Choose from a variety of activities using reading strategies like Prior Knowledge, Questioning, Making Connections, Inferencing, and more. Also, see a list of books to use with each of the reading strategies. The parent dashboard has reading levels, log entries, genre, student notes, and more. Parents can be signed up for more than one child. Everyone can use the virtual library to see if the local library carries the book you want to read. See titles by reading strategy and level. Parents will see if a book is below, at, or above their child's reading level. Teachers can add titles from their own libraries. Sign up using your email and password and receive a welcoming email with a video explaining how to set up a classroom, student accounts, and invite parents. You can also find these under the Help menu. It's all FREE!

tag(s): book lists (133), guided reading (45), independent reading (129)

In the Classroom

Create an account with your email. Create your dashboard by adding a class name. You can create multiple classes and groups within classes. Student accounts are created manually. Keep track of student performance by viewing the teacher dashboard where you can see student reading logs. Share this site with students (and parents at back to school night) using your interactive whiteboard or projector.

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TextProject YouTube Channel - TextProject, Inc

Grades
K to 9
3 Favorites 0  Comments
   
TextProject's YouTube Channel has many videos to provide support in reading instruction for beginning and struggling readers. Choose from playlists with subjects including Texts That...more
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TextProject's YouTube Channel has many videos to provide support in reading instruction for beginning and struggling readers. Choose from playlists with subjects including Texts That Teach, Literacy Leaders Answer CCSS Questions, Vocabulary Matters, Teaching English Learners Vocabulary, and much more. Click Playlist on the menu to see them all. Be sure to subscribe to this YouTube Channel to receive notification of new additions. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube.

tag(s): commoncore (95), literacy (106), professional development (156), reading comprehension (119), reading strategies (49), video (276)

In the Classroom

Share individual videos with parents to help them understand different reading strategies. Embed a video of the week on your class website or blog for parents. Share with colleagues as part of your ongoing professional development.

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Literably - Tyler Borek and Habib Moody

Grades
K to 8
4 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Use Literably to assess students' oral reading and comprehension. Literably will display a text, administer the reading assessment, score it, generate an audio recording, and keep a...more
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Use Literably to assess students' oral reading and comprehension. Literably will display a text, administer the reading assessment, score it, generate an audio recording, and keep a running record. It will also report words correct per minute, percentage accuracy, and a leveling recommendation. Literably also provides readers' Lexile measures, grade levels, and guided reading levels. Test comprehension levels using open response or multiple choice questions. Register with an email, and set up a class easily. Keep your username short for ease of registration by primary students. The free account allows for testing 5 students per calendar month. Student sign in is extremely easy, even for a first grader. Print results or email to parents for easy sharing. IMPORTANT Note: Results (accuracy and WPM) are not available instantly and take up to 18-24 hours to arrive via email or be posted on the site. Literably is compatible with most browsers, and there is a free iPad app.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): assessment (107), fluency (24), reading comprehension (119)

In the Classroom

After creating a class list, either choose readings based on your estimate for each student or let Literably choose them. You will need to demonstrate on a projector or whiteboard where to click to Allow the mike to work. Set up a center (or several) in your classroom and rotate students through it. The free account allows your to test five students, but there is a work around. If you have Gmail, you can use the subaccounts feature to create "new email addresses." See how to do this here. This tells how to set up Gmail subaccounts to use for any online membership service. Using Gmail subaccounts will allow you to test more than five students. The Literably results and ability to give parents expert feed back on their students literacy skills make creating Gmail subaccounts well worth your time! You will probably want to use headsets with microphones to limit distractions when using Literably. However, the built in microphone on the computer will work just fine. This tool is perfect for reporting to parents and administrators. It's also great for resource teachers to share during IEP meetings. Turn this assessment tool into a teaching tool by having students listen to their recordings and follow the text to pause the incorrect recording and read it correctly. Have them try the same reading again to see if they can improve their score.

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Buncee - Marie Arturi

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Buncee is a digital canvas for adding multimedia to tell and share stories. Give your canvas a title. Choose from tools to add interest such as photos, videos, audio, ...more
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Buncee is a digital canvas for adding multimedia to tell and share stories. Give your canvas a title. Choose from tools to add interest such as photos, videos, audio, stickers, and backgrounds. The free accounts allow for unlimited slides. Adjust privacy settings for private or public viewing and allowing comments. Publish and share using social networking options such as Facebook, Twitter, or email. Unfortunately, the teacher tools are not part of the free version. Use Buncee on the web on your computer or use iOS. The introduction video is hosted on YouTube. You may want to preview the "how to" video at home. If you wish to share it at school, bring the video to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the video from YouTube.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): digital storytelling (153), multimedia (63), slides (64)

In the Classroom

Create simple, yet effective, interactive lessons for viewing on your interactive whiteboard or projecter. Include video clips, images (JPGs only), and web links. Use Buncees in your flipped classroom for student viewing at home. Have students create and share their own Buncees for classroom presentations. Create an interactive Buncee for Open House and Meet the Parent sessions. Create a short story or a flip book (using Buncee) for your students to view on individual computers or your interactive whiteboard.

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Newsela - Matthew Gross

Grades
2 to 12
15 Favorites 1  Comments
Newsela is a data base of current events stories tailor-made for classroom use. Indexed by broad theme (e.g. War and Peace, Arts, Science, Health, Law, Money), stories are both student-friendly...more
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Newsela is a data base of current events stories tailor-made for classroom use. Indexed by broad theme (e.g. War and Peace, Arts, Science, Health, Law, Money), stories are both student-friendly and can be accessed in different formats by reading level. Use Newsela to differentiate nonfiction reading. Newspaper writers rewrite a story four times for a total of five Lexile levels per story. Many stories also have embedded, Common Core aligned quizzes that conform to the reading levels for checking comprehension. In addtion, each article has a writing prompt which is also designed to assess reading comprehension. An account is required to use Newsela, both for teachers and for students, but students sign up using a teacher or parent provided code rather than an email address. Teachers can create classes and assign reading-level specific articles to individual students, or download printable PDF copies of the article in any of its reading-level versions. There is an upgraded fee-based Pro Version which allows teachers or administrators to track reading progress, but most of the features are free and there is no advertising.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): differentiation (49), guided reading (45), independent reading (129), news (265), reading comprehension (119)

In the Classroom

Achieve two goals here: help students improve their reading comprehension and keep them current with what is happening in our nation and the world. When assigning articles, choose to have the class read at one reading level, or choose individuals and set the reading level for them. There are five categories from which to choose. You may want to set up different articles at different learning stations on the computers in your room. Have the students rotate daily through the stations, completing one or two a day until they have completed all five articles. Since Newsela is cloud based, even absent students can complete the missed work easily. Teachers of gifted students can use this site to accelerate or enrich reading for students. Find each students individual levels for reading nonfiction. Teachers of Learning Support and ELL students will love this alternate way for their students to meet current events requirements.

Comments

This is an excellent site and allows differentiation while everyone is reading the same text. Renee, NC, Grades: 0 - 5

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UtellStory - utellstory.com

Grades
1 to 12
14 Favorites 0  Comments
 
UtellStory is a multimedia storytelling and sharing community. Easily create and share stories with audio, image, video, and words. Create an account using email information or login...more
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UtellStory is a multimedia storytelling and sharing community. Easily create and share stories with audio, image, video, and words. Create an account using email information or login with Facebook to begin. Upload slide(s) from your computer, create a text slide, or insert YouTube or Vimeo video links. Free accounts may make up to 24 slides. Arrange slides in your preferred order after upload. Add background audio or change background style. Record your own audio for each slide or choose from existing mp3 files on your computer. Insert when finished. Audio in the free version is up to 30 seconds per slide. Preview and make changes as desired. Save to your account and return if not finished. When complete, choose from publish as a story or publish as a topic. Publish as a topic allows others to share and add to the story. Share your story using your custom URL, embed into your website or blog using the code provided, or share using social media buttons provided. This site could be used with all ages. However, with younger students, an adult would need to offer a lot of support. At the time of this review, all of the stories on the homepage were "kid-appropriate." However, be sure to preview before you share! The educator tools for managing student registrations are not free.

tag(s): digital storytelling (153), images (274), multimedia (63), slides (64)

In the Classroom

UtellStory is a great way for students to create and share short stories about things that they photograph. Have students take pictures during field trips to use in an UtellStory report about what they saw and learned on the trip. Photograph steps of a science experiment. Or have students search for Creative Commons and Public Domain images to use as part of an audio slideshow biography about a notable person in history or tell the story of the water cycle or other process. Try using 4 Free Photos, reviewed here, or Compfight, reviewed here, to find free images. Create a UtellStory to use for review of classroom topics or to demonstrate how to perform different steps in a math problem. Have students create UtellStory presentations demonstrating learning in any subject area such as Civil War Events, different characteristics of animals, etc. Create a UtellStory for your elementary classroom: upload a picture that each student has drawn and have students narrate the picture in their own words.

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The Readability Test Tool - Dave Taylor

Grades
K to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
Find readability scores for web pages and word documents in an instant! Upload a word document or enter a site url to begin. Readability tests include Kincaid, ARI, and five ...more
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Find readability scores for web pages and word documents in an instant! Upload a word document or enter a site url to begin. Readability tests include Kincaid, ARI, and five other indexes. View sentence info such as total characters, number of words, average word length, percentage of short and long sentences, and more. View word usage of types of verbs, conjunctions, and other parts of speech as well as type of words used to begin sentences. Click the link provided to view an explanation of each type of score.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): independent reading (129), readability (7), reading comprehension (119)

In the Classroom

Upload word documents to view instant feedback on readability, including the directions you write for assignments. Challenge students to make changes to their own writing and increase sophistication of their writing to a level appropriate for their own grade. Talk about how readability works: the types of sentences that make a passage "higher" level, sentence length, etc. Test passages of public domain texts from sites like Project Gutenberg, reviewed here, by famous authors to see how their writing ranks when discussing their writing style. View readability levels of websites before sharing with students to find appropriate reading levels for differentiation.

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TV411 - Reading - Education Development Center, Inc.

Grades
6 to 12
5 Favorites 1  Comments
  
Find entertaining videos, web lessons, and downloads to support learning about reading comprehension, test prep, and libraries and books at TV411. Each video includes a short description...more
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Find entertaining videos, web lessons, and downloads to support learning about reading comprehension, test prep, and libraries and books at TV411. Each video includes a short description of contents, then just click to view the video. Below the video text includes skills addressed. For example, the video Dorothea Lange, Photographer addresses the skill of reading pictures. Skills addressed include summarizing, point of view, newspapers, highlighting, and study skills. Most videos are approximately three to five minutes long and include links to related web lessons and print-ables to download. Although this site was originally created for adult English language learners, it would be useful with all secondary students.

tag(s): context clues (8), maps (293), news (265), newspapers (97), poetry (224), point of view (9), summarizing (15), word study (79)

In the Classroom

View videos on your interactive whiteboard as part of your reading comprehension or study skills unit. Use on an as-needed basis to address classroom deficiencies in particular areas. Have students complete the web lessons on their own during computer center time. Create links to certain videos on your class website or blog for students to view at home. Check out the Teachers portion of the site to find activities for improving or introducing skills along with ideas for using the videos in the classroom. Challenge students to create a talking avatar using a photo or other image (legally permitted to be reproduced). The avatars can be used to provide suggestions for study skills and improving reading comprehension. Use a site such as Blabberize, reviewed here.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

Comments

This is an excellent site with a variety of short videos for concept instruction. Patricia, NJ, Grades: 6 - 12

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ReadWorks - ReadWorks.org

Grades
K to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
  
ReadWorks provides a free, research-based, and Common Core-aligned reading comprehension curriculum for grades K-6. Search through hundreds of lesson plans organized by grade level,...more
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ReadWorks provides a free, research-based, and Common Core-aligned reading comprehension curriculum for grades K-6. Search through hundreds of lesson plans organized by grade level, topic, or book titles. Register to download materials and save lessons to your folder. (A valid email and password is required). Other areas of the site provide information about using and teaching the provided lessons and differentiation. Choose the non-fiction portion of the site to obtain over 1,000 reading passages along with question sets to support learning activities for grades K-12. Click on the skill/strategy link located by a passage to find other material addressing that skill.

tag(s): characterization (16), context clues (8), figurative language (16), guided reading (45), independent reading (129), main idea (9), parts of speech (68), plot (10), point of view (9), reading comprehension (119), reading strategies (49), sequencing (31), themes (12), vocabulary (324)

In the Classroom

This site is a must. Bookmark ReadWorks for access throughout the year. Search for lessons addressing specific skills to use in your classroom. Share with others in your building, and be sure to check out the 5th and 6th grade novel study units for classroom use, perhaps with gifted 3rd and 4th graders too!
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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inklewriter - Joseph Humfrey and Jon Ingold

Grades
4 to 12
10 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL....more
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Create interactive, choose your own adventure (branching) style stories with inklewriter. This site is ideal for anyone to create a story and then share with others via a unique URL. These stories allow for others to create their own path or choose an existing one. Begin by choosing to read stories or create your own. Type parts of the story including the title, author, beginning, introduction, and add sections as needed. After each paragraph is the option to create different outcomes of the story, offering choices the reader makes. The site contains excellent tutorials for getting started with stories. When finished, share the URL for your story using Twitter or Facebook or copy the URL to share and bookmark as you wish. Of course, your "story" need not be fiction! You could also write an opinion piece with branches for people to ask click on questions about facets of your argument! NOTE: When you click to begin writing, you should click SIGN IN and choose to make a new account. Do this before you start writing in order to be able to save. The tool will then save your work as you go along. Although you do not HAVE to sign in before you start, it is risky to sign up later! Here is a sample to show just ONE way to use Inklewriter besides the obvious use for storytelling. Inklewriter has also made it easier for teachers to sign up students WITHOUT student email addresses. Read the directions about how to do this on the landing page by scrolling down and finding "Sign-up and email addresses."
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): creative writing (171), digital storytelling (153), narrative (22), persuasive writing (56)

In the Classroom

View stories on the site together to understand the components of the site and discuss how different choices in characters and settings lead to different story outcomes. (Be sure to preview stories before sharing, since there is "public"' content.) Watch the tutorials together on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) before students begin to write stories. Use a graphic organizer to "map out" the story before writing. Create a short story together as a class to become familiar using the site. Assign a group of students to create an interactive story each week to share on your classroom website or blog. Have students create a story map before beginning a story on inklewriter; use a tool such as 25 Language Arts Graphic Organizers, reviewed here. Create class stories to teach about literature, geography, reading comprehension, history, science concepts, and more. As a more "serious" approach, use Inklewriter to present opinion pieces where you take a position and allow readers to click on questions about it. They could also click on statements expressing opposing views so you can write counterarguments to their points. This could end up being a powerful way to present an argument and evidence as required by Common Core writing standards. A graphic organizer for planning and organizing evidence is a must! Teachers of gifted could use this for students to develop elaborate fictional or informational pieces. If you work with students who struggle, scaffold with a template for them to organize their thoughts.

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DOGOnews - Meera Dolasia

Grades
2 to 12
15 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Need kid-friendly online news? This safe site, written for kids, by kids, offers news from a younger point-of-view. You can create a class page where you can load a variety ...more
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Need kid-friendly online news? This safe site, written for kids, by kids, offers news from a younger point-of-view. You can create a class page where you can load a variety of articles, add a book list, a calendar, favorite sites list, add lesson plan instructions, monitor student comments, and more. DOGOnews is kid friendly, colorful, and flexible. After all, DOGO means young or small in Swahili. You can select articles from a number of categories (Social Studies, Science, World, Current Events, etc.). There is an integrated dictionary for challenging words and maps for geographical context. Some of the articles include short video clips. Students may leave brief comments about each article (no login required). Also, typing the word "video" in the search box will bring up the Video of the Week for the past several weeks. The videos reside on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, the videos may not be viewable. You could always view them at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as Freemake Video Converter, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube. In addition, find a Book and Movie section with a brief summary for the book or movie, and comments. You don't have to join to read the articles, but you do need to join to create a class page. There are many benefits to creating a class page, and it's all free! Don't want to create a class page? You can also embed articles on your current web page.

tag(s): news (265), reading comprehension (119), sports (98)

In the Classroom

Non-fiction reading and background knowledge have found a new emphasis with The Common Core State Standards. It is more important now than ever to help connect students with quality, non-fiction reading and viewing material. Find great news resources and videos of the week to create assignments for your class at DOGOnews. You may want to create a class page and load several news articles. Have students choose from the articles, and email it to themselves. Have students print out the article and complete a "close reading" of the article by annotating it. Then have students who chose the same article get together in groups to discuss their reactions about the article, create a summary together, and create four or five open-ended questions about the article. Lastly, create groups of four, with each student having a different article, and have them present their article to the others in the group and ask them their open-ended questions to trigger a discussion. Create a class magazine from the articles. Or better yet, have students create a multimedia presentation using UtellStory, reviewed here. This site allows users to narrate a picture. Challenge students to find a photo (legally permitted to be reproduced), and then narrate the photo as if it is a news report. Strengthen reading comprehension by having an 'article du jour' on your interactive whiteboard or projector as students arrive. Link this site on your homepage.

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Spreeder - 7-Speed-Reading

Grades
7 to 12
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Learn to read at a faster pace with much better reading comprehension using Spreeder, a free online speed reading service. Use passages of your choice by simply loading (or copy ...more
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Learn to read at a faster pace with much better reading comprehension using Spreeder, a free online speed reading service. Use passages of your choice by simply loading (or copy and paste) the text, and Spreeder will pace through it at a speed you set. You can adjust your speed as your reading comprehension increases. There is also a feature to increase "chunk" size, an effective strategy used in reading instruction. Get the free app for Chrome or use the practice box on the site. There is a paid "training" portion for this tool. This review is only for the free portion.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): reading comprehension (119), test prep (96)

In the Classroom

In this era of high-stakes testing, it is imperative that students be able to read and comprehend at an expected rate in order to complete the tasks within the designated time. Think about the implications for improving state test scores and PSAT or SAT college entrance exams! Demonstrate Spreeder on your classroom projector or interactive whiteboard by copying and pasting practice passages from your state's Department of Education link to state testing. Link to SAT practice sites such as College Board SAT Preparation Center, reviewed here, or Test Prep Review, reviewed here. Provide opportunities for students to try it on individual classroom computers. Provide a direct link to Spreeder from your classroom web page or wiki. This will enable motivated students to take charge of increasing their own reading speed, or you may want to incorporate it with homework assignments and make parents aware of it.

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Starfall - Starfall Education

Grades
K to 3
2 Favorites 0  Comments
 
Find interactive reading activities for emergent/beginning readers at Starfall. It combines instruction in letter-sound relationships, word recognition skills, and reading comprehension...more
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Find interactive reading activities for emergent/beginning readers at Starfall. It combines instruction in letter-sound relationships, word recognition skills, and reading comprehension strategies. Seasonal activities can also be found on the main page. The four "levels" of reading at Starfall include "ABCs," "Learn to Read," "It's Fun to Read," and "I'm Reading." There is also a premium option, this review is only for the free interactives. The app (available on iOs, Google Play and Kindle Fire) offers more free intereactives than the web version.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (170), phonics (71)

In the Classroom

This website could be used for an entire class using your interactive whiteboard or projector. You could also set up a learning center for use during your L.A. block. Use this site to differentiate reading levels for your students. Be certain to save this site in your class favorites and list this site on your class website for students to access both in and out of the classroom.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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Johnnie's Story Page - Johnnie Wilson

Grades
K to 12
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This website offers a compilation of links to interactive stories designed in the categories of Beginning Readers, Classic Stories, and Older Readers. The site was created by Johnnie...more
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This website offers a compilation of links to interactive stories designed in the categories of Beginning Readers, Classic Stories, and Older Readers. The site was created by Johnnie Wilson, a mentor math coach and former 5th grade teacher. He has found the "best of the best" interactive stories and activities on the web! The reading levels vary, so preview the stories before sharing them with your students.

tag(s): spelling (168)

In the Classroom

What a fabulous way to share classic stories, fables, fairy tales, and myths! Use your interactive whiteboard or projector to introduce your students to these wonderful stories. Use this website in your language arts classes, special education classes, with your ESL and ELL students to share these classic stories, or the other topics provided. Challenge your gifted students to create new "classics." Have students investigate the sites on their own (using headsets). Save this site as a favorite on your classroom computers. With elementary students use this site during your language arts block, use this website as a learning center for students to explore independently. (Be sure to provide headsets). Don't forget to list this link in your class newsletter or on your class website, so students can practice their reading skills at home or maintain skills during vacations.
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