It’s fun to try using digital texts and traditional texts alongside each other. Seeing how students interact with the same text presented in different ways is fascinating!
I tried using digital and traditional texts together while teaching about text structure this week. After an introduction to chronological order text, students read a text about how peregrine falcons raise their young. As they read, students circled the chronological order transition words they saw in the text.
We split the class into small groups to create a graphic organizer about the text. This was another pencil and paper activity.
Then, I worked individually with some students to revisit the text in digital form. (I wrote the text, so it was easy for me to add it to Frolyc.) The iPad offers some different affordances than the paper version, including the ability to hear the text read aloud.
Another affordance of the app Activity Spot is the easy addition of video. There is a detail in the text about how some fledgling peregrine falcons have to be rescued when they fly down from their nests and can’t find their way back home. A video showing a rescue highlights this detail and offers elaboration beyond what could be included in print.
Finally, students can answer multiple choice questions after reading the text on Activity Spot. These questions offer instant feedback and my students take them seriously. “Can I see my copy of the text again?” one struggling reader asked as she peered at a question. Now, this particular reader has a habit of answering multiple choice questions with careless, almost joyful abandon. A request to look back to the text was pretty amazing! I pointed out that she could get back to the text from the activity on the iPad. “I know, but I want to see what I underlined on my paper,” she said. When she fished out her paper text, she used the transitions to navigate to the exact place in the text where the answer could be found.
With a few other students, viewing the digital text became social. “Remember how they had to rescue the babies?” one student said. “Look at how they actually do that!” Then she pulled over some other students who had been in the small group and told them to watch the video.
”That reminds me of another book that I read in your room,” one quiet student said. “Where they have to go out at night and get the baby birds.” This student was remembering Nights of the Pufflings and was making a neat connection between the texts.
What I noticed is that there is no need to choose between digital texts or traditional texts. Each can help the other. In fact, experiencing the same text in multiple formats can help students to make richer connections and become aware of the affordances of each. As I continue with text structure, I can’t wait to add our core texts to Frolyc so that students can continue having experiences with both traditional and digital texts.
Frolyc is about empowering classroom teachers with tools to create lesson-based activities for their students. Our belief is that classroom teachers know their students the best, can differentiate and foster learning in ways that pre-made content cannot.
(Photo: Kyla Uribe’s class using Activity Spot app. Thank you, Kyla, for sharing this!)
In this post, we put the spotlight on five awe-inspiring teachers who are actively creating activities for their students and have integrated Activity Spot iPad app into their daily teaching routines.
Emily Kissner: 4th Grade teacher in PA
Sharla Wieting: 5th Grade teacher in TX
Melissa Vandermolen: Technology teacher & tutor in CA
Kyla Uribe: 1st Grade teacher in CO
Donna Miller: Librarian teacher in MA
Click on the links below the teacher’s info to view the activities they have created. Are you inspired?
Yes, you can create activities too! Here is how you can get started:
1. Think of a topic you are teaching.
2. Think of a question on the topic that involves writing or drawing.
3. Create an activity by using this question as the basis. It is as simple as typing the question into a form.
4. Publish to student iPads and have your students interact
5. Experiment, explore and see what you can do with Frolyc’s authoring tool.
Get started today!
Over the past three years, I have become convinced that short video clips (1-4 minutes) can be highly effective in helping students to learn new concepts. These clips can be as simple as time lapse videos of different locations or as complex as a highly produced educational song. Sometimes, I use a short video to start a lesson; at other times, I use video playlists related to a topic that I am teaching during transition times in the classroom.
I love using Activity Spot as a way to share videos. Students can view the videos that I have selected within the Activity Spot app on the iPad. Connecting the video to text helps students to make connections between what they read and what they see. I can also add questions to guide students to make connections between two different videos or between videos and text.
This week, students enjoyed these Activity Spot creations that include video, text, and questions.
Vernal Pool or Puddle?
Bodies of Water
Build a Butterfly Garden
When my students and I explore poetry, I love to go back and forth between whole-class experiences and individualized learning. When we read poems as a whole class, all students can join in the conversation and learning. When students read on their own, they have a more personal experience.
The Activity Spot app is a great way to structure individualized poetry experiences. Teachers can blend poems with questions, concept maps, and videos. These activities can be assigned to individual students, or become engaging partner and collaborative activities.
Here are ready-made poetry activities for Activity Spot. But don’t stop with these! With Frolyc, you can create your own activities to publish to student iPads. You can publish the activity to share only with your own students, or with others.
This grade 7 activity builds background knowledge about Emily Dickinson’s life and her poetry. It’s more of an invitation to reading poetry and may help some reluctant readers to see the value in Emily Dickinson’s works.
Poetry: Comparing Texts
This grade 5 activity includes 3 texts about the northern cardinal.
Comparing Texts: Poetry and Informational Text
This grade 5 activity includes a classic poem and a new informational text. Questions focus on interpreting metaphors and comparing texts.
Written for students in grades 3-4, this activity introduces similes and has students read and interpret similes in isolation and in connected texts.
Speaker in Poetry
The speaker in a poem is the individual who seems to be saying the lines. In this activity for readers in grades 3-4, readers will learn how to use text clues to find the speaker in a poem, listen to a classic poem read aloud, and compare the speakers in two poems.
What is the speaker’s attitude in a poem? This follow-up to “Speaker in Poetry” for students in grades 3-4 helps readers to use text clues to identify the speaker’s attitude.
Sound Devices in Poetry
Help readers in grades 4-5 understand the sound devices of rhyme scheme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia. Students will see examples in poems and videos.
Looking to see what students can do on their own? This poetry assessment for students in grades 4-5 includes three poems with questions related to figurative language, topics, and inferences.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Written for readers in grade 8, this activity includes a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson, a video of one of his poems, and questions to help readers analyze the similarities between one of Stevenson’s poems and essays.
You have assigned activities to your students to work on Activity Spot. Now, is there a simple way to view student interactions and responses for an activity? Can you gather all their written answers & drawings in one place? Can you take a step forward towards a student portfolio using their work on iPads? Yes!
This is how you access reports & responses:
- Login to Frolyc.
- Click on “Manage Activities”.
- Select the activity you want to view reports on and click on “View Student Performance”.
- Step #3 will take you into the reporting view for the activity.
- For each page in an activity, you will see reports or responses. Select the activity page and click “Show Reports” to see the responses.
Here are some screenshots of the types of reports you will see.
Activities that are automatically graded: You will see percentage correct for all activities that can be auto-graded. Example below:
For open-ended answers and drawings, you will see the actual response from the student. Examples below:
In summary, Frolyc makes it incredibly simple to
- assign iPad-based activities to students
- inspire them to learn, demonstrate & create
- and view reports & student responses in real-time.
My oldest son was not an avid reader at first. We went to the library every week, and he picked halfheartedly among the shelves. I love books, so imagine my chagrin when we would get to the end of a library visit (and at least five supportive book talks from me!) and he would say, “I didn’t find any books that I liked.”
In the middle of second grade, something changed. We found the airplane and flight section of the library. My son started checking out books—books that I was pretty sure were too hard for him, but books! I wasn’t sure how everything was going to turn out until one day he said, “Do you know the three basic principles of flight?”
"No," I said. "Do you?"
"Yes," he replied, and he went on to talk about what makes powered flight possible. Something was working! Even though I hadn’t been confident that he could understand the books he had chosen, motivation and background knowledge pulled him through. And we started to see a snowball effect—his reading about flight impacted his overall reading, and he transformed from a reluctant reader into a student who is never without a book.
The power of related texts
Related texts help readers to develop vocabulary and content knowledge. When readers see the same ideas presented in different ways and across different media, they build strong connections. For young readers, the power to follow personal interests can create a lifelong love of reading.
As it turned out, my younger son followed a similar reading trajectory—he didn’t want to spend any time or effort reading the primer books. Instead, he wanted big cat books with new information and interesting details. Reading about cheetahs and their spots helped him to learn the concept of camouflage; reading about how lions live in prides helped him to understand social groups.
With Activity Spot, you can create informational text sets and send them to student iPads. Connect text, videos, and activities like drawing and graphic organizers. Students can hear text read aloud for them, which makes this a great tool for readers who long for more complex text than what they can decode on their own.
You can create text sets for students or small groups, or create a text set for a class to share. It’s amazing to hear students talk about ideas that they have seen, and the different ways that these ideas are presented.
Here are some texts sets that are already created:
Polar Bears and Black Bears
Digging Mole Crabs
Exploring Tide Pools
The Mimic Octopus
Cheetah Cubs in Zoos
What Is a Creek?
Emily Kissner discusses facets of online reading that make it vastly different from reading a book or magazine. She says “No two readers have the same path to understanding from an online post”.
So, how do we build comprehension from reading online. See presentation below!
I love to teach literacy skills with sets of related high-interest texts. In science, texts about different ecosystems give students a glimpse of different habitats and experience with new vocabulary words.
In my classroom, I keep a set of picture books for each science unit. I get them out to use for morning work, sponge activities, and reading time. (Most of the books come from library used book sales…a great source of reading material!)
Here are some of my favorite books for teaching about ecosystems:
Who Eats What? Food Chains and Food Webs: This book is a great introduction to food chains.
A Place for Butterflies: In this book, author Melissa Stewart shows problems and solutions in the butterfly’s habitats.
A River Ran Wild: Beautiful illustrations highlight this story of the Nashua River over time.
One Small Square: Backyard: Many of my students know more about coral reefs and tropical rainforests than our own neighborhood ecosystem! This book has detailed illustrations that show the wonder of the habitats that students can find in their own backyards.
Aliens from Earth: When Animals and Plants Invade Other Ecosystems: The idea of invasive plants and animals is new to many students. This book presents the concept in an interesting, easy-to-read format.
The basic concepts of ecosystems—energy flow, habitat components, decomposers, and the changes that can happen in ecosystems—underlie many science texts. It’s so important for students to encounter these concepts, again and again!
Frolyc Ecosystems Activities
These activities are ready to send to student iPads. They could be used as activities for the whole class, remediation for kids who are lacking some key prior knowledge, or as enrichment for students who finish assigned tasks. These are also perfect for tutoring sessions!
Each activity includes text, videos, and photos. Students interact with the text and then complete the accompanying activities.
What Is a Habitat? In this activity, readers learn about the four components of a habitat.
Decomposers: Delightful or Disgusting? This activity introduces readers to decomposers and their importance in ecosystems. I love the videos, especially the compost time lapse!
Raising a Stink About Stink Bugs: In this activity, students learn about the impacts of the brown marmorated stink bug, a bug that was accidentally introduced to the eastern US.
Invasive Species: This article explains the effects of invasive species on ecosystems.
-by Emily Kissner
The compare and contrast text structure can be maddening to teach. On the one hand, the structure of the compare and contrast text structure is often very obvious. The transition words “on one hand”, “also,” “both” and “on the other hand” can be very easy for readers to find. On the other hand, the text structure can be difficult for readers to understand. Text structured this way has two topics. Given that the average person can keep 7 (+/-1) ideas in working memory at one time, compare and contrast text can put a load on working memory.
Entire books in this text structure are rare. Usually, authors use this text structure for short asides within a longer work. Paragraphs of compare and contrast often show how a place has changed over time…how you can distinguish one animal from another…how one historical event was different from another…how two colleagues or enemies shared traits.
As students read compare and contrast text, I like to have them use a chart to keep track of similarities and differences. The chart helps them to look at what aspects of the text they are comparing and contrasting. Here is an example from “Vernal Pool or Puddle?”
As you can see, it’s pretty simple. But it helps to show readers what aspects they are comparing. When readers can use a chart like this to compare items in text, it’s not hard to help them use the chart as a pre-writing tool and carry the same skills over to their writing.
If you’re looking for some compare and contrast texts to use in the classroom, here are several that are ready to assign to student iPads:
Polar Bears and Black Bears: This narrated text shows how two kinds of bears are similar and different. Grade 1.
Palm Trees and Pine Trees: An easy introduction to compare and contrast text, this article compares the two kinds of trees. Grade 3.
Cooking in a Colonial Kitchen: This text shows how colonial cooking compares to cooking today. Grade 3.
Vernal Pool or Puddle?: Readers learn how to tell the difference between vernal pools and puddles in this text. Grade 5.
Happy Australia Day!: In this text, readers see how Australia Day compares to Independence Day. Grade 5/6.
Hurricanes and Nor’easters: How do these storms compare? This text shows their similarities and differences. Historical accounts and firsthand recollections enrich the text. Grade 6.
A teacher posted this question on an iPad community today:
“Does anyone know of an app that will allow students to take a photo of a worksheet (math) and then write over the photo? I am needing an app for a 2nd grade special education student. Thank you in advance for your suggestions!”
There were several responses but none of them actually solve this classroom issue quite as easily & seamlessly as Frolyc & Activity Spot.
This screenshot below is 2nd Grade student Ben’s answer to the question above. Its a picture of a Math worksheet taken on iPad, annotated with Ben’s words and sent to his teacher. All of this accomplished in a few minutes without Ben having to switch between apps.
With Activity Spot iPad app, Ben, a 2nd Grade student, can
- read or listen to the question posed by his teacher
- take a picture of his Math worksheet easily
- Mark the green circles on it
- Write his name
- and send this to his teacher by clicking “Save”.
How does this all work?
Step #1: Ben’s teacher Jessica, creates a simple activity on Frolyc in 2 minutes and assigns it to him. Click here to see the activity.
Step #2: Ben opens Activity Spot and sees the activity.
#Step 3: Ben touches the activity to open it. He clicks on the icon to take a picture of his Math worksheet.
Step #4: Ben then marks the green circles on his picture and touches “Save”.
Step #5: His teacher Jessica instantly sees the annotated picture on her reporting console on the Frolyc website.
That’s it. Frolic!
Note: This post is dedicated to J. Miller who posted the question.