Posted in Apps, iLesson, Paperless

Inference iLessons

We’ve been working on inferring this week. Whew. Inferencing is not a concrete idea, and therefore it is something hard for my students to grasp. To help them focus on the skill of making inferences, and not on the challenge of reading, I presented activities in several modalities.We began by making observations and using those observations to support inferences in pictures. I loaded five different photos to a shared Dropbox folder and asked students to create T-charts in their interactive notebooks with observations on one side and inferences on the other. I tried to pick high interest pictures that would provoke ideas. The underwater hotel and sand-boarding picture got some great inferences.

 inference pics underwater hotel
kenny chesneyNext, we used Kenny Chesney’s song “The Boys of Fall” to make inferences. Given that reading is a challenge for my students, I love using song lyrics as text. Children can listen to the text aloud while also looking at the lyrics. We always listen to music twice. The first time we listen and soak it in, the second time I ask them to write down the lyrics. I always give the students a copy of the lyrics, but I’ve found that if the kids have to write them down, they are focused on the actual words and not on the tune. The task with this song was to infer that the song was about football. Students then had to support their inference with evidence from the text by highlighting portions of the lyrics.You're The DetectiveWe also used the app You’re the Detective to do some small group instruction. This app is full of various cases. We read the written case files aloud, investigated the picture, and then answered questions in an attempt to solve a mystery. In a way, isn’t inferring simply using clues to make a guess? The kids really did well connecting inferring to solving mysteries. This may have been the best connections lesson of the bunch.  If you want to know more about this app, you can read my review for Fun Educational Apps here.

Our performance assessment again involved pictures. Each child was given the same image. Students used the app Explain Everything to annotate the image and record their thoughts. Students were responsible for giving me two observations and two inferences about the picture.  By recording themselves talking about the picture, I got way better responses than I would have if I had asked them to write.

Posted in Apps, iLesson, iPod and iPad Implementation

Oh The Snowmanity! A Great App for Teaching Point of View

snowmanityJust a quick post about an app that is currently free.  Oh the Snowmanity! is a super cute story telling about the life of a snowman, through the snowman’s eyes.  The rhyming story is written in an engaging font that bounces around the screen and is narrated by an expressive voice.  It has a few interactions for readers, but the app is mostly about the story.  And the plot is great.  It tells the woes of a snowman’s life in a way that readers have probably never thought about.  From wondering why he’s got buttons but no jacket, to the horrible thing his new friend the dog does, the story is a really great example of how point of view affects the story.

My Pinterest board is currently full of ideas for winter writing.  Oh The Snowmanity would fit beautifully with a writing prompt like “If I lived in a snow globe…” or the prompts about melting snowmen.  We used it with our fifth graders today.  They’ve just done a writing project on perspective and building a snowman from the ground up.  Today we tried a Quick Write and asked the students to write a journal entry from the point of view of the snowman.  We used this app to get them started and give an example of point of view.  I think the biggest hook was the page of the book that talks about the beauty of the snow fall, but then tells how the snowman was freaked out by the bits of flesh falling on him.  It was definitely a light bulb moment for the my kids!  If you are looking for a great way to ease into integrating technology, this would be a great place to start.  Grab it for free before it goes back to full price.


Posted in website



I’m not sure how long it has been around, but is my new favorite teaching tool.  The site is a quiz generating site, one that has infinite customization options.  While there are science and vocabulary quizzes available, ThatQuiz focuses on math.

Teachers register for a free account and set up their classes.  Then users choose a quiz from the huge variety of pre-made quizzes.  The initial menu features Integers, Fractions, Concepts and Geometry.  Each of these is then broken down into various skills from Kindergarten to high school.  To make life even better, each quiz has many different customization options.  For example, in the homework assignment on time skills that I created I had to choose between 10-100 questions, one of four difficulty levels, time limit, order, simple clocks or elapsed time, addition or subtraction of time, converting time, or time zones.  Each concept has just as many, if not more, options for editing.  If you don’t like the questions featured, you can also create your own.  Or browse and download quizzes made by other educators.  I’m telling you, this site has unlimited possibilities.

The teacher’s grade book gives a quick overview of assignments. I have a pre-assessment and homework assignment setup for our time unit.

To make this site even better, it collects data on each of your children.  When a test is generated you are given a unique test code.  As long as the student has this code, they can access the test from anywhere.  Once they log in and take the test, you can analyze your grade book to see how the kids do.  You can also delete scores to allow children to retest.

This site is perfect for creating quick assessments to check student knowledge.  I love using a ThatQuiz as a pre-assessment to see what my students know before the start of a unit.  As you can see from our grade book on Time, I have some work ahead of me!  I also really like using it for homework.  I mostly hate assigning homework, but have certain requirements from my administration.  I’ll often assign a ThatQuiz for homework on Monday, but have it due on Friday.  Students without internet access then have a full week of homeroom or library time to get the assignment done.