Classroom Website: Final Project

Please check out my classroom website. I had a little trouble loading up my homework page but also decided I do not want students doing there homework before school starts : )

Any feedback to help improve before the school year starts would be helpful…Thanks!


Final project 1: Digital Literacy Project

I decided to use my students during summer school to complete this project. My students this summer were mostly ELL and Special Education students. One of our main focuses for the summer was retelling both fiction and non-fiction stories. Then they would do their best (invented spelling) in writing a “summary”. I thought for a final activity for them it would be fun to create comic strips instead of writing a summary to show the main events in order.

First, we read the story “Franklin Fibs”, since our theme this summer had been reptiles and bugs. Students listened for the main parts in the story beginning, middle and end. We decided to include two middle parts since the story was longer and we didn’t want to leave out any main events. Next, students filled out a graphic organizer that would help them create their comic strip in periodic order. It included things such as characters, setting, and a beginning, middle and end “pie”. We filled this paper out as a whole group.

franklin 2 franklin 3

Finally, students were sent to the computer, with their papers as helpers, to create their comic of what happened in the story. We used the website Make Beliefs Comix to create our comic strips. Before heading  to the computer we talked about how there was no turtle animal for them to chose so they would have to find other characters represent Franklin and his friends.

Students had previous experience with this program earlier in the week during center time and as a whole group. During this time they got to experiment with the program and we learned how to use the controls.

Overall, students did an excellent job with their comic strips. We were able to show them on the smartboard when they were done and they retold the story to the class using their comic strips. I can’t wait to implement this activity again during the regular school year! Below are a few examples of their work!




Situated Language and Learning

I had a very tough time getting through this reading. I have probably played a video game of a total of 5 times in my life. As a child I never owned any gaming system or really ever played them with friends. Those 5 times were only played as an adult while baby sitting so relating to this reading was very hard for me. I really don’t enjoy the way that Gee writes or tries to relate everything about reading to video games. ( I get thats the point of his writing) Also, the fact that his examples just go on and on.

With that said, there are some points I could dig through that I do understand. The first being that kids these days can navigate there way through video games even though they cannot read. Most children do not read the directions to a video game, they just start to play and learn as they go. I believe Gee is relating this to reading as students need to be “embodied” in the reading in order to learn how to read. I guess I can agree with that on some level but still feel that the “directions” for reading need to be taught in order for students to be successful. This seemed like a very one size fits all kind of generalization.

Secondly, at the beginning of chapter 5 he discusses how we can have good learning from good video games. At first I thought about this very negatively. But then I read further and began to see his point. Children like the video games that are “hard”, engaging and take more time for them to complete. No child stays engaged in a short, quick and easy video game. “Shortening and dumbing games down is not an option, since most avid players don’t want short or easy games.” This is exactly what we should NOT do when teaching our struggling readers. Good teaching should be engaging and challenging. 

Another thing that was stated in chapter 5 that I feel very “grey” about is the statement that computer games have an advantage of motivation and engagement. Yes this is true. But it shouldn’t be that video games have this and teachers don’t. Our goal here then would be how can we integrate that same engagement and motivation into our classrooms. This should really be the goal of teachers today. How can we use what our students know and are interested in, such as video games, and apply this to our own teaching. I think that all the technology that we have access to today should work to our advantage and be much more predominate in our schools.

One question I am still left with is the idea of space versus community. After reading a whole chapter on it with the example being about AoM I am still pretty lost.

Fostering and teaching reading comprehension

This was yet another very informative reading. The author describes 10 essential elements of effective reading comprehension. For each one, they describe what this looks like, why it is important and a featured approach. These featured approaches were very interesting to read but seemed like a reach to turn key and use in my own classroom. Most of them were on specific curriculums used, that most teachers do not have access to.

One of the most interesting approaches I read about was The Seeds of Science/ Roots of Reading. This is a program that integrates science concepts are reading. The students read about different science concepts while practicing reading strategies. Teachers found out that students had a much higher comprehension rate when they were reading about interesting and engaging topics. I found this most interesting because our school does not have a specific time in the day to teach science. When we do have the time, over 90% of students are engaged and interested in what we are learning and what they are reading. They can connect the science topics to things in the real world, recall that knowledge at a later date and apply what they know to hands on experiments. This is exactly what we want our students to do during “reading time”. If I have the opportunity, hopefully in small group time, I will try to apply this concept and find interesting science topics for students to read about and practice our reading strategies with it.

Another helpful hint I read about was learning the balance that not every strategy needs to be used at once. If students continue to practice a concept too often, for example every day for two weeks, students will lose the comprehension and purpose of reading, which is to read and comprehend. In my own classroom, I like to see that students know how to use and apply the strategies when necessary. They shouldn’t be using every strategy and every graphic organizer all the time.

Leveled books, yay or nay?

In my classroom library I have a variety of books. I have easy readers, challenging books, and books organized by genre. I also have a separate library that is leveled by DRA reading level. I am very grey on the area of leveled texts. Every year I go back and forth about how I should organize my classroom library, by genre or by level. And every year I end up doing both.

I think that students need to read both what is appropriate for their reading level and something they want to read for enjoyment…even if they can’t really read it. I feel that when you start to tell students what their level is and what section of the library they can choose from, reading starts to seem not so fun. In their mind, there is always a section that is “off limits” to them and then reading starts to become “off limits” as well. I never want a student to feel like they can’t read a certain book or that it is out of their range. If they are interested in it then they should read it. This is why the majority of my classroom library is organized by genre or subject.

On the other hand I do think it is important for students to actually practice reading, therefore reading books at their level. A lot of the time I have students read their level books during centers and enforce some of the things we practiced in guided reading that day. Then when silent reading time comes after recess they can read a book of their choice.

The rule in my room is that they must always have two books in their desks at all times. One is a book that I help them pick out(aka leveled reading book) and the other is a book of their choice. Students don’t always know that the book I pick for them is on their level. I like to use this time to see what they are interested in and it is “alone time with the teacher” where we talk about books. They feel special rather than leveled.

The Slump(s)

Getting over the slump was a great read for me! I teach in the inner city with much diversity and could really relate to both educational gaps that were being discussed. I am very familiar with the 4th grade slump and even more so familiar with the Third Grade Promise which is hoping to help prevent the 4th grade slump. The cause of this slump was stated to be because of the lack of vocabulary. Today, learning in school is centered around academic vocabulary. As students move up in grades the academic vocabulary becomes harder and students fall farther and farther behind.

Something that was discussed in the article was that children in more poverty striken areas have a harder time with this academic language because they do not always have that “early home-based preparation”. I see this a lot in my own classroom. As part of the Third Grade Promise committee our goal is to engage parents more in the learning that happens in school and have it translate at home. We plan monthly projects to send home that parents can do with their children that are related to what we are practicing in school.

The second slump that was discussed was one I had never heard before but am very aware of. The “21st century slump” or technology slump. The thing I found interesting is that the two slumps are connected. Students who are having trouble reading and going to have trouble navigating through technology. As said in the article “Our old reading gap and our new digital one interact with each other. The old reading gap can only worsen as the high-tech digital world makes larger and more complex demands on literacy and content learning.” But teachers also need to be educated in how to teach using technology so that our students are properly prepared to be living and working in the 21st century.

I think this reading gave a lot of good suggestions on how to get us there but I don’t think that it is known by many people and/or educators.

Discussion Question: Module 3

Spelling is a big topic that has been discussed amongst my third grade team. We do not have a spelling program and our reading program does have one integrated into it either. One of the things I really like about taking classes while working is being able to turn key what I have learned. So my discussion question this week is not really a question at all. More of a place where people can share their ideas and experiences on spelling and word study in their own classrooms.
Please share one or two best practices that you have used, or researched, involving spelling and/or word study.


I have heard of the Words Their Way program but never had a chance to actually look at it. This reading was very knowledgeable for me, especially being able to identify the different levels that students were at in spelling. My school does not follow a spelling program and right now my team and I are trying to figure out what type of words to include in a list. This reading gave me a great insight that spelling is going to have to be differentiated to that students level. There cannot be one general list given out to the whole class anymore. Each group of students will have to be given an appropriate list of words based on their level.

I think I am going to suggest that at the beginning of the year we give a spelling inventory test to see which level of spelling development each student is at. This will give us a better idea of what type of words students will need to be exposed to in order to progress.

I also like how this chapter kept connecting spelling to both vocabulary and comprehension. It is so true that they all work simultaneously together. Most of the time students who are at the emergent level in spelling are also at that level of reading as well.

One question that I still have this reading briefly touched upon is the topic of invented spelling. As a third grade teacher, I feel that this argument comes up all the time. Should you let the students write what they hear or should you correct them and teach them the right way to spell it? I believe in letting the students spell what they hear. Generally going through the stages of spelling. But on the other hand, they are learning this so late in the game, is it beneficial still or are they going to be falling too far behind? What is the best practice for students who are in the upper grades but functioning at an emergent level?



As we read in the articles, students are influenced by their physical, social and cultural environment. The trend in this modules readings is that students learn and make meaning based on their experiences. Students from different backgrounds will learn differently and have different experiences. I added a bubble of my own called individual. I also believe that even though there are things going on around us, environmentally, students still have the ability to form their own thinking, beliefs and morals to help them make decisions and make meaning of what they are learning.