Archive for October, 2008


After a long week, I opted to spend the evening catching up on my technology fun and exploration. First activity, catch up on blog reading. It was in Larry



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Great news! Through The Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Connecticut State Library, New Canaan Library acquired some AT for public use.

In the Children’s Room, they’ve added touch screen monitors, big key keyboards, adaptive mice and an adjustable height table. I’m excited by the software features they’ve acquired as well, Word Q word prediction and BrainPop, a website. These are two of my favorite tools.

Word Q assists students with slow keyboarding or dyslexia. Word Q is word prediction software and adjusts to the individual user’s language. Word Q predicts the next word in sentence. The more often a word is used the higher it moves on the prediction list. As a student types a letter, a list of frequently used words appears. The student may continue typing to change the list until finding the needed word. Either using the mouse, number line or number pad, and the student will insert the word into the sentence.

Another plus with Word Q is the speech feedback component. User can elect to have individual words spoken to them, or sentences or entire paragraphs. This is a wonderful way for users to keep their thoughts on target, especially if they are very slow in formulating sentences or keyboarding.

Homophones, similarly sounding words that are spelled differently and having different meaning, are very confusing. For example, witch and which. Word Q helps users select the correct word through sample sentences. Each homophone has a little arrow next to it in the prediction list. By hovering the cursor over the word, the sentence will be revealed and read to the user. An example sentence for witch: The witch rode a broomstick. That sentence paints a clear image for the user reinforcing the classroom lessons.

Brainpop provides short movies introducing a specific topic. They cover all educational areas including social studies and science, as well as health, technology, arts and music. Toby and Moby explore a question and provide the answers in a simple approach. They do not share extra information, just the bare bones. Important vocabulary or information is provided in writing as it is discussed. The written word along with the explanation reinforces note taking strategies for young students.

Besides the large library, Brainpop checks on viewer comprehension with a 10 question quiz. The quiz may be taken on paper (and turned in to a teacher), graded immediately on the internet, or reviewed (leading viewers to the correct answer before moving on). Brainpop experienced wonderful feedback that it began a kindergarten to third grade counterpart and a Spanish counterpart. What a wonderful extension for students struggling with the language and curriculum.

I feel that Brainpop is a wonderful pre-teaching and review tool for all students. I’m thrilled that New Canaan Library has added it to their expanding list of resources.

Stop by New Canaan Library and check out the new technology resources. Kudos!

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All students learn new vocabulary in almost every class. The traditional method for learning and practicing new vocabulary is flash cards. I recall learning my addition and subtraction facts with flash cards. Sitting around the dining room table, my parents would quiz me with flash cards. The facts I knew were retired to one pile, while we actively practiced the facts. Those are fond memories now, but I also recall being frustrated with the tedious repetition.

As a young adult working as a nanny, I used flash cards similarly. The young children I worked with needed practice reviewing their math facts, so we purchased a set of already made flash cards. Recommendations and games were included in this set. These games provided alternative application of the knowledge and fun. We had fun while learning our facts. It was not quite a chore.  Flashcards remain a wonderful learning tool.

Since my return to college, I also returned to flash cards. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to stop by Staples and buy packs of index cards, nor do I have the time to handwrite the terms and definitions. One night I was reading a blog by Larry Ferlazzo. (Larry teaches ESL in California and incorporates technology into his classroom whenever he can)  He mentioned Quizlet for students learning vocabulary. Immediately I jumped to quizlet and explored the site. I found it easy to use and fun. I began creating my own sets.

I created the chart below with the pros and cons of traditional flashcards and quizlet.

Traditional Flashcards

Online Quizlet

·        Purchase index cards

·        Cost money

·        Handwrite terms and definitions

·        Use rubber band to keep them together

·        Keep in backpack (risk losing, forgetting, or ruining individual cards or whole pack)

·        Mobile

·        Personalize with pictures

·        Premade flash cards cost ~$6.00

·        Create user

·        Free

·        Practice keyboarding (which is often faster than handwriting)

·        Always legible

·        Always available on the web

·        Never have to look for your old flashcards

·        Create groups of peers

·        Share with friends (split the list and save time)

·        Can locate similar list and modify as needed (useful for SAT vocabulary or foreign language)

·        Has review games

·        Test your knowledge

·        Immediate feedback

·        Data collected (which words do you need to study)

·        Print or export list

·        Requires computer and internet



My favorite feature as a teacher and student is the data collection. In one quick click, I see my most challenging words. I extract those words and create another set, giving me opportunities to focus on those words. It allows me to monitor my knowledge.

Another feature I appreciate is the test. Test formats include written, multiple choice, matching and true or false. I can specify the test to include both terms and definitions or just one. Immediately after I finish the test, I know my results and the correct answers.  Beware: quizlet will mark answers incorrect if the spelling is wrong.

I shared this site with some students I work with as well as a few teachers. Both groups appreciated the ease and availability of this site. Take a moment and explore the site for yourself. If you have any questions regarding the site, please post them in my Q & A section.

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