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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sites for Emerging Readers

Since I have a first grader that is blossoming into a reader I have decided to reach back into my Furl Archive and pull out a variety of sites designed to help emergent readers. Some of these sites I have already written about on this blog but they are definitely worth a repeat visit.

BookPALS StoryLine Online is a site where kids can have popular picture books read to them by different celebrities including Hillary Duff, Elijah Wood and even Al Gore! The stories are presented as short videos with the celebrity doing a brief intro before the book. They have a decent collection of books already and I hope they continue to add to the site. Each story has different activities that you can download and do with your students.

Big Universe allows students to read popular picture books but without any celebrity accompanyment. The resolution and print size can be a bit small at times, making it hard to see the words on the page/screen but this is a nice way to expand your library without having to purchase more books. Students can also use Big Universe to write and illustrate their own books but this is probably more appropriate for students in the mid to upper elementary grades. LookyBook is similar to Big Universe in that your students can read picture books online. Again, the print size of the text can be small depending on the story.

Roy the Zebra is a great site for teaching interactive lessons on different reading strategies and also has some read along activities. This site would work well with an interactive whiteboard or just a computer connected to a projector where you could lead a lesson with the entire class. There are also several interactive games that young readers can play to help reinforce different reading and language skills.

Into the Book is a great tool for helping kids learn the basic strategies of reading including visualizing, summmarizing, using prior knowledge and inferring. Students can work through different sections at their own pace or focus on specific strategies that you are stressing in class. There is a seperate teacher resource section with activity and lesson ideas and you can even track student progress through the different sections.

SillyBooks is a site where you can upload your own stories and read the stories of other users. They pick one story each month to animate so it's possible that one of your students could have their own story featured in this way. The site layout needs some work, there are no previews with the books so you just have to click the picture and see what each story is all about, but it's a neat way to showcase the stories of student writers.

Kerpoof is a fully featured site where kids can write their own animated picture books, create short animated movies and share/collaborate on their writing with others. You can set-up a group where your students can only interact with other members of the class if you are concerned about privacy and safety issues. This is the kind of site where kids could definitely get carried away playing with the different images, animations and sounds and forget all about the writing process so having them write their story offline first before sitting down at the computer might be a good idea. Then again, maybe you just want them to become inspired by the Kerpoof environment.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and I welcome your ideas and suggestions for tools/sites in this area.

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