I wonder what everyone would list as their top 3 indespensable-I-couldn't-live-with-out-em tools for literacy instruction. Thinking actual physical objects. Let's make this two-fold. List top 3 technological tools, and top 3 non-tech tools.

(I also wonder if many of these "things" will be the same for everyone?!)

Hmm... Technology ones will be easy, but non-tech... I'll have to think about that. :-)

Tags: literacy, teachers, technology, tools

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Limiting tools to just 3 is difficult.

PC's that are not part of the districts network (I have special privileges)
Lexia Software- phonemic awareness
Books on CD/DVD/Itunes
MS Word

Leveled Reading Books
Small White Boards
Magnetic Letters/Words/Word Parts
Guided and Independent Reading Response Journals
I discovered audio books on iTunes this year. We actually LISTENED to a chapter book together as a class as part of a novel unit. Kids were amazed at how the reader created and maintained voices for every character. And every single one of them were GLUED to their copy of the book as we listened. Great experience!
Great question!

Top 3 Tech Tools:
1. Overhead Projector - I know it's about as "old-school" as technology gets, but I find the overhead to be a wonderful resource. Its simplicity means that my grade 1's can use it with minimal supervision and there's something about turning all the lights and projecting a lit-up "poster" on the wall that grabs everyone's attention.
2. CD Players - I have 2 discmans for students to use as a portable listening centre with books on CD. I also use music to teach literacy skills and strategies and it's handy to have the CD player loaded with an upbeat song my students love!
3. The C.O.W. My school has a C.O.W. - a "computer on wheels"--that can be moved from classroom to classroom. My students love it when we use the computer and attached LCD projector for shared writing. It takes much less time to get their ideas down and, after clicking "print," we've got a publication-quality copy of our story!

Top 3 Non-Tech Tools
1. Books! Hands down. I firmly believe that, as teachers, it's our duty to get kids passionate about books--a passion they may not experience anywhere else! I'm reading Regie Routman's Teaching Essentials and I came across a quote this morning that sums it up quite nicely: "It is interesting to me in an age of blogs, Webs, and texting that a book, something that is essentially a tortoise, very quaint in its own way, can carry the most immediacy." (Rosenthal, The New York Times, 2006, quoted in Routman, pg. 47)
2. Magnetic Letters I invested a significant amount of money in a large set of oversized alphabet letters last year. Perhaps it's *because* I spent so much money on them, but I've found a lot of ways to use these letters in shared reading, guided reading and working with words time. It's great to give kinesthetic learners something they can manipulate!
3. The good ol' flip chart and markers. I love making anchor charts with my class and then displaying them in the classroom as reference points and reading the room resources. I find that students are much more attentive to these types of resources than they are to commercial products.

That was fun! (...and it made me think!) Thanks, Michelle.
How do you store your flip chart paper?
Late but here it is anyway: I found an out of the way wall spot that was not being used and installed two metal screw in hooks and hang the pads. I ordered some pads that didn't have the holes at the top so I just poked holes through them.
Okay, so to get beyond the obvious laptop, projector, & smartboard for tech tools, I'd like to actually reflect on a few of my fave web sites:

1. www.librarything.com
I had a wonderful volunteer that entered all of my books into this database (small lifetime membership fee) and I used it last year (my first year at 5th grade) as a checkout system. So wonderful to go to the computer, type in a title and see which cherub had it in their desk. PLUS, no tiresome library cards and pockets to deal with. Wasn't a "perfect" system, but a BIG step up from me just guessing who had my books (I'm at over 2,000 in my room now).

2. www.dictionary.com
I have a quick link to this site on my school laptop. I think kids NEED to know how to use a traditional dictionary, but I tell you what, I hardly ever open one myself anymore. This site is nice because it gives multiple entries from various dictionaries for each word you search. I use it a LOT when I just can't find the right words to define a student's unknown word.

3. www.youtube.com
I understand that many schools block youtube, but I love how I have instant access to millions of videos at my fingertips. My favorite example is when we were reading a chapter book and it mentioned the "Hindenburg". None of my students knew about the Hindenburg so I checked it out on youtube and low and behold, the ACTUAL footage from the news was right there and my kids SAW it happen before their eyes--THAT got their attention! (click link above to view Hindenburg footage) No way they'll forget THAT vocab term!

I'm still thinking about my fave non-tech tools...
Thanks for sharing such amazing Resource..
Nontech tools... hmmm.

Foregoing again the obvious, all of my BOOKS, I've come up with this list.

1. My couch.
It's old, golden yellow, and pretty much ugly, but VERY comfy and the kids love it (I actually spent two nights on it during a blizzard in 1997--seriously!).

2. My book shelves
I had an older, retired carpenter make STURDY shelves for me--one every year for four years. LOVE them! (Cost me $$ out of my own pocket, but those babies are MINE!) :-)

3.My fake plants and lamps for those bookshelves.
I've tried real plants, but here's the thing: apparently they need WATER more than once every 3 months. Who knew? So my fake plants add that touch of green to my room and they STAY green all year long without water! And if you have a fake plant, you almost always need a lamp to shine on it. I found four lamps between the thrift stores and dollar stores last year. Love that soft light to balance flourescent bulbs.

I didn't list my easel this year because with the addition of my projector and SmartBoard, I typed things up, instead of writing on an easel (I hate my handwriting and I can type a WHOLE lot faster than write anyway). Then I just printed off what I typed, and hung up those papers around my room. Occasionally I made posters out of what I typed on our "Poster Machine." I guess I'd put that machine on my "Tech" list. Very handy to have right in our building!

I keep thinking of more and more of what I couldn't live without. Makes me think of teachers that lost all of their "stuff" in the floods in Eastern Iowa. Anyone on this list affected by floods or know of anyone affected?
This is a good question.
Tech: digital camera, computer & data projector, elementary classroom blogs
Non-tech: books (literature & non-fiction), small whiteboards & markers, maths/science equipment.
It's hard to limit it to three items :)
I'd love to see an example of your elementary classroom blogs. Would you be willing to share the address?
Tehnology: my laptop, my digital camera and my video recorder. All bought by me, but I use them for school.

Non tech: books...without a doubt!
my easel and chart paper and markers...have to have those anchor charts!
Chairs and things I've painted to make the room more like home.

I think it's a good idea to share class blog addresses. That way our students can visit and comment on each others' work. My class has a blog here.



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