TeachersFirst's Gifted in any Classroom: Tools for Differentiating in ELA/Reading

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This collection of resources provides tools to differentiate for gifted students in your English/Language Arts and Reading classes in all grade levels. Find resources that differentiate your non-fiction for older grades or offer writing and grammar differentiation for grades 3-12. Explore tools to collect and create projects in the ELA and reading classroom. Find individual reading levels, creative writing prompts, and many other useful tools. Be sure to read the suggestions under Classroom Use for specific ideas to use with gifted.

 

 

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Wordsmyth - Wordsmyth

Grades
K to 12
1 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Keep the dictionary on the shelf and tap into the power of words with Wordsmyth, an online dictionary, thesaurus, and word reference tool. There are three "levels" of readers...more
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Keep the dictionary on the shelf and tap into the power of words with Wordsmyth, an online dictionary, thesaurus, and word reference tool. There are three "levels" of readers included at this site. WILD (Wordsmyth Illustrated Learner's Dictionary) is an online dictionary designed for K-3 early readers (or ESL/ELL students). Each entry includes a written definition with audio available. For older elementary students, try Word Explorer, containing words, synonyms, word mapping ideas, and more. You will also find images and animations for many topics including; the human body, the human mind, everyday life, history and culture, communication, living world, physical world, natural environment, economy, and government and law. The highest level (Comprehensive Dictionary-Thesaurus Suite) includes three reading levels and thousands of images to explore. It also offers definitions at three reading levels (great for differentiating). Outside of the three main references, there is much to explore. The search feature finds words with similar spelling. Use the anagram feature to help to form words with given letters in your Scrabble game. The Crossword Puzzle finds words using key words and the number of letters in a word. If you register (free version, but requires email) you can create and save up to 10 word activities with up to 12 words per activity. Quizmaker makes fill in the blank, matching, and multiple choice quizzes. Design customized glossary pages with the words you choose with your applicable definition. Add the widget to your toolbar, a floating widget, or embed on your school web page. Check the blog for the word of the day, new entries, games, and upcoming teachers' tools, and roots and affixes.
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tag(s): crosswords (18), dictionaries (56), preK (279), quizzes (97), spelling (168), thesaurus (24), vocabulary (324), vocabulary development (126), word study (80)

In the Classroom

Capture your students with the power of words at all levels. Keep this link on your toolbar as a quick reference for easy access to improve reading comprehension and writing word variety. When starting a new content area unit, challenge your gifted students with advanced vocabulary words. In your school library, make this handy reference available for everyone as a bookmark and on your online reference page. In primary grades or with ELL students, bookmark the WILD section for easy access. Share vocabulary words with young students on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Share the word of the day with your students at all levels and explore together. Create your own glossary page for up to 10 teaching units. Provide support for struggling readers or ESL/ELL students by showing them how to access and use this site. Encourage word games such as Scrabble, Upwords, or crossword puzzles, with Wordsmyth as a partner! Share this site on your class website for gifted students to explore at home (or in class) and find new challenging vocabulary to stretch their minds!

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Flipboard - Flipboard

Grades
3 to 12
3 Favorites 1  Comments
   
Use Flipboard to collect, explore, and share information from many sources, all in a magazine-style format. Flipboard can hold specific articles and images you choose or a dynamic "feed"...more
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Use Flipboard to collect, explore, and share information from many sources, all in a magazine-style format. Flipboard can hold specific articles and images you choose or a dynamic "feed" from a web source such as CNN, a Twitter hashtag, or a favorite blog. Most Flipboard consumers read their magazines on mobile devices, but you can manage and access your magazines from the "web tools" page (the link from this review) on a computer. Create your personal magazine(s) with things you care about: news, staying connected, social networks, and more. Create an account with Flipboard and then connect with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube. Click the More panel to browse other categories and add them to your magazines. Drag the Flipboard button to your bookmarks bar or use the Flipboard app on your smartphone or tablet. Find an article you want to add to your collection? Click the + button next to the article to save it or simply click "Flip It" on your computer's browser toolbar to add that web page to your magazine. Edit your magazines online and share with friends and colleagues. View your RSS feeds or follow your news stream in social media with this magazine-style interface. Most of the tutorial videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, then they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home. If you want to share the videos with students, bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid, reviewed here, to download the videos from YouTube. Flipboard is a device agnostic tool. Load the free app on mobile devices.
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tag(s): DAT device agnostic tool (196), news (261), social networking (112), video (253)

In the Classroom

Create a class Flipboard account and create magazines for each unit studied through the year. Add information that is useful for student understanding, application of concepts, or materials to be used for projects. Create a magazine of great articles and information to read or search through. Consider creating a Flipboard magazine for student current events or happenings. Use this for reports on various topics such as food issues, diseases, political information, cultures around the world, and more. Make a customized "feed" for more advanced information on a topic for your gifted and advanced students. Students can curate a Flipboard of pictures or videos from the web on a certain topic to share with their classmates. Create a Professional Development Flipboard with other teachers. Teacher-librarians may want to work together with classroom teachers to create magazines of certain content for students to use during research units. Challenge your middle and high school gifted students to curate a magazine for themselves on a topic of individual interest, creating a "PLN" they can use for years. For example, a student interested in rocketry can locate and add blogs from rocket scientists, NASA feeds, and more. Talented writers may want to collect feeds from literary publications and author blogs. They will probably also discover related Flipboards created by others. As gifted students' interests change, they can curate other topical "magazines" to keep learning, even if the topics do not fall within the traditional curriculum. You may find that the personalization of learning is something ALL your students want to do.

Comments

There are amazing collections on this site. Cindi, NC, Grades: 0 - 6

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News in Levels - newsinlevels.com

Grades
K to 8
5 Favorites 0  Comments
  
Find high interest, leveled news articles (and lessons) for English language learners. Although this site was designed for ESL/ELL it could be very useful in any elementary classroom...more
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Find high interest, leveled news articles (and lessons) for English language learners. Although this site was designed for ESL/ELL it could be very useful in any elementary classroom looking for informational texts that can be differentiated for various reading levels (great for meeting Common Core standards). This tool could be used with any readers to increase comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary skills. There are four difficulty levels. Take the Test Your Level quiz to find out what level will be best. Level 0 requires little to no reading, mostly audio, except some vocabulary words. Many of the lessons include audio, video, practice exercises (with answers), and more. In addition, interesting pictures pique the students' interest. The same story is presented in all of the various levels. The vocabulary at lower levels repeats at the higher levels with more vocabulary added as the level increases. A convenient online dictionary assists with English meanings. Comments are permitted with each article. Some of the videos are hosted on YouTube. If your district blocks YouTube, they may not be viewable. You could always view the videos at home and bring them to class "on a stick" to share. Use a tool such as KeepVid reviewed here to download the videos from YouTube. At the time of this review, most of the news story content was fine for all ages. However, please preview the story before you share it with your class to be certain it is appropriate since there are comments, unmoderated by the site.
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tag(s): guided reading (47), news (261)

In the Classroom

Add this website to your classroom computers, websites, and newsletters for parents of ESL/ELL students or beginning readers. This tool is especially helpful at the beginning of the year, as you are learning students' reading levels. Use this tool to differentiate in all primary classes. Although this site was created for English Language Learners, it could still be used by all students including gifted and learning support. Differentiate for your advanced/gifted students in elementary, while meeting Common Core standards of Informational Text. Use these news articles as informational text meeting your Common Core goals. Assign students of different levels the same story at the appropriate level or build skills by sharing the same story as a class. Challenge groups to compare the stories in pairs. Have students create a visual presentation of the story using comic-creation tools from this collection.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Newsela - Matthew Gross

Grades
2 to 12
13 Favorites 1  Comments
Newsela is a data base of current events stories tailor-made for classroom use. Indexed by broad theme (e.g. War and Peace, Arts, Science, Health, Law, Money), stories are both student-friendly...more
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Newsela is a data base of current events stories tailor-made for classroom use. Indexed by broad theme (e.g. War and Peace, Arts, Science, Health, Law, Money), stories are both student-friendly and can be accessed in different formats by reading level. Use Newsela to differentiate nonfiction reading. Newspaper writers rewrite a story four times for a total of five Lexile levels per story. Many stories also have embedded, Common Core aligned quizzes that conform to the reading levels for checking comprehension. In addtion, each article has a writing prompt which is also designed to assess reading comprehension. An account is required to use Newsela, both for teachers and for students, but students sign up using a teacher or parent provided code rather than an email address. Teachers can create classes and assign reading-level specific articles to individual students, or download printable PDF copies of the article in any of its reading-level versions. There is an upgraded fee-based Pro Version which allows teachers or administrators to track reading progress, but most of the features are free and there is no advertising.
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tag(s): differentiation (47), guided reading (47), independent reading (126), news (261), reading comprehension (116)

In the Classroom

Achieve two goals here: help students improve their reading comprehension and keep them current with what is happening in our nation and the world. When assigning articles, choose to have the class read at one reading level, or choose individuals and set the reading level for them. There are five categories from which to choose. You may want to set up different articles at different learning stations on the computers in your room. Have the students rotate daily through the stations, completing one or two a day until they have completed all five articles. Since Newsela is cloud based, even absent students can complete the missed work easily. Teachers of gifted students can use this site to accelerate or enrich reading for students. Find each students individual levels for reading nonfiction. Teachers of Learning Support and ELL students will love this alternate way for their students to meet current events requirements.

Comments

This is an excellent site and allows differentiation while everyone is reading the same text. Renee, NC, Grades: 0 - 5

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noredink - Jeff Scheur

Grades
3 to 12
10 Favorites 0  Comments
   
Have fun while improving your writing and grammar. At the time of this review, noredink's grammatical categories include apostrophes, subject-verb agreement, comma issues, sentence...more
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Have fun while improving your writing and grammar. At the time of this review, noredink's grammatical categories include apostrophes, subject-verb agreement, comma issues, sentence fragments, and run-on sentences. The program provides differentiated instruction based on the questions you answer right or wrong. There are tutorials to help you correct mistakes. Sign up with your name, username, email address, gender, school name, and a password.

So, what's fun about learning this type of grammar? noredink asks you to pick your interests from Sports, TV shows, Musicians, and Miscellaneous. You will also be asked if you want them to use your friends from Facebook. When you are practicing or are taking quizzes, the program will use your interests and friends, and generate the questions around your interests and friends. The hope is that the content will be more interesting by including sentences with favorite celebrities, hobbies, TV shows, or even personal friends. Be sure to watch the introductory video which is the only item on the site that requires Flash. The program works on iPads as well as your regular computer. There is a 90 second intro video at the bottom of the landing page.
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tag(s): capitalization (19), grammar (216), homonyms (12), homophones (17), punctuation (43), quiz (85), quizzes (97), sentences (52), verbs (41)

In the Classroom

Teachers sign up and create a class. You will receive a class code for your students to use (optional). With the class code you will be able to track student's progress, differentiate, assign quizzes and assignments, and see class trends. The program has color-coded "heat maps" to track progress easily. Your assignments and quizzes will be uniquely generated according to each student's interests. Also, students don't have to wait for you to give them an assignment. With their account, they can practice at any time. A student does NOT have to provide an email address to create an account. It will work without it! Since students are providing some personal information about interests, etc., we strongly advise parent permission.

Challenge (and excel) your gifted students with the concepts practiced at this site. Since student assignments are at their own level, students can find great acceleration in practicing these necessary skills. ESL/ELL students will especially benefit from the practice using correct English, in their writing, over a continuous time period. Student assignments are at their own level. You can also create your own quizzes. Use this site as part of your rotation during learning stations. Put your class' URL on your website so students can practice at home, too.

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The Readability Test Tool - David Simpson

Grades
1 to 12
5 Favorites 0  Comments
Test any website's readability using The Readability Test Tool. Test readability by URL or direct text input from any source (such as copy/paste of student writing). Simply enter...more
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Test any website's readability using The Readability Test Tool. Test readability by URL or direct text input from any source (such as copy/paste of student writing). Simply enter the web address (URL) and get the readability of the site on several scales. You can also check your own webpages by using the "referer" section. You will get a score for the most used readability indicators: Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease and Grade Level, Gunning Fog Score, Coleman Liau Index, and Automated Readability Index (ARI). The tool also includes explanations of each scale. These tell much more than a simple "grade level."

tag(s): independent reading (126), readability (8), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Use this tool to offer differentiated resources for the different reading levels in your class. At the beginning of the year, as you learn your students' capabilities, use this tool to find reading at the appropriate level to eliminate frustration. This is perfect for finding the "just right" level for your highly advanced/gifted students and those needing extra remediation. If you do discover that a website you want to use is over your students' independent reading level, you can still use it, just open Lingro reviewed here first; then enter the URL you want them to read. Lingro is a study aid and open content dictionary that makes all of the words (on a particular website) clickable for definitions and translation. Of course, if the sentence length or complexity is at a much higher reading level, simple word definitions will not make it "readable" for struggling readers.

Why not have students put in the URL for their blog or wiki (or simply paste in a writing sample) to see the level at which they are writing? This is one way to encourage writing as a craft and challenge students to include more varied vocabulary and sentence structure in their writing.

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Shadow Light Productions - ShadowLight Productions

Grades
2 to 12
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Investigate the art of shadow puppetry through Shadow Light Productions. This is a commercial site featuring performances for school groups, community centers, or various events. Examples...more
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Investigate the art of shadow puppetry through Shadow Light Productions. This is a commercial site featuring performances for school groups, community centers, or various events. Examples of performances with traditional stories appear in written and video format. A commercial venture on this site sells DVDS of actual performances. Begin your study of shadow puppetry at this site. Detailed plans with standards include suggested objectives, strategies, equipment, materials, and resources for audio, video, and texts. These plans answer all your questions on how to use shadow puppetry effectively in your classroom. Examples of lesson plans and student performance give ideas for language arts classes. Some of the images (although appropriate) may appear scary to younger students. So please preview before you share with your class.
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tag(s): halloween (40), short stories (25)

In the Classroom

Share some of this "puppeteer fun" on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Integrate into your Language Arts classroom to discover theme, plot, characterization, or myths and legends in a new way. Science classes can investigate the use of shadow and sound. Shadow puppetry is an easy way to incorporate several multiple intelligences. Easily differentiated plans for ESL/ELL and Gifted students to capture interest and motivate success. Use as an enrichment cluster, or after-school activity. Be sure to capture all your class creations on video and share on your class web site or blog.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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Story Starters - Scholastic

Grades
K to 6
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Type your name and choose your grade level (K-1, 2, 3, or 4-6). Then get ready for the wheel to spin! You can spin four wheels to get a very ...more
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Type your name and choose your grade level (K-1, 2, 3, or 4-6). Then get ready for the wheel to spin! You can spin four wheels to get a very specific writing prompt. For example, Describe a vacation with a skinny cactus who loves country music. Each wheel produces a different part of the prompt. Each time the wheel spins, a new prompt is created. The prompts are created for the specified grade level and are highly creative. Be sure to check out the Teacher's Guide that offers learning objectives, specific lesson ideas, and printables.

Be warned: the "spinning" page has some rather loud audio sounds. Either turn up the volume and enjoy, or hit the mute button! This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat. You can get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): creative writing (166), writing (358)

In the Classroom

Whether you are looking for a daily prompt for your students, or individual prompts for writing stations, you will find some creative ideas here. Share how to use this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Set up writing stations and have students use this site to find their prompts. Use this site to differentiate for your gifted students by allowing them to choose a prompt at a higher grade level. List this link on your class website for some writing practice or extra credit writing exercises.
  This resource requires Adobe Flash and PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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