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Matt’s Media Tips 10-8 Uncovering the Code - Digital Tools to help improve reading - Two Part Series A couple of weeks ago an educator in Connecticut asked me if I could recommend a few digital resources that could help her students improve their reading skills. I immediately thought of and recommended using closed captioned videos (see Matt’s Tips and Tricks 9-17). But she challenged me to go deeper. “Using closed captioned video is a good strategy for readers, but I need something to help me engage my kids and help them decode the actual words, to figure out how to sound out and chunk words, that kind of stuff. Can you help me with that,” she asked? Great question, I thought, and we could spend days talking about, researching, and writing papers on the subject. Let me do a little digging was my response. As I noodled and researched I found that five themes/instructional practices surfaced over and over again These strategies were as follows: 1. Breaking down the sounds - Phonemes 2. Chunking unfamiliar sounds and words 3. Re-Reading 4. Predicting 5. Re-Stating In addition to these five strategies, students who could connect to the written content greatly improved or mastered reading. In fact, students responded best when their teachers provided many different ways that they could express their learning.* *Bridget Dalton and C. Patrick Proctor, Reading As Thinking Integrating Strategy Instruction in a Universally Designed Digital Literacy Environment, “Providing multiple means of strategic learning and expression.” Page 8-9. CAST, National Center on Universal Design for Learning ReadingAsThinking_0.pdf

Over the next two editions I will list a number of digital resources that, when combined with the strategies and student engagement principles above, could help your students improve their reading skills. This week I am going to explore four digital resources that complement the first three strategies. I love the idea of using digital resources to help students become better readers. After all, digital media is malleable which means it can be molded. And if you can mold something you can use the same resource to differentiate your instruction. Breaking down the sounds - Phonemes When thinking of tying in the digital resources into this strategy I thought using voice recorders to record the different sounds that make up a word and then matching those sounds up to letters and images. So here are steps to implement a digital phonemic idea/activity: 1. Have students work independently or in teams to record different sounds/parts of a word a. There are many online audio recorders of which you can take advantage. One of the most basic and easy to use recording sites out there, I think, is All you have to do is go to the site, record your sound/narration, and then click on the save recording button. Then you can download the recording as an MP3 file, link to it online, or both. It is that easy - no registration, no email address required. b. My friend and colleague, Max Brooks (@maxbrooks1 on Twitter), told me about Like, this site records your sounds, narration etc. without requiring regististration. But unlike Recordmp3, this site gives you many more sharing options like; downloading, direct links, embedding, emailing and more. What’s the “more” you ask? automatically creates a QR code of your link as well. More on that later. 2. Ok so now that we have our sounds downloaded it is time to find some images of those words. Students can independently search for and/or create these images, work in teams to do so, or find/create them as a whole class. 3. Once you have the images and sounds the place them into a SMART Notebook, Promethean Flip Chart, or Mimio file 4. Voila, your interactive white board magically becomes a center where students manipulate their recorded sounds together and match them to letters and images. For example; for the word “Cat,” students would drag and group the letters “C, A, T,” with their respective student-recorded sounds. Then they would place them under/next to an image of a cat (say from Discovery Education). Finally the students would click on each sound file to hear how each word is sounded out. 5. Extension this could work as a student-build when learning a new language like Spanish, French, etc. Remember my friend Max and his Vocaroo recommendation? He blew me away with this idea. What if your students created sound files with Vocaroo and then printed out each of the QR codes that it generates? Then what if they stuck those QR codes on different items found inside your classroom? Well that would be a great way for demonstrating the soft “C” sound in the word “Chair” versus the hard “C” sound in “Cabinet.” What a great way for a student to learn a new language as well!

2. Chunking unfamiliar sounds and words If students have developed some proficiency with phonemes, they can begin chunking unfamiliar words. This principle spurred another digital idea/activity •

Open up PowerPoint or Keynote and type in one vocabulary word per slide.

Choose the biggest font and bright colors that you can.

Save the PowerPoint or Keynote as JPEGS (thus converting your slides into images).

Go to and click on the word “create.”

Upload your image. This will create an interactive jigsaw puzzle for you.

Feeling pretty good? Grab images from Discovery Education and insert them as backgrounds for your slides to create great imagery for your jigsaw.

In addition to covering up parts of the words that they know, students can use a jigsaw puzzle to successfully put the word (and its sounds) together in a highly interactive way. I think that this would be a great complementary chunking activity that could be facilitated in a lab, be center-based with one or two computers, and/or be used in front of the room with an interactive whiteboard. is free and, like the two sites explained above, it gives you many different ways to share your work like embedding, direct linking, social media, etc.

You can put this puzzle together by clicking on this link:

3. Re-Reading In this case I’m not just talking about reading the text again for the sake of...well reading it again. This strategy requires that students have a few questions in mind before re-reading the text. Then, when they’re reading the text, their actually looking for answers to those questions. Implementing a Re-Reading Digital Activity •

Enter the reading passage that your students are going to re-read into a Discovery Education Writing Prompt and assign it to your students.

As part of your Writing Prompt instructions, ask your students to record the questions that they are going to answer.

Have them cut, paste and/or highlight the sentences that contain the answers that they are seeking.

Feeling Fancy? Embed a cool tool like an eReader/podcaster or another Web 2.0 site (see page two) into your prompt. Better yet ask your students to do the same in their responses!

Discovery Education Webinar Schedule We started this edition of Matt’s Tips and Tricks exploring two great audio recorders. While both of these recorders are awesomely easy to use they do not offer a mobile app.


Time (EST)


7pm 8pm

Discovery Education Science Elementary 101 From the overall structure of the elementary science curriculum to how to access and use reading passages and their accompanying eBooks, our interactive glossary, fundamentals, video segments, and 5-minute preps, this webinar maps the effective use of this powerful tool. The webinar also shows you how to use assignment builders and assessments to guide and measure your students’ understanding and mastery.


7pm 8pm

What’s the 4-1-1: Innovative Learning Environments. Do you notice certain students possess gobs of creative juices while others just want to be told what to do? This session will share some simple yet out-of-the box strategies to help students understand creativity and innovation and how to deal with stress. Imagine a learning environment in which ALL students can thrive.


8pm 9pm

Connecting and Collaborating In and Out of the Classroom. Join us as we model tools and techniques for connecting and collaborating in and outside the classroom. We?ll even provide opportunities for your students to work with peers from around the world.


5pm 6pm

Techbook Admin Webinar: Learn to use the tools and features of My Admin to support successful integration of Discovery Education Techbook. This training will cover: Navigation of the My Admin Site Managing User Accounts (students and teachers) Managing Student Access Running Usage Reports

Enter Audioboo. Audioboo will turn your mobile device (iPad, iTouch, iPhone, Android, and Nokia phones) into a mobile recording device.

Audioboo By BestBefore Media Ltd

Even better, the content you create is also stored on the cloud so that others can access it and/or download it as an MP3 file. Which means you can start on a device in school (great if you have a mobile device cart) and tweak at home - because Audioboo can also be accessed via laptop or desktop - Mac or PC. The free version let’s you create up to three minutes of content. And you can add pictures, location via map, titles and tags. You don’t even need to register. However, registering certainly helps if you want to create a portfolio of work.

Questions/Comments? I’d love to hear from you email me at or Tweet me at @monjan

Here is a link to their download in iTunes Here is a link to their download for Android Here is a link to their download for Nokia

What is a DEN Star Member? The Discovery Educator Network (DEN) is a global community of educators passionate about teaching with digital media, sharing resources, collaborating, and networking. With over 100,000 members providing professional development to over 600,000 educators worldwide, the DEN connects teachers both on-line and in-person. Discovery Educators have exclusive access to a wide range of resources, professional development activities, networking opportunities, exclusive Discovery Educator events and more. Find out how you can be part of this dynamic and supportive community. Become a DEN Star today!


Miss a week? Catch back up here! 2012-2013 School Year Archives 8/27/2012 Back to School Review. Check out some of the major enhancements made to Discovery Education over the summer. We'll give you a chance to weigh in, showcase a new back to school webinar series and highlight Nearpod, a very cool classroom mobile app. 9/4/2012

Opening up Closed Captions. Check out all of the new and enhanced ways to stream captioned content. We’ll also continue to explore the back-to-school webinars and play with EasyBib, an Android and iPad app that makes citing reference material a breeze.

9/10/2012 In-the-know about Infographics. This edition highlights the new 2012 election material within DE. It also dives into different ways that you and your students can evaluate and explain data by examining three different sites that create infographics. Sock Puppets, an iPad app that is animated by your voice, is also explored. Downloading Closed Captions Explore 9/17/2012 how to download closed captioned files and manipulate their text on both a PC and Mac. We'll also examine the TechChef4U app that links to many education apps! Finally, in this edition, I provide links to the Best of Matt's Tips and Tricks webinar resources. 9/24/2012 Five free tools from DE plus one that’s too cool for school. We’ll also explore links to even more free resources and then play with a free mobile app, Sketch Nation Studio, that provides a simple game design/creation platform. 10/1/2012 Getting Quizzy With It. Everything you ever wanted to know about creating a Discovery Education Quiz and more including an easy step-by-step guide for embedding Web 2.0 content into a Quiz! We’ll explore a unique mobile app called Stack the States as well.

Miss a week? Catch back up here! 2011-2012 Archives 7/19/2012

Sneak peek at the back to school enhancements. Roadshow app.


Fun things to do over the summer with technology and media. Mustacheme app is featured.


The ins and outs of Digital Storytelling. Digital Storytelling Web 2.0 presentation and apps


Who Knew We Had News? Find an additional set of free Discovery News videos, the Video Yearbook, video almanac, and great webinar information. Roadshow App for playing back videos on-demand is reviewed.




My Five Favorite Summer Resources. We explore five free interactive sites that parents, students, and teachers can use over the summer. We’ll also explore a free translation app for mobile devices. Getting Your Game On. Finding great games, simulations and more within Discovery Education. Back-toSchool Sneak Peek Webinars announced. Futaba Classroom Games for Kids iPad app explored. Getting the Point with PowerPoint and Keynote. Learn how to trim audio & video in PPT and save both PPT & Keynote presentations as images to embed in Web 2.0 sites. 2 Screens and Joinme mobile presentation apps explored.


It’s all about the Theme. We’ll explore several different ways to find unique thematic content. Three most voted upon stories revealed. Studyblue mobile flashcard app highlighted


Scratch and Pop. Six-Word Story finalists revealed. Links between Discovery Education and





2/27/2012, and EduTechr mobile app explored.


Mi Content es Su Content. Bookmarking and sharing your Discovery Education content across your school and district, two great contests, and two text-to-sign mobile apps

In a Class of Their Own Setting up Discovery Education Classrooms, Discovery Education Live Webinars, Quizlet App.


Building out the New Year Five of my favorite things you can do with the Discovery Education Builders, Rover App for DE Students


Special Holiday Edition 13 Tips from Educators around the US and Canada, Videolicious App


50 Ways to Use Discovery Education Tips and tricks galore iSwifter - Flash for iPads


What I am Thankful for Building out your PLN Wordspree and Math Acorn Apps


Things I Stole From the Community DEN Tips, Four really cool tips you can do with Google. TED and Animoto apps


First Six Weeks Aggregated


Creating an “iCenter" How to create an ePub using DE videos. Spirit of Innovation Challenge


Spooky Edition Digital Storytelling, Web 2.0 Piqua City Community Night, Crazy Pumpkin and Halloween Card Creator Apps


Stick it to IT Collaborative Note Taking Site Educator Spotlight - Jennifer Everett, ToonTastic and PuppetPals Apps


Opening Up Closed-Captions Closed-Captions for Macs and PCs, 10 FAQs Customer Service Receives


Common Core, Web 2.0 and DE Three cool sites that integrate nicely with Discovery Education. Administrator Spotlight - Molly Hay!


Can you Hear what I’m Writing? Embedding an eReader into your Writing Prompts, Getting to know Discovery Education SCIENCE

Can You Picture it? Learn how to create a six-word story using and Discovery Education. Digital Story Challenge! MeeGenius Audiobook app for mobile devices. Audio Book ‘em Dano. Eight simple steps for creating an audiobook using iTunes and any computer (Mac/PC). Molecules mobile apps. It’s All About The Sharing. Uploading, sharing and accessing your own content within Discovery Discovery Education. Cel.Ly app polling device via any device. Teacher Center Treasure Trove of Resources. Interactive Calendar Atlas, STEM Connect explored. Socrative App (student response).


Special Valentines Issue - Things I love about Discovery Education. Five Minute Preps, Images,Coaches Eye App


What did you say? Closed Captioning on an iPad? Getting Closed Captions to play on your iPad, GreenScreens on iPhone/iPad with GreenScreen FX app



Let’s Give Them Something To Sing About Differentiated Instruction Using Songs, First Student Media Contest of the Year, ShowMe and Educreations whiteboard apps Meet the Faces of Discovery Education Get up close and personal with the Discovery Education on-air talent, special student webinar series, Story Kit app

Matt's Tips and Tricks 10-8-2012  
Matt's Tips and Tricks 10-8-2012  

This is edition is part one of a two part series exploring how to incorporate digital resources into five reading strategies. This week we'...