Tuesday, February 4, 2014

February Currently. late....really late.

Told you I'm a procrastinator!

So, the first one is obvious.  I've got laundry.  It's one thing to put it in the dryer.  It's another to fold it AND put it away.  I struggle with that last one.

I woke up this morning in CT, got dressed, showered, and ready for school as usual.  Sports Center was playing in the bedroom so I have no real contact with the outside world.  I get downstairs, let the dog out, blah blah and turn my phone on and there's this text from my good friend Courtney saying "I hate you today!!"  Puzzled, I listened to my VM and sure enough! No school!  And there wasn't even any snow on the ground at that point.  I flip on the news and tune into reality and practically the whole state is closed, except for Courtney's district.  That's why she hates me today.  So what a pleasant surprise that I got a snow day!  And she forgives me.  All is well.

I've got 3 new books to read that are taunting me.... 2 are Jodi Picoult and 1 is The Westing Game that I've got to read for school since my kiddos are in a literature circle and I've got to stay ahead of them.  I want some peace and quiet to read read read!

My lovely roommate had a daughter a couple weeks ago named Ada.  I'm dying to get down to PA to visit her.  She's only 6 lbs 6 oz at this point and she's 2 weeks old! What a peanut!!

So my 2 and 1:
skiiing-TRUE!  I wiped out while skiing with my husband (we weren't even dating at that point) and ended up with a pinched tendon in my right shoulder.  It's safe to say that I've given up skiing.  Just not for me.

England-  TRUE!  I lived in Cheltenham for 3 months during college and made some ahmmmaazing memories there.  It will always have a place in my heart.

Flute- FALSE! I played the trombone all through school.  I can't even get a note out of a flute!

Happy February everyone!  

Monday, February 3, 2014

Review of K-5 Learning Program

Recently I was asked if I would try K-5 Learning in my classroom for 6 weeks.  I immediately jumped at the opportunity, knowing the perfect student to "test drive" this with.

A little history:
K-5 Learning is online math and reading enrichment program for kids.   Their reading program claims to help kids become strong readers and develop a love for reading.  It covers phonemic-awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.  There is a spelling aspect of the program which has more than 150,000 words in their database.  For math, they cover numbers and operations, geometry, measurement, time and money, algebraic thinking, and data analysis.  Additionally, there is a math fact component with the math program.  

Here's a screen shot of the results of a math facts tracker.

This paragraph is taken directly from their website and it breaks down how the program works:

How it Works
Kids complete an online assessment of 8 key reading and math skills, and then work independently at their own pace through over 3,000 online lessons and activities. The lessons are animated, interactive and simple enough that a 4-5 year old can use them independently. We automatically choose lessons for students (based on their assessment and past lessons), track student progress and provide reports for parents. 

For starters, as a parent or teacher, you can sign up for a 14 day trial.  They start the child with their user name and they can log on and take a free assessment to test the child's skills in math and reading.  They then email you the results for the child and plan lessons accordingly to their level.

In my trial, I chose a student that is ELL and needs A LOT of help in reading and in math because he's only been in the States for a little over a year.  I was in communication with Zulfa to set up his assessments and it was super easy.  He took the tests in my classroom and I was emailed the results rather quickly.  This is how his reading results looked:

For reading,
Phonemic Awareness - Exempt
Phonics - Inter. Grade 3
Sight Words - Exempt
Vocabulary - Inter. Grade 4
Reading Comprehension - Early Grade 1

Because his reading comprehension was so low for a 5th grader, they adjusted just these lessons to be on his level.  If I felt that this was wrong, I could email Zulfa or the team and they will change his level.  It's that easy. 

Later on, I decided that I did want to change his level because it just seemed toooo easy for him.  Also, it's hard to entice a 10 year old to complete 6 year old lessons with a lot of focus and stamina.  Asa from the K-5 team emailed me their interpretation of reading and math levels that they use to place kids.  You can see those below.  From these, I got to choose how I wanted my student placed.  

And the math (the top got cut off so I could include all the boxes)

When my student logged on each day, each of K-5 lessons is broken into several segments (tutorial, one or more practice sessions and then a quiz).  After each segment, the student sees the 'traffic cop' and is given a chance to stop or continue.  This is done to break study sessions into smaller pieces.  However, the progress reporting is not recorded until the full lesson is completed.  So sometimes a student completes a segment but parents/teachers can’t see any results in the reporting because the full lesson is not complete yet.

Here's another screen shot of a 5th grade math algebra lesson:

So what did I think of the program?

  - Excellent communication on behalf of the team at K-5 Learning.  Everyone I spoke to/emailed was super nice and helpful and QUICK!
- My student did like the program. He got to pick an animated character which helped him enjoy the learning a little better.
- The lessons were quick and easy, so it kept him on track because he was very distracted.
- I liked that I could have him assessed again at any time.  All I had to do was email and they took care of it.
- The reports that came to me were informative and told me how he was doing in each area.  Unfortunately, my trial is over so I can't log in and get any screen shots to show you what they look like.
- The lessons are designed to be extremely student friendly and enticing for little eyes.


- I think this would work much better at home, maybe for parents who homeschool their children.  It was a lot of emailing back and forth to change levels, and I wish I could have been able to do that on my own instead of waiting (even though most times it was same day correspondence).
- On the same topic, I also wish I could have picked his assessments right there instead of emailing.  It seems easier to me.  
- This wouldn't work for a whole class.  I see it as a great intervention tool for the struggling readers.
- For 5th graders, I also think the subject area is a little too young.  This is great for K-4, but almost a little young for 5th graders.  

So would I recommend it?  Yes and No.  No for 5th graders, but yes for younger students in an intervention group or home schoolers.  

If you want to try it out for yourself, I can email you the original email that was sent to me for you to try it out!  They are looking for bloggers to try it and give their honest reviews of the program to get their name out there.  

If anyone else has tried this, I'd love to hear your feedback on the program! Head on over to K-5 Learning to check out their site and learn more about their program if you're interested.

Thanks for hanging in there for this lengthy review!!