Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten! by Stacey Kannenberg

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten (Spanish/English Edition) by Stacey Kannenberg is full of great information to help get your little ones ready for their first day of school. The inside covers are filled with great tips for parents on getting your child ready for learning, homework, and even skill levels. Of these, my favorite was the stages of writing. Many parents are concerned in the early years of school about where their child is in their development and where they think their child should be. But, Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten lays it out great.

As you move into the book, you will find numbers, letters, words, and more for your child to identify. It can be a little overwhelming for you and your child to take all of this in at once. But as it says, "This information will take time to understand. Keep reading it over and over again." This book was not meant to be completely learned by day one of kindergarten. It is a good start and meant to be referred to again and again throughout the year as practice. I would recommend taking on a page or two at a time. There is a lot of information that if done all in one sitting could stress out a 4 or 5 year old, which means stressing you out too. Also, I wouldn't recommend handing it to a child without guidance. Depending on your state's standards for kindergarten, this book could go beyond what your child is supposed to learn in kindergarten and even start to get him/her ready for first grade. Having both English and Spanish throughout the book does seem to clutter the pages. If this is a problem, see the English only version.

Having children who have come into my class speaking not a word of English, I would use this particular edition with children to help them in their English development skills, even outside of kindergarten. Everything in this book is in English and Spanish which would be great for the ELL (English language learner) student.

The book itself has thick laminated pages. Some pages call for writing directly in the book with a dry erase marker (great for using it over and over and with multiple children). It also has a strong binding to prevent pages from being easily torn out.

*Book was provided by the author for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kagan's Learning Chips

The Kagan learning chips have many of the same benefits of the cubes in that they are quick and easy to use in addition to their versatility of use. The biggest difference is in the level for use. I wouldn’t recommend the Learning Chips for less than late 4th to 5th grade and up (yes, even high school). For the Learning Chips there are 16 chips, thus 16 different questions. Plus, they are made of a sturdy plastic, so they will last you a long time.

As I mentioned there is versatility in the use. The chips can be used with whole, group, small group, and individual. They can be used as part of the lesson or as an extension for high and lower level students depending on how they are used. I received two sets of chips for review.

Review Chips:
These chips are for reviewing a lesson, but can also be used as a wrap-up. There are many questions concerning relating the topic to the student and prior knowledge, summarizing, listing, vocabulary, and more. As I have said before, we are told constantly at workshops that for students to retain information they need to tell or think about what they have learned and this is an easy and fast way to do it.

Reading Comprehension:
I would definitely use these chips when teaching older grades. I really love the questions. It asks about character, setting, main idea, summary, style, relating to self, imagery, and more. These chips definitely hit on a lot of comprehension standards.

Overall, I really liked the chips. There is a variety of uses and questions. Plus, they are compact, easy, and fast to use.

*Learning Chips were provided by Kagan for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Monday, August 24, 2009

Kagan's Learning Cubes

Learning cubes are a different way to approach some of the questions that you may already be asking in class.

I was very excited when these learning cubes arrived. There are a wide variety of topics offered, but I chose the Lesson Launcher, Lesson Wrap-up, and Reading Comprehension cubes for this review. I am using these with 2nd graders and would not recommend going lower than that.

I found that the cubes could be used in multiple ways- centers, small group work, and even in whole group work. Using the cubes with the students was more interesting to them than just standing at the front of the room and asking them questions. They were excited with the anticipation of what the next question would be.

Also, they are a soft foam material. This keeps the noise down when there are several students or groups using them. Unless punctured with a sharp object, the cubes should last a while.

Lesson Launcher:
The Lesson Launcher cube has prediction questions, KWL style questions, and personal interest in the lesson questions. I found all of these questions relevent in that it meets the reading standards in Arizona. Just by using the cubes to introduce a new reading lesson or story I have covered several standards. Plus, it only takes a few minutes.

Lesson Wrap-up:
Over and over again at workshops, we are told you need to have your students tell or think about what they have learned in a lesson to ensure better retension of the knowledge. These cubes are a great way to do it quickly. There are several questions linking the knowledge learned to the student and his/her previous knowledge as well as how the student would reteach it and how they will remember it. Again, it only takes a few minutes to do. The language is low enough for about 2nd grade and up. This cube also meets some state standard.

Reading Comprehension:
The vocabulary used on this cube is a little harder and should be used with 3rd grade (maybe later 2nd grade) and up. It also makes use of Bloom's Taxonomy with words such as brainstorm. The reading comprehension can be used for fiction or nonfiction, which is great for consistent use with students (meaning they can be used with every reading).

Overall, I really like the cubes. They are quick, easy, and can be used frequently without a hassle.

*Learning Cubes were provided by Kagan for review, no money was exchanged as a result (please see terms of use).

Monday, August 3, 2009

Suppliers and Producers of Educational Tools


I am taking emails concerning your products now! If you would like me to review and blog about your product, email me and tell me about it. If it is something that I feel would follow the theme of what I am trying to do, you will need to send me a class sample. For example if you have individual student manipulatives that accompany a lesson on addition, I will need enough to do the lesson with the classroom. If it is a mini lesson for struggling readers, I will need a group set. The most important thing is that I need all of the parts and enough supplies to execute the objective, thus to properly evaluate your product.

To contact me:
reference: product for review

I look forward to working with you and the many great educational tools out there and getting the word out about them.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Join Today!

Hi! I can't wait to get started on this blog. Being a teacher, this blog is close to my heart. With school budgets getting tighter and homeschool budgets always tight, it can be difficult to choose what to order for your classroom. If I order something and the level is not right or it just isn't as great as it sounded in the catalog, I have just wasted a lot of money and have something else taking up my precious (and limited) classroom space.

With my blog, you will get to see some great tools that I have tested with real children in a real classroom and have found useful, educational, safe, and time-saving. If there is something you would love to see on here, let me know. I will do what I can to get it and test it.

In the mean time, join and we will hopefully be up and running soon!