June 29, 2016

MId-week Morsel: Word Frequency Counter

As they say, variety is the spice of life.  That sentiment also holds true our writings.  Whether you are working your way through my Writing for Storytellers program, writing your own blog post, or writing an essay for school, you don't want to be repetitive with your word choice.  It is easy to fall into a rut and over-use words, which can give the appearance that you have a small vocabulary and make your work less interesting.  Write Words, an online writing community, has a simple word frequency counter to help solve redundancy problems.  Simply paste your text into their box and press the submit button.  To show you how it works, I pasted the text of this post into the box.  Here are the result...

6 the
5 your
5 you
5 writing
5 to
4 a
3 into
3 have
3 for
3 and
2 words
2 word
2 they
2 that
2 text
2 post
2 of
2 it
2 is
2 frequency
2 counter
2 box
2 are
2 an
2 also
1 writings
1 write
1 works
1 working
1 work
1 with
1 which
1 whether
1 what
1 way
1 want
1 vocabulary
1 variety
1 use
1 true
1 tips
1 through
1 this
1 their
1 submit
1 storytellers
1 spice
1 solve
1 small
1 simply
1 simple
1 show
1 sentiment
1 school
1 say
1 rut
1 result
1 repetitive
1 redundancy
1 program
1 problems
1 press
1 phrase
1 pasted
1 paste
1 own
1 over
1 out
1 our
1 or
1 online
1 my
1 make
1 life
1 less
1 interesting
1 i
1 how
1 holds
1 here
1 help
1 has
1 give
1 fall
1 essay
1 easy
1 don't
1 do
1 community
1 choice
1 check
1 can
1 button
1 blog
1 better
1 be
1 as
1 appearance

They also have a phrase frequency counter to check out.

What tips do you have for better writing?


June 14, 2016

Preventing Summer Learning Loss 2016

 The idea for this post was originally going to be a Mid-week Morsel.  However, once I started gathering resources and putting it all together, I quickly realized that this was not a morsel.  It's a whole meal!

If you are concerned that your children will forget last school year's lessons over the summer, you're not alone.  It is estimated that students start the next school year 2-3 months behind where they ended the year before.  As a result, teachers spend much of the first month or so trying to get back that lost knowledge.

Preventing summer learning loss doesn't have to be time consuming, boring, or even expensive.  I've compiled a short list of websites that offer summer programs specifically designed to help prevent summer learning loss.  There is something for everyone in the list.  Some are free, some are paid.  Some focus on a specific subject, others combine subjects.  Some are straight forward practice pages, some are game and adventure based.  Check out each one to see what will work best for you.

Did I leave out a website you think should have made the list?  Share it in the comments below!


Free Resources:

The Quantile Framework - Math, Reading

          The Summer Math Challenge - The Quantile Summer Math Challenge is a free math skills maintenance program targeted to students who have just completed grade 1 through 7 and is designed to help children retain math skills learned during the previous school year.

          Find a Book - The Lexile “Find a Book” tool is a fun and easy way to select books based on a child’s Lexile measure and interests. You can use this free search tool to build custom lists for readers of all ability levels and then locate your selections at the local public library. 

Khan Academy - Math, Science, Computer Programming, History, Art History, Economics, and more

          Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. Our math missions guide learners from kindergarten to calculus using state-of-the-art, adaptive technology that identifies strengths and learning gaps. We've also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialized content.

Ten Marks - Math

          Assignments contain a wide variety of question types across all depths of knowledge to ensure your students understand the core concepts in a variety of ways. Immediate feedback promotes learning and retention. Hints and video lessons are embedded in every question. Scaffolded hints help students remember core concepts. Video lessons refresh foundational skills. 

Book Adventure - Reading

           Book Adventure is a fun, free way to motivate your child to read! Kids in grades K-8 can search for books, read them offline, come back to quiz on what they’ve read, and earn prizes for their reading success.

Brain Flex - Math, Science

           Get active and happy this summer. Build your math and science skills with daily practice.  Pick the subjects you want to practice.  Practice something every day.  Anytime and anywhere.  We will help you stay on track and monitor your progress.  Invite students to get a head start or review concepts they missed.  Track your student's progress over the 8-week challenge.

Paid Resources:

Brain Chasemulti-subject - $79/6 week adventure

          The Summer 2016 adventure starts at 9 a.m. EST on Monday, June 20, 2016. Students in grades 2 through 8 will log in to the Student Dashboard watch the first animated webisode and meet Mae Merriweather as she and her team of adventurers search for the Mask of Tomoe Gozen. Also, check the mail for a mysterious object that you’ll need during the 6-week adventure.  Each week you have four tasks: earn 10,000 energy points on Khan Academy, write a journal entry, do one bonus challenge, and complete either reading or language assignments. We provide seamless access to all of our online curriculum partners for you, and all tasks are adaptable to the student's level.  This isn’t just fiction—there’s a real treasure buried somewhere on Earth. The first adventurer to decipher the clues and discover the treasure's location will receive a trip to dig it up and a $10,000 scholarship.

LeapAhead! -  Math - $24.95/8 week session

          LeapAhead! offers 4 assignments a week for a total of 8 weeks. Its daily assignments motivate children to log in everyday to find what challenges await them. Children love the interactive nature of online worksheets, and they can find out their mistakes and scores right away!  All worksheets are fully aligned with the Common Core State Standards.  Assignments will be automatically graded upon submission. An online report keeps track of each child's scores and progress. Every child will receive an online printable certificate upon completion of the program.

 Summer Splash - Math - $29.99/8 week program

          Halt the summer slide (students lose 2-3 months of math skills during the summer break if they do not practice regularly).  Review Skills from the current grade and practice key skills from the grade student is entering this fall.  Program is available for students from Kindergarten through Grade 5.  Diagnostics and practice assignments aligned to Common Core Standards.  Individualized report which summarizes the child’s progress and aptitude on both previous and next year’s math skills.  A Certificate of completion at the end of the program.

K5 Learning - Math, Reading - $14.95/month

           K5 Learning is an online after-school study program for kids in kindergarten to grade 5.  We build reading, math and study skills.  K5 kids learn to focus and work independently.  K5 allows kids to progress, unrestrained and un-pressured.  K5 organizes, instructs, and quizzes your child and provides reports to you.  We use simple interfaces, spoken instructions and bite sized lessons.  No ads, no chat, & no external links.  100% online. No downloads and nothing to install.

IXL - Math, Language Arts, Science, Social Studies - $9.95/month

          Embark on a virtual treasure hunt as you tackle math challenges and reveal colorful prizes. The more you practice, the more you win!  With IXL, it's easy to meet your learning objectives! All of IXL's skills are fully aligned to Florida standards. Get unprecedented insight into student performance with IXL Analytics. View real-time data on usage, trouble spots, and more! 

June 10, 2016

Writing For Storytellers

As you may recall, I like to have my kids do some sort of school work over the summer.  My kids don't like it as much as I do, but I do try to make it more fun than regular school-year type work.  I try to use the kids' interests to build fun and interactive elective-type classes for summer time.  One year, we spent the summer learning the science behind cooking.  There were some lessons to read, some worksheets to complete, and a lot of cooking & eating.

Lately, my 12 year old has been very busy writing.  She has taken a real interest in storytelling.  She has several works in progress, from short stories to screenplays to full-on novels.  So this summer I thought it would be both fun and beneficial to give her a class on how to write a novel.

Of course, I'm NOT a novelist!  I am, however, pretty good at scouring the internet for information.  I spent a few weeks doing research and gathering resources from people who ARE novelists, and came up with a 7 unit course to take her all the way through the writing process.  I'm still debating whether or not to add a unit to the end about the editing process.  I kind of feel like that could be a whole course of its own.  

The included units are:

  • Before You Write
  • Story Formats
  • Theme
  • Character Development
  • Set Building
  • Subplots
  • As You Write

To make all this information easier to access and organize, I compiled all the articles and worksheets into one website.  If you have a budding author in your house, are one yourself, or are just looking for quasi-educational summer activities for your tween or teen, please take a look at Writing for Storytellers.  As always, the resources and worksheets are free for personal use.  If you wish to share them, please link directly to either that website or this post.