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River Oaks Elementary School

VoiceThread: U.S. History Research

Friday, December 17, 2010

Mrs. Goodman's 5th grade students have created research projects about the United States. Areas of  study included landmarks, people, major cities, and regions. Within each category, students chose the specific topics they would like to explore. By applying strategies from the Independent Investigation Method (IIM) framework, students developed questions and set research goals. Then they selected print and online sources and collected notefacts. Students are developing the skills of writing ideas in their own words in a format that is both short but complete enough to make sense. Documenting sources has also been a key component. Students are developing an understanding of plagiarism and ways to avoid it. In order to begin writing and creating a product to share what they learned, students categorized and organized their notefacts.They originally planned to make a picture book that each student would take home, so at first their work was printed out in black and white pages. But some students expressed concern about the amount of paper that would be required in making so many copies. So instead we decided to have kids showcase their work in a digital format instead.

We chose to use a tool called VoiceThread, which is an online media album that allows us to make comments on images, videos, documents, really simply. Our project is embedded above, and can be viewed directly here. Voice recordings and comments can be made using your voice (with a microphone or phone), text, audio, or by video (with a webcam). It's easy to control who can access and comment on a VoiceThread, and an entire conversation can be collected in the world and shared in one central place.

Now students have been able to record reflective comments about their work, and get voice and text feedback from not only their peers, but also the wider ROE school community. The audience for their work has expanded far outside classroom walls to our faculty and families here in Houston and beyond. Students evaluated and raised new questions about their work. They focused on including evidence, elaboration, and examples as part of their comments and ideas. In addition, students created an avatar as part of learning how to build a safe online identity and how to contribute to an online learning community.

For more details about about how we worked through our project, please visit the project guidelines page. You can learn more about VoiceThread with these tutorials. See more exciting possibilities with these examples of VoiceThread as Digital Portfolio

e-Reading & e-Learning

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

There are numerous e-Reading and e-Learning sources available to our students to help them to develop vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension. They can also provide motivation for reading which can drive progress across the curriculum! Here are just a few, and by clicking the link beneath this short list, you will find many more to explore! 

  • Capstone Interactive Library: Non-fiction e-Books at a range of levels with audio and visual read-aloud capabilities are linked to the ROE Libary Catalog Search page. On the ROE catalog search page, click the red & yellow icon  labeled  'Capstone Interactives.'

                              • Renzulli LearningStudents complete a personal survey that profiles their interest areas, how they like to learn, and how they like to express what they have learned. The Renzulli system “hand picks” educational activities which match the results of each child’s unique profile. Renzulli Learning also screens websites for educationally sound and child-friendly content. The database is searchable for e-Books and provides customized e-Learning activities that students can explore independently as well as through teacher-directed assignments and projects.

                                    • Toon Books Reader: Candlewick Press:  Readers can listen to text read to them (by the author), or they can activate the audio on individual balloons, soon graduating to reading by themselves. These are available in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, French, Chinese and Russian.

                                      Click HERE to see & explore more...
                                      For Teachers:  Free e-Book of Web Tools for Educators
                                      (via Free Tech For Teachers)

                                      Links & Resources for Teachers

                                      Monday, December 6, 2010

                                      • Graphs Gallery Collection - Download a large selection of graphs for use on SMARTBoard. This is a 'gallery collection' and will download directly into 'My Content' folder from Gallery tab. (via Teaching SMARTBoard)

                                      • Interactive Websites: A collection of resources for math, science, social studies, reading, language arts, and assessment.

                                      Teaching History: Historical Thinking Poster via
                                      Pocket Constitution via Heritage Foundation

                                      Choosing a Print Resource

                                      Thursday, November 11, 2010

                                      Some questions you should ask yourself before you choose a print resource for an assignment or project:

                                      • Is the author an expert on the subject?
                                      • Does the book have current information?
                                      • Are the images and graphics helpful to understanding the text?
                                      • Is the book convenient to use? In other words, does it have an index, table of contents, bold text, headings, and subheadings?
                                      • Does the book cover the topic fully and address your questions?

                                      View the clips in the interactive below to further explore how to choose a useful non-fiction book:
                                      Hints about Print (ReadWriteThink Interactive)

                                      What's on the holdshelf @ ROE Library?

                                      Sunday, November 7, 2010

                                      Matching Books to Readers

                                      Monday, November 1, 2010

                                      Here are some useful online resources to help kids successfully choose 'Just Right Books.'

                                      For Students:

                                      For Teachers:

                                      K-12 Online Conference

                                      Saturday, October 23, 2010

                                      The K12 Online Conference is now underway. This is a free conference organized by educators for educators around the world interested in integrating emerging technologies into classroom practice." Presentations are archived on iTunesU, so they can be downloaded and viewed anywhere and anytime!

                                      Visit the conference Ning or explore the links below to learn more about how you can participate.

                                      Take the Reading Genre Poll

                                      Sunday, October 17, 2010

                                      Here are the final results of the Reading Genre Poll! Click to enlarge and find out the most popular genres preferred by students at ROE. Even though there are evidently some that are more popular than others, it is also clear that we have fans for every genre of reading!

                                      ROE students can share their favorite kinds of things to read (either online or offline) by taking this short poll. A 'genre' is a type or category of reading. You can choose more than one, since you probably like to read more than just one! When you are done, you can click 'View Results' to find out about other students favorite genres.

                                      T.A. Barron Visits Houston

                                      Thursday, October 14, 2010

                                      Author T.A. Barron will be  visiting Houston this weekend as part of the Inprint Houston "Cool Brains" Series! He will reading from Ultimate Magic,  Book 3 of his Merlin's Dragon trilogy.

                                      When: Sunday, 17. October 2010
                                      Where: Pershing Middle School Auditorium-3838 Blue Bonnet Blvd. @: 3:00 pm

                                          Visit Author T.A. Barron's Homepage & see a list of his books HERE.

                                          Ways to Cite Sources Offline & Online

                                          Wednesday, October 6, 2010

                                          Click through to find forms, templates, and links to online citation makers to help you with citing sources for your research. Be sure to explore the resources on plagiarism too!

                                          Name That Book Barnes & Noble Bookfair

                                          Please come and support Name That Book by shopping at the Barnes and Noble at the River Oaks location (2030 W. Gray).  Please bring the attached voucher with you. This is a major source of funding for this very popular and costly program. You can view ROE's 'Name That Book' page and book list HERE.

                                          Here are the details:
                                          When:  October 9-11 (Saturday - Monday)
                                          River Oaks Barnes & Noble location - 2030 Gray Street

                                          Events at the store:

                                          • This weekend is also part of Educator Appreciation days where teachers will receive up to 25% off of classroom and personal purchases (10% on music/movies). 
                                          • Author Visit - Miriam King author of Librarian on the Roof on Saturday, Oct 9 @ 2pm 
                                          • Author Visit - Starla Howard Davis author of Paul and the House Full of Donuts on Sunday, Oct 10 @ 2pm

                                          New Books @ROE Library--Check it out!

                                          Tuesday, September 28, 2010

                                          Words, Words, and more Words

                                          Sunday, September 26, 2010

                                          To expand your vocabulary or investigate ways to improve your writing through word choice, explore some of the many excellent online dictionaries and thesauruses!

                                          Create visual word maps that can show you useful related synonyms and parts of speech. Visuwords and Snappy Words are online graphical dictionaries that show not only synonyms, but expand into many other word relationships and parts of speech. Lexipedia shows webbed word connections too. Wordia brings words to life through both text and videos!

                                          Tagxedo and Wordle are useful in creating word clouds. Try using these tools with a piece of your writing, a speech, or an article and you can discover repeated words, themes and main ideas.

                                          Find word games and interactive activities on Spelling City, Word Central, and Math Dictionary for Kids. Go to Spelling City and enter your spelling words. Then, choose one of the many games to help you practice and learn. After, take a test and see how well you really know those weekly spelling words. Interact with the activities and games in the Maths Dictionary to better understand important mathematics vocabulary too.

                                          [See where these page links on the ROE Library site by clicking

                                          Sweet Search--readable & reliable!

                                          Sunday, September 12, 2010

                                          Just because you find information on the Internet does not mean it's true, and often sites are very hard to read and understand. Where do you go when you need good information that is readable, true, and safe?

                                          Sweet Search
                                          and Sweet Search4me (designed for elementary students) are excellent choices for kids! Like Nettrekker, their results only include sites that are accurate, reliable, safe, and understandable
                                          because they are reviewed by teams of educators. You can find them both HERE on the ROE Library site, and you can also try out a search directly below by typing in some key words. 

                                          Finding Dulcinea, the creator of Sweet Search, also offers several other excellent pages for student research projects and assignments. Check out also Sweet Sites, 10 Steps to Better Research, Sweet Search Biographies, and Sweet Search Social Studies.

                                          Classroom Magazines @ROE Library

                                          Tuesday, September 7, 2010

                                          The ROE Library receives the many magazines you see pictured. Click HERE for direct links to online interactive versions of our print subscriptions. Find wonderful fiction stories to inspire your reading and writing in Cricket, Muse, Spider, and Ladybug. Explore science topics in Odyssey, Ask, Current Health, Current Science, Know, and OWL. Connect to the many facets of the world around us through National Geographic's Little Kids and Young Explorer. Discover new people, places, and events of the past in Dig, Cobblestone, and Calliope. Try Sports Illustrated Kids, Boys Life, American Girl or New Moon for all kinds of great articles and information!

                                          International Photography Contest For Kids

                                          ROE student photographers should definitely check out this National Geographic International Photography Contest!  Click on the icon above for rules and guidelines to enter.

                                          "Take a photograph of something in your world that fits one or more of these four categories: humor, animals, scenery, or people. The Grand Prize winner in this contest will be selected from the First Place winners in each category and win a trip to Toronto, Canada. Then the four First Place Winners will go on to compete against other First Place Winners from National Geographic International Photography Contests for Kids being held worldwide. The best photo worldwide will win the Grand Prize in the worldwide contest, a trip to Washington, D.C."

                                          You can also explore
                                          National Geographic Kids online and be sure not to miss the National Geographic Photo of the Day. Two of my recent favorites are the Tour de France, Paris and Storm Clouds, Grand Canyon . These photographs through a microscipe of insect eggs are also simply amazing too!

                                          Pennies for Peace

                                          Wednesday, August 18, 2010

                                          pfp from woody c. harrison on Vimeo.

                                          ‘While a penny is virtually worthless, in impoverished countries a penny buys a pencil and opens the door to literacy.’   ~ 

                                          Last year Ms. Pfeifer and her Mini U.N. students mobilized our school to take action toward improving educational opportunities for children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. They worked together to inform and motivate our learning community to become involved in making a difference in the world, and proved that it could be done! See and hear Ms. Pfeifer share her experiences at about 4:15 and 4:45 of this clip! You can also check out the picture book she describes at the ROE Library!

                                          Favorite Summer Book?

                                          Tuesday, August 17, 2010

                                          What was your favorite summer book this year? Go to this WallWisher page, double click anywhere, and create a post to share a great book you've read!

                                          The Magician's Nephew

                                          Friday, August 13, 2010

                                          This is an extremely enchanting, magical book. Digory and Polly, best friends, start the adventure by exploring a strange empty tunnel in Polly's basement. And it leads to every house on the block! Finding this out, they then want to go through the tunnel into a empty forgotten house. But, by miscounting how many houses away it was... they find themselves in a very sticky situation. They ended up in Digory's house! "Well," you say "'that doesn't seem so bad."  But wait--there's more. Both of them wind up in Uncle Andrew's (that's Digory's uncle) study room and didn't expect to find that he was in it! What will happen? Will they ever see day light again? Or will they find themselves embarking on a whole new magical journey? Find out by reading: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew.

                                          Reviewed by: 'ReadItAll' Ilona
                                          Rating: 8 out of 10

                                          The People of Sparks

                                          Thursday, August 12, 2010

                                          I'm extremely sorry, but, this is the second book of a series so I cannot say much other than it is a very good sequel to first. I will say a bit about the first book The City of Ember to hopefully interest you in reading the series.


                                                Dark, cold, the streetlights aglow.The City of Ember this is.
                                           Day and knight, its hard to tell a difference, The City of Ember this is.
                                                     Some problems accruing, will they solve them in time?
                                                                  The People of Ember hurry!

                                          Well, in the The People of Sparks you will find out the answer to a question you might not have realized yourself that you were wondering, but has always been there since you began The City of Ember. And in The People of Sparks you will learn a very important lesson that I think everyone can learn from.

                                          Reviewed by: 'ReadItAll' Ilona
                                          Rating: 7 out of 10

                                          When You Reach Me

                                          Wednesday, July 28, 2010

                                          The book's idea is built on the story A Wrinkle in Time and talks about that book throughout the story. It talks a lot about time travel as well. I love this book because it is so deep. I could really see into the characters minds and feel what they were feeling. I really liked the way the author wrote the whole storyline. 

                                          Reviewed by Elizabeth
                                          Rating: 10 out of 10

                                          Hate That Cat

                                          Wednesday, June 16, 2010

                                          It was a good book! With some poetry, post cards and cats, this author put together a geat read!

                                          Reviewed by Mariela
                                          Rating: 10 out of 10

                                          Read more about this book and other wonderful books by this author HERE. You can also preview and read a chapter from Love That Dog HERE.

                                          Ranger's Apprentice: Erak's Ransom

                                          Tuesday, June 15, 2010

                                          On Erak's last raiding before becoming Oberjarl of Skandia, he is captured and held hostage by the Arridi desert people. When one of Erak's crew members sends word to Halt, Will, Horace, and Evelyn-their Areluen friends, they immediately set out to get their close friend Erak back to where he belongs.

                                          But it's not as easy as they think. When the Areluen party finally make it to the desert where the Arridi people are, they are informed by the Arridi "Wakir"-their headman. The soldiers(which belong to the Arridi) that were guarding Erak have been attacked and the Tualaghi Warriors now have Erak and are holding him hostage. But instead of getting Erak back with money, the Tualughi headsman wants a battle-Arridi & Areluens vs. the Tualughi Warriors.

                                          Who will win and what is in for Erak and the Areluens? Read the book to find out!

                                          Reviewed by Katherine
                                          Rating: 10 out of 10

                                          See all 8 books in the Ranger's Apprentice series HERE.

                                          Secrets of Droon: Dream Thief

                                          Monday, June 14, 2010

                                           The Secrets of Droon: Dream Thief by Tony Abbott

                                          Eric, Neal, and Julie go back to Droon, a magical world under Eric's basement, once again. This time an evil pie maker named Jabbo is stealing dreams in Droon. Eric, Neal, and Julie are on a mission to stop him but it just might turn into a nightmare. Read and find out what happens in
                                          Dream Thief, a book from the Secrets of Droon series. 

                                          Reviewed by Saahithi
                                          Rating: 9 out of 10

                                          Visit the author's website HERE to find out more about many other great books he's written!

                                          Friendship Stories

                                          Sunday, June 13, 2010

                                          If you enjoyed this amazing clip, you might also like to read Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Hatkoff this summer, or...

                                          ... Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel. To see more summer reading ideas, click HERE!

                                          The Red Pyramid

                                          Thursday, May 27, 2010

                                          The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

                                          Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

                                          One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. You will just have to read the rest.

                                          Reviewed by Aiza
                                          Rating: 9 out of 10

                                          Rick Riordan is the author of the Percy Jackson Adventures also. Find out more HERE.


                                          Clementine by Sara Pennypacker

                                          A wacky girl named Clementine lives a life of weirdness. It all starts off on Monday. Clementine went to the art room and sat next to Margaret. Margaret was the bossy type. Suddenly Margaret gets glue in her hair and runs to the bathroom with a pair of scissors.

                                          Clementine begins to wonder where Margaret was and what she was doing. So she ran there and then asked,"Margaret, what happened?" Margaret’s face was red with tears and ALL OF HER HAIR WAS CUT OFF! “My Mom has permanent markers in her special drawer!" Clementine said. "I guess I have no choice.”

                                          Will Clementine color Margaret’s head or will she be plain mad at her? Read and see!

                                          Reviewed by Aiza
                                          Rating: 7 out of 10

                                          Visit author Sara Pennypacker's Official site.


                                          Tuesday, May 11, 2010

                                          This is the place to find out what ROE students are reading this summer! Click the link: 'Share your summer book' and fill out the form describing a book you have read.

                                          You will soon see your book review posted here on this blog.

                                          Remember, you can also read and share an e-book. You can locate e-books by searching your enrichment activity page in Renzulli Learning. Try an advanced search to find the best results.

                                          Did you forget your Renzulli passwords? Email Ms. Eastman and she will send those to you!

                                          Don't forget to record at least 5 books you have read this summer on your MILLIONAIRE CLUB ticket. Return the ticket at the beginning of the new school year for a special bookmark and you will be able to enter into a prize drawing!

                                          Find more ideas about books you might like to read, go here.