Phonics Friday Part 1 – Bedroom Phonics Chart

I am on a mission to teach my son to read. My older kids eventually learned to read but for my son who struggles with learning difficulties ranging from Dyslexia to auditory processing issues reading is hard! I thought I would share my experiences hopefully every Friday. I also hope to post a free copy of the resource I create for teaching phonics.

While I was casually talking to my wife about teaching our kids to read I asked my wife what she remembered from her school years when she learned to read. To my surprise, she responded with the fact that she didn’t remember and that she just learned. That was an ah-ha moment for me. My wife has always been able to read well. In fact from her description, it sounded like she just picked up a book and started reading.

I on the other hand had to learn to read. It wasn’t always easy. But I remember how I learned to read. I was taught using a structured phonics approach. I attended a grade school where they used A Beka. One of the vivid memories I have from learning to read I still remember it while I am reading to myself or sounding out words subconsciously. What I remember most from my school years learning to read were phonics drills. I don’t remember how often we would work on those drills but I can hear them in my mind. I looked up the charts and they are about the same. You can see a sample one here. I remember it was on a big flip chart at the front of the room. When I think back to learning to read I am convinced that drills helped me learn to read. I decided to go to that method to help reinforce phonics for my son.

So here is a picture from my son’s room of what I am doing.

Wall poster in my son’s bedroom for drilling vowel sounds.

I quickly made this phonics chart last night. I ended up using MS Word but you could do it on the iPad also. In fact, I probably would have used Keynote if I was doing it again. The picture of the Indian I got from a great site for free images here. I let my son pick out the picture so it was something that interested him. I chose vowels since my son keeps mixing up simple words with i and a as a short vowel sound. My goal is to work with him every night before bed. I make him say with me “a-a” in apple “i-i” in Indian. So far it works pretty well. The only change I think I will make to the poster is to put the letter first and then the picture. Also here is another great resource for free phonics charts.

What do you think of my phonics chart? What have you done to help your child learn to read with phonics? What do you remember from when you first started to learn to read? Was it easy for you or hard?

If you would like more information on teaching phonics and teaching boys to read I suggest you check out my post on free reading resources. Also here is a free copy of my phonics vowel poster. If you would like to see more of what I am doing to teach my son to read with phonics check out Part 2.

Building a tree house with the boys

Now that the Coronavirus keeps a lot of us home I have an opportunity to spend more time playing with the boys at home.  Here is a list of things I have been doing with the boy’s are home under lockdown

  • Build Lego creations
  • Go on bike rides
  • Read some books
  • Help with math
  • Plant a garden
  • Build a chicken tractor (coop)
  • camp in the back yard
  • Make a rabbit trap
  • Play in the dirt
  • Make a zip line
  • build a treehouse

My son has been wanting to do this for a while, but it seems like I never have the time.  He has several treehouse books but one of the best ways to get inspiration is through Pinterest. You can check out our board here. My son’s favorite treehouse book is How to Build Treehouses, Huts & Forts by David Stiles.

Here is what we learned about building a treehouse.

  • Make a plan!

What about you?  Do you have any treehouse advice for us?

Best iOS 11 Feature for Educators

The iPad/iPhone screen capture feature is one of my favorites.  Its easy to take take a screen shot on the iPhone or iPad by pressing the home and power buttons at the same time. (Screen capture on the iPhoneX is a little differentOn the iphoneX you press Volume Up button and Power button together at the same time to screen capture.)

What the new iOS 11 screen capture lets you do:

Now with iOS11 you can actually do something more than just save the screen capture to your photos.  You can:

  • Draw on the captured image: You can use different types of markers and different colors to draw.  You can even use shapes, text or add a custom signature. Just start drawing on the screen image. To add a signature touch the + sign at the bottom right.
  • Crop the image: This allows you to cut off parts of the screen you don’t want. I sometimes do this before I txt a screen capture so it doesn’t take up as much memory. To crop the image just drag any of the blue frame corners to the size you want.
  • You can also magnifying a section of screen capture.

  • Send captured image to other apps: You can send the screen capture or edited screen capture to other apps or other people via txt or email. When you are ready just tap on the up arrow in a box at the bottom left.

Screen capture is not the only place you can use the new iOS 11 markup tools. You can also do the same mark ups on pdf files in iBooks. Just click on the picture that looks like a pencil at the top of the screen.

What are your favorite uses of the screen capture tool?

How to create great video memories on the iPhone and iPad

While I’d like to think someday I’ll be a great videographer that probably won’t happen anytime soon. Thankfully the memories section in the iOS photos app has you covered. Apart from a few quirks, the memories app will help you quickly put together your favorite memories into a nice video.  You can quickly create awesome movies to preserve your memories using just the iOS photos app. Here is a quick guide on using the photos app to make a video memory.

How to get to the memories app

  1. Open the photos app
  2. At the bottom select the second icon labeled memories
  3. There will be several memory videos already created.


How to customize

You have to play the memory video first before you can customize or edit the Memories movie.  If the video looks exactly like you want and the music is to your liking, then you can go on to the steps below to preserve this Memories video.  Otherwise you can edit the the video by selecting the “Edit” link in the upper right hand corner.

(in iOS 10 it will be a small icon with lines on the bottom right) .The easiest edits are to change the Mood of the music and change the length of the video as shown above.  You can set the movie length to short, medium, or long.  You can also change the music to dreamy, sentimental, gentle, chill, happy, uplifting, epic, club, or extreme.  The photos Memories app will automatically update the movie with your new choice.

Choose more pictures or videos

The app does a pretty good job choosing pictures, but what happens if you have a picture in your Memory video that you don’t want? You can choose not to include some of the pictures or videos in the memories video.  You can also add more pictures and videos to your Memories movie. 

Select the Photos & Videos to edit what pictures are used in the Memories video.  You can scroll along the bottom to see all the pictures included in your Memories video.  Tap on the picture or video you want to edit.  You can change the length of the video clip or you can remove the picture or video by putting it in the trash.  (It does not delete the picture on your iPhone or iPad)

 

You can also add more pictures by pressing the + sign at the bottom left.

Edit title and song choice

Now that you have the pictures you want you can edit the title and song.  You can either choose from Apples song Soundtracks or music you have saved from iTunes on your iPhone or iPad.

How to save and export video memories

Since the Memories movies are always changing you need to preserve your favorite memories so they won’t get changed or removed.  To preserve the memory movie scroll to the bottom of all the pictures and then select “Add to Memories”.

 

Having finalized the memories video I highly recommend you export and save your video. Ideally you would think the logical export option would be iMovie but alas I was dearly disappointed. You can indeed export to iMovie but there is little you can do since the whole memory is exported as a video. To save your Memories movie file press the box with the up arrow at the bottom of the screen where you edit the Memories movie.

You now have several options on how you want to export your Memories video.


https://support.apple.com/en-us/ht207023

P.S. Memory movies only work on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV. You won’t see Memory movies on your Mac (for now).

How to create an iBook on the iPad with Pages

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This last weekend I had to give a talk and unfortunately my printer refused to print! My next option was to use my iPad. I really did not want to use Pages on my iPad for my talk so I discovered that you can export a documents right from Pages into iBook! (With one small intermediate step) Once my document was in iBooks it was easy to increase the font size.  This made reading my notes was easy on the iPad.

Setting up the Document:

Before exporting to iBooks, I would recommend adding chapter headings to your document. I just used heading 1 and titled it Chapter 1. I added three chapters.

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Open Pages document in Another App:

Once you have the document finished you can export to another App.  Select the box with the arrow pointing up located in the upper right side of the screen as shown below.

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Choose ePub format for iBooks.

You are then offered several different format options.  You can either convert the document to PDF or ePub for iBooks.  I chose ePub since it allows you to increase or decrease the font size and it also allows for headings.

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You will then need to enter some information about your document. Important: Make sure that the option “Use the first page as the book cover image” is not selected! I accidentally selected this and found out that it makes the first page unreadable because you only see the first page when you look at the bookshelf.

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Your document will now be converted tot he ePub format which can be opened in iBooks.

Make sure you do not include important information in the header and footer since they are removed when Pages creates a ePub file.

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Select which App you want to use to view your document:

Select iBooks to open your Pages document in iBook.  Once opened the document is then saved to your iBooks bookshelf.

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Now you have a simple ePub book that can be read in iBooks.

 

 

Using Kenote as a remote

Status

Apple Keynote can control Keynote. I gave a talk this weekend and I thought it might be nice to have a remote for my Keynote presentation.  A quick internet search revealed that the latest version of Keynote for iOS includes a remote control mode.

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When you open the Keynote app, there is a small icon up top that looks like a remote symbol.  If the icon is not available then you may need to update the Keynote iOS app.  Make sure both devices you want to use either have bluetooth enabled, or they are on the same wifi network.  I used Bluetooth since I didn’t know if wifi was available when I needed to give my presentation.  You must also link the two devices before you can use the iPhone as a remote for Keynote.

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Keynote will start looking for another apple device with Keynote open.  Once it connects, there are various remote layouts you can use on the iOS device.  If you are using an iPhone as the remote, then it can be difficult to read some of the layouts because of the screen size.  All the more reason to use large fonts and few words for your slides.

To advance to the next slide, you just swipe in the direction you want to go.  The swiping to advance is my main compliant for the remote feature.  I wish there was an option for a simple next button.  Maybe I just need more practice but I kept messing up causing the slide to go backwards when I wanted to go forward.

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Here is a picture of the “current and next slide” layout.  You can see that a marker symbol in the upper right hand side of the screen.  This allows you to write on you slide or use a virtual pointer.  Again a small screen may not be optimal for this function.

20140520-075139.jpgOverall it worked pretty well when using an iPhone.  You can also use an iOS device with a Mac.  On the Mac you must go to the preferences and turn on the Keynote remote feature.  You also must link the two devices together for the remote app to work.