Some tips to help you to get started with Headsprout.
If a student completes an episode and is eager to try another, gauge whether he or she will be successful. Each episode involves many active responses on the part of the student, and it is much better to end an episode wanting more than to attempt a second or third and quit while tired or frustrated. Always take a short break (move around, stretch, get a drink) between any consecutive episodes.
Establish a time for completing Headsprout episodes when your student is free from distractions and when you are available to give help if needed. For best results, an adult should be nearby to listen (intermittently or consistently, as needed) for accurate oral responding while the student completes episodes.
Create a schedule to ensure students complete three episodes per week and post it in a place that is easy for the student to see. Ask students to point out "Headsprout time" on the schedule.
Allocate 30 minutes of computer time for students to complete each episode. Episodes can take as little as 10-20 minutes to complete, but students should be encouraged to learn at their own pace. If there is extra time, students can practice reading stories in the Reading Room.
Make sure students have functioning headphones or good quality speakers so they can clearly hear the program prompts. For the "K-2" portion of the sequence, students should also have access to microphones.
Press the F11 key (at the top of the keyboard) once the program is loaded to maximize the screen image and hide other toolbars.
Move the keyboard behind the computer to minimize distraction (the keyboard is not needed during the program).
Conduct the Placement Test prior to beginning Headsprout episodes to ensure students are successful and challenged right away. The placement assessment can be conducted at the start of each new school year.
Let the program do the teaching. A key feature of Headsprout is that students can work on the episodes by themselves. Headsprout episodes are designed to teach students without requiring extra help, and will adapt to each student's success or need for more assistance. Give your student the opportunity to succeed on his or her own, but be available to help if necessary.
Instruct students to speak out loud using their "Headsprout voice" when the yellow "smiley face" icon is on the screen. Headsprout uses several techniques to ensure students read out loud, but the program does not use voice recognition.
For best results, students should read all Sprout Stories. Some stories will be presented to students automatically upon completion of episodes while others will become available in the Reading Room.
Use the Sprout Cards that correspond to the block of episodes the student is working on for fluency practice. The Sprout Cards can also be used at home for extra practice.
If a student makes an error while reading a Sprout Story, ensure that the student is attending to the words rather than to the pictures. The student may need to point to the words as he or she reads them.
Student progress is saved automatically throughout program episodes. Adjust the session duration if the student is having attention-related difficulties.
Headsprout episodes don't have a formal pause button; if the student needs to leave the computer during an episode, the program stays at that point and repeats the last instruction until the student returns and makes a response. If an episode is stopped before it is completed, the program will resume at the same spot the next time the student signs in (as long as the student has reached a "checkpoint").
Encourage the student to stay engaged between episodes by playing the games that appear onscreen during loading time. Loading new content only lasts for a few seconds, but during this time students can play a variety of fun games just by moving and clicking the mouse.
Celebrate success with certificates at milestones throughout the program.
If a student struggles
Headsprout's embedded feedback adapts to students' responses in the online episodes; if a student struggles, wait to see if the embedded feedback solves the problem. If necessary, try imitating or rephrasing the prompts or instructions to let the student know what he or she is being asked to do.
If a student struggles with reading comprehension questions, remind the student to read the question carefully and look back in the passage to find the answer before responding. Ask the student to point to the part of the passage with the answer and explain how what they found in the passage makes them think about the answer to the question.
The length of episodes may be too long for some students. Modify the length by ending an episode early. There is no need to complete an entire episode in one sitting. Start with a length of time that is comfortable for your student, and gradually build the time to a full episode or other duration that works well.
If a student is having difficulty navigating the mouse
, have the student point to the screen while someone else moves and clicks the mouse. It is important to ensure that the student is the one choosing the answers.
Repeat an episode or sequence of episodes as often as necessary. Students with special needs may benefit from completing some episodes more than once.
Spend 10 minutes per week reviewing Headsprout reports to track usage and episode performance data that can help you determine if a student will need intervention or additional practice. Share progress with the student to encourage and celebrate success.
Use the Assessments Report to review how many assessments the student has completed, and which assessments need to be scored.
When students receive two or more scores under 80% in a row, monitor the student more closely to see if the scores were an isolated case or if the student is struggling. Typically, one score under 80% alone is not cause for concern.
A few tips from teachers like you to help integrate Raz-Plus into your classroom.
Teacher Tip #1
Students can record themselves reading a book from their home computer. Have them record a favorite story with bells or dings to signal page turning (the Next button) and allow younger siblings to listen to the read-aloud while following along.
Teacher Tip #2
When students have read and listened to all books in their assignment/level, assign a running record for a Benchmark Book or Benchmark Passage to determine student accuracy and readiness to move to the next level. (If Raz-Plus is used during centers, have the student record their reading.)
Teacher Tip #3
Use the Assignment report to see at a glance how much of the current assignment a student has completed and whether it may be time to assess a student's reading progress.
Teacher Tip #4
Giving students access to the Reading Room will help build listening comprehension, increased awareness of differing text structures, and broader vocabulary as students listen to books at higher levels.
Teacher Tip #5
Play Raz-Plus songs on an interactive whiteboard during class transitions, and challenge students to be cleaned up and in their seats or in line before the song is complete.
Teacher Tip #6
Use the correlation chart to help determine which level of books to assign to a student based on their grade or known guided-reading level.
Teacher Tip #7
Include a date in a custom assignment title as a reminder of when a student was first given a particular assignment or when resources were updated.
Teacher Tip #8
Make folders for each level labeled with a large letter/color according to the level. Place worksheets for books at that level into each folder for independent student access.
Teacher Tip #9
Students only need the teacher username and their own password to access Raz-Plus from home. They don't need the teacher password, which would give them inappropriate access to the management tool.
Teacher Tip #10
To protect student privacy and display only the first letter of a student's last name, remember to check the box on your Roster.
Teacher Tip #11
Raz-Plus materials provide engaging at-home reading practice for students who are out of the classroom for long absences.
Teacher Tip #12
Students can access Raz-Plus to hear modeled fluency and practice reading from any computer with Internet access--at home, at the library, on wifi-enabled tablets ... anywhere.
Teacher Tip #13
Did you know that all the books on Raz-Kids and thousands of other resources can be downloaded and printed from Raz-Plus? Use eBooks with the printed books to model fluency for small-group instruction.
Teacher Tip #14
Did you know that our sister site, VocabularyA-Z supports the vocabulary from the online books with customized vocabulary lessons, word work activities, and assessments?
Teacher Tip #15
Add fun to Raz-Plus assignments by creating treasure hunts for each level. For example: Find two things you need to make salsa. (Making Salsa Level C); Find someone who gets lost at school. (Gordon Finds His Way Level G); Find the important person who had a pet raccoon. (White House Pets Level F)
Teacher Tip #16
Use Raz-Plus with ESL students to powerfully reinforce the connection between the written and spoken word.
Teacher Tip #17
Laminate lists of 'Room ___ Favorites' to help students make choices in the Reading Room.
Teacher Tip #18
Write students' names on plastic cups. Stack them on top of the computer in the classroom. The student whose cup is on top is "up" at the computer. Students can set a timer for a teacher-designated time and then move their cup to the bottom of the stack so the next student can take their turn.
Teacher Tip #19
Use Raz-Plus to model visualization. Play a Raz-Plus Listen eBook without allowing students to see the screen. Pause every few pages and have students sketch what "pops into their heads." Compare to the illustrator's pictures on a second read.
Teacher Tip #20
Use a Raz-Plus informational book to introduce students to an upcoming topic being studied in math, science, or social studies.
Teacher Tip #21
Challenge students to find and read a fiction book and a nonfiction book on a related topic as they browse in the Reading Room. Then bring the class together for a compare-and-contrast lesson.
Teacher Tip #22
Create an assignment with only the listen option for all books at the next higher level for a student. This allows the student to preview more challenging texts before he or she begins working at that level in their guided-reading group.
Teacher Tip #23
Did you know that students' reading comprehension can only be as strong as their listening comprehension? Occasionally, assign students the listen option and quiz for a given book to determine how strong their listening comprehension is at a given level.
Teacher Tip #24
Place a set of high-frequency word cards with targeted words from a given level at your computer station. Encourage beginning readers to practice the word cards as a follow-up activity to their time on the computer.
Teacher Tip #25
Be sure to tell students that they can use the Back button to listen to pages of a book again. They can also use the Pause and Play buttons to stop and start the narration.
Teacher Tip #26
Did you know that there are many books on Raz-Plus that relate to specific topics you may be teaching? Look for books on animals, insects, ocean life, weather, seasons, transportation, energy, sports, and many more.
Teacher Tip #27
Did you know that you can use the resources on Raz-Plus to support lessons on writing genres? Look for examples of expository, narrative, persuasive, and procedural writing.
Teacher Tip #28
Did you know that sister sites Sciencea-z.com and Vocabularya-z.com share some resources with Raz-Plus? Subscribe and explore the Learning A-Z Connections on both sites.
Teacher Tip #29
If you have a class web page, add a link to your Kids A-Z class log-in page.
Some tips to help you to get started with ReadyTest A-Z.
Students only need their teacher's username and their student icon to access ReadyTest A-Z from home. You can also assign passwords to each student when you create your roster.
To protect student privacy and display only the first letter of a student's last name, remember to check the appropriate box on your Roster.
Use the Reports to see at a glance how much of the current assignment a student has completed and whether each student is keeping pace. Provide additional opportunities for computer time if needed to ensure students complete one test each week. Remember students can access assignments at school, at home, or anywhere they have a computer with an Internet connection.
Adjust a student's assignment so that the student receives Practice Tests back to back instead of weekly if he or she is out of the classroom for long absences and falls behind the class sequence of Practice Tests.
Print Practice Tests for students who do not have a computer with online access from home or if school computer time isn't available each week.
Practice test-taking as a class by projecting a test and discussing each question along with its rationale.
Another Learning A-Z website, Vocabulary A-Z, allows you to build customized vocabulary lessons and games that support academic vocabulary words common to standardized tests.
Write students' names on plastic cups. Stack them on top of computer station(s) designated for Practice Tests. The student whose cup is on top is "up" at a computer. When a student completes a Practice Test he or she moves their cup to the bottom of the stack and the next student can take their turn.
Place a set of academic vocabulary word cards with targeted test-taking words at your computer station(s) (see Vocabulary A-Z for word lists). Encourage students to practice the word cards as a follow-up activity to their time on the computer.
If you have a class web page, add a link to your Kids A-Z class login page.
If a student takes two or more Practice Tests in in a single sitting, make sure he or she always takes a short break to move, stretch, or get a drink in between each Practice Test.
Encourage students to skip questions or tasks they might have trouble completing and go back to them at the end of the Practice Test.
Use selected Test-Taking Skill & Strategy Lessons with small groups or the whole class before assigning the Practice Tests to individual students, so that each student has some experience with test-taking strategies and skills before taking the Practice Tests.
Model taking a Practice Test for your class. Perform a "walk through" of any Practice Test, demonstrating important skills and strategies (such as using evidence from the text to find answers that students will use on high-stakes tests).
View classroom and individual reports regularly to keep track of skills and standards that students are mastering and skills and standards that require additional instruction.
Easy-To-Use Suggestions for Writing Instruction
Writing A-Z offers a robust collection of resources to help improve the writing skills of every student, at every learning level. Below you will find a number of suggestions for writing instruction, as well as tips for utilizing Writing A-Z in the classroom.
Use the Skills Lessons to personalize writing instruction for each student to strengthen writing skills that you notice need practice in written compositions
Use the ELL Guide found with the Process Writing Lessons to target instruction for English Language Learners who need more support with the connection between the written and spoken word.
Because Process Writing Lessons are leveled, it is easy to have the whole class complete lessons and compositions on the same text type while still delivering developmentally appropriate resources for each level of writer.
Remember: Each Process Writing Lesson provides a strong foundation for each type of writing as students are learning how to write. However, once students are fluently writing, encourage them to take risks with their writing and be creative with their writing for each text type.
Put Graphic Organizers on an interactive whiteboard during the prewrite section of a Process Writing Lesson and complete it as a class activity.
Create time-saving writing center activities using the Story Cards, Wordless Books, Writing Prompts, or any other Quick Writing Activities.
Use a Research Packet to introduce students to an upcoming topic in science or social studies, and use the Research Packet to support writing about the topic.
Make writing time special by setting a mood that helps students be comfortable and creative. You might play music, arrange different seating areas, and have a computer set up for students to take turns using the online writing tools.
Manage students' time using Writing A-Z's online writing tools with simple stacks of plastic cups. Write each student's name on a plastic cup and put the cups in stacks. Use as many stacks as you have classroom computers, dividing the cups as evenly as possible among the stacks. Each student whose cup is on top of a stack is "up" at a computer. Students can set a timer for their turn and then move their cup to the bottom of the stack so the next student can take a turn.
Print a set of seasonal writing prompts to place next to each classroom computer. Have students respond to a prompt using the Write Your Way online writing tool.
Use pocket folders for each student to keep his/her writing in throughout the writing process; have students keep ideas for writing on one side of the folder and drafts in progress on the other side.
Remind students to put a date on the top of their compositions to keep track of the progression in their writing.
Be sure to read the Overview page at the beginning of each text type lesson. This page gives valuable information about how to pace the lesson, important points to address before teaching the lesson, and book connections that provide examples of the text type.
Have students practice their friendly letter writing skills by writing to pen pals with students in another class or school.
Did you know that Writing A-Z has video interviews with authors? Have students watch these videos to inspire and motivate their writing.
Have students create their own author videos using the Interview Process Writing Lesson to create the questions to interview authors. Have students interview each other about writing that has been placed in the online Kids Writing Library.
Help students draft a business email or business letter to ask a children's book author for an interview. Arrange a video chat with the author or have the author visit the class, and have students create interview questions as a whole class before talking with the author.
Cut the text writing prompts into strips. Staple each strip to a sheet of writing paper and pass one paper to each student. Have students write a second sentence to the "story," and then pass the paper to the next student. Have those students write the third sentence. Continue for a designated number of passes or until a specific time.
Publishing and Presentation
Motivate student writing by establishing a storytelling festival in your school where students can read/perform their compositions in front of an audience.
Have classroom volunteers help type/bind student compositions into books. Have students illustrate their stories and place them in class book bins or the school library for other students to check out and read.
Use books in the Kids Writing Library to read aloud to the whole class each day. Have the student who wrote the book sit at the front of the class to respond to questions about the book as the featured author of the day.
Have the entire school teach the informational report lesson and have students write a report on the same topic. Display the reports during Open House. Students and parents will see how writing progresses through the developmental levels.
Remember: The online writing tools can be used to help students generate work products, such as a book or written presentation, as part of project-based learning.
Create pairs or groups of students to collaborate on making a book in the Build-a-Book online writing tool to share with the class.
Have students login to the Process Writing Workshop to apply what they have learned in Process Writing Lessons. Make assignments or have students write independently within the online tool.
Sister Website Connections
Did you know that you can use the leveled books on Reading A-Z to support the lessons on writing genres? Look for models or examples of informative/explanatory, narrative, opinion/argument, and transactional writing.
Did you know that sister site Raz-Kids shares some resources with Reading A-Z? On this site, students can listen to and read examples of informative/explanatory, narrative, opinion/argument, and transactional compositions before formally teaching the lesson on a particular text type.
Considerations for Using Science A-Z Resources Effectively in the Classroom
Here are a few tips from teachers like you to help integrate Science A-Z into your classroom.
Science A-Z is a dynamic website that helps teachers integrate science and literacy instruction to efficiently satisfy standards in both science and English language arts at the same time.
If finding time to teach science content is a challenge, remember that Science A-Z enables you to teach science concepts during reading time.
Map out your science curriculum for the school year in advance, choosing the units that best support your science standards and your instructional needs.
Do collaborative planning with other teachers and your curriculum specialists to select which units and resources will be used at each grade level and to avoid repetition for students.
Explore and preview the dozens of resources within each unit. Use the Unit Resource List to plan which resources to use, and whether to use the printable or projectable version from Science A-Z, or provide online access to the eBooks and other electronic resources for students through Kids A-Z.
Use the various correlation tools on the website to identify units and resources that best support your standards. Certain results will be a closer fit than others, depending on your specific needs.
If students are expected to complete a science fair project later in the school year, decide on the best time to present the Science Fair resources offered by Science A-Z. This will give students enough time to plan their own projects and practice the inquiry process critical to the science fair experience.
Blending Reading with Hands-On Science
Unit resources help you address students' multiple learning styles by including many ways for students to read, write, think about, and discuss science ideas, as well as numerous opportunities for students to participate in hands-on science experiments and projects. You get to choose which unit resources are most appropriate for your science instructional goals and the order of their use. Below are three sample pathways through key unit resources.
Build a foundation of content knowledge by having students read first, and then develop scientific and engineering practices with hands-on investigations and projects. Extend the learning with more reading practice.
Allow students to jump right into hands-on activities to develop practices and to learn concepts and vocabulary in context. Then have them read science books to develop a deeper understanding of the content. Extend the learning with more projects and activities.
Intersperse a variety of resources to get kids reading about and doing science using an integrated approach.
If using Science A-Z to supplement another curriculum, decide which resource types will best round out the instruction, accounting for all standards and learning styles.
If you use a science textbook, you might find the hands-on activities and collaborative projects from Science A-Z to be useful. You may also find that the multiple reading levels make the content more accessible to a wide range of student reading abilities.
If you use a kit program, supplementing it with the vast library of multilevel books and other reading materials from Science A-Z may best meet your needs.
Assign unit resources to students at the appropriate reading level (low , mid , or high ) within their grade range. Look for the level dots on each Science A-Z resource and choose the level that provides challenging text complexity while still making the science content accessible.
Because each Unit Nonfiction Book, the core resource of every Science A-Z unit, is written at three reading levels, it is easy to have the whole class learning the same science content while delivering developmentally appropriate content to each student.
Support English language learners by using Image Cards to teach unit vocabulary along with Game Packs that provide different strategies for learning important science concepts and terms.
Decide which resources need to be taught in class--using whole-group, small-group, or independent practice--and which can be assigned to students for independent online access via Kids A-Z.
Take advantage of the many instructional support resources found in the Teaching Tips that accompany specific resources or the Teacher's Guide that comes with a collection of resources. You will find background information, connections to standards, vocabulary lists, answer keys, and extension ideas.
Create timesaving science center activities while studying a unit using the Game Packs, Vocabulary Cards, Discussion Cards, Word Work activities, and Interactive Science Lessons. Pair a Quick Read or Career File with a Graphic Organizer for easy reading and writing practice. Scientist and Inventor Cards and editions of Science in the News also provide great center activities.
Display an Interactive Science Lesson, Science Diagram, or other visually complex resource on an interactive whiteboard and review its content as a class activity. Discuss how it relates to what students have been reading and doing in science class.
Use the extension ideas found in Teacher's Guides and Teaching Tips to provide more ways for students to explore the content of each unit.
Introduce the basic steps of conducting scientific investigations and model the inquiry process with the whole class before asking students to create a science fair project.
Learn about common misconceptions and gain background knowledge related to unit topics from Teacher's Guides to help you and your students navigate science content like experts.
Have students independently watch selected Science Videos through Kids A-Z, then go over each video's discussion questions during class time.
The Teacher's Guide that accompanies each set of Unit Nonfiction Books provides a guided reading lesson plan for use before, during, and after reading. It includes a targeted reading strategy and comprehension skill for the books.
Interactive Science Lessons can be used for independent practice and assessment in the classroom or computer lab. They can also be used as a whole class or in small groups.
Begin with a structured inquiry format when conducting Process Activities to help students become familiar with how to conduct experiments and investigations. Then remove some of this structure in order to shift to a guided or self-directed/open inquiry model as students become more confident with the process.
Sister Website Connections
Give students more opportunities to read science texts, whether informational texts or fictional stories with a science context, from Reading A-Z's leveled books collection. Use the Content Area Reading section for a curated set of science books or search by topic.
Use the Learning A-Z Connections found on Science A-Z, including selected free books from Reading A-Z, to see how each science unit can be supported by additional resources on sister websites.
Find even more science content and academic vocabulary support on Vocabulary A-Z, which contains customizable vocabulary lists and lessons for Life, Earth and Space, and Physical Science units.
Many Science A-Z Teaching Tips and Teacher's Guides include suggested writing extensions, writing in response to reading, or writing to communicate investigation results. Use Learning A-Z's Writing A-Z product for more formal instruction on the process of writing and have students use its interactive tools for independent writing practice.
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