Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Integrating Technology during RTI: Whizzimo

Last year, I blogged about my favorite app to use during my small group instruction time. (Check out my old post here.) Let me tell you, it is so much more than just your usual app! This is an instructional tool to help you diversify the way you teach and save time. This app will save you time while engaging your students in meaningful instruction. I'll admit, I am a hard sell when it comes to apps. I tend to shy away overall. But Whizzimo is such an amazing resource, even the most timid techies out there should give it a try! 

When working with beginning readers and struggling readers, the research points to systematic, sequential phonics. Not every reading program in our schools has this (to the extent that my kiddos need.) When you are working with your intervention groups, these kids need plenty of opportunities to build, read, spell, and manipulate words. They need you to have a plan, specifically a sequential phonics program. Whizzimo has 300 pre-built workbooks filled with common phonics concepts that your kids need to master (CVC words, digraphs, blends, open syllables, closed syllables, silent e...)  

I haven't tried everything there is to offer with this app, but I'm going to share with you what I have been using. I plan on blogging more about this app as I explore it more so stay tuned! :) 

1. Teaching Tools 
First, I'll talk about the many activities you can do with this app.

The first thing I tried was the Workbook Tiles. I always include building and manipulating words into my small group lessons. It's such great practice for students and a great informal assessment for me. I have made my own letter tiles and still use those, but sometimes I don't want to deal with the mess and the time it takes to pass out the tiles and get them ready. Time saving tip #1 with Whizzimo: These tiles are ready to go with no set up or clean up required. If I'm low on time (which happens a lot,) I can just get this started with my small group. (On my own time, I can customize the color of the tiles and decide which tiles I want, but I'll talk about that later in this post.) 

Watch this 14 second video to see how easy it is!

Another activity you can use with Whizzimo is the flashcards. This is awesome because how much time and money have we spent making flashcards. These are unique in that you can change them! You can see the full word, break it up by onset and rime (pictured,) or break it up by sound. I especially love this with multi syllable words because you can break it up by syllable!!

Watch this three second video to see what I mean:


Whizzimo also provides word cards. Here, I'm working on triple blends. These word cards were already made for me, (although if I wanted to, I could create my own list as well.) Easy peasy word sorting. 

You could also do this with the word cards:


Did I mention the many ways that Whizzimo is customizable. I can go on and on about that. Here is  one way. I can decide how many word cards I want on the screen. 

Whizzimo also offers a little spelling quiz. Notice how it is still triple blends. That's because I am using one of the many Work Books that they have to offer. I want my students to be practicing triple blends with short vowels only. Whizzimo has this READY for me to use! Talk about a time saver! Here your students will push the button to hear the word, then they will build it. At the end, Whizzimo gives you a score. Awesome!

2. Word Lists
Just wait, it gets better. Word lists. How many times have you spend way too much time sitting around thinking of words? Too much! Now I just use Whizzimo. I'm telling you all- endless word lists at your fingertips! I finally took some time to sit down and see how this worked. I was surprised at how simple it was. I'm planning on doing another blog post just about these word lists because they are that awesome, but I'll give you a little peek. 
There are all sorts of filters to help you get just the list you are looking for. 

Once you've selected all the filters you need, Whizzimo comes up with a HUGE list. I was looking for two syllable words and look at this list I got!!! This is beyond time saving. No amount of time would help me come up with a list like this. 

3. Getting Started: Created and Managing your "Courses" 
So basically, if you really want to dive in, you can create courses. I think of these as my different reading groups. In this picture, you can see my courses to the right. 
The little picture shows what I see after I click on one of my courses. The picture below compares two different courses. For my 3rd grade group, I want to have workbooks focusing on multi-syllable words. My 1st grade group will only have workbooks with single syllable words.  

If I click on the workbook that says, "Closed syllable with 3 sounds including digraphs," I'm going to be provided with word lists and letter tiles  that match that. I won't have tiles with ea, wr, or anything like that. My word lists won't contain any words that will be beyond what is described. I LOVE this feature! It saves me time and focuses my instruction exactly how I need it. 

I will be blogging more about Whizzimo as I use it. I'll try to have shorter posts that focus on one particular aspect of this program. In the meantime, dive in! 

Check out the website, watch some videos, and give it a try!
Want a  10% discount? Enter Sarah during signup!