K-5 Literacy Apps: A Deeper Dive

Notes from the Classroom

An image of Osmo, in use. Photo courtesy: Osmo

I love books. I love holding them in my hands and turning the pages myself.

However, I also love technology. I’m trying to find the balance between using it in my classroom to enhance literacy, and keeping things traditional.

I’ve written about some of my favorite K-5th grade apps, but I want to dive a little more into the ones below.


Through the generosity of my district’s Foundation for Excellence, I was awarded a grant that allowed me to purchase Osmo for my students. (Thank you FFE and all who contribute to make the grants possible!)

Osmo requires an iPad, and through apps and tangible materials, it makes the iPad a tool for hands-on learning. Osmo has many applications to enhance literacy, math, coding, and the arts.

I’m using the Words app to enhance literacy. Students are provided upper and lowercase letter tiles, and are asked to complete words. The words may have missing letters or a picture to name, and you can create your own word lists for students to interact with. What’s helpful, too, is that Osmo provides students with instant feedback.

With the Masterpiece tool, students can choose a picture they would like to draw on paper.  The image is then shown on the screen, along with the paper you are drawing on. Students can draw something and then label it and/or create a story using the images.


Scratch is a coding website. We are currently using it in our after-school Coding Club, and the students are enjoying learning how to code games. My kindergarten students have also been exploring coding with Scratch and Scratch Jr., along with their 2nd and 3rd grade buddies.

It’s never to young to start learning to code! But, what about literacy?

To help enhance literacy skills, students could choose sprites (characters) and backgrounds, and then code them to retell a story they have read. They could even make it interactive, and code the sprites to ask questions about the story. Students could also create their own story by coding different sprites and backgrounds.


My students and parents absolutely love Seesaw. Right now I use it to communicate with parents about what we are doing throughout the day. It’s a perfect window into our classroom for those who aren’t able to make it in person.

But my students love it because they are able to post pictures of things they are working on or have created. These can be shared with parents.

Next year I would like to implement a weekly literacy challenge to my students. I would like them to write a letter, draw a picture or video themselves, and tell parents about what they have been doing in school. Parents will be able to write back to students and give them instant feedback. I think this would be a great way to avoid the “nothing” answer when asked what they’ve been up to at school.

Raz Kids

Learning A to Z has a product called Raz Kids, which offers online books at students’ levels. Students are able to listen to stories being read to them, read the stories themselves, as well as answer comprehension questions after. There is also an app that allows parents to use it at home. Teachers are able check what students are reading, as well as how they are doing with comprehension.

In with the Old and New

Nothing will ever replace holding a book or pencil in your hand. However, with the plethora of resources and the changing times, we need to adapt in the classroom as well. Building in small doses of technology, and challenging yourself to try something new every so often, can help inspire your students to do the same!

image1Tricia Ziegler (Twitter: @axf96; blog: http://kindergartentreasures.blogspot.com) is a kindergarten teacher at Loon Lake Elementary, in the Walled Lake School District. She is a part of the Walled Lake iCouncil (Instructional Council) team and is part of starting a coding club at her school this year. She is in her eleventh year of teaching, with nine in kindergarten and two in Second Grade. Prior to that she taught in the Walled Lake Great Start Readiness Program, which is a state-funded preschool program for at-risk students. Tricia attended Michigan State University for her undergraduate degree and specialization in Early Childhood. She then attended Wayne State University for her Master’s in Teacher Education.

Readers Workshop K-5

Grade Levels: K-1, 2-3 and 4-5

Workshop Description

readers workshop 2This series will highlight the development of children as readers, as well as the development of teachers as instructors and coaches in reading.  Teachers should bring their own copy of “The Art of Teaching Reading” by Lucy Calkins.  Additional teacher resources will be recommended on the first day of class.  This series will help teachers understand the structures of Readers Workshop. It will focus on preparing teachers to teach and coach young learners in the reading skills and strategies necessary to promote lifelong reading.

Teachers will learn how to develop mini-lessons, explore ways to balance small group differentiated instruction with guided reading and strategy lessons, sharpen their use of one-on-one and partner conferring, along with assessing student reading to plan and modify lessons based on student needs.

This series will also focus on developing units of study, which organize the content of the reading workshop.  The developed units of study will help teachers plan for their teaching in a way that moves an entire reading community along while supporting individual learners.

Additional emphasis will be placed on organization of the environment, useful materials, analyzing student use of strategies and the importance of read aloud thinking and accountable talk.

SCECHs: Pending

Intended Audience: This series is divided into three grade levels and is designed for teachers of K-1, Grades 2-3 , and Grades 4-5.

Dates of Event: 5 sessions August, 2016 – January, 2017
Presenters: Michele Farah Ph.D. , Literacy Consultant, Oakland Schools and Shawna Hackstock, Independent Consultant

Event Contact:  Deb Delowery, [email protected] (248) 209-2003


Grades K-1

Grades 2-3

Grades 4-5