Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thrifty Thursday - FREE BOOKS AND RESOURCES

My dad has always had a motto, "If it's free...It's for me!"

I've adopted that motto to a point.  Unlike dear old dad, I will not eat a can of sardines or wash myself with a rash-causing soap just because it was free.  (He's done both)

I also don't like to acquire addition clutter just because it is free.  But, you already knew that because you have read my Clutter-Free Classroom Guide.  If you haven't read it then I suggest you click on the link and do so because you are missing out on a great deal of fun and excitement.

Anyhow....

Today's Thrifty Thursday topic is about getting free leveled readers and other goodies that won't necessarily add clutter to your world.  

Because they are online.  And they can live in your computer.  And they can be recycled.

Are you familiar with Reading A - Z?
It's part of  www.learninga-z.com which offers sites for reading, writing, vocab, science, and raz-kids.  The reading site is by far my favorite.

I actually think it is well-worth the subscription cost, but it is a bit pricey.  

Basically, it is a collection of tons of leveled books that you can print, read online, use with an LCD etc.  I love the fact that you can easily create a class set of books or a set for a small group or partners.  I love that the kids can write in the books to practice comprehension strategies.  I love that kids who may not have books at home can take them home.

You could also make a more permanent class or guided reading set by printing the covers on card stock and laminating them.  Each leveled reader comes with lesson plans, follow-up activities and comprehension quizzes.  I find them to be a great way to prepare for the Big Bad State Test.  

They have some great nonfiction material which is always good to have.

My mostest favoritest part of the site is the section of benchmark quick checks.  They are a quick and easy way to confirm your leveling for guided reading.  

So, why is this being mentioned on Thrifty Thursday?  Because they are currently offering a free 7 day trial membership.  

Say it with me, "If it's free...it's for me!"

I'm not going to give you the link just yet though because then you'll go and start downloading things all willy-nilly. You need a strategic plan to get the most out of this freebie.

The catch is that you are limited to a certain number of downloads a day so you don't want to get all crazy with the keyboard.  Here's what I suggest:

  • Get an iced coffee and visit readinga-z.  Spend some time browsing the site.  
  • Make a list of the books / resources you would most like to use in your classroom.
  • Check out their free preview page to see if anything from your wish list is already there.
  • After you have a plan you can sign up for the free 7 day trial.  I would go for the benchmark books and some nonfiction, but that's me.
  • Download them to your computer and save them in a file until you need them.
  • Encourage other team members to sign up and download different resources than the ones you have so you can share.
  • If you have more than once computer, then you can sign up more than once.  My husband LOVES when I sign him up for stuff like this ;P

If you love it (and I think you will) then consider one of the following options for getting a subscription:
  • talk to your principal about buying one
  • approach your PTA/PAC or whatever acronym your school uses to describe those awesome fundraising parents who are there to support the teachers
  • write a grant
  • ask through donorschoose.org

2 comments:

ChiTown Girl said...

The summer school program that I'm (stupidly!!) teaching this summer gave each of us a year-long subscription to Reading A-Z, and I LOVE IT!!!! I'm so excited about being able to use it next year with my class. Plus, they printed out the entire set of benchmark books for each of us (although, we did have to fold them and put them together, which was kind of a pain.)

I've been talking about how awesome this program is for weeks, so now I'm REALLY excited about being able to tell all my friends about the 7-day free trial. Thanks for sharing!

Miss Weirdo said...

THANK YOU FOR THIS! I've been downloading and printing like crazy since yesterday!!! Also, for anyone wondering you can also get free 7 day memberships to writinga-z, sciencea-z and vocabulary a-z!!!