Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Electric Company - one of the best reading tools out there!

I truly believe this. I grew up on the 70s version of Electric Company - Spiderman, Bill Cosby, the gorilla, the woman who bellowed "Hey You Guys!"....but enough trips down memory lane....I'm talking about the new, improved 2000 version of The Electric Company.

If you haven't seen it, it's on your local PBS station, usually around 5:00 so it can hits its target audience - literate students that span from First through Third (although you could almost argue it for fourth as well!), a step up from "Between the Lions." Are you a workaholic like myself and never home by 5? Check out the episodes on the pbskids website or on youtube!

Enough standing on my soapbox here and giving PBS free advertising. :) How did I get involved with this hip, new version? Two summers ago, I attended the ISTE conference in Washington, D.C., and sat in a session sponsored by PBS about a "new" show coming out. Like the original, it was geared towards the "Sesame Street" graduates, and I came away with enthusiasm, a workbook (the activity sheets available on the website are better) and a cute flashdrive that became a bracelet.

So, that fall, I checked out the new show. LOVED IT! Last year, I had my media specialist record it on our Mediacast system every Tuesday, showing it to my class every Friday during our Writing time. Since the majority of my students that year were on or above grade level, it was 30 minutes of review, we'd hit on some of the covered concepts during reading time, and that was it. After our media specialist went out on maternity leave (and there was no one who knew to record it), I found that the website carried full versions of each episode. Heaven! No longer did I need to worry about reruns!

Enter this year. I've been blessed with the collaborative class (I do mean blessed - the teachers I work with this year are AWESOME). It's the reverse of last year - now most of my students are struggling readers. I once again looked at "Electric Company Friday" as my students call it, but this time, wanted my kiddos to get more out of it. So, I downloaded the PDFs (episode guide, activity guide) and started creating centers focused on the concepts covered for each episode. At first, I was hesitant and relied heavily on the activity sheets they provided. I started to gain a little more confidence in what I was doing and began to create my own centers, or use centers I found through Google Search (and now Pinterest) for word families. We do the centers immediately following the episode (about 26 min/episode), so it does take a chunk of time, but one well worth it AND showing results!

So here I am, more than halfway through the year and I have a 2 inch binder FILLED with ideas and centers for each episode. Season One is almost complete.

Recently, I realized my students needed help reading vowel digraphs. I searched through the different episodes (there are too many to cover one/week for the school year) and have found ones to focus on for the next few months. I began to embed the videos on my wiki page until the school blocked YouTube on student computers, but I will still pull up segments for my students to review for different concepts. They think it's very cool for their teacher to grab her laptop and bring it to reading groups! It also lets my non-homeroom students I teach reading have exposure as well!

This is such a fabulous resource, but I honestly didn't even think of sharing about it until I responded to one of the comments about my long vowel trouble. My students USE what they see! One of my lowest readers will sing to himself "Silent E is a Ninja" as he works with long vowel words and he GETS it! I've seen students refer to different segments shown during the episode or to different centers, during reading group time. Even my most reluctant learner loves watching this every Friday! The website has games to play as well, and it has become part of our computer center.

Have I convinced you yet?

Every episode has a story to follow, but in between the story, there are smaller segments that emphasize the focus for the episode (which are also embedded into that week's story). I've included two videos below for you to enjoy (two of my students' favorites). Enjoy! Be sure to check it out: The Electric Company

Oh! At some point (most likely this summer) I will share with you what I have for centers, esp. the "homegrown" ones! They will be available per episode on my TpT store. (And my summer list keeps growing! LOL). I'll post the pictures from last Friday's centers in a separate post since this one is kinda long :)


Tammy said...

I remember The Electric Company back in the day. Thank you for sharing this new version.
❀ Tammy
Forever in First

Holly said...

Oh my gosh - LOVED Electric Company! Thanks for following my blog...I'm your newest follower.

Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

Ms. T said...

Hahahaha! Silent e is a ninja! Definitely using that one. Thanks for sharing!

Second Grade Math Maniac

Angelia said...

I'm loving this!!! I teach special ed and I'm thinking of how I can use this next year with my pull-out students. I couldn't find on the website where I could find all the old episodes. Can you share the link? Thanks!

Extra Special Teaching

Mrs. Youel said...

Unfortunately, I think they just reset the website several weeks ago. :( It stinks, because I'm used to having all the episodes on there, and not sure if it crashed or what! I did a free 30 day trial to Netflix, where they have seasons 1 and 2 on there to show my students the episode I had prepared that week (because unfortunately, we have seen the ones that are on the website now).

They are putting more on each week, so hopefully you'll be able to use the ones on there. Go to "videos" and "episodes." I have plans/games done for most of season one and more than half of season 2.

Hope that helps!

:) Chrissy

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