Wednesday, June 25, 2014

What's Appening Wednesday: Green Screen by Do Ink

This week, I'm linking up with TeachingTrio for their Technology Thursday...

Last week, I had some staff members approach me for help using iMovie.  I'll be the first to admit - I really don't like iMovie.  I know it can do some really cool things, and when necessary, I will use it.  But it isn't my favorite.  It is finicky and difficult to use.  It isn't intuitive (and I live by applications and apps being intuitive).  Plus (and here's the kicker), working in a Mac school, iMovie simply makes my life more difficult.  Why?  Well, since Apple is constantly upgrading and improving their products (which isn't necessarily a bad thing!), but if you aren't using the same exact version of iMovie that you used last time, you are going to have a problem.

So, needless to say, I spent about 45 minutes trying to get iMovie to work (I was trying to import videos from the iPad into iMovie, but the file type wasn't compatible.  Then, I downloaded a converter, but it didn't work), I started looking for an alternative.

They had news style videos they took in front of a green screen, and different pictures they wanted to use as backgrounds.  So I thought there had to be an app for that.  And there was!  Enter Green Screen!

I like how easy it was to use.  Simply tap on the + sign to import your videos and backgrounds.  You can also use the built-in scrubber to fix any invisibility issues (if you happen to wear a green shirt in front of the green screen!)

You also have the option of recording the video right in the app.  You can do some editing on the front and back of the videos you record.  Play the video right in the app to see your work.  All around, I'm very impressed!  Easy to use - I plan on including this app next school year in my App of the Month trainings:)

Monday, June 23, 2014


Its Monday morning, and officially the first day of my summer vacation.  Before I do the happy dance, remember, I only have a week before I go back (my school is an 11 month program, so we get a week in June and 3 weeks in August as our summer vacation).

Today, I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune for their Monday Meet-Up...

Since I only have a week off, I really want to cram in as much as possible!  I want to be productive and spend lots of quality time with my babies (4 and 6 months) - but I also don't want to do so much that I'm exhausted after my break!  I have planned a few fun activities for the three of us (my hubby still has to work:-( )  We will go to the movies, go swimming with some friends, and on Friday - we are going to the DC Zoo!  Woo hoo!  We took Big D to Philadelphia Zoo when he was about 6 months old, and we went to the Baltimore Zoo sometime last year, but this will be Little D's first zoo trip.

I also have some goals for myself (although I might have to buckle down and get them done in July when school lets out at 1:00pm, rather than stress myself out trying to tackle everything this week).
1. Craft a wreath for my front door (I've seen so many cute ones on pinterest and Monday Made-It!)
2. Print pictures for scrapbooks (I have lots of t-ball pics and pics from a recent trip to KY)
3. Start scrapbook for Little D (when her brother was this age, I already had made 3 scrapbooks for him - I've got to get on the ball!)
4. Make t-ball pages for Big D's scrapbook.
5. Find a piece of furniture to re-finish for our living room (I need some sort of something for right next to the front door).
6. Create and post at least 1 new product to TPT.
7. Get and start using Photoshop (I went to a training last week, and I REALLY want it!!!)
8. Get my house clean - really clean.  I always try to keep everything tidy, but I want to deep clean!
9. Work out everyday - I really need to get back on the working out wagon.  I feel much better when I at least spend 20-30 minutes on the elliptical every day, but it is so easy to just not do it!

I can't wait to see what everyone else is linking up!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday: Dear Me...

Hi again!  I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune for their Summer Bloggin' series.

My first year of teaching, I wasn't even supposed to be a teacher.  I was hired to be the assistant math teacher.  But she got sick, and had to quit working.  I stepped up, took over the classroom, and the rest is history!

I can't wait to read your letters!

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Can I just talk for a minute about how much I love Thinglink? I did a presentation today (and will do it again tomorrow) for my staff, and everyone seemed genuinely excited about it!

I first learned about Thinglink from MathyCathy (if you teach math, you should follow her!  She's great!) back in the summer when I was blog-stalking looking for inspiration for my new gig as technology coordinator.  I shared it with a few teachers and they started using it with their students.  They think it is great!

Before I get going with all of the possibilities, let me tell you what it is.  Thinglink is a website and an app that allow you to attach nubbins (ie. touchable links full of information) to any picture your heart desires.  Let me caution you that the website has been extra picky lately about what pictures they allow you to use (think copyright issues), but honestly, I think it is more fun to create your own pictures!  These nubbins can include regular text, pictures, videos, or links to websites.

Now, if you are wondering how you would ever use something like that, let me give you some ideas!

1. Have students complete a performance assessment over what they learned about a unit.  Give them a rubric with what you want included (a picture related to the topic, 4 factual text nubbins, 1 picture nubbin, 1 video nubbin, and 2 links to outside websites).  Then, let the students run with it!  Seriously, we teach special needs kids over here and they were all over this:)

2. Introduce your new unit topic to your students.  Create a picture (I like using PowerPoint) and take a screen shot and import it into your Thinglink.  Then, add factual nubbins, videos, and websites that explain each part of the unit so students get a preview of what is to come.  I see this being especially helpful on those days when you are giving a test, and everyone some kids finish early and need something to do.  Give them the Thinglink to give them a head start learning the new material.

3. Use it to introduce a new book in Lanugage Arts / Literature class.  I created this Thinglink for our Language Arts teacher who is reading the book Wonder.  There are links to the author's page, and information about the medical condition the little boy in the story has.

The best thing is that you can create Thinglinks on your iPad or computer, and as long as you are logged into the same account, all of your Thinglinks will be together.  The next best thing is that when you video using the iPad in Thinglink (for a nubbin), it syncs with your login information, so you can share that with everyone (not just those people who use that iPad).

Have you ever used Thinglink?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Managing the Digital Classroom - Mobile Learning

This chapter was all about mobile devices, including Tablets.  Most people have noticed how mobile technology has infiltrated our classrooms.  Whether it is students using cell phones to scan QR codes or use the calculator, or a 1:1 initiative of iPads or Chromebooks, it is hard not to notice how technology driven our everyday classroom tasks have become.

This chapter discussed the pros and cons of digital devices.  Of course, they are lightweight, children are intuitive in learning them (my 4 year old can successfully do everything he wants on the iPad), and they engage students.  Who wouldn't rather do an interactive activity on the iPad instead of listen to a lecture and take notes?  Many teachers even use them as an incentive to get worksheets completed (if we finish this math worksheet, you can have 5 minutes of free time on the iPad).  

Of course, with the good comes the bad.  Many schools don't have the funding to get these digital devices.  So there is becoming a great divide among schools who are investing in technology and those who simply can't.  With the Common Core tests being web-based, many schools are being forced to use funds to purchase web-enabled devices.  But this concerns me because I'm afraid that people are rushing out to purchase devices without gathering all of the necessary information.  Technology is an investment, and unfortunately technology changes so quickly that usually when you have figured out everything about your new devices, something newer comes out (hello, iPhone!) and it all changes.  

There are also many precautions about security (what will students be able to do?), and responsibility (if the technology gets broken, who pays?)  Many schools took the safe route and locked down Twitter, Instagram, Facebook.  But there are many teachers who use these platforms to meet students where they feel the most comfortable, and now they can't complete the lessons they had planned.

I think having technology is great, and I love how it comes so naturally to our students.  We need to be careful about how strict our policies are when it comes to usage, and we need to encourage our teachers to use technology to enhance their lessons, not just use technology for the sake of technology.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Meet Me Linky Party

Today, I'm linking up with a fun Monday Meet Me linky with The Teaching Tribune!

Happy Monday!