Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer - here I come!

Today makes Day 1 of my 21 day summer break (staff goes back August 20, students August 22).  This is my first summer with 2 kids, so I really want it to be not only fun for them, but productive for me.  When I had my last break (of only a week), I think I planned on doing too much!  Here was my list (with updates of what actually got done).

1. Craft a wreath for my front door (I've seen so many cute ones on pinterest and Monday Made-It!) - didn't happen!  I would like to still do this, but my hubby and I picked out a new front door, and it really wouldn't look right with a wreath (the window is quite big).
2. Print pictures for scrapbooks (I have lots of t-ball pics and pics from a recent trip to KY) - I actually did that.  But now I have more pictures to print.  I see a trip to Walgreens in my future (did you know that you can use the Walgreens app to print pictures right from your phone?!? - awesome!)
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!) - I didn't get this done either, but I'm really planning on this for this break.  I've even got the most amazing idea to load up some of the short clips I've taken of her crawling, playing, laughing, etc. and creating QR codes to put in the scrapbook of the videos!
4. Make t-ball pages for Big D's scrapbook. - Yeah, this is happening today!
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). - I looked and looked, but nothing was perfect.  Now, my hubby wants me to find a nice end table for our couch (and I need some storage for a basket underneath for toys for Baby D).  There is a new consignment store that opened up really close to my house, and there is a Salvation Army pretty close too.  I'm hoping to look around today and see what I can find.
6. Create and post at least 1 new product to TPT. - I need to finish up some things up, and update some older products.  
7. Get and start using Photoshop (I went to a training last week, and I REALLY want it!!!) - I downloaded the Photoshop CC trial, and it is so complex!  There is so much involved in it, and to really learn how to use it, would take a lot of time.  So, baby steps...
8. Get my house clean - really clean.  I always try to keep everything tidy, but I want to deep clean! - I did do this.  Pulled out the couch and stove and refrigerator.  Organized the clothes the kids have grown out of.  It was much cleaner, and now it needs to happen again:(
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 fell off the wagon.  My in-laws came to visit, and I didn't workout for 4 days, then I just didn't do it again.  But I will.  I'm signed up for Daily Burn, and plan to use it 4 days per week while I'm off work!

I want to make a new list, but looking at all the things that didn't get done, makes me a little weary.  But, here we go

1. Do something fun with the kids at least 3 days per week.  I hope we get to Dutch Wonderland sometime.  I'm planning a trip to the beach for a few days with my parents.  But I also want to go to the park, movies, etc.
2. Clean out the attic.  Its gotten ridiculous up there.  Seriously, we have lived here for less than 4 years, and our attic is overflowing!  There is so much to go through and get rid of.  Especially my teacher stuff.  When I left my teaching position last summer, I put EVERYTHING into my attic.  Books, folders, baskets and bins.  I think that I will end up back in the classroom, but when I do, I will probably want to make new stuff.
3. Organize some of our cabinets.  My awesome hubby created some terrific storage in the laundry room, and I've totally let it go.  It needs to be sorted out.  Big time!

Okay, I think that is enough.  Hopefully I'll be more productive this time:)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Don't forget the hook!

I'm linking up again with iTeach1:1 for her Tune into Technology Linky party!  This week, we are focusing on math...and I have to admit, math is my favorite:)

I'm also linking up with Teaching Trio for their Technology Thursday again:)

I remember being in the classroom and being so overwhelmed by everything that HAD to be done (hello, special education paperwork!), and struggled to do those little things that made a difference.  When I was in college, our education teachers always stressed how important it was to make sure you have their attention.  Nobody is going to remember anything if you don't have their attention.  However, do you know how hard it is to get the attention of a tween/teenager?  Especially a tween with autism or a learning disability?  Very hard!

So, how can you get the attention of your students with an otherwise boring math lesson? Grab them with a hook!  Personally, the easiest and fastest way to hook my students was with BrainPop.  My school had a subscription, and my students loved Tim and Moby and how they solved common math problems in a 3-5 minute video.  I especially loved how they touched on important vocabulary words and included a quick quiz at the end (although I didn't always have time to do the quiz...).  They include a wide variety of topics, and there was almost always a video related to the topic I was searching for.

So, what can you do if you don't have a Brainpop Subscription?  There are many other options such as Educreations or ShowMe.  Both of these are screen-casting apps that allow teachers to create videos using their voices and a white-board.  I enjoyed creating my own videos that explain how to solve a particular type of problem.  But, when you are pressed for time, you are able to search and find videos that other people have created.  I also loved having my students create videos explaining math processes.  How great would it be if you were able to share the best video the next day with the entire class?  Below is a video I created for graphing linear equations in slope-intercept form (pardon my southern accent;)  I may live in Maryland, but my heart will always be in Kentucky).

Another option would be to use Voki.  I've talked about Voki before.  It allows you to create avatars and either record your own voice, or type what you would like your Voki to say.  The videos have to be short (around 400 typed characters or 30 seconds of recording time), and can be a great way to open class.  Below is a Voki I quickly created for combining like terms.


I particularly like Voki because of the short amount of time it requires.  Also, once you create your Voki, it keeps it saved for you in your profile (so you can use them over and over again).  What's even better is that you can embed Voki into your SmartNotebook files if you use the Smartboard.  That way, they are there the next time you use that lesson.

Hopefully you have some new ideas spinning in your head, or are at least inspired to use an attention grabber in your next lesson!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My newest Thinglink creation:-)...and a Padlet tutorial

Today, I'm linking up with I Teach 1:1 for their Tune into Technology link party (I LOVED this series last year:))

I posted sometime in the last week or two about my love for Thinglink.  Feeling bitten by the creativity bug (and wanting to help out a fellow comrade), I created a new Thinglink for A Long Walk to Water.  Here it is:

I think it would be a great introduction to the book.  I included a link to the author's website, a YouTube video where the author is discussing the book, the Water for South Sudan website, a Google form with vocabulary questions, and a Padlet with a discussion question. This is also a great way as a teacher to have all of your topics organized in one place (links, videos, websites).

If you haven't heard about Padlet, you're really missing out!  It is similar to a discussion board, but it happens online.  As the teacher, you create a Padlet board (you get to pick the background, give it a title) and then add your own text, links, pictures or even videos.  Students can then interact with your post.

Its pretty easy to use. All you need to sign up is an email and password.

This page shows you all of the functions of the main buttons.  But, like I tell the teachers at my school, don't be afraid to touch some buttons and see what happens!

This is the main toggle button.  From here, you can change your background (the background pictured is one I created in Powerpoint, took a screen shot, then imported into Padlet), determine how private you want it (you can even choose to moderate posts, so you have to approve things before they show up!), and even change the web address (for easier sharing:))

This is quite possibly my favorite part about Padlet - the sharing feature! You can share via social media, embed it into your class blog, or even scan the QR code.  I love me some QR codes:)  You could even go old-school and print it out if you would like!

Now, just in case you were thinking this isn't able to be used in your classroom, I promise, it can.

1. In science, do something like this:

Students can create their own examples of renewable and non-renewable resources.

In math, you could do something like this:

Students input their own examples of equations and expressions.

Hopefully you are now sufficiently inspired to take a closer look at Padlet.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

2014-2015 Goals

Today I'm linking up with I {heart} Recess for her 2014-2015 goals.  I wasn't blogging last year (not really.  I mean, I did start this blog, but didn't really use it until March of this year), so I wasn't able to make goals.  But it was my first year in a new position.  I learned a lot (and I hope I taught some of the staff at my school a thing or two) and hope to keep the momentum going!

Here's my goals:

Hopefully having them here will motivate me to keep up with them:)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Pic Collage - So many uses!

Happy Fourth of July everyone!  I'm recuperating this morning from a late night Orioles game (Go O's!). The game started about an hour late, so by the time the 3 hour 15 minute game was over (and we watched the post-game fireworks), we didn't get home until after midnight.  What's terrific was that we were able to get home from Baltimore in about 18 minutes!  That's one of the good things about living so close to the city - having the opportunity to experience many awesome things (ball games, museums, etc.) and get home relatively quickly:)  But thankfully, the kids slept until about 9:45 (and I did too!).

Anywho, back to the topic - Pic Collage!

It is a free app at the app store, and is a great go-to for a quick assessment (or quick introduction to a topic for that matter).

For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, PicCollage is a free app that allows users to import pictures from your camera roll, the web, or even take pictures within the app.  Once you have imported your pictures, you can size them how you like, add video, add text, or even add stickers.

This is an overview of all of the different buttons on the main screen.

There are several different layout options (including a scattered layout where you move all of the pictures wherever you want to).

There are some pretty terrific fonts included!

Search right within the app for google images

Choose different patterns for your background.

There are some cute stickers included, but not many of them.  There is an in-app sticker purchase if you wish.

My final product!
 I know what you are thinking.  How in the world could I use this for my classroom?  Well, I have some ideas:)

1. Have students create a board for a vocabulary word.  They could find pictures that illustrate the word, as well as add text defining the word, and including an example.

2. Have students compare and contrast a particular topic (such as reflection and refraction in science).  They can find pictures of each, and type definitions or examples.

3. Create a board to share with your class about a new topic.  Include only picture clues and see if they can figure out what your new unit will be about.

Hopefully, you have some ideas you can take back to your classroom and use this awesome app to inspire some creativity with your students!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Currently...July Already?

Today I'm linking up with Farley for her Currently... (it's my first time!)

I'm listening to Pandora...I love Pandora.  I don't even mind the commercials.  Does anyone out there actually pay the $4.99 per month for commercial free listening?

I really like working shorter hours - more time for me to spend with the babies:)

I'm looking for a cabin at Deep Creek Lake for the first week in August.  But I don't want to spend a fortune - and that's the problem!  

My kids are growing so fast!  I can't believe my son is almost 5!  Where does time go?  And I was looking at my daughter last night and can't believe how big she is getting already...

I'm trying to start working out in the mornings, which makes things a little more hectic.  Plus, by the time everyone gets home and dinner gets cooked and everything is cleaned up, and the kids are bathed and put to bed, it seems like I don't have any time to relax.  I would love some extra family time in the evening (but I'm sure this is how many mommas feel:))

We don't really have any plans for the 4th.  Last year we set off fireworks in the backyard - which my son loved!  But I'm not sure how my baby girl will feel about the noise.  Plus, we are watching the weather closely up here in the Northeast - I'm really hoping the hurricane won't actually happen!