Monday, December 31, 2012

Making Photo Life Easier

Photograph by Mr. Mir at our 1st Grade field trip to the pumpkin patch!

Photograph by Mr. Mir on our wedding day. (Yes, I realize this is silly given the amount of money we paid for photographs and the fact that there were two professional photographers as well as our family members taking pictures. It was literally like the paparazzi, I digress but wanted to prove my next point!) 

Photography is another {passion} of mine. I am always snapping pictures (see above) whether it is with my phone, the iPad, my "small" digital camera or my brand new Cannon Rebel T3i. I have wanted a "big" camera for a long time but never made the big purchase. This was my big gift for Christmas this year from my amazing husband. Do you love the adorable pink strap he found?

The iPad and my phone have made uploading photos so easy. Although it is not a hassle at all to grab the connection cord and import the photos there is something about the instantness that the iPad and phone allow which have made me lazy with my digital camera UNTIL this little gem arrived in my life (Thank you again wonderful husband!).

This little memory card reader plugs right into the USB port on one side and inserts your memory card on the other, brilliant right? Ok, so maybe it isn't brilliant but it has already made picture importing "easier" so I wanted to share it with you. Here's to hoping that this little gadget makes the 365 Photo Project I am undertaking as my New Year's Resolution easier than ever! Happy New Years everyone! 

Here are a few of my favorite images taken with my new camera and another quick plug for Animoto which you can read more about here

5th Grade State Research

North American Geography is the 5th grade social studies curriculum in our county so they spend the entire year using maps and learning everything there is to know about the regions of the US including the states and capitals, historic events, landmarks, climate, geographic features, physical features, natural resources, etc.

In place of their grade level program they host a Wax Museum where each student does extensive research on a particular state. Then they develop a science board for their state, dress up like a famous figure of that state and write and memorize a speech. Last year they created podcasts (reading their speeches) and linked those to QR Codes. This year I hope to up the anit with the technology integration and have come up with a few ideas!

I just found Weebly and I love how user-friendly it is (I hope it isn't blocked at school)! I played around with a few other web design sites that were difficult to navigate and I got really frustrated so I knew they would be useless with students but Weebly is awesome! Check out the example site I created! If you are interested in a tutorial just let me know I would be happy to provide one in a future blog post!

If you haven't checked out Lino yet you can read my earlier post, it is a free Web 2.0 tool that is like a big pin board. You can post stickies, photos, links, documents and even videos. It is similar to Glogster but I find it much easier to use. I thought that it would be a different and more interactive way to show off the state!

The last thing I want to do I saw an example of on SchoolTube but cannot seem to find it at the moment is have students create a commercial for their state using iMovie or maybe PhotoBooth! We will be getting 30 MacBook Airs in the next few weeks and I thought this would be a great intro project. Although I have a MacBook Air I need to learn more and what better way than to JUMP IN and get started on a project.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

QR Codes

I know I have shared my obsession with QR Codes before! I have more posts and FREEBIES to come as I have been using them a ton this year with all grade levels. I also have lots to share about our FETC session CS8267 in January but check this out in the meantime! 

Anyways, how cool is this QR Code with my school logo embedded in it that links to our school website? I just found an awesome free site called VisuaLead that allows you to generate QR Codes with photos embedded. You can upload your own photo or use popular logos (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterst, etc.) and clipart that they have available. 

Visual QR Code qrcode design


I found another QR Code Generator that allows you to overlay the picture and thought it was worth sharing as well! Here is what it looks like!

Bouncing Balls

I wanted to share another Web 2.0 classroom management tool called Bouncy Balls. The kids get so excited when the see the balls on my screen!

So basically after you enable the microphone (built in with a laptop or external with a desktop) it detects the noise level (closest to the microphone obviously) and the balls bounce! If students whisper/talk quietly the balls lie nicely at the bottom of the screen, when students talk at a normal level the balls bounce midway up the screen but when it begins getting too loud the balls bounce wildly on the screen (you can adjust the microphone sensitivity). The first thing you MUST do is let the kids do a mini scream or tap or stomp or loud laugh or whatever they want to do otherwise they will do these things randomly just to see the balls bounce. After they got their silliness out this little gem works like a charm! One class even made it into a competition, each time the balls go wild the teachers got a point and every time we checked the screen and the balls were calm the students got a point. 

The first graders all the way up through eighth graders love the bouncy balls! Have you used this tool before or something similar? Do you have a noise chart in your room?

Saturday, December 29, 2012


Since we are getting ready to count down until the New Year I wanted to share one of my favorite quick and easy Web 2.0 classroom tools, Online-Stopwatch. At first glance the website seems cluttered and not very appealing but this is an awesome website with all different online countdown timers. It is FREE  and the kids get such a kick out of all of the different timers. It was really fun for me to see 7th, yes 7th graders excited over a timer! The bomb seems to be the most popular and I have found that when I first introduce it that it is best to set it for 1 minute so the kids can see the fuse shorten and bomb explode otherwise they spend time wondering about what is going to happen, how loud it will be, etc. which is humorous but not productive. 

I used to have a several small timers in my room (from the DRA/PALS kits) that I used for centers which I always lost misplaced. Then I upgraded to the SMART Notebook timers which are also fabulous but SMART 11 often takes FOREVER to load on my computer and this is so quick and easy and it has been very effective especially with our technology centers. I love that it provides the time as well as a visual because let's be honest when we tell kids they have 30 minutes to work especially our littlest friends they don't have a clue how long or short that time really is.

 The fuse gets closer to the bomb as time passes and then eventually it explodes!

The sand flows from the top to bottom in this good old fashioned hourglass timer.

The rocket is another popular timer choice! 

Kids are fascinated with things "blowing up" so as you would guess the dynamite is another favorite.

I just found the swimmers and runners today but I am sure the kids will enjoy these ones as well!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Technology Centers

I am absolutely LOVING technology centers which I have worked collaboratively on with MOST grade levels (1st - 8th) ! Initially it took some extra work on my part to get the "buy in" because it can be time consuming and there is a lot of preparation up front. Once I convinced them that it wasn't "something else" to do or more time away from instruction and it could be their science lesson (or whatever subject) with a ton of integration of content and technology they were in! I have worked the centers a little differently with each grade level and experimented with setup! One thing that is kind of fun about teaching the same lesson three times is that by the third class you have worked out all of the "glitches"!

The 2nd grade team has fallen in love with centers and they now come to me asking to schedule time together which is a-w-e-so-m-e! This was our first round of centers (above) to help them prepare for a unit ia (interactive achievement) test and to begin researching ecosystems.

Laptop/Clicker Center:

At the Laptop/Clicker Center students watched the Solid Shape BrainPopJr  and then took a 10 question Clicker Quiz to review the areas they were having trouble with! Our school has had "Clickers" (SMART Response LE System) for years and have been taking whole group assessments but this allows for students to work at their own pace, read the quiz on their own and refer back to the video for help. It was also a great opportunity for the teacher and myself to help anyone who was struggling. All of the data was nicely collected as usual and made an easy grade for the teacher!!! The SMART Notebook file was housed on the computer lab page which made for an easy download.

Laptop Center:

At the second laptop center students accessed PebbleGo which is a phenomenal resource where students began researching an ecosystem of their choice (looking for three living things, three nonliving things and three interesting facts). If you are not familiar with PebbleGo it is a website that has leveled nonfiction/content text and will read out loud. It is a bit pricey but the students love it and it seems to be a favorite new site for my kiddos in 1st and 2nd grade! I love that it is bright, colorful, easy to read, easy to use, has great pictures and graphics, highlights academic vocabulary words and provides definitions, etc. Check out one of the demos.

iPad Center:

The third center was the iPad center where students used an app called Ecosystem HD to continue finding out information about their chosen ecosystem. The app is paid but it is well worth the $1.99 as it will read to the students and has awesome facts, pictures and videos.

At a later session we used the ecosystem research from the app and PebbleGo to create a Prezi! Since this was 2nd graders first time with Prezi they worked in pairs. First they watched a screencast I made using Screenr (I am also in love with this tool). Then they got to work! Check out a few Prezi's that they created and aren't they so much better than a POSTER?!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What I Love MOST About Teaching

During benchmark week I was "kicked out" of the lab and did a lot of classroom co-teaching which was great ... except Monday of that week the laptop cart I signed out wasn't working, I slammed my finger in the door, the app I wanted to use was with 1st graders that worked perfectly at home was blocked by our counties network,  Google Drive would not work on the ancient desktops and the laptops didn't have Chrome (needed to edit presentations), I spilled my tea all over myself, the butt of my pants got soaked while sitting on the carpet in the hallway near the door, etc. 

Do you see where I am going with this? Nothing was going right and everything was going wrong! 

As I was leaving a third grade class a little boy handed me these two index cards and gave me a big hug. This little note and kind gesture brought tears to my eyes and reminded me WHY I love teaching so much even when NOTHING is going right! 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December Here and Gone

I am a little embarrassed that my last post was December 1st. I had good intentions of featuring the "12 Apps of Christmas" but obviously I didn't get myself together for that and I can't come up with another clever blog title so here you have it!

As I've claimed before I cannot live without my iPad. I have tons of new apps that I want to share with you! Teacher's Pick is an awesome teacher tool. I usually only feature FREE apps but recently I've bought some pretty cool apps and feel that this one is worth the $1.99.

Teacher's Pick allows you to randomly pick students just like the "old fashioned" popsicle stick method!

Since I teach 1st - 8th graders (650 students) I added numbers rather than names to use in the lab! Each student has a class number so this works perfectly! 

You can add as many classes as you want as you can see on the left I have Porter Mentees, Porter Staff, Porter Elementary, Porter Middle School and then Lab. By pressing the smile the iPad randomly selects  a student and highlights their name/number in purple. You can mark students as absent so it doesn't pick someone who isn't there. 

One other awesome feature is that it will randomly put students in groups! You set the number of students and give the groups a name and ta-da group work made easy!!! LOVE this feature!  

I haven't done too much with badges but you have the ability to award students badges which I know students really like receiving. 

Since Teacher's Pick is a paid app I wanted to offer a FREE alternative :)!

iLEAP Pick a Student is a good second choice. It doesn't look as pretty (Chalkdust font haha) but it does the trick and it costs nothing :)!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

December Currently

Happy December blogging friends! 
Join the par-tay and ink up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade  for December's Currently! 

listening; I will admit that some of my favorite movies are children's movies! BRAVE is awesome so far. I love that Merida isn't your typical Disney princess! She is fierce, sassy, independent and beautiful, what a great role model for young girls.

loving: Last year we bought our house on December 19th so we were still moving and unpacking and we didn't even have a Charlie Brown Christmas tree! We are so excited to have our first real Christmas tree for our first married Christmas! We bought it last night and will be decorating it tomorrow :)!

thinking: Every year I tell myself that I am going to begin Christmas shopping much earlier! I got a lot done today but still have some to go. FETC is going to be here before we know it and we STILL have so much to do!


wanting: I love taking pictures but my Droid and iPad aren't cutting it as far as quality goes! I have a great Cannon but it has a sand scratch on the lens. 

needing: We haven't been shopping since before Thanksgiving because we went to the beach. Our cupboards are full but our fridge is bare! My husband has only been home for an hour and has already attempted going into the spare room where his gifts are. I must wrap them soon! 

RAK: I truly try to do "random acts of kindess" each day! On Thursday morning there was extra coffee from our Mentor meeting that we put in the lounge for anyone to have. Since I know our secretaries love Starbucks coffee I told them about it and sat at their desk while they made themselves a cup. 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...