Sunday, September 1, 2013

Twitter In The Class

We finished our very first week of school. I tried out my Twitter board. The kids loved it. I think it might be a big hit. I wish I could remember where I found this idea. I am sure it was on Pinterest. I bought dry erase sentence strips from amazon and the markers are held up with Velcro. I am excited to see what they will write next. I am planning to leave it open for any postings just to get conversations going and then I might add topics. Loving this class so far so I am excited to see what lies ahead.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Our First Tech Camp Adventures (how we did it and survived)

So if you know me well, you know I love technology! I love learning about it, using it, sharing what I've learned and teaching my kids all I know about it. So when my girlfriend Kacie asked me in March if I was interested in running a Tech Camp this summer, I was ALL OVER IT.
So in May, we briefly talked about it again and decided we were going to do it "for sure".  What do you know, this year we got out of school on June 6th, so around June 1st we decided we better get out some information if we were planning to have a camp.  No procrastination there at all.   I fully believe it was because the end of the year just "snuck up".  So we decided to whip up a flyer, a form and start spreading the news.  I used S'more to create the flyer and Kacie used Google Docs for the form (man, she is a pro with Google Docs) If you haven't used S'more before, it is so worth a few minutes.  Kids love it and Teachers too!
Now back to our story, we only had a few days left but we work really well in crunch time. So we begged our co-workers to send out the word and we emailed all the parents we knew and POW~ by the time we left on June 7th, we had about 12 kiddos (Not Bad).  So TECH CAMP was on.  We had an idea what we wanted it to look like and had plenty of time to plan for our July 29th date.
So June passed, we relaxed, ate, swam, read, relaxed, drank, relaxed... you get it.  No Tech plans yet!
Then July rolled around and yep, we did the same thing we did in June.
So around the week before Tech Camp we decided to get together (I mentioned we have a procrastination issue right).  The thing I like about Kacie & I is that we can get together and  knock out some pretty amazing ideas.  Most of the time we know how we are going to go about them and the rest, we are just willing to take the risk and give it whirl. So Tech Camp 2013 was planned and ready to go! My daughter even got to spend the day swimming with Kacie's daughter so it was an added bonus for her.
JULY 29th arrived and by this time, we had 16 kiddos signed up (yeah us).  We were so lucky because Kacie's parents let us hold camp at her house and they let my daughter hang out all week too! (her parents are AMAZING).  We broke our camp up into 2 groups am & pm.  Our am group was from 8:30 - 11:30 (K - 2nd) and our pm group was from 12:30 - 3:30 (3rd - 5th).  We were ready.  Our week was so busy with ipads, pc's, Mac's, apps, coding, embedding, posting, commenting, sharing. You name it and I think we did it. We used apps that we loved, apps we just learned and apps that we had absolutely no idea how to use before camp (but we knew we wanted to try them).  Our kids left every day so excited to return and arrived every morning ready to go.  I loved it! They loved it! We loved it! I have to admit, it was exhausting but in a good way.  We were going non-stop (no recess, planning time, library) just full throttle but I would not have wanted it any other way.  Did I mention yet, how happy I was to have Kacie as a partner in this, we work so well together it's seamless.
So Friday rolled around, it was our last day, we had made it. The best part was to hear so many kiddos say "Can we come back next year" , "Tech Camp was so great" or "Man, why does camp have to end".
YEAH KACIE & NAT!  We did it. That is how we survived our first of many Tech Camps to come and LOVED IT!  Until next year.

PS.  I didn't mention all the activities we did in much detail as this was just "the story" but I promise to write all about it this weekend!

Here is a picture of our kiddos -

Ethan's thoughts on Tech Camp

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Tune Into Technology Thursday Linky - QR Codes

What an exciting week I have had.  It's Friday so I am only one day late on joining the Linky today from I Teach 1:1.  I have some excitement to share but will of course share my QR Code tidbits as well.

This week  one of my dear friends and I embarked on our first ever TECH CAMP.  We were lucky to have a group of  6 K -2 kiddos and 11 3rd - 5th kiddos attend our camp. It was all week long. Nothing better to prepare us for the upcoming school year. We taught them how to set up a Kid Blog, add posts, comment and learned to embed.  That was on Monday!  The rest of the week was filled with learning Pic Collage, Explain Everything, Educreations, Hopscotch, Scratch and so much more.  Stay tuned for the full details of the post.  Here are a few pictures of the kiddos, which will lead me into my QR ideas.

So back to the Linky, Here are 5 of ideas for using QR codes.  I hope some of them are new ideas for you.

1.  DON'T FORGET - If you notice in the pictures above the kiddos are holding a picture frame.  In that frame is a certificate for attending Tech Camp and a QR code.  The QR code will take them to their blog. Now they will never forget the website that their blog is on and what a great way to share it with friends and family.

2.  EASY WEB - How many times have you had to tell your students a web site link?  I cannot tell you how frustrating it is to say go to and 17 kids say "whaat???", "I didn't hear you", or "it doesn't work.  Well Google Chrome's extension saved my day.  Their extension URL Shortener  will not only shorten a URL but also provide a QR codes.  So you can just project the code on your screen, or iPad if you don't have a projector and they can scan it! AMAZE!!!

3.  AS A GIFT - For Christmas, we decorated cd's for our parents as ornaments but it was the back of the ornament that was the best.  We recorded a video of each child describing their favorite "family tradition" or "What my family means to me".  We turned the videos into QR codes and glued them to the back of the ornament.  A life long gift that they can scan and play every year.

4.  INTRODUCING - At my school, each teacher recorded a short message about themselves, turned it into a QR code and attached it to a picture of themselves that hung outside our doors.  When visitors would come or future parents, they could scan our code and get to know a little about us.

5.  SO MANY USES - A simple code placed into a spreadsheet can do wonders.  If you paste this code (=image("" & A2) into box B2 of a spread sheet, you can write anything in A2 and it will create a QR code for that. Here is a screen shot.

You can just drag the code down into each box under it and it will work for each one.  SOOOOO fun.  I'm thinking you can leave a cute message on a students desk for them to scan.  OR how about a kiddo who is off task, you drop the QR code on the desk, they scan it and it say "Get Back To Work" (hee hee).  The possibilities are endless as you can see in A3, you can put websites in as well.  What an easy way to create a quick quiz, or math problems around the room.  Give it a try, I am sure you will be able to find many more things to do with it.

Have A Great Weekend
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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Monthly Goals - Back To School Linky

It's back to school for me next week.  Well at least for a few days.  We are "lucky" that school does not start until August 27th so I really do have quite a few days left.  I need to get a jump on things this year because we got new SMARTBOARDS and I need to be ready to trouble shoot any problems.  (Did I mention I am also Technology Co-Chair) so I need to have my room set up before all that could go wrong "might"
So I decided to link up with Jess at I Heart Recess.  I hope by putting my words out to the public, then I will actually get myself busy!  So here goes.

Personal: In my attempt to drop the 25 lbs that I have put on since November, I am swearing off Fast Food.  Yes, I said it out loud.  I must have the will power to come home and .... hold on.... I'm going to say it.... COOK!  I have begun to cook more this summer and would really like to continue.  
Organization:  I can do it, I know I can.  I love to save things on the desktop of my computer.  For me, it's easier to find things because I can never remember which folder I have placed things into.  So not only do I save my things on my desktop but into folders there as well.  Oh yeah & I save them into MY DOCUMENTS also.  The madness has to stop.  I promise to keep my desktop clean. (I'm sure my neighbor teachers would be laughing if they read this)
Planning:  I am a planner, I love to plan ahead and love to be on time.  Here is my problem with that.  I can do my plans on Monday for the following week, then Tuesday I will look at them again and decide to change them again.  Wednesday, look and add or change again.. You get it... I usually end up changing my 1st set of plans 2 times before the week is over.  Don't get me wrong, my Monday plans are usually good but for some reason, I will always find another way to change them.  More & More work for me.  No more... My plans are going to be great the first time. No changes.
Professional: Our school got new wall Smartboards this year and I am excited to put it to use.  Now, I have had a pretend smartboard for years. I would use my iPad and Splashtop as my Smartboard.  I tried! But this year, I am going to jump in an embrace my new board. I would love to use it all day in every way I can.  I am very familiar with notebook lessons but if you have any new and inventive ways to use my new toy, please let me know
Students: Last year, we had 27 kiddos in our class.  24 cubbies, 27 kiddos made for some baskets around the room and a very crowded room.  Numbers are looking the same for next year and since our grade did well on STAAR, it isn't looking like they are going to try to lower those numbers, so I just need to accept it.  No more excuses, bringing back centers, and small groups, going back to normal... just with more kids.
Motto:  So I am sure you have never heard this motto before (I made it up) but I am pretty sure many of you can relate.  I am a helper by heart.  I love for people to be happy and hate when people have problems.  SO, when I hear a co-worker has a problem or an issue, some how I tend to take on that problem and "try" to help them.  Yeah it's not a bad trait but it can be when I begin to own that issue and then realize that my co-worker has forgotten about it, so I am the lone solver of the problem.  Did I mention that I don't like to leave things unsolved.  So my goal is to take off my "problem solving cape" and put it into retirement.  I figure if it doesn't effect me, then it's ok for me to take the back seat.  GOOD LUCK TO ME :)

Well I have covered them all, maybe we should do a Check Up Linky in October to see how are goals are going! 
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Monday, July 29, 2013

Backgrounds Wallpapers for iPads

I just love TechChef4U, not only is she a former teacher in my district but she is absolutely AMAZING!  She always finds the best ideas.  I guess that is why she was hired elsewhere and had to leave us :(  It happens to the best of them.  So anyways, I posted last week about using wallpapers on my iPads and Lisa must have read my mind because look what I can across today.  I just can't let anyone miss out on this one.
Tony Vincent of Learning in Hand   posted these wonderful wallpapers and if you visit his page, he has a great article with other bits of information freebies for you.  Did I mention they are FREE!!!
Don't miss out on such a great FREEBIE!

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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tune into Technology Thursday Linky - Management & Organization

Another Linky for the books.  Thanks to Learning To The Core and I Teach 1:1  for hosting this linky.

I have 10 iPads in my room and share another 10 with a fellow 3rd grade teacher.  We were lucky enough to receive a grant last year and were determined to find an easy way to keep them organized, stored and also find an easy way to transport them to each others rooms.
After brainstorming many ideas (did I mention we didn't have a lot of $ for purchasing storage) we came up with this great idea.  It works perfect, holds 10 iPads easily and travels well to other classrooms.
It cost $8.00 for each tub and $3.00 for each surge protector. So our total cost was $32.00
I know it's not the cutest thing ever (ok it's down right ugly) but it works and at the end of the day, it gets locked away in my closet.  Now if you consider that a storage container for ipads can run anywhere from $100.00 - $1,000  - I think we did pretty well.
This is what holds our iPads.  (durable but not fancy)
 Our Container

This is what it looks like empty.   I used the cardboard that we got when the iPads were shipped.  We numbered each slot.
Numbered Slots
This is what it looks like with the iPads inside.
ipads inside
 Now to be sure that each iPad is returned and to avoid the hearing "we are missing an iPad, who has an iPad", I found these backgrounds and put them into the wallpaper of each.  Our kids are assigned a number to use each time, so we know who has the missing one.  I found it easy to assign one child as the iPad guru. That student's job is to make sure the iPads are charged, back in order correctly and put away each day.  Boy did that save me hours of time.
Background Wallpaper of iPads
I hope this was helpful! Having our iPads have been so much fun! I only wish each child had one.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Tried It Tuesday Linky - A Healthy Happy Teacher Coming Right Up

Tuesday is here and I am ready to share.  Yeah For Tried It Tuesday brought to you by  Fourth Grade Flipper.
 As a teacher you know how difficult it is to eat healthy during the school year and how boring the same "old turkey sandwich" can be.  This year I have decided to be a healthier (and therefore happier teacher). No more school lunches for this gal. I am saying good bye to my chicken tenders and mashed potatoes days! I am hoping that I can maintain this idea throughout the first month at least ( I need to set small goals). I hate every night when I am thinking "what will I eat for lunch tomorrow?".  Planning out your school lunch can be a pain and  pre-making it can be even worse.  I have been on the look out for new ideas that are easy to put together and yummy to eat. Well I have found one!  It's pre-made with everything included, comes in many flavors and is yummy!
I love CHOPPED SALAD!  If you have never had it, you must try it out!  I am not a big salad eater but there is something about chopped salad with its crunchy crunch crunch that I just love.  So I came across this at HEB the other day.

OMG!! It is so good. Asian Chopped Salad is so full of yumminess!  It has cabbage, carrots, celery, green onions cilantro, wonton noodles, almonds and a ginger dressing,  Now anyone who knows me can tell you I am NOT a big vegetable fan and I would never choose those for a "regular" salad.  There is just something about having it all chopped up that doesn't scare me :)  My family finished off the entire bag that night!  That is a great deal for my household and they requested more.  So as I headed home tonight, I stopped off at HEB again, but to my disappointment there was NO ASIAN!  So I decided to take a chance and try out this one.
Ok, so BBQ chopped salad is a very scary name but I was ready to give it a try. I was feeling adventurous. WOW! it was great, who would know that adding ranch and bbq to a salad could taste so good. I'm telling you it is so worth trying out.  So I am now officially in love with this one and of course they have several other flavors that I need to try out now.  Check them out.

Of course, I am pretty sure I will get bored if I eat them everyday but it is a start and I figure that any vegetable I can get will make for my goal of the Healthier, Happier Teacher! 
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