Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tech Tuesday Tips Weekly Linky Party

So I thought I knew a little something about technology, and would add a tech tips page to my blog, right?  It seems that no one less than a computer programming genius can get around the pages posting issue, so I'll be hosting a Tech Tuesday Tips Link-Up for now (oh well, at least I can still share a little knowledge with you, and hopefully, more tech-savvy bloggers will link up to share theirs, too)!

Today's Tech Tips from me are:
1.  Visit Megan from:
 You might already know Megan's main blog, but her "Blog, Baby, Blog" site is FULL of helpful blogging tips.  She is super-powered!

2.  Check out this list of free apps to use in your classroom.  I have it pinned, but the link is to the original website.  you can check out my Pinterest Boards here for TONS of ideas.  My"It's Elementary, Dear" board is for pretty much anything related to school, but I also have math, science, and social studies boards separate from this one...not sure why, it just seemed easier at the time.
 3.  Kids L.O.V.E. technology, so incorporate it whenever you can!  If you have laptops for each child, you are SO ahead of the ballgame.  If not, maybe you have a laptop lab, a mobile laptop cart, or some other way to get enough laptops in your room for at least partners to use.  You'll need that to be most effective.  I have four laptops for kids to use, and my personal ipad, so I often take my class to our "mini-lab", which is basically a room full of old laptops.  That said, you need to lay down the LAW about technology rules:
     A.  Keep to the "Ask Three Before Me" rule you probably already use in your classroom.  Kids go NUTS when they're using technology of any kind, and even though they may have computers at home, you'll be a raving, and possibly raging, lunatic trying to help everybody at once.
     B.  Use 4x4 inch sticky notes as "I need help" signals.  Put a sticky note beside each computer.  The notes should stay there unless the user needs you.  Then, if the three before you can't help the user, the note can be stuck upside down (so it really sticks up) on the top corner of the back of the screen.  You can choose whether or not to have your students write the problem they're having on the note, but my rule is, wait quietly and patiently after sticking your note up, and DO NOT CALL ME!  I'll get to you ASAP.  Meanwhile, minimize the "problem program" and work on another site you know how to use, like Brainpop, Accelerated Reader, www.thinkcentral.com, or anything you've already trained your kids on how to do.
     C.  Use your laptop and Promethean board, Polyvision board, Show Me on your ipad, or Smartboard to walk the kids through every single step.  This can be hard in my case, because I have Windows 7, and the kids have Windows 1, maybe (I made that up, but it's an OLD version).  Really, I just show them what my screen looks like, and point out where the differences are, so they know what to do on their laptops.  This is only really a problem in using PowerPoint, etc., for the children to publish their work via multi-media applications.

4.  Use Microsoft Publisher to make almost anything!  I read so many bloggers talk about how they use PowerPoint to create their documents, and, yes, I like it for some things, but it is SO much easier for me to use Publisher!  I can make anything in half the time, and as far as having to flip pages around in PowerPoint, it's totally not necessary in Publisher.  Just rotate your text box left 90 degrees to have some pages in portrait, and others in landscape.  Simply said, I start out in landscape, in most cases.  If I want a page to print in portrait, I insert a full page sized textbox, click on the Drawing Tools tab at the top, click on Rotate, near the right, and choose "Rotate Left 90".  Then, everything I do is sideways on the page, but that doesn't bother me, because I don't have to fool with opening two different documents at once to insert pages of different orientations.  You can also save anything as a picture, so go ahead and create those Teachers Pay Teachers preview pages right there, too.  Save the page as a picture, and viola, it's your preview!  No more cutting and pasting from program to program to get your preview.  I promise next week, I'll make my whole Tech Tip Post on using Publisher for TONS of details, screenshots, and more!

Go ahead and link up with your tech tips...we can all learn from each other that way, and I know I can learn WAY more from you than you can from me!

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Five for Friday: Fab Forty Fantastic Followers

First, I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for their Five for Friday Linky Party...
This week, I spent three days in Charleston, SC on a field trip with my beautiful fifth grader Callie,
one day in the classroom, and one day out for an unused snow day (gotta love livin' in the south).  We saw at least five thousand amazing things, but I'll just share five with you:
Beautiful St. Michael's Church, the oldest in Charleston
Two Meeting Street Inn...my favorite scene from the horse & buggy ride
The Angel Oak tree...the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi River
Crocs everywhere...thank goodness for ZOOM lense!
Magnolia Plantation - I was surprised by the English Tudor architectural style!
I'm super-excited to have forty fabulous followers!  I'm having a four-day contest to celebrate you, my loyal, fantastic, fabulous followers!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Click here to choose your prizes...email me to tell me which items you want, and I'll make it happen!

Good Luck, My Friends, and follow my store for more!

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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted with Tried It Tuesday

It's time for Tried it Tuesday, which is brand new to me!
So, this Tuesday, I'm tyring two things:
1. Tried it Tuesday (ha!) and
2. Really, I tried to add tabs across the top of my blog.  I am forever trying to improve it, and although one of the tabs is "Techie Tips", I have tried and tried to get my tech post to only show up on that tab, but can't do it for the life of me!  I have searched all over google, bing, and yahoo for how to make a post "stick" to the right page, but all I can find is about making "static" pages, which is not what I'm after.  This Tuesday's tried and failed...anybody know how to fix that???

I have had so much fun with  Latoya's Flying Into First linkies, and I do spend much more than half my time in my classroom, so I definitely have some favorite spots to share with you:

1.  This is my little corner of the room, but, as you can probably see, it's where I do all my small group teaching.  I gave up my traditional desk, for a writing station, but still use the drawers for storing  not-too-often-used items.  This area, though, is my favorite, and houses most of my leveled reading materials, learning games, and my binders,etc.  It's cutesied up with the junk-hiding fabric hot-glued to the table, and has pretty organizers in and on the bookshelves.

2.  My Reading Station is great!  When it actually looks like this, I know no one's been reading, but, the kids love the chairs, and the colored book bins separate my leveled "free reading" and baggy book books.  Each bin has a laminated label, on which I can write kids' names, and change them whenever I need to.

 3.  These are the math station and writing station.  I think math is probably the kids' favorite, because it's where all the hand-on manipulative materials and math games are, and gives them room to play with a partner.  I also have a few math reminders glued to the walls back there, to help them with strategizing and post station instructions and choices on the bulletin board.  I like the writing, because there are exemplary texts there, and some reminders for how to write, what to write about, how to revise and edit, and some literary craft reminders.
 The "bucket" stools get moved all around all the time, and are made from used and empty wax buckets (like paint buckets, but free from having the school floors waxed).  I spray painted them with that Krylon plastic paint, upholstered the seats with foam and fabric, and then finished them off with coordinating ribbon.

Happy Wednesday!
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Monday, April 22, 2013

How to Get Free Clip Art, Legally!

My first techie tip for you is how to find free clip art online that you can use for your classroom, your TPT shop, Etsy shop, Teachers Notebook shop, or just for fun!

First, don't just go to google and enter the search words "free clip art".  What appears usually isn't free, is copyrighted, or will cost you a membership fee for the free artwork.  That seems fair, because someone has spent his time creating the art, but you're a teacher, right?  So I have some great resources for you that truly are FREE!
  Every single thing on this site is free, and there are thousands of clips from which to choose!  They have recently opened a sister site, which features artwork for sale, but the search on the original site is extensive, and almost endless!

Not everything here is free, but there is a lot from which to choose!

Again, not all free, but often free borders, etc. to jazz up your work!

KPM Doodles has a few freebies, but even when not free, she almost always offers buy 2, get 1 free, so I've listed her here, as well.  Her items are sold as collections, and are just adorable!

Have fun creating,

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Countdown to Forty and Five for Friday

Yeah, I wish I meant years old...I'm past that!  I am dying for just forty followers, for a Fab Forty Freebie!  Tell your friends.  Tell your co-workers.  Tell your neighbors!  I just need three more followers to feel the love.

I'm also linking up for one of my favorite little parties...
1.  This week, my class and I went out into the field to study a few habitats around our school.  We're so lucky to have a nature trail on campus, that also has a creek running through it.  We have an enclosed courtyard with a pond, trees, flowers, tons of turtles and snails, and fantastic opportunities for learning!

2.  I had some students bring in some friends for us to study...first came the tadpoles in several different stages of development.  I was super-excited to see some tiny ones, some larger, some with back legs, some with all four, froglets with little tails, and one guy (on the green glass bead) who is so close to losing his tail, I'll bet it's gone Monday!

Next came this tiny hatchling painted turtle.  A former student's mom found it near her home, and knew I had an adult as a class pet.  So, she sent in this baby for us to see.  It is no bigger than a quarter, y'all, and my "mama" one's shell is about six inches long!  After calling PetSmart, and the local wildlife rehabilitation and conservation group, and having the baby checked out by an expert, it was decided that I get to keep it until it's ready to be released into its natural habitat.  YEAH!!!

3.  On the way into school Friday, my daughters spotted this lovely guy, and I knew I had to catch him to show him off, too.  I ran in, grabbed an insect container, took a VERY deep breath (I hate spiders), and clapped the container against the wall, slid it toward the awaiting lid, and finally breathed again when I had the lid on tight!  He's a wolf spider, and he got released right after school...eeewww!  Next week, we will send home our insect project assignment, though, and I knew this guy was the perfect example of what NOT to bring...you know eight legs vs. six, and all!  In case you missed that, you can grab it here - it's a FREEBIE!

Back to the courtyard...Last year, I found and rescued this HUGE red eared slider turtle, relocating him to our safe little courtyard, where he has plenty of shade, light, friends, water, and food.  I doubt he even knows he moved, but he was in the middle of the street in my neighborhood, and it was getting dark, so i had to save him!  My kiddos love getting the chance to spot him, which is rare, but they did on Friday!

Over by the creek, we found lots of interesting worms, insects, plants, a squirrel in his nest, and a robin.  Too FUN!

4.  I finished the first part of my huge animal unit just in time to dig in to the habitats.  It's full of graphic organizers, field journal pages, and questions for really getting kids thinking about the importance of maintaining our natural habitats, how animals and plants are interdependent, and how habitats support the living things within.
5.  Finally, I have been watching Megan's video tutorials at 
and I learned how to make and post a button for you to grab, a "follow me on Pinterest button", update my blog header, add google+1 and follow me on google links, and basically improve my overall design.  I am  "super-empowered" by Megan, and can't wait to learn more from her!  She's amazing.  In case you don't know Megan, or her blogs, click on her button, above to head over.  She's hosting a 700 follower giveaway right now, too!

Have a great week, y'all!  I'm headed on a field trip to Charleston with my fifth grader, leaving the house at 4:30 a.m., so I'm off to bed!
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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted and FREEBIES!

Hey, Y'all!  I'm linking up with Latoya from Flying Into First Grade for her Let's Get Acquainted Linky Party - she is too fun and creative!  I'm loving her ideas each week.
This Week's TOPIC - Skittles Game
Here is the code:
Red- Favorite Ice Cream Flavor
Orange- Favorite Memory from College
Yellow- Favorite Sports Team
Green- Favorite Fast Food Place
Purple- Wild Card(Tell anything about yourself)

Skittles?  Who has Skittles?  I've been on a diet for so long that Skittles sound gourmet!
Really, here goes:
Red - My favorite ice cream flavor?  I have two - a winter and a summer...I know, weird!  In winter, I LOVE, seriously LOVE pralines & cream, but in summer, it has to be peach.  And my grandma's is the best...hands down.  No one can beat Nonnie's ice cream!

Orange - Wow!  College is kind of a blur, and kind of a long time ago, but I think my favorite memory is probably living on the Alpha Chi Sorority hall, hangin' with my sistas.

- Clemson Tigers.  "nuff said.

- Five Guys Burgers - those dang fries are to die for, and who doesn't love free peanuts while you wait?

Purple - Remember that diet?  I can't remember the last time I ate ice cream, or Skittles, or Five Guys, or fries, or much of anything except Special K Bars, but I have 63 less pounds and 5 smaller sizes to show for it, and that is pure LOVE!
Before (last September)
Notice there's no after picture?  I'm NOT done!  Forty more to go, and I'll give y'all a new picture!  Maybe in a bathing suit.

This week, we've begun to study animals, which is a much-anticipated and highly popular topic for the little seconds!  We are reading almost all non-fiction, for the rest of the year, so I created a couple of foldables for my kiddies to remember non-fiction text features and non-fiction graphic features.  You can click on any of the pictures below to access your free copies.  The first page of each document is the foldable itself, and the second is what you'd find written on the backs of the tabs.  We just glue down the center strip, cutting along the horizontal lines between the features.  Then, on our paper, we look through magazines to find examples of each, and glue them under the correct tabs.  These foldables were inspired by Belinda's prefix and suffix foldables over at I Love to Teach.  She posted them just in time for us...we just started learning about prefixes and suffixes, and Belinda seems to be one step ahead of us!  Hope you can use these freebies - my kiddos seem to really like making them, and they seem to be helping with remembering information.

In our animal unit, we include insects, and do an insect project grade-wide.  The children really enjoy it, even though it kind of grosses me out...not a bug lover, here!  Anyway, here's another freebie you can grab - it's my copy of our insect project assignment with the grading rubric right on the assignment.  Be looking at my shop on Teachers Pay Teachers soon for a complete animal unit, but for now, enjoy the preview with the insect project file.  Just click the image to download your own.

Well, this bug-lovin' girl (NOT!) is headed to bed...before midnight tonight!  Wonders never cease...

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Monday Made It...But Just Barely!

Whew!  Spring Break is O.V.E.R.!  I walked into my room this morning to a brand-spankin' new Polyvision board...love it!!!  However, I also walked in to find the mess I left behind in my rush to "get everything out of the way of the installation crew".  Yikes!  Everything was taken off one whole wall, laid all over the room, and piled especially high on my guided reading table.  Of course, I didn't have copies ready either, because I planned my lessons last night (whooo's fault is that?), so I opted for copies over cleaning, deciding I can teach in a mess, but not without materials.

I'm linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It tonight.

I managed to make a few things to share with you, and also wanted to share some things I regularly use in my classroom to bestay, try my best to look organized, and sometimes manage to actually be.

Classroom Made It #1
Dollar Flap Book

I want my kids to totally connect money to fractions, for later in their education, as well as to completely understand the many, many ways to make one dollar.  I thought back to when I used to cut fraction fringes for my third graders, and came up with a similar idea.  I copied this sheet, cutting each horizontal strip apart.  I glued the dollar strip to a piece of construction paper 2.5 inches high by 9 inches wide.  Next, I glued the half dollars to a 5" x 9" sheet of construction paper, the quarters to a 7" x 9" piece, the dimes to a 9.5" x 9" piece, and the nickels to a 12" x 9" piece.  I layered all the pieces so that the coins showed out from under each other, and stapled the whole thing at the top.  Finally, I cut along the lines between the coins, but not through to the top of the construction paper.  Now I have a flap book that can be flipped and folded in about a million combinations to either count and determine total amounts of coins, or to find all the different combinations of coins that can make one dollar.  I hope that made sense.

Classroom Made It #2
Animal Field Journals
photo of cutting from wikihow.com
We began our new science unit today, by making field journals to record our investigations about animals.  I wanted them to look like real field journals, so we took regular composition notebooks and covered them with a brown paper bag.  It was super-easy, even for my cutting-challenged kiddos.  We opened a lunch sack-sized bag, cut down one crease, from top to bottom, and closed the bag.  Then we held the bottom flap of the bag perpendicular to the closed body of the bag, and cut the bottom off.  This creates a large piece of brown kraft paper, essentially, which we crumpled a bit, uncrumpled, and fit one of those bag creases around the front cover of our composition notebooks, gluing it down on the inside cover first, then wrapped it around the outside front cover and glued it to that, as well as wrapping a little around to the back.  We added a small white label, made from notebook paper, and wrote "My Animal Field Journal" on that, along with our names.  Tomorrow, we'll either search through old magazines for photos of animals and add them to the covers, or (more likely) sketch animals with colored pencil (I love the way they look on brown paper) to finish our covers.  Then we'll take those journals outside to make our first observations.  I use hula hoops to focus small groups on a contained area of the schoolyard.  We'll use magnifying glasses to see everything in our hula hoops, drawing and labeling what we see.  I try to find some trash, some grass, maybe a rock or two, mulch, concrete, insects, etc. before placing each hula hoop on the ground so that every one of them has some living and non-living things to observe, record, and label.  Later, we classify our observations as living and non-living, and then classify the living things as animal or plant.  My kids DIE for this activity!  And they LOVE those field journals...

Organization Made It
My Dojo Class
I'm probably the last one on earth to have not heard of this before, but just in case, I set up my class in Class Dojo last night, and introduced my babies to how to get their mojo with class dojo today.  Y'all, it's like a miracle in action!  I just showed them the little video, and then started giving points for behaviors, like participation, being on task, making a 3-F line (feet in one green floor tile, face front, finger over lips), saving time, helping others, being neat, etc.  And, yes, there are negatives, too...I had only one little one who ended the day with a negative 1.  You can take points for being off task, wasting time, being messy, interrupting, etc.  In fact, you can set up any positive or negative points you want.  It's magical...

Organization Make it Every Week
Do y'all know about planbookedu.com?  It ROCKS!  It's an online planbook that allows you to set up your lesson plans in customizable templates AND share them with co-workers, friends, your boss, etc.  You can choose to show common core standards, your state standards, custom standards, or none at all.  You can set it up to go days across, or days down.  you can add as many "periods" as you want.  You can color-code your small groups, add attachments, websites links, and SO MUCH MORE!  This is the one tool I can not live without.  If I get off track, I can even bump my plans forward a day, put ideas in the cubby (on the side) to use later, and constantly monitor and adjust what actually happened in a day, so that the next day's plans are right.  You can get a FREE account or upgrade for more options.  If you haven't heard of it, check it out at http://www.planbookedu.com. I promise, you will fall right in love!

Last Made It...Still in progress...
I'm thinking of updating my webpage, and got started with this.  What do y'all think?  Better?  Cuter?  Don't Care?  Let me know, 'cause it's kinda fun, and I might be able to teach y'all how to do it, if I can figure it out for myself first!

So there it is.  My Monday is over, my room is still a wreck, but we got our mojo on, and we're lovin' life!

I hope you learned something new from me tonight...I'm usually the learner in blog-land!