Saturday, February 25, 2012

Linky Party - Edu Apps

The first thing I did after I bought my iPad 2 was browse the iTunes store for Educational Apps.  I was looking for free ones to start.  There are so many out there, it's hard to know what is good and what isn't!  So when I came across the Linky Party for Educational Apps that is being hosted by Jane at The Learning Curve blog, I thought it would be a great way for me to share ones I know of and to learn about others as well.

So let's begin, shall we?  Here are my top five favorite educational apps (oh...and did I mention FREE too?):

1.  Edmodo - I love Edmodo and being able to use it when I'm not physically sitting at my computer is awesome.  This app gives me just about all the same functionality that I get when signed on regularly.  If you aren't sure what Edmodo is, you can read about my post I did on it a few weeks ago.  

2.  Educreations - THIS ONE IS FABULOUS! Basically, it is a generic interactive whiteboard.  It allows you to record, write and import pictures to teach your lesson.  You can then save your lesson and make it available to other teachers or even your students for when they are at home.  What a great resource if you have an absent student or someone who needs a quick review.  You can even browse by subject, other lessons that have been done. 

3.  YourTeacher: Math - This is a collection of math videos that teach.  Search for the concept you are looking for and just play the video.  

4. Timer+ - This one isn't really an Edu App but I love it just the same.  It allows me to create different timers for activities.  So I have saved timers for all my stations, warm-up activities, etc. 

5. Stack the States - This game is so much fun! And it's perfect if you have to teach the states to your class.  It gives them trivia questions regarding the states....they range from Nicknames to names of the Capitals and more.  The lite version is free.  

What are your favorite Educational Apps?  Join the Linky Party or just post below.  

Friday, February 24, 2012

Masking Art Project

Looking for a fabulous art project to do with your students? Well, I have a fun one for you which is pretty popular with my own 5th grade students.  I call it Name Masking Art.  Simply because it's an art project and it consists of using masking tape, charcoal and the students' names.  Before beginning, I introduce the title of the art project and my students and I discuss what the word "mask" means.  Their basic definition they usually come up with is "to cover."  Which is perfect because that is what we do.

Here are the supplies you need for this project:

* 12x18 piece of white construction paper
* pencil
* masking tape
* chalk

Outline the shapes
Smudge inward
First, I have the students lightly trace their name using block letters (single straight lines) on their piece of paper.  After I have approved the size and letter shape to be sure they aren't too small, I hand out strips of masking tape.  The students rip off appropriate strips and cover up the letters they formed.  They continue getting strips of tape from me until all their name is covered.   Once, they have completed that task, they than divide their paper into pieces lightly with their pencil.  Next, they take a piece of chalk and outline the sections only.  Finally, with their finger, they smudge inward from the outline of the shape to fill the inner space. They continue to do this with multiple colors until their entire sheet is done.  Once finished with the coloring and smudging part, they then begin to carefully pull the tape off their name.  They are left with a pretty neat looking namesake.  When doing this project, I do have the students store their work in the art drying rack (which I love - read about it here) until completely done to keep them from stacking their work on top of each others and ruining it.

This project is usually one of their favorites! They love the way their names turn out.  However, this project could be adapted in a lot of ways - instead of using names you could do words for that have meaning - like Love, Happiness, Peace, etc. Or you could have students create character trait posters for a book they are reading. The possibilities are endless.....

What are some different ways you would change this project?

Permission to Pin

It's amazing how many times we all sign up for something without reading the fine print first. (I, of course, remember my mom and dad telling me to always read it so I can't blame them and hang my head in shame.) ;-)  The good news is, someone finally did read the fine print on Pinterest and wrote an article about what the rest of didn't bother reading - which you can see here.  Basically, in a nutshell, Pinterest terms of use state that whatever you are pinning that you are the rightful owner of those pictures and that they reserve the right to use those pins in any way they choose.

So in an effort to assure everyone that I am completely okay with them pinning anything they get from my blog or other sites, I am joining the Link Up that Laura Candler has set-up and is hosting.  Be sure to check out her blog for more information.

Feel free to pin away off any of my sites.   Thank you!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Character Certificates

I can honestly say, I really enjoy my class this year!! I have a great group of 16 students - with a majority (10 to be exact) being girls and the rest boys.  However, one thing that we have a constant issue with is tattling.  Now, don't get me wrong - if there is some type of bullying going on or something that I need to be aware of, I don't mind.  But when every day I go to pick my kids up from recess, lunch or a special class and they greet me with a tattle, it gets a little old.....especially since I'm dealing with 5th graders.

I've tried a few different techniques to stop this behavior but all have just about failed.  So, in a last ditch effort, I have begun Character Certificates.  I created these certificates that you see below (and can download for free in my TpT store) to help my students focus on the good things that they are doing and not the bad.  Let me explain.

Each day, I randomly pick two students who will award two other students with a Character Certificate.  Throughout the day, they are watching for someone who exhibits good character and kindness of some sort.  It can be in the classroom or out on the playground.  At the end of the day, they give me the certificates and I announce who it was, and why they were chosen.  The students who were given the award get to put a sticker on their chart on our bulletin board and get a spin on our Puff Ball Machine (which you can read about in this previous post.) Now explaining to the student what they should and shouldn't be giving the award for did require a lengthy conversation with the them.  We talked about not just giving the certificates to their friends or for someone just smiling at them but for demonstrating real character.  And honestly, so far SO GOOD!  I'm very impressed with what they are awarding each other for.  Better yet - the tattling has all about stopped and has been replaced with conversations about the good things their classmates are doing.  Now that in my opinion is success.  Peers recognizing peers!

Here's hoping that this awesome behavior continues.  What are some ways you deal with tattling?

And of course, feel free to download these red/green certificates and use them in your own classroom or download my new chevron certificates.  :-)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Website Wednesdays: Free Font Sites

Since I just posted my first Linky Party yesterday, I thought it would be a good idea to stay with the theme of free fonts and make this a quick post.  Here is a list of my favorite websites to get some free fonts.

dafont - (I just wasted spent about 30 minutes looking through this site. I love it!)
1,001 Free Fonts - I wonder if they really only have 1,001 fonts.....
Kevin and Amanda - this is my new favorite site - I came across it just a couple of weeks ago. This is where I found one of my absolute favorite fonts - Spicy Sushi Roll.

What are your favorite websites to download free fonts? Comment below.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Linky Party - Free and Fabulous Fonts

It is no secret that I love new and different (and of course FREE) fonts!  You may remember the post I did a couple weeks ago about some of my favorites.  Some of you even emailed me your favorites too, which was totally awesome.  I collect fonts. I must have over a hundred that didn't come with my office programs. Each font has been used for something in my classroom. Perhaps a bulletin board title, class newsletter, my blog (this font is called Coming Soon), letters home regarding special occasions or class functions and of course any registration forms I have to do for school for the wide variety of programs we offer and I oversee.  They are an easy way to jazz up printouts for students and other things. It isn't odd to hear one of my students comment that they really like a font that I've used and ask if we can add it to their computers. Which I of course will do. :-)

Anyway, after receiving some great suggestions from some of you, it occurred to me that I should host my very first Linky Party specializing in Free Fonts! Here are a few of my other favorites that I haven't told you about before.  Click on the picture to be brought to the website where you can download it too!

I could go on for awhile but I'll stop for now. But I may add some more later.  

So here is your chance to share your favorite font or fonts that you've have downloaded for free.

Here's what to do:

  1. Save my blank laptop jpg above as an image on your computer. 
  2. Open your favorite program to edit images and insert a textbox on the laptop image screen.  
  3. Type the NAME of your favorite font in THAT font.  (see mine above)
  4. Save it and add it as an image to your blog post.
  5. Write a quick post about your free can be why you like it, what you use it for....anything you want to see.  
  6. Add a link to your font image directing us to where we can easily download that same font.  
  7. Be sure to copy my Free and Fabulous Linky Party Image to your blog post to and link it back to me.  
And while we are at it, I've decided to create a Pinterest board of all our fonts.  So leave me a comment below with your Pinterest link below so I can add you as a collaborator to the board.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Market Mondays: Mountain Language and Math

It's MONDAY! Typically, I'm not a big fan of Mondays but hey - it was President's Day so I had a much needed mini-break that enabled me to spend some time with my daughter.  Who is GROWING so fast - it's insane!!!  But anyway, back to Monday. Just because it's a holiday doesn't mean I'm going to skip my Market Monday post.  Today, we are going to talk about Mountain Language and Mountain Math - bulletin board editions.   (I specify that because they do have online editions now but I've never used them.) I was able to bring Mountain Language to my school late last year with the help of our 4th grade teacher. Both of us have had success using this product and convinced our principal to purchase the Language kit for grades 3-5, as we are trying to improve our language test scores on our ITBS testing.  We are hoping to add K-2 grade this year. 

Mountain Math in the right corner
Let me explain a little bit about these two products.  They are grade specific bulletin board sets that you use throughout the school year.  They are great supplemental resources to help support your math and language curriculum already being used in the classroom.  These kits help keep concepts that you are teaching in both subjects fresh by asking students 20 questions (which can be broken down to only a few a day or you can do them all at one time).  One of the best parts about these kits is that you can use them as a whole group activity, station work or for individual student use depending on your need and teaching style.

Picture from the website of Mtn Language
The questions depend on the grade level you teach. However, for example in 5th grade for Language, the students are given a word and then asked if it's plural or singular. Then they are told to put it in the opposite form.  There are also questions on subjects, predicates, antonyms, synonyms, abbreviations, punctuation, etc.  And for 5th grade math, students work out quick math questions that include fractions, decimals, place value, patterns and number lines to name just a few.  I have used both of these products in my 5th grade classroom. I currently use Mountain Language but also used Mountain Math back a few years ago at my old school district. I don't have Mountain Math right now simply because I was only able to pick one since my school was purchasing the kit.  However, I would like to get the math one again as it is a great review for students!  Plus - I like having bulletin boards that are actually useful.  :-)  I will take a picture of my Language Board and post it tomorrow.  I have a pretty sad pic of my Math Board but posted it anyway.  Forgive the quality of it please.

Okay - here are some quick pros and cons of the kits.

  • Price - for what you get I think these are realistically priced at $76.
  • Great for skill review and keeping concepts fresh.
  • Flexibility on how they are used in your classroom.
  • Even though I've never used the online component, I'm going to have to list that as a pro as I think it would be great to incorporate technology with this program.
  • Printed on thick card stock.
  • You have to cut them out as they come a large sheets of cardstock - as a teacher with limited time already this is sort of a pain.  
  • They are not laminated, so if you like to have things laminated you will need to do it yourself.
  • Size - if you have limited bulletin board space, they do take up quite a bit of room.  Which is why the online version would probably be the way to go.  However, they do have another option that you purchase which is smaller - it's the Center version. (So honestly with both the online version and center version you shouldn't have a problem but thought I should still be honest about the bulletin board size).  
  • On the question sheet they provide for your students to use, they don't use proper vocabulary that is taught in class.  For example, on the language sheet, they ask students to list the word that means the opposite of the underlined word......  Um - you mean the antonym?  Why not just use that word? I work hard at making sure my students understand vocabulary especially since when it comes to testing, the proper vocabulary is used.  However, I fixed it by simply typing up my own question sheet and changed the wording of any that I deemed necessary.  (If you want a copy just send me a message with your email.) 
Overall rating for this product......4.5. I'm not a fan of cutting, laminating and needing to type up my own question sheet due to time which is what knocked it off .5 points but the general product is pretty awesome.

Do you have Mountain Language or Math in your classroom? How do you use it? Do you like it?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Linky Party: Picture Prompt

Nothing helps get the creative writing juices pumping like picture prompts. Many times when I have a student struggling during Writer's Workshop, I can pull a picture prompt out to help give them an idea of what to write about.  So when I heard that The Diary of a Not so Wimpy Teacher blog and Classroom Magic blog were creating a  Linky Party that was dedicated to creating and sharing picture prompts, I knew I had to join.  Be sure to check out all the other awesome picture prompts and get your students writing! 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Website Wednesdays: Weebly (and a biome project)

I'm always on the lookout for new ways to have my students create projects. And if they can involve technology - I'm usually sold.  Nothing gets my kids more fired up, than the thought of using a computer versus a pencil and piece of paper.  

So when it came time for my kids to study biomes and ecosystems, I knew that having them create a pamphlet just wasn't going to cut it this year.  Which leads me to today's Website Wednesday - Enter Weebly.  A fabulously (is that even a word? It is now!) free website that helps websites. Ironic - I know. 

My students assignment was to create a website based upon the biome they were assigned and design a tourism site to inform potential travelers of the facts and sights they would see there.  These were their basic guidelines (*note - I did not create the original template of this project. I found it a few years ago and cannot locate the original author. I did, however, modify it to be a website project):

Home Page: Introduction
• Include a brief introduction to your biome to encourage them to visit the rest of the website.
•  Include why this Biome is globally important.

Page One:  Biome’s place on earth
• Where is it (geographical distribution)?
• What are its physical features?
• What are the native plants and their adaptations to live there?
• What are the native animals and their adaptations to live there?
• Give examples of cooperation and competition between and among species.

Page Two: Attractions/Tour Packages/Weather Report
• Advertise your biome’s recreational activities
• Publicize points of interest
• Suggest supplies/gear that tourists should bring to make their trip more enjoyable.
• Suggest other biomes nearby for side trips
• Weather Report (Used to aid tourists in packing their gear)
  • What is the average precipitation?
  • What is the average temperature?
Page Three: Warnings
• What are some threats to this biome?
• Are there any endangered species?
• Is there a fear of climate change for this biome?

Page Four: Sources Cited
• List where you found your information.

They make it easy to sign-up your school!
Weebly is a fantasic and easy resource for the students to quickly understand and begin working in.  Some of its best features include drag and drop editing, a collection of designs, no advertising (which is huge when talking about educational purposes), and the ability to put in rich multimedia.  At my school, we are lucky to have our email completely linked up to Google and all the awesome Google apps that come along with it.  Weebly is one of them, so my students could easily log in without me having to create sign-ins for them. 

Julia's Amazing Artic Website
You seriously just need to check it out today! In the meantime, here are some of my students' websites for your viewing pleasure. :-)

Share below how you would use weebly in your classroom!


Monday, February 13, 2012

Market Mondays: Vista Print

I have been a Vista Print addict since my first year of teaching back seven years ago. They consistently send me email offers for free business cards, stamps, postcards, rack cards, etc and I go CRAZY!  I try to think of uses for the different free items (whether or not I need them....) and before I know it, I have a full cart and am paying a decent shipping cost with a bunch of great stuff on its way to me.  Summer time tends to be worse - I probably have a package a day arriving for about two weeks. 

What is Vista Print you ask?????  In case you don't know, Vista Print is an online company in which you can order marketing materials for your business or in my case - fabulous classroom resources.  The best part about it, is many times they have promotions where the items are free. What's the catch you ask?  Well, the items will have some sort of Vista Print advertisement on them (usually on the back) and you have to pay for shipping and handling.  However, when you look at all the great stuff you get, the S&H is really not a big deal.  I have once actually paid for an item and not received it for free and that was my Classroom Do Poster

I'm not even going to bother breaking down the pros and cons of these products.  Why? Because I simply cannot think of a con. Seriously. I LOVE VISTA PRINT! So of course this place gets 5 stars from me!  Look below at some of the item I have created on Vista Print.  You can also see more teacher created items on the wiki.  
Business Card

Business Card

Business Card

Business Card

Business Card
Back of Postcard

Front of Postcard





Lawn Sign

Rack Card






Do you Vista Print?  What items have you created?

Save up to 80% on custom printed products at Vistaprint.  Order today!

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