Monday, April 21, 2014

Busy as a Bee

Hey everyone!

Yikes, I'm slacking on blogging. Understandably, it's that time of year where we are all just trying to keep our heads above water, right? The end of the school year is near. Although I may have sighed when I saw we go a bit longer than I thought...June 17.

What have I been up to? I've been subbing, subbing, and subbing!

We've done simplistic paintings to make sunsets and silhouettes. 

I helped put up a bulletin board that was super fun and interactive.

And we did part of my space unit

Tested out the parent's new boat (and the panoramic feature on my phone).

And working on TpT stuff. What a blessing to have been the featured teacher a few weeks ago!

And I've been on a huge nonfiction creating kick. I absolutely love using real photos and my spring writing pack may just be my favorite, since I used all of my own pictures. I'm already working on a summer one!

Whew. I think I've caught you up on what I've been up to! How are you all doing? When are you done with school?

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas: Making Bulletin Boards Pop

Hey everyone!

Here I am once again, joining in the Bright Idea fun!

Sometimes I hear teachers shudder when they talk about bulletin boards. Personally, I love them. There is so much potential in what you can do!

My bright idea(s) that I'm sharing today are tips on how to make those bulletin boards pop!

Like I said, I have a perverse pleasure of helping with bulletin boards. Sick problem. I even came in one summer to help my friend in her class so I could do the bulletin boards because that's her least favorite part. I ended up doing 3!  I used some of these tips as I pieced her boards together.

Whether the background of the bulletin board is a pop of color with plain border or the border is the pop of color, color is eye catching.

I also like the layered look...above is the example of layered scallop under the chevron. The background pops out and so does the title.

I thought these would be hard, but they're easy! Use tissue paper, plastic tablecloths, or butcher paper with ease! You just kind of fluff around and staple here and there and bam! Scrunchy borders...and it makes it pop! Here's one I did for a different friend...her bulletin board hadn't changed in months and it was ripped and just sad looking.

I think this whole thing may have taken about 1/2 hour to put up the scrunch? It's outdoors, has an old frame, so I had to work with what I got. I added a pop of color and paired that with the scrunch for this eye catching display. I'm not even joking that within it being up, kids from the afterschool program were going up to it and looking!

Make it 3-D by adding a few features. For example, this bulletin board I helped put up for yet another friend (see, I told you I have an obsession), we added fake marsh reeds for the pond, moss, and bubble wrap with beads hot glued to mimic frog eggs. You can see the frog eggs below.

And this bulletin board has many things going for it. It's got a painted background, 3-D stuff, kid work, real pictures and cartoon pictures (kind of like mixed media which I love), and color. It also has interactive flappy frogs (no relation to Flappy Bird), which brings me to my next tip.

One of my all-time fave boards I've made was an interactive one when I was student teaching. I had to take a Dr Who Shall Not Be Named book for a contest (no, not the Feline in a Fedora, it was a riddle one) and I made cards that riddles and could be opened, pulled, or flipped up. The kids loved guessing the riddles and playing with the bulletin board. (P.S. I won first place).

What do I mean by details? If you have student work hanging up...frame it.

 Or add colorful clothespin tacks that you've seen floating on pinterest. Have a title.  Mix it up by having real photos and cartoon.  Just add a twist and the boring board is more interesting.

I even put a title below on my hypothetical bulletin board. And those tacks, so cute! Now if this bulletin board would only come to life!

If you liked these ideas, come check out my FB and Instagram pages, I post ideas there too!

For more bright ideas, check out these bloggers!

*Background and border by Ashley Hughes, bee by TeacherScrapbook, Letters by LittleRed, pushpins by Mr. Magician, and frames by Bubbly Borders and More.

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Substitute Preparedness: Earth Day and a Freebie

Hey everyone!

Eek! It snuck up on me! But is here, tips, ideas, and a freebie!

Events this month: 

  • National Poetry Month (all month)
  • Passover April 14-22
  • Easter April 20
  • Earth Day April 22
Teacher Tip: If you've got nice weather, take the kids out! Let them doing writing outside. Need imaginative writing? Have them draw what the clouds look like. Learning about insects or plants? Have a nature hike/hunt!

Sub tip: You've most likely survived Spring Break by now. The kids will be tired because they won't have had a steady bedtime. So do some brain breaks! Take 5-10 minutes and get the wiggles out. Do stretches. Get them moving!

And now for Earth Day! Here are some ideas from some bloggy friends of mine.

From sweet Lyndsey at A Year of Many Firsts...

And here's the freebie!

Click here to grab the freebie.

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Common Core: Writing Websites

Hey everyone!

First came the math websites for kids and then teachers. Now I bring to you, Common Core and Writing!

With the standards discussing certain topics, revising and editing, and even a standard stating that students use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers, you may be feeling overwhelmed. 

Digital tools? Collaboration with peers? Where do you begin? I'm here to help with that! 
I probably won't split this into another post for teachers, but I might. I'm going to break up this post into pre-writing, revising/editing, publishing, and collaboration.


1. Story Creator  (K-3)

Kids choose a "Blurpie" which is a monster. They add hats and other accessories. Then they choose a setting, add characters, pick some words. Then they print out the page, which includes several lines to write. It's a great way to get story prompts for the younger ones.

Here's an example of a story prompt I threw together in a minute.

2. Draw .io (3+)

You can create your own graphic organizers for pre-writing.Very simple and plain, but gets the job done.

Ready to write

1. TalkTyper (K-12)
Have a student that can't write? Or maybe a kiddo that has tons of ideas but just is so worried about spelling? TalkTyper allows the student to speak and it types for them.

2. Membean (1+)
Tired of the same old words for happy, sad, said? Membean creates word maps of synonyms. 


1. Telescopic Text (2+)
This is a great way to show how to write with more detail and description. Plus it's fun! Type a short sentence. Click on a word or phrase and add a little more detail. Then when the sentence is done, the text that you added to can expand, showing that writing can be made more meaningful.  You do have to register though.

1. Titan Pad (4+, though some 3rd graders may enjoy)
This was amazing! Start a document, share the url with the others in your group, and write! Each collaborator gets a color when they type, so you can see it. And it's real time!

2. (K+)
This publishes a simple blog post (so this would also be collab/publish). You create a page, choose a name and password for editing. You receive a URL and share the password with your group and then edit.

3.Tackk (3+)
It's like designing a one page web site. No membership required, but the page lasts only a week unless you sign up.  Students personalize the look, add tags, add photos, links and more.

4. Bookemon (K+)
I think this is my favorite. You can make original books, add images, and read the published books in an interactive online way. For a fee, you can even make printed copies of the online book.

**Websites and info come from the fabulous website TeachersFirst.**

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Common Core Math Websites: For Teachers

Hey everyone!

Well here is part 2 of my Common Core Math websites, this time for the teachers, holla!

1.  Helping With Math

This site is more for parents wanting to help their kids with math. Genius right? There are worksheets, online games, numberline, and a hundreds chart. A great resource to tell the parents about!

2. Math Landing

You can search by math topic, grade level, or use their search to find a keyword. There are lessons, discussions, webinars,  and oh my goodness, this has been favorited for sure!

3.Engage NY 

I'm linking you to the main site as there are soooo many choices of what to do. Assessments, instruction, video library, you've got it. I think the video library is my favorite part because you see the math standards in action in an actual classroom.

4. Illuminations

You click on the right side for your grade(s) under the Common Core tab and then games appear for that grade.  There are lessons and interactives!

What is it? You can create lesson templates, drag and drop standards in your lessons, share what you want on your class website, print your plans, and share lessons with colleagues. 

6. Illustrative Mathematics

I plan to use these for daily math warm ups. These are fabulous! You click on the grade, then the standard. There is an example, with a solution and everything. It's great if you need to show examples or if you need a time filler for a few minutes. 

I had a lot of fun sharing these Common Core Math websites with you all and I hope you can use at least one!  

**Websites and info come from the fabulous website TeachersFirst.**

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Common Core Math Websites: For Kids

Hey everyone!

So I'm taking some online classes for PDUs from TeachersFirst and Ok2Ask  and tonight was all about Common Core and Math. Holy smokes did I leave that hour class with a ton of website ideas. So many, that I think this will be a two-parter. I'm breaking it into a blog post about websites for kids and one about websites for teachers (second one should be out Sunday ).

So these were just some of the websites for math and kids. There are many more out there, but these are the  ones that I was told about and tested for myself. I'll leave you the link and a little blurb.  In no particular order....

1. XP Math Games (Grades 2-9)

I liked being able to look up a specific topic, like division, and then there was online practice. Plus there are other math games.

2.  Math Flix (Grades 3+)

Why do I like it? It has math videos on basically every subject. There's a teacher and a student page. This did seem like a website for the older kids, based on the topics

3. Brain Pop (Grades 3+) and Brain Pop Jr. (K-3)

I'm sure a lot of you know about Brain Pop already, but it is fun and fantastic! A variety of games.

4. IXL (All Grades)

First off, I love that is something for ever grade!  You click the grade, the strand, and then it brings up online practice of that strand.

5. Math Playground (Grades K-6)

Again, you choose the grade, the common core standard, then there are games that pertain to that standard. All thinking on your part. Brilliant!!!

Last, but not least. And maybe my personal favorite....

6. Mr. Nussbaum  (Grades K-8)

There are instructional videos and then you click on the right side to play the game. The coolest thing? Most of these games can also be played on the iPad!!!!

And I admit...I sampled games on Mr. Nussbaum for quite awhile. Especially "Becoming Lord Voldemath"

So there you go. Six websites for your kids to go to for fun. There are certainly more out there. Next blog post will be common core math resource sites for teachers!

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