Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School Surprise!

Today I went back into school to start setting up the library and computer lab.  My first instinct was to turn on an iMac and stream some music.  Since the iMac was on, why not print everything I created this summer.  70+printed pages later, I of course need to laminate.  Up the hall, pages laminated, conversations had with other teachers, I came back into the library and see two boxes behind my circulation counter.  How could I have missed them? Two, amazing boxes, two great surprises to come back to school to.

Box/Surprise 1:

The graduating 8th grade class purchased and gifted a box full of books to the library.  New Books!

Box Surprise 2:

Last year I had requested 7 Nooks.  Four would have lower leveled readers and three would have chapter books for the third and fourth graders.  Although I heard I was approved for my purchase, when the end of the year came and I had not seen the Nooks, I assumed I would try again this year.  But wait... no... box number 2 had 7 Nooks and some beautiful covers to distinguish between the different levels. Now to teach the kids proper use and care before I let them take them home.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School and QR Codes

While I do not head back to school until after Labor Day, I know many teachers around the country have started heading back this week.  Each year I wonder how to start the school year.

Being in the computer lab and the library my students have me each and every year.  The rules and procedures stay pretty much the same.  My problem is clear, how do I go over the rules and procedures with students who have now had me or two, three, for four years already and keep both of us interested.  In past years I have tried using a video.   The video was interesting to the students but I found myself wanting to stop it and expanding on what I already said in the video.  In younger grades I tried a PowerPoint game but the game took longer than expected and students were fixated on the score and not the content.

The last two years I had third graders create signs to hang around the library and act out parts of the rules and procedures.  The skits were adorable and humorous. While that seems to be the best method for that age, months later, each group only remembered their assigned rule or procedure.

Last year I tried QR codes with the fourth graders.  Using I created QR codes and spread them around the computer lab and library.  In groups students used iPads and the app Scan to scan and read the rules and procedures. They wrote the rules on a worksheet that told them the locations of all the codes. The students learned what a QR code was and were encouraged to bring them in when they found them.  Students mostly brought in ads but I did get a Heinz Ketchup bottle and a Taco Bell wrapper. FUN.

This year I've learned.  Students will have a worksheet with questions like the one below.  (Theirs will not have the answers.)  Instead of just seeing the location of the code they have a question to answer. Instead of Kaywa, I used to create my QR codes.  QRPhoria is an amazing site with a lot of options for customizing QR codes though it is still SIMPLE to use.  With technology, I often feel that is the key.  Keep it simple but make it look amazing.

First you choose the context you want to show once the QR code is scanned.

Next add the information. It may be text, contact information, a url, etc.

Then you get to choose a style.  There is the traditional QR code if that is what you want, but you can get more creative and have scribbles, tile work, or one of the 13 other styles. Here you pick colors too. 
::It is here I usually have my iPad or iPhone and I scan to make sure the QR code colors and style work easily for my students before moving on::

If you are not sure, QRPhoria will give you some ideas, so do not worry.

If you are trying to keep it simple skip down to save.

 The next step, encoding is for redundant data.  As the creator you must decide how much redundant data you want in your code. The lowest is L, which allows the code to be read even if 7% of it is unreadable. Then M at 15% and so on.

 If you have a certain look for your code you can draw and erase but I warn you, be careful!

Last SAVE! The size depends on how big you plan to make it.  I always save big, just in case.

As with last year I will use QR codes again for teaching the Dewey Decimal system and I hope to come up with more ideas throughout the year.

If my students were older they would have their own cell phones or iPads and I would put QR codes on the books leading to book trailers, author's websites, lists of new books to our library, and so much more.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Back To School Blogger Exchange

I was very exciting to be a part of the Back To School Blogger Exchange with Covered in Glitter and Glue!  I was paired with another NJ teacher, Everyone deServes To Learn's Maria, a K-8 ESL teacher.

This year my plan is to be more organized so Maria's gift is PERFECT. Check it out:

First an very cool patterned and colored three ring binder

Inside has colorful post-its, a mini-clipboard I cannot wait to add to my whiteboard in the front of my room, and a dry erase board for To Dos: and Notes: which is perfect for helping me get organized!

And to top it off a Starbucks gift card! Thank you!

Head over to Covered in Glitter and Glue to see all the fun Blogger Exchange Boxes that were linked up!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What I'm Loving Wednesday

There are few things I am excited for but the overall is that it is August, it is not 90+ degrees anymore, and there are just under 4 weeks of summer.

1. First I'm excited that after 3 years of grad school along with switching from the Computer Teacher to the Media Specialist, I have graduated and gotten much more comfortable in the library.  This finally allows me time for pleasure reading. Right now I am halfway through "Were'd You Go Berdenette" by Maria Semple and it's a joyful read.  I just cannot wait to find out what happens to the main character Bernedetter. My "to-read" list which has been accumulating for 3 long graduate studies years is huge but it makes my giddy. 

2. This is my last week of camp.  While, having time off makes my happy it is also Art Show week which means my kids display to their parents what they have been working on.  Along with the sewing teacher, art teacher, and scrapbooking teacher, we fill an art gallery and the students get to show off work they made in each class over 3 weeks.  It makes me really proud. Below are pictures from the Art Show 3 weeks ago, and I'm looking to this weeks as it also marks the end of camp.

3. My last Wednesday love connects with the first.  With more time for myself I am able to get more professional reading done and that includes blogs.  A few months ago I started follow more classroom teacher blogs and boy are there crafty teachers out there.  While I will never be crafty, I am in love with the ideas that I am able to attain.  Before school starts I will have this blog completely redesigned (I've started the header, but already hate the orange color). Also I have started creating a new planner as you can see in an earlier post. There is much more to come and I am thankful as I am sure much of it will make my life easier.  

Two things I ALWAYS love, my pups:

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jumped on the Bandwagon- Bloglovin

Follow on Bloglovin

Tech Tips Linky Party

My first LINKY PARTIES!!!  I feel like I may have broken the rules by linking to an old post but my blog has a will continue to have tech tips.  Link to old post

 Thank you to The Teacher's Chair for hosting and appealing to my true side, the techie side.

Check it out:


Summer Time

This summer I thought I would really get my blog off the ground. My plan was to post more, join linky parties, and get more followers but it's already the end of July and that has not happened. The reasoning is a good one.

This summer I am working at a creative arts camp.  Over three periods I teach, Comic Book Creation, Digital Art, and Movie Making a.k.a. Lights, Camera, Action! My students are amazingly creative, kind, intelligent, and genuinely fun to work with.  They have taken up much more of my summer that could have ever suspected. Below is a brief description and examples.  A lot of work contains my students' faces and could not be posted but below are some examples and more can be found here:

First is Comic Book Creation.  We use Comic Life to create a final product but the steps to get there are tons of fun.  Students develop a story and either find images, take images with a camera, or draw images to add their comics.  Many of my students are use very basic Photoshop skills to put their stories together.  Some of my students created well developed stories while others were quite silly and everything in between.  Find examples below and at my camp site.

In Digital Art students learned Photoshop skills and some basic photography.  Some weeks were different than others but we always focused on selecting using the Quick Selection Tool, or Color Selection, manipulating layers, filters, text/paragraph, and the blur and smudge tool.  One week we focused on artists and recreated the works of Andy Warhol, RenĂ© Magritte, Roy Lichtenstein, and Salvador Dali.

Last, during Lights, Camera, Action! the students create movies using either live action, stopmotion, or claymation.  Surprisingly in this class most students wanted to work alone. The movies were FUN and students helped each other out with voices. Check out my kids movies: