Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Teacher Talk Tuesday and a FREE BURRITO!

Today I am joining Teacher Talk Tuesday with What the Teacher Wants and Apples and ABCs to bring you my Instagram highlights. I have had and Instagram account for sometime now, but I have only recently discovered how cool it really is! It is a quick and easy way to share what is happening in my life and my classroom.  Most of my posts relate to my classroom, but there are others that are just about my family. So, don't be surprised if you see a math activity next to my hubby's latest marathon photo! If you have an Instagram, leave me your Instagram name in the comments! I would love to see what you are up to as well.

Inline image 1Now for the FREE BURRITO! If you love Chipotle, this one is for you. Head on over to Chipotle on May 7th for a teacher treat.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

A Letter to My Hero {FREEBIE}

It has been a busy week, but I thought that I would pop in quickly and share a new home experience with you. Although I call these "home experiences," they could easily be used in the classroom without any adaptations. I have been using these experiences as a way of providing meaningful, relevant homework for my students. I am not a worksheet teacher and try to take every opportunity to get my students to think a little deeper. Someday soon I will share my home experience journey with you all, but for now I will focus on heroes! This new experience supports our current I.B. unit under the transdisciplinary theme, Who We Are. Our central idea for the unit is: Exploring the lives of influential people helps to develop our own potential.  This year I have a lot of eager writers (it has been a dream), so I have a feeling that this is going to be a hit! The students are given the task of choosing a hero, someone that has influenced them. They then brainstorm, write a rough draft, proofread the letter (using standard proofreading marks), and then write the final draft. We will be mailing the letters next week and will hopefully receive a few responses before the close of the school year!
 If you would like this free home experience, just click on the picture below!
The experience freebie has everything you need to use it with your students. I also included letter writing paper options. This year I have a few students with fine motor deficits and they need special paper, so I figured I would share it will you as well!

If you download the home experience, please come back and let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Getting a Little Crafty and Making Read Alouds Fun! {FREEBIE}

I decided to do something a little different today and post some crafty goodness. Most of you don't know this, but in my free time (of which I have so little these days) I sew and draft patterns. I have also taught both sewing and pattern making classes over the years. Awhile back I was feeling nostalgic and decided I really needed to make a toy from my past to share with my students. When I was a little girl I had a Little Red Riding Hood topsy turvy doll. It looked a lot like this:
 On one side was Little Red and if you flipped her over she was Granny. If you then turned Granny's cap over, she became the Wolf. When I was little, I played and played with this, all the while retelling the story of Little Red Riding Hood.  This was absolutely one of my favorite toys.
So, when I flipping through pictures of myself playing with my doll, the teacher in me took over. I knew that I had to make a few for my classroom. At the time that I designed the pattern, there were no other patterns on the market. Even now, I am not sure if there are any non-vintage topsy turvy patterns out there.  So, after many hours of trial and error, I came up with a few fun dolls to use for read alouds and/or student retelling. These dolls are cherished in my class. The students can't wait to get their hands on them!

The first doll I made was Cinderella Rags to Riches:

 Here is my favorite topsy turvy doll that I made, Alice and The Queen of Hearts. She is divine!

{FREEBIE!} As my gift to all of you sewing teachers (or teachers with a sewing friend!), I am giving you a free copy of my Alice and Queen of Hearts Doll pattern, after all she is my favorite! If you decide to make one, send me a picture. I would love to see what you create! Just Click HERE to get your copy of the pattern PDF.

 If sewing is not your thing, check sites like Etsy for handmade Topsy Turvy dolls. You can also still find a few commercial examples of these dolls like this one from North American Bear

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

QR Love and Rockets! {FREEBIE}

Freebie Fridays

I am having an amazing week and have a lot to share with you today.

First up is QR love!  I am so excited to share some more QR ideas and freebies with you today. There are so many cool things that you can do with QR codes in the classroom. Once you start using them, I am certain that you won't stop.

Today's QR ideas focus on live content, creating a QR once and using it over and over again with new information attached to it. I personally do not like to take time to re-do, reprint, and re-laminate items in my classroom. It takes a ton of time and creates a lot of waste in the end. One thing that I love about QR codes is that you can create one QR and link it to a file that can easily be modified. I use the iGoogle QR Generator (free Google Chrome app) for my live documents. The reason that I do this is because I like to use Google Docs for the content and I have discovered that other QR generators do not always link up correctly to Google Docs, especially if it is a video clip.  The process for creating a live text document QR is super simple. First, go to Google Docs and select "create" and scroll down to "document." A blank document will appear. In this document you will add the current content that you would like displayed when the QR is scanned (there is a list of ideas in the next paragraph). You will then need to go to "file" and scroll down to "share." When the "share" dialogue box appears, click on the radio button that says "Anyone who has the link can view." Next, copy the "share link" at the top of the dialogue box, paste it into the browser bar, and open the page. When you are on the page, right click and scroll down to "Generate QR Code). When the QR code pops up, right click to save, and now it is ready to add to a document.
Here is an example, feel free to scan it and view the content.

There are many different things that you can use these live text QRs for. Below are a few fun ideas that I use:
*I created a simple Google Docs newsletter that is easy to update,
I generated the QR, and then I hung it by the door. Now when parents want to know what is "Happening" they just scan the code and then read it at their leisure.  I never have to change the QR code poster itself, but simply update the content on the Google Doc.
I have a few places in my classroom where early finishers can scan and then be given an enrichment/extension of learning. For SOLVE-IT Math Challenge, I often use open response questions from my curriculum and activities from my enrichment notebook. I change the content every Monday, but you could do it less or more often if you like.
For this QR, I have students record themselves reading their story when they submit it for publishing in writer's workshop. I just upload the audio file to Google Drive and then follow the share/link process detailed above. The students and parents can then scan the QR and listen to our classroom authors. I change these out as new stories are published. For this one, it is nice to have more than QR so you can post more than one audio file at a time.
This one is just like it sounds. I simply add a new question each day that connects to our unit of inquiry. If a student finishes early, he/she can scan the QR, listen to the question, and then use the resources provided to find the answer (I have an iPad and a basket of unit books in this area for the students to do research). The questions usually come from question generating and teacher provocations.
This is one of my favorite uses of QR codes. It saves me from explaining over and over again what students are to do at a center. I create a general code for each center, print it, and place it in an acrylic photo frame that stays at the center. Then, I just record myself giving the instructions (or write them) and  upload them to the QR live document.  When I have new activities and need to change the instructions, I just modify the live doc that that QR code is linked to.

There are countless ways that you can use QRs in your classroom. If you try out one of these ideas, I would love to find out how it goes! If you would like the free set of QR poster templates, just scroll down to the bottom of the post.

Now it is time for a little rocket talk! As part of our exploration into forces and motion, today we created puff rockets (RAFT project link HERE) and paper rockets (link to the Instructables HERE). I did these last year as well and they are SOOO amazing and a great way to teach students about air pressure. We make both types of rockets in class and then went out to the playground to launch them. The students then had to figure out why one went further than the other. It was so cool to watch and listen to the them as they shared their knowledge and insights. It was definitely a proud teacher moment! Here are a few pictures:

Today's freebie is a set of QR poster templates. Simply upload the poster JPEG into a new document in your word processing program, generate the QR using the file link, upload it on top of the template, print, and display. Anytime that you want to modify the content connected to the QR, simply go back into Google Docs, make your changes, and save. Because the QR is linked to the live document,  when it is scanned the next time, your modified content will be displayed. To download the file, just click on the picture below.

I would love to hear how you use QRs in your classroom! Please let me know in the comments below.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Tech Glitter: QR Crazy {BIG FREEBIE!}

Do you QR? I have been crazy about QR codes for awhile now. I have countless QR codes all over my classroom (I even have them at home)! For those of you who do not know what a QR code is, it is simply a metric barcode. By using a QR generator, you can use it to link to virtually any information to this barcode including video, text, pictures, websites, email addresses, contact information, and social media sites. The barcodes can then be read by a QR reader. QR readers are available for free on tablets and smartphones. Once you have downloaded the app, you just scan the barcode and you are taken to the programmed information. I have use them for everything from center instructions to interactive treasure hunts. The students LOVE them. They are incredibly simple to use and just as easy to create. There are many free QR generators available online. I have two that I use regularly and one that I save for when I am feeling fancy.
QRstuff: This website offers free QR code generating. It has a very simple user interface. To create your code, you click on the type of information you want to link to it, enter the information, and click the download button. It then gives you a jpg QR code that you can use just like you would with an image. You can print it by itself, add it to documents, or use it online (website, blog, Facebook, etc...)
i-Google QR widget: Google also has a simple widget that you can add to your toolbar to allow you to create codes on the fly. What I like about this is that if I find a website or resource that I would like my students to investigate,  I can quickly generate a code with the push of a button.
Visualead.com: Visualead is a subsidiary of QRstuff. Visualead allows you to create QRs that have an image embedded in the pixels. It is mostly free, but if you want your QRs really fancy, you can pay for the services. Below is an example of a free QR:

With Visualead, you can use images from their library or you can upload your own images.
Once you start using QR codes you will be amazed at how they will engage your students and even make your job a little easier. Over the next week I will be giving you tips for using these codes in your classroom. I will also have some fabulous QR code freebies so that you can try them out in your classroom!

Today's freebie is a QR math game. This is a simple game that provides a review of second grade math standards. To download the file, just click on the picture below. I hope that your students like it as much as mine do! All of the instructions are included. If you would like to stay up to date on my freebies, just follow my blog!

Teaching Blog Addict - Ultimate Freebie


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