September 25, 2014

Throwback Thursday 9.25.14

Welcome to...

What is Throwback Thursday? How does it work, you might ask? Simply look through your PURR-fect Previous Posts, perhaps a particular favorite of yours, and re-post it! Then add the TBT badge to your post and include your link below! Purr-fectly easy and simple! Your post doesn't have to be from LOOOONNNGGG ago; it can be from last month or even earlier this week. And if you don't have a post to share, perhaps an old photo or two from WAY BACK will do! Even a favorite pin is PURR-fect! Just join in the Throwback fun!

This post first appeared on The Teacher's Desk 6 on July 27, 2013. 

I've never really considered myself much of a photographer, and I've never done much with a camera other than point and shoot. Oh, I play around with the settings now and then, changing up the type of shot that's produced. Sometimes I even turn off the flash or use night vision and when I edit photos I might crop or resize them. However, that's the extent of my "expertise."

I didn't even take any photos this week other than of my favorite subject, Miss DaisyMae. No Saturday Snapshots is complete without a picture of her.

I do enjoy taking photos, but what I really like about snapshots is having fun adding speech bubbles to them or making slideshows/videos with them or even turning them into collages. I've found neat little pieces of freeware or web apps over the years that allow me to have a bit of fun. I've shared a few on Saturday Snapshots already: Phrase.It and Image Chef. This week I'm sharing a couple of images that I created to showcase a whole bunch of my snapshots. The first is of my favorite subject (see above), the second of my family, and the third of me.

The first two collages were created using Shape Collage, a small freeware program that you download to your computer (both Windows and Mac are available as well as iPhone and iPad). Additionally, there is a pro version that you can purchase that has loads of bells and whistles and tons of options. It takes but a minute to install Shape Collage and begin using it; no tutorial is necessary. It works like a typical word processing program, inserting pictures, selecting a few options (shape of collage, background color, borders of photos), then creating (in lieu of saving).

Much to my delight, when I went to Shape Collage this morning while writing this blog post, I discovered that the company has now added a web app. Called Get Loupe, it allows users to connect with social media accounts, accessing photos and publishing collages with the click of the mouse. With Get Loupe there are more shape options to choose from when creating your collage than with Shape Collage but it's just as easy to use. 

I've not been able to use Shape Collage with my students since it's a program that needs to be directly installed on a computer... that's a story for another time. However, now that I've found Get Loupe I can't wait to have my sixers (and eighth graders this year) make their own collages. I can think of so many possibilities for using this in class. How 'bout you?

More than a year later I still turn to Shape Collage and Get Loupe for creating collages, but now I also use Smartphone apps like Photo Collage and Pics Art. I seldom use my digital camera anymore, opting for the built in camera on my phone. These digital editing apps are great for quickly whipping together a collage of photos in no time flat, then allowing you to share them on Facebook, Instagram, and via email.

Here's a quick (like three minute) collage of some new items I recently added to my TpT Store. I took a screen shot of the product cover and saved it to my Gallery. Next I added all of the screenshots to Photo Collage with a simple touch of my finger. Finally I selected the frame and tapped Save. Voila! There was my collage. I chose to email it to my home account and from there uploaded it to Blogger. Like I mentioned, all of three minutes.

I use picture collages a lot on my blog, but I also use them in my classroom. One really good way a photo collage comes in handy in a classroom is in Science class. I collect a lot of photos from the internet to help support key Science concepts. By combining several into a collage, I have only one file to contend with rather than several. It is so much easier for me to keep track of teaching photos this way.

That was my TPT offering for this week. It's now your time to share. What do you have in store for us this week?

September 24, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Incentive Prizes

It's Wednesday! That means it's time to join Miss DeCarbo for her weekly Wordless Wednesday linky party.

Do you use incentive prizes in your classroom?
My kids LOVE their punch cards, brag tags, and goodie jar!
This system has made such a DIFFERENCE with homework/test habits.

This past week my sixers ALL received a 95% or better on their weekly Spelling Test. WOW, was I ever surprised and PROUD! They are such SMARTIES! In celebration, they each received a brag tag and a package of SMARTIES! You can download a free set of Spelling Smartie Brag Tags HERE.... just in case your kiddos are SMARTIES, too!

Don't forget that tomorrow is Thursday! Get those Throwback posts, pics, and pins ready to post!

September 21, 2014

Five for... What Day Is It Anyway?

It's already... egads!.... SUNDAY! How did that happen? I had every intention of joining Doodlebugs for Five for FRIDAY... sigh!

My five are VERY random this week! I'm keeping up with the September Teacher Photo Challenge on Instagram, and my five are from there.

1. Yep, that's my alarm clock! What time do you get up? Do you hit "snooze" or are you a one shot and get up person? I usually wake up get waked up before the alarm; no snoozing for me... two hungry fur babies see to that!

2. See my small whiteboard? I teach THREE different preps of Language Arts and do NOT have anywhere near the board space that I would like. Sometimes I'd like to be able to SAVE something for the next day's lesson. I use LOADS of chart paper and digital paper for lessons that carry over from one day to the next. I used to complain about ALL the board space that I had in my previous room; now I'm complaining I don't have enough... sigh!

3. Do you grade papers with RED ink? I admit that I do. I know research says that RED for grading is intimidating and other colors are better, but.... a RED pen is a tool of my trade!

4. I blogged about Word Clouds and in particular on Thursday. I had to share another word cloud today. This was created using an app on my Smartphone. The app is called iLanguage and is available for the Android platform if anyone is interested. I've been having fun making quick word cloud puzzles, saving them, and sending them to my email for use in class. Here's one for you to solve.
5. I had to share my sweet Rosie's love letter. She made my day!

Be sure to stop by Doodlebugs' blog for more Five for FRIDAY posts.

September 18, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Word Clouds

Welcome to...

What is Throwback Thursday? How does it work, you might ask? Simply look through your PURR-fect Previous Posts, perhaps a particular favorite of yours, and re-post it! Then add the TBT badge to your post and include your link below! Purr-fectly easy and simple! Your post doesn't have to be from LOOOONNNGGG ago; it can be from last month or even earlier this week. And if you don't have a post to share, perhaps an old photo or two from WAY BACK will do! Even a favorite pin is PURR-fect! Just join in the Throwback fun!

This post first appeared on The Teacher's Desk 6 on April 8, 2013. I hadn't yet learned how to link graphics with a clickable web address, but I had figured out how to embed a Pinterest pin and a YouTube video.

I just had to blog about word clouds. I am WILD about them! 

I discovered them several years ago and have used them in my classroom, both for decoration and for instruction, ever since. If you're not familiar with what a word cloud is take a trip over to Projects by Jen. She's best known for her Guess the Wordle daily word cloud. Each day she posts a brand new word cloud for students all over the world to puzzle out.

My fivers LOVE this! It's the way we begin each Language Arts class. In addition, Jen has loads of tips and tricks for using and working with word clouds, including additional add-on programs to get REALLY creative with them.

There are many websites at which you can make word clouds. Each has its pro's and con's. I recommend trying them all to find the one perfect for you. Here is a listing of some of the more popular cloud generators on the internet:

One of my favorite ways of using word clouds is at the beginning of the school year. During the first week of school, I always assign my sixers to write a single paragraph autobiography. I teach mini-lessons about paragraph formation, the six traits of writing, editing, writing process, word processing, etc. Once they have completed their paragraph, including saving it on a flash drive, they upload it to, the word cloud generator that I prefer. The ensuing word clouds are printed, framed, and displayed outside out classroom. Additionally, I take a digital photo of each word cloud and compile them into a video that I run for Open House, parent conferences, and any time throughout the year that we have something special going on in the building.

This year I had my fivers complete Word Cloud Book Reports. What fun they had! Plus there was some great thinking going on: decisions about what words to include, what not to include, colors and fonts that helped convey a particular meaning. The finished product made for an attractive hallway display that sparked a lot of comments from parents and visitors. If you're interested in doing this project with your class, it is available in my TpT Store. The link is listed below the graphic. In the packet are directions, websites, suggestions, and two planning sheets.

Jen no longer hosts the Wordle a Day website; however, I do still use her materials. Before she closed that portion of her site her followers were able to purchase her wordles for use offline. Unfortunately, the materials are no longer available. I still have my students make their autobiography wordles and I still use the Word Cloud Book Report. In fact, my sixers are working on the book report right now. Here is one that Hannah completed just today. Can you guess what book she read?


September 15, 2014

Monday Make-up

I'm making up for lost time today. I forgot how busy a teacher's life gets once school resumes. How do you folks do it who, not only teach, but also have to juggle family time on top of blogging and TpT-ing? Bless you for all that you do! I am behind on grading papers, cleaning house, doing laundry, and blogging. It seems all I do lately is a hurried post with a few pictures... that's today as well. I'm sharing three things with lots of pictures each.

FIRST... Our school did something for the first time: we all participated (K-12) in the Kick-It for Cancer fundraiser! If you are not familiar with this endeavor, please check it out here. It's a fundraiser that was begun by a youngster who suffered with cancer and wanted a way to help other children like him. His idea was to host a kickball game wherein the participants would pay-to-play and the money would be donated to juvenile cancer research. The idea went viral when the Cleveland Indians heard about the game and stepped up to bat, promoting the fundraiser and raising a great deal of money each year.

We had a GREAT time today, in spite of the busing situation (I refuse to talk about this and spoil a terrific event), as is evident from the smiling faces and busy/active children.

SECOND... I'm participating in the September Photo Challenge on Instagram and have been keeping up fairly well over there. I'm sharing the photos here as well so that you have a peek into the life of an old experienced, sixth-grade teacher who still LOVES what she does! Here are days 11-15.

THIRD... Each week I've been trying to involve my sixers in a hands-on science investigation. This week we investigated the physical and chemical properties of matter by simply burning a small amount of sugar over a candle flame. By experiencing the phase changes (from solid to a liquid to a gas) and noticing the change in color, smell, and texture of the sugar, my sixers came to the conclusion that what was left in the mini-aluminum pan was no longer sugar. What it was they were unsure; however, once I showed them the chemical formula for sugar (C12H22O11), they quickly deduced that the hydrogen and oxygen burned off in the form of water vapor or steam, and what was left was carbon. Tomorrow they will be recording important vocabulary and key concepts in their science interactive notebooks that relates to this investigation, while I locate all my tools for this week's project: graduated cylinder, balance, weights, spring scale, centimeter rulers, etc.

And there you have it... my make-up work! PHEW!

September 14, 2014

Sunday Scoop

The paper monster almost unscooped me today! I normally do all my paper work on Saturdays and save Sunday for blogging and TpT'ing. I was out and about nearly all day Saturday and never had time for lesson plans and grading papers so I'm doing them today, Sunday which made me think it was Saturday. Luckily, I got my wits about me in time to join Teaching Trio for...

Have a great week, everyone! Be sure to visit the Teaching Trio for the latest scoop on the teaching blogging world.

September 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday and Photo Challenge Day 11

It's that time again (I almost forgot it was Thursday...egads!... and I did forget last week...sigh)...

What is Throwback Thursday? How does it work, you might ask? Simply look through your PURR-fect Previous Posts, perhaps a particular favorite of yours, and re-post it! Then add the TBT badge to your post and include your link below! Purr-fectly easy and simple! Your post doesn't have to be from LOOOONNNGGG ago; it can be from last month or even earlier this week. And if you don't have a post to share, perhaps an old photo or two from WAY BACK will do! Even a favorite pin is PURR-fect! Just join in the Throwback fun!

This blog post originally was posted on Aug. 13, 2013, my first ever company freebie that I received just because I am a blogger.

I had heard about it! I had seen pictures of it on blogs! I had read teacher testimonials about it! Really? A pencil sharpener, I thought! What could possibly be so exciting about a pencil sharpener?

Now that I've had the chance to try it... WOWZA... never, mind that it's the quietest pencil sharpener, ever... it's REALLY the BEST pencil sharpener EVER!!!!!! My pencil sharpener arrived in the mail last Friday and I couldn't wait to try it out! I quickly opened the shipping box and found...

a nicely packaged green (my favorite color) pencil sharpener. OK, nothing extraordinary yet. The next step was to remove it from the box. I found two pieces: the sharpener and a clamp.

I did not want to take the time to use the clamp since my sharpener is intended for my classroom and I am test-driving it at home, so I dived right in. The sharpener has four small grips on its bottom and does not slide on a smooth surface. I figured I could just hold it with my left hand while cranking it with my right.

It took me a moment to figure out that I had to use the levers at the top of the sharpener to allow the pencil in. Once the pencil is in the sharpener, it is held securely by the sharpener itself. You do not need to hold the pencil.  The crank turns easily and stops when the pencil is completely sharpened. Here's where the pencil sharpener gets extraordinary!

Tell me... aren't these the sharpest pencils you've ever seen?

And the sharpener is indeed the quietest one you'll ever use. How do I know? Because the nosiest, most curious cat who comes running at every new sound slept through the entire process of me sharpening my pencils, and she was not four feet away. It will be GREAT to have no pencil sharpener noise in the classroom! I can't wait to show off my new sharpener and have my kiddos try it!

To learn more about this terrific teaching tool and order your own just visit Classroom Friendly Supplies online.

This same pencil sharpener is STILL going strong in my classroom more than a year later. It gets a real workout each day. Although a little worse for wear, suffering a severe fall on the first day of school this year, a little duct tape in a coordinating color is keeping it in tip-top working order. LOVE my pencil sharpener, today's Instagram September Teacher Challenge photo topic.

Now it's your turn!

September 10, 2014

Wordless Wednesday

Is anyone participating in the IG September Photo Challenge? So far, I've been able to keep up... so far! It's really fun (and sometimes quite eye-opening) to see photos from fellow IG-ers and compare them with my own. Check them out on Instagram.  #septemberteacherchallenge.

I'm linking my photo with Miss DeCarbo for her weekly Wordless Wednesday party. Be sure to stop by her blog to check out other teacher blogger photos of the week.

September 7, 2014

Sunday Scoop

I'm joining The Teaching Trio for their brand new, fun linky ...

Be sure to stop by The Teaching Trio for more Sunday Scoop posts. You'll be able to catch up on the blogging world news and perhaps make some new friends.

September 6, 2014

Five for Friday Late on Saturday

OK, OK I'm going to say it again: WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? Last I knew, it was Wednesday; now it's late Saturday night! Jeepers! I was suppose to keep up with the September Teacher Photo Challenge (I actually have on IG); I had promised myself I would be on time for Five for Friday; and I had two special bloggy friend celebrations to shout out! It's all going to be rolled into one!!!


First... Photo Challenge Day 4: Teacher's Desk (ha ha, love this one... silly grin)

It is LARGE! It is covered! This is CLEAN... believe it or not!
My goal for this school year is to keep a much neater desk than usual.
So far, so good... for me.

Second... Photo Challenge Day 5: Read Aloud

I received this book as a demo early in the summer.
I fell in love with it! It is filled with terrific life lessons,
a character who relies on God, and loads of literary skill material:
allusion, allegory, character development, conflict, et al.
My sixers are LOVIN' it!

Third... Photo Challenge Day 6: Morning Drink

No explanation needed, other than...
Hazelnut YUM!!!

Fourth... My friends over at The Teaching Trio have quite the celebration going on. They have a brand new blog design just launched, and as part of the launch a huge giveaway with 30 TpT participants. Hop on over to check out their fresh new bloggy face and enter to win one, two, or all three prize packages they are offering. The giveaway ends this coming Tuesday, Sept. 9th.

Fifth... My dear bloggy friend Deb from Crafting Connections is celebrating a HUGE TpT Milestone... 3000 followers as well as 600 blog followers and 700 Pinterest followers! WOWZA! She is celebrating with a terrific giveaway. Be sure to visit Crafting Connections before Sept. 9th to enter to win one of three AWESOME prizes.