Monday, July 23, 2012

Teach Your Students How to Manage a Paper Trail

I just learned how to shoot, edit, and produce my own movies for class. Here is my first one for you!

I like to empower students by giving them a job to do in the classroom. They feel valued and appreciate having something important to do that directly supports the classroom. I used to waste a lot of time passing out and collecting papers. Has this ever happened to you? You pass out papers and by the time you have given your last student a paper, the first students are already writing all over the paper, thinking they know exactly what is supposed to be done, only to find out they did it entirely incorrect and you have to go fish them out another paper and take even more time away from teaching. This used to happen to me all the time until I came up with a "Paper Manager" job. Now, the students do all the passing out and collecting for me. I no longer have students bouncing out of their chairs while yelling, "I'm done!" Twenty-something "I'm done"s and papers thrown all over my desk was not working for me. Now, no one leaves their seat and all the papers are organized by table group for me to go through at the end of the day. I have even found that this has made it easier to determine just which student did not put a name on a paper since they are divided by table group.

I hope you find this idea useful! Please let me know if you have an idea for another helpful classroom video you would like to see!


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Engage Your Students with Google Apps!

This week, I had the privilege of attending the Google Apps for Education California Summit. It was truly an amazing (and a bit overwhelming) experience. I learned a gazillion new things that I can immediately begin incorporating into my kindergarten classroom in the fall. I hope that in sharing here, you will find something you think might be useful to your classroom as well. Click on the picture above to see when the Summit might be coming to an area you are near. You WON'T want to miss this amazing opportunity!

One of my most favorite presenters was Molly Schroeder! She is one of the most innovative teachers I have met. She is a very down-to-earth and super engaging presenter.

As I am always searching for a way to engage my students in their learning experiences, I recently began looking at how I can incorporate what Google has to offer into my classroom.

Molly presented an amazing class called Chrome Ninja Tips and Tricks. Click on the Google picture for the link to her presentation.

One of the things that she showed us how to do was to use our "omni box" (the white search box at the top of your browser that you type urls into) for more than a search box. You can type any type of math problem into it and get a solution. You can type: define: followed by any word and get a definition. You can type in a flight number and the airline and get an instant link to the information.

Molly showed us how to install apps and extensions onto our toolbar. To read about the difference between apps and extensions, click HERE

The amount of free apps in the Chrome Web Store for educators is vast. As we began to look at (and install) some of the free apps, I began to think about all the ways you could use the apps in the classroom.

One of the apps that Molly shared with us was called Webcam Toy. You can use the camera on your computer to take pictures using over 60 free special effects. I think my students would have fun taking pictures of themselves to create "characters" that they could then use to write stories.

Take a look at some pictures my son and I made after the session.

Any of these pictures could be given different character names and inserted into a digital story that the students write. How fun would it be to have each child capture themselves using their favorite special effect and insert their picture into a story. The digital story could then be shown by LCD projector to the entire class. It could also be printed out as a classroom book that I am sure would be a well-loved book!

Though not a Google product, this project could be made more fun and interactive by incorporating the free online product called Blabberize. Blabberize allows you to upload a picture and make it "Blabber" or talk with your own voice.  Look at what I did with one of these pictures for free on Blabberize.

I hope you found some of the links on this post useful. What are some ways you think you could use these tools in your classroom? I would love to hear!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Animated Free Video Creator: Xtranormal

UPDATE: The site that hosts this video is under construction as of 12/2/2014. When it comes back, I will add a new video to replace the one they took away when changing the site over. I apologize for the inconvenience.

Xtranormal is another animated and engaging site that you can use to create or have your students create videos. Students can collaborate with one another to show their understanding of vocabulary or key concepts from your lessons. Click on the heart to see a short video I created as an example of good character development! 

This site is free to a certain point. You are given "points" to work with and to choose items for your videos. You can choose to stay within your point range or purchase more later.

I know students would have a lot of fun working on this together. What do you think?


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Make a Free GoAnimate Video for a Lesson Plan Component

My son used a fun website in his English class this last school year and I just checked it out tonight. It is called When you are ready to check it out yourself, click on the picture to go directly to their website. 

You can make short videos with ten sections of clips for free. There is an upgrade option for teachers. If you play the video below, I created this video about how to use goanimate.

outatthebeach's Animation by outatthebeach on GoAnimate

Create Video - Powered by GoAnimate.

Basically, after you go to the website and create a free account, you can begin to make your own videos. The choices of templates that are on the left are free. The ones on the right side are included when you pay to upgrade.

You choose your template, then your setting, then your characters. You are given ten talking windows in which you can either type what your would like your characters to say or you can use your microphone and speak the word directly into each box. If you type the words, you can choose what the voice sound like by choosing a country of origin. You can also choose emotions for your characters. The character's face changes, based on what you choose as the emotion for the character. 

The characters can take turns talking our you can have one character talk two times in a row.

My son's English class teacher used this site to have the students create short video clips with each week's vocabulary to show comprehension. This was a fun way to make an engaging and collaborative learning lesson for the students. Some other ideas for using this would be to have students create a different ending to a story. Perhaps they could make a video about a chapter for their book club and present it to the class this way. There are so many ways that this could be used:
New endings to stories
Re-telling of stories
Explanations of science or social studies topics
Have the characters talk out a math problem with solution at the end
Teach other students how to do something new

Below is a short video on what types of things can be done with the expanded feature if you would like to pay to upgrade.

Read an article from Go!Animate for schools!

If you were going to use this in your classroom, how would you use it? I would love to see what you think!


Monday, July 9, 2012

All About Me Free 16 page booklet

Today, I created a FREE 16 page All About Me. On each page, there is a writing prompt to finish and a space to draw a picture about the writing prompt. What are some things you would like to see in an All About Me booklet?All About Me Book
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday


Freebie Collection/Guest Blogging

Today's post is about two tabs on my blog header.

The first one is my new "Freebie" tab. As I create freebies for my followers, I will load them to this page. You can click on the tab to see what freebies I have now. Click on any picture to receive your freebie. Check back often to see what new freebies get put on the page.

The second item is my "Guest Blogging" tab. I am looking for a few guest bloggers. If you click on the tab, it will take you to a very short form that asks for your name, contact info, what you'd like to write about, and what month you wish to do so. I would love to have a few more guests! I am really looking forward to Sally DeCost's post later this month about "Brain Based Learning" on July 18th.

Enjoy the freebie collection and please let me know if you'd like to be a guest blogger!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Heart Graphics with 3 Free Heart Butterflies!

Recently, I took a trip through the California/Arizona desert for 12 hours both ways. The scenery IS beautiful.

However, this is a trip I take a few times a year and I was looking for a way to pass the time. I brought my computer along and created some fun new graphics to use in my classroom this year. 

I really like the look of colored polka dots on dark backgrounds, so I created these hearts.

These are 24 heart shaped frames created by Christina Aronen. They all have a black background and have transparent backgrounds so they can be layered on any creation. You can change the size and position each heart in any direction you like.
These heart frame graphics may be used for personal and commercial creations. Please just give a link back to me at: Christina Aronen

You may not resell these graphics as is.

This collection includes:
8 black hearts with solid colored hearts ( rainbow, red and white, orange and white, yellow and white, green and white, blue and white, purple and white, and pink and white.)

8 black hearts with dotted colored hearts (rainbow, red and white, orange and white, yellow and white, green and white, blue and white, purple and white, and pink and white.)

8 black hearts with gradient shaded colored hearts (rainbow, red and white, orange and white, yellow and white, green and white, blue and white, purple and white, and pink and white.) The entire set of 24 frames is only $2.50.

I found that by manipulating the hearts in Powerpoint and adding some other shapes and trying out the filters in the free open software program Gimp, I could create these fun butterfly graphics. I had a lot of fun trying out special effects on these. You can have them for FREE by clicking on the picture!

If you use these, I'd love to hear from you!


Friday, July 6, 2012

Freebies for a Year??? Enter now!

Amy over at The Kindergarten Center is celebrating the fact that she has 500 followers. She is giving away an amazing collection of prizes, including anything she makes new FOR A YEAR!! One of the items she is giving away is my new back to school journal. 

It is a 15 page writing packet created by Christina Aronen. The packet begins with the student drawing their self-portrait in August and signing their name. Each month, there is a journal prompt for the student to tell something about the school year and a space for the student to draw it. In December, the student will again draw themselves and sign their name to show growth in both areas. The packet continues through June with the student drawing themselves and signing their page with their name one last time. Topics covered in the packet are:
Favorite things done, new things learned, favorite parties and field trips, things done with friends, favorite part of the school year and more!
This is the perfect packet to include in a year-end portfolio to show parents growth in both penmanship and fine motor drawing skills as well as newly learned attention to details and descriptive writing capabilities. It includes a cover without a colored background for those who want to save on ink or print the cover on their own colored background.

Amy's contest ends in 6 days, so head on over and make an entry to win now!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Polka-Dot Frames and a Freebie

Yesterday, I showed you how to take an image you created and make the background of your image "transparent" so that you could place it anywhere on your project without a square behind it. If you didn't see that post, go back to check it out. It is amazingly easy to do with the free downloadable program called "Gimp".

Here is a polka-dot circle frame FREEBIE for you that I created using Powerpoint and Gimp. Click on the picture to get the frame for free.

If you like the frame, I have created 24 frames for $1.50. You can see those in my TpT store by clicking on any of the pictures below. The first 8 have a black background, the next 8 have a chocolate brown background, and the final 8 have no colored background at all.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Create Transparent Backgrounds for Images for FREE!!

This year, I am committed to pushing myself to look at different ways I can use technology to enhance my classroom. Recently, I have been looking at free, open-source software (FOSS). My new favorite one is Gimp! Click on the picture to check it out and get the free download.

It does pretty much everything that Photoshop does and is 100% free, compared to the hundreds you could pay to do the same thing.

Have you ever tried to put an image on something you have created and the image has a white box behind it and you didn't want it there? I can show you how here.

1) After downloading (and opening Gimp), click on "File" and open whatever graphic or image you would like to take the background off of. Do you see how the white square takes away from the creation? Let me show you how to make it transparent! 

For demonstration sake, I made a simple bubble in Powerpoint and filled it with a water pattern, saved that image as a jpeg, and then opened it with Gimp.

 2) Next, under "Layer", scroll down and click on "Transparency".

3) When "Transparency" opens, click on "Add Alpha Channel".

4) After clicking on the "Add Alpha Channel", go over to the tool box at the left of your screen that popped up automatically when you opened Gimp and select the "Fuzzy Tool" at the top right side of the box.

5) After clicking on the fuzzy tool selector, go to your image and click the fuzzy tool onto whatever area you want to make transparent. Don't worry, if you make a mistake and get rid of your whole picture, simply hit the "back button" and your image comes back.

6) Once you have clicked on the part of the image you want "transparent", go up to the "edit" button and click on it. A list of options will drop down. Click on the "clear" button.

7) Once you hit the "clear" button, your image will look like this.

8) You can now click on the "file" button and scroll down to click on "export". 

You HAVE to do this if you want to save it as a jpeg or a png file. Once you do click on the "export" button, you will have to tell it to "export" one final time.

 9) Now, the background behind the original bubble is clear and I can place it back on my blue background and move it to wherever I want to. I can even adjust the size of the bubble as much as I want to!

I hope this tutorial was helpful. Do you use any free open-source software for your classroom? If you do, I would LOVE to hear from you.


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