Sunday, October 27, 2013

Teaching How to Use Tech

As a teacher who has become very invested in the continued and effective use of technology in the classroom, my first priority before using any technology is to teach my students how to use it. 

In a time where more and more students are coming into the classroom as digital natives, it's important to remember that not all students have access to technology in the home and subsequently may not know how to use classroom tech. I have students who come in knowing as much about iPhones and iPads as I do - all by age 10. I also have students who do not have computers or fancy cell phones at home because their parents cannot afford it. 

Apart from knowing how to use technology, I think it's important that my students know how to properly care for the technology these use in the classroom. Before my students even touch our classroom iPad or iPod, I make sure to teach them the rules of handling our technology - and I make sure to point out that the technology does not come cheap. (And if they break it, they lose more than just their Friday free time!)

Being as it is I've been stuck at home the last few days sick, I have had ample time to catch up on my graduate school homework and work on some new products for TPT - including some iPad rules posters which I adore and are modeled after the practices I use in my own classroom.

These posters are great for classrooms that utilize technology like I do - and they're available through my TPT store right now! 

Before you let your students run free with technology, make sure they understand how to properly care for it!
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Friday, October 25, 2013

First TPT Sale!

I woke up this morning not feeling very well (I called in sick to work) and after finally managing to make it out of bed by 10:30, sat down to find a wonderful surprise on my computer. 

I am happy to announce that I made my first TPT sale! Yay! I've had my products up there for a couple weeks now and wasn't getting any bites. But by some chance (miracle), someone finally took a chance on me and bought one of my awesome products!

So to celebrate, I am having a sale in appreciation and gratitude of my first customer - hopefully there will be many more to follow.

Come check out my TPT store - I have several Halloween inspired goodies on sale and some GREAT graphic organizers for October. I would love to customize anything you like - just send me a message! 

Thank you, friends!

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

An Apple for Teacher

I was recently surprised when a brand-new Apple TV arrived through the district mail for me. At first I thought our technology department had sent it to me by mistake. But I then found out that I received the unit in response to a request I made for something completely different earlier this school year. I'm ecstatic to have some new technology in my classroom!
I have an Apple TV in my own home and I'm curious to see how other teachers utilize Apple TVs in their classrooms. I've been using YouTube to show videos and Hulu and Netflix for our Friday Fun Day movies.

As CCSS Technology Lead for my school site, I also have the opportunity to visit a 1:1 iPad classroom in November. It's an opportunity that is sponsored by Apple and I'm so excited to get to see this time of classroom in action. Our district is attempting to have all classrooms with 1:1 iPads in the next couple of years. I'm very excited to see how technology and CCSS will be used collaboratively within the context of special education. 
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Monday, October 21, 2013

New MelonHeadz TPT Product

I am so excited about my new TPT product that I have decided to write a quick post about it! As many of you know, I have a jungle theme classroom this year. I worked so hard this summer coordinating all my bulletin boards and posters and decor to match my theme. 

However, the one component I didn't complete with our jungle theme was our classroom rules. They were written the first week of school with my new class and while we refer to them ALL THE TIME, they have remained written on a piece of chart paper that has since fallen off the chart and is now thrown on top of our storage unit. 

I wanted to find a poster set on TPT that incorporated the jungle theme but also included rules that we had established in my class and that were applicable to my students. I didn't find any TPT products that I was happy with and that were worth spending $3 on.

So, I decided to (finally) create my own posters! Using some MelonHeadz clipart,  I created my own classroom rules poster. If you have not heard of Nikki's designs, please check her out - she's fabulous!

Here's a preview of what the classroom posters look like - they are super cute (and affordable)!  

Check out my TPT store here if you're interested in purchasing these cute posters - there are seven in all and I'm more than willing to customize the posters as my customers see fit!

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October Pins

It's no big surprise that I am a Pinterest fan. I've gotten quite a few questions from fellow teachers about where I get my ideas for arts and crafts and it's very simple - Pinterest. 

I love that we are moving into the holiday season because with that comes the influx of pins and posts with creative, holiday-inspired arts projects to do in the classroom. 

My class has been busy the last week and has had multiple opportunities for art. Some of my returning third graders didn't get ANY art time last year with their teacher, and they really enjoy all the activities we have been doing in my classroom. We completed these spider handprints and bats this week - the kids loved using the paint!

I also found this idea for bats on Pinterest and coupled it with a worksheet that I made (in a hurry) for an acrostic poem about bats. I'll be posting a final version of the worksheet on my TPT store this week, so come visit me!

Stay tuned for some more wickedly creative ideas from Pinterest and friends!

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

October Shenanigans

It is no big surprise that I am a huge lover of holidays. My holiday season starts in October and isn't through until mid-January. I'm all over any opportunity that allows me to dress up, decorate, and otherwise make a drab day at school something spectacular and fun. 

My classroom staff and I have been busy preparing for this month's Halloween. I retrieved my Halloween decorations from storage and have been spending my afternoons adorning my classroom with all sorts of spook-tacular decorations and embellishments. 

My students got so excited when they came in and saw the decorations - they have been talking about Halloween non-stop! Some teachers I know do not like to get caught up in the holiday whirlwind because they think it will somehow detract from the learning that goes on in the classroom. And - to some degree - I could see where they're coming from.
However, for my students with special needs, I want them to get excited, to get (and stay) actively engaged. Thematic units (involving holiday studies) is one way to accomplish this. Students with learning disabilities get bored, disengaged, and exhibit difficulties focusing. If I can provide something that will spark their interest - while also providing authentic learning experiences in the process - then I think I have done my job as their teacher.

This past week we learned about Christopher Columbus and completed a circle map along with a craft that my students really enjoyed.

We are also doing a unit on pumpkins in science right now which my students are absolutely LOVING! We've done several activities in the past week (all whole group which is amazing for my current group of students) that have kept them interested and on-task. We've completed a KWL chart, a circle map using an accompanying reading passage, cut and paste a hands-on pumpkin life cycle activity, watched a video about the life cycle and learned a new song (about the seven stages of pumpkin life), completed a flow map based on the life cycle - and that's just been in the last four days! Not one of my students has complained during our science activities - which I love!

I get that some teachers don't want to take the time to focus on the "fun" stuff because they're trying to keep up with the demands of CCSS, new standards and protocols, district-wide programs - whatever. But for my students, the fun stuff is where the learning happens. And that's alright by me. 

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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

TPT Sale - Everything 20% Off!

It's sale time! I've decided to throw a TPT Sale to welcome the official opening of my TPT store and to celebrate the fact that I finally have products posted! 

All my products are 20% October 9th through the 11th. I have some great graphic organizers up for October - some great additions for pumpkin units! Take a minute to check them out and see if there is anything you like. I will hopefully be posting some more products this weekend - this won't be my last sale this month!

Thank you for your support!
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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Graphic Organizers Galore!

I spent this evening creating some more TPT products for both teachers and for my upcoming unit on pumpkins with my own class. 

Teaching students with special needs, I've learned over the years that graphic organizers are a great way to help organize students' thinking - especially my students, many of whom are visual learners (like myself!) Graphic organizers are great tools to keep students engaged, focused, and reflective. 

With Halloween just around the corner and with the wonderful fall weather we have been having here in Southern California, I was inspired to create some pumpkin-themed graphic organizers. (Plus, I love Halloween!)

I'll be uploading some more products for my unit shortly. All my products are currently $1.00 - such a steal! Please check them out and let me know how I can make them even better. Until next time...

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's Official!

I'm officially on Teachers Pay Teachers with products available for sale - yay! It's taken me some time to actually sit down and prep what I wanted to put up (even with major encouragement from my friend, Melissa), but I've done it...even if it is a meager start. I currently have four documents up - one of which is a freebie (so check it out!) 

I've started uploading some of the newsletter templates that I have created. Simple templates to begin with, but I will be posting some more products soon - and with all the new clipart that I purchased (and bought commercial licenses for!) tonight.

Here's a preview of a couple of my items on TPT:

All my items are only $1.00 right now in an effort to garner some more followers and reviews - so check my products out! And thank you for your support! I look forward to creating some more materials soon.

Until then...

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