Tuesday, September 20, 2016

3 Free Apps to Use Now

Are you looking for some easy to use free apps to add to your tech toolbox? Here's a quick rundown of 3 apps you can begin using right away in your classroom!
Class Monster Lite uses an adorable monster to help your classroom monitor their own noise level. Simply set your noise sensitivity preferences and let the app do the rest.
A low noise level results in a happy monster.

As noise levels increase, the monster becomes upset.

Too much noise makes the monster cry. 
There is a pro version with extra features, but I find the lite version to work fine in my classroom.

One of my favorite apps of all time is so simple yet effective. Tap Roulette will instantly settle any disagreement! Have students place one finger on the iPad screen and watch the magic happen. When you press pick finger the screen will light up before randomly picking someone. The lucky winner will have a red circle appear where their finger is.

Shake 'Em Dice is a new to me app a friend told me about this summer. The basic red dice are free. Other dice pairs are $0.99 each. 

You can add as many or as few dice pairs that you need. This app might also work well as a cool down activity for students. 
Do you have any favorite apps that are easy to use? Share them in the comments below!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Parent-Teacher Communication

Happy Labor Day friends! I hope you're enjoying at least a few hours of rest today. Some of us have already been back to school for weeks, while others will be starting this week. Here's a quick rundown of how you can increase or switch up your parent-teacher communication this year.
This year for my school's annual parent-teacher meeting, I decided to make a "snapshot" sheet for parents.This sheet will serve as a quick reference guide for parents during the school year.
 This year I created two Google forms for parents in my class. One is for parents to share contact information with other parents in the classroom to help make organizing parties or play dates easier. In the past I've had parents ask me to give the phone number or email of another parent, which I am never comfortable doing because of privacy. The other Google form is for us to share and upload class pictures during the year.
Next up is VolunteerSpot. This website helps you organize volunteers, snack time, and anything in 
between. It's free to sign up and begin scheduling with the option of paying for some extra features.
I like using this website to schedule parent volunteers on Friday afternoon. Your dashboard will tell you how many of your spots have been filled, and you can even use settings to email parents a reminder before their selected date/time.
If you're still using paper forms to schedule your conferences save yourself a headache with Doodle. This is another free (don't teachers just love that word) website to make scheduling easy peasy. You choose dates and times for parents to select from. 
Doodle allows you to add as many times to one date as you'd like and you select how many options parents can choose from. 

I have a full blog post on how I use schedule parent-teacher conferences here.
This year I'm excited to add Remind to my communication toolbox. Ever been home when you remember an important email or announcement you forgot to send to parents? Me too! 
Remind is a free app and website that allows you to send text messages to your parents. 
It's really that easy! In addition to plain text, you can send attachments or record your voice. Even if you or your parents don't have access to email, chances are you've got a cell phone and can receive texts. 
I hope you've found a new tip or two for your parent-teacher communication. What are some of your favorite apps or websites to share information? Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

BTS Giveaway!

Happy Sunday y'all! Have you heard the news? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Back to School bonus sale for one day only! Tomorrow August 22nd you can save up to 28% on some fabulous resources for your classroom. Of course my store will be on sale to help celebrate!
In honor of the sale and back to school season, I'm teaming up with some amazing bloggers for a HUGE giveaway!
How amazing is it that some well deserving, hard working teachers will win some great prizes?! Want a chance at winning? Begin entering the Rafflecopter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck and have a great week!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Words To Live By

Hi friends! It's been a while since my last blog post. I had these visions of blog posts in my head, and then back to school season hit! Tomorrow I continue staff development in my district, and continue the mad dash to get my classroom ready before meeting my new minis and their parents Wednesday night. Oh, and did I mention the air conditioning in my classroom is currently NONEXISTENT??? Fix it Jesus!
I just wanted to quickly share one of my favorite quotes with you all tonight.
Don't be afraid to mix up your classroom layout, or teach that lesson you've been wanting to try. Don't let a negative opinion keep you from doing what's best for your students! If you haven't already connect with teachers who will be a support system for you. You deserve to have positive relationships that will energize and uplift you. Your students deserve the positive atmosphere you can provide for them. 
 Whenever you face a hater with a negative opinion or you're feeling gloomy this year just remember this quote! Print it out or screenshot it if you have to. Have a great week! Hopefully I can get back on track with blogging soon!  

Saturday, July 23, 2016

TpT Orlando

I think I'm finally recovered after an amazing time in Orlando last week! Oh my goodness  y'all it was seriously one of the best weeks ever for me!
My time in Orlando actually started the Sunday before the conference. My friend from school Darla and I, decided to turn the week into our working vacation. After arriving Sunday morning we spent the day at Magic Kingdom.
Aren't we fabulous! Those Minnie ears are on point!
There's always something magical about seeing Cinderella's Castle!

For dinner we met up with my friend Tamara Russell at Ohana. If you've never eaten at Ohana it's a must do restaurant while at Disney. Everything they served us was family style and DELICIOUS! It's a good thing we did so much walking, because I definitely did tons of eating.
Tamara came to dinner all pretty and glamed up! We certainly had lots of laughs at dinner.
We continued to visit the parks in the days before and after the conference. Every day was a blast! Of course I had to meet more Disney princesses this trip.
Tiana loved my tank top and shirt I had wore just to meet her! If you're ever looking for custom Disney shirts and ears, check out Etsy!
I got a part in Enchanted Tales with Belle! I got to play the role of Phillipe, the horse. Don't think Hollywood will come knocking on my door anytime soon, ha!
If you've never seen the Festival of Fantasy parade at Magic Kingdom it's a must do. The floats are unlike anything I've seen in any parade. This dragon from Sleeping Beauty actually breathes fire as it goes by.
Tuesday evening we headed to the Garden Grove to attend the Cool Kids Meet and Greet. This was my second year to attend, and it will definitely be a conference must do for me. 
We even got a visit from Goofy and Pluto during dinner! It was great to catch up and chat with old and new TpT friends!
At last the days of the conference arrived! You could feel the excitement in the air Wednesday morning. Jen Bengel gave an excellent keynote speech. One of the things I love most about TpT is lines of communication are constantly open. We are always kept in the loop of what's to come. God bless Adam Freed, that man knows his data well and can break it down so easily to understand. When Day one of the conference wrapped up it was finally time for the BIG teacher meet up. Check out Tallahassee Sunday on Etsy for custom door signs. The had this sign available to take pictures with; too bad it couldn't be taken home!

The second morning of the conference we were served a poolside breakfast! It felt so fancy to me!
The sessions were amazing! I was pleasantly surprised to see I made a cameo appearance in one session.
Call me a dork, but this made my day! Sherri Tyler from Literary Sherri and Mary Beth Nerone from Brain Waves Instruction had a wonderful session on organizing meet ups. Seriously, these ladies know their stuff. 
Another reason to love TpT is how down to earth Team TpT'ers are! Adam, Paul, Amy, and others were walking around attending sessions and chatting with people. Every Team TpT'er I met was approachable and easy to chat with. 
It was fun to have more time at happy hour with everyone, but that also meant one thing. It meant the conference fun was coming to an end. 
Before saying our final goodbyes, we had one last dinner. Last year Michelle and I chatted poolside in Vegas, this year she joined us for dinner Thursday night at The Boathouse. The food was delicious! Check out Michelle's blog Teaching Ideas For Those Who Love Teaching
I came home tired, but with a happy heart. Happy because of the new tips and tricks I learned. Happy because I reconnected with people I've been waiting a year to see again. My biggest takeaway from the conference was meaningful connections. If you've never attended a TpT conference you must go next year if possible. I promise it will be worth every penny, and you won't regret a moment of it. Go by yourself if you need to and you'll quickly find people to connect with!

I look at the quote in this picture and agree with it 100%. TpT helps me keep my passion for teaching when it gets tough. I'm reminded that I became a teacher because I'm passionate about helping children reach their potential. I have so much love and respect for TpT. Now comes the LONG wait until next year!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Twitter 101

Last month, I shared some quick tips and tricks to build a PLN through social media. I'd like to dig deeper and really explore Twitter, which I believe can be the most beneficial source for teachers seeking quality content.

Let's take a closer look at Twitter and how it go beyond a basic tweet. This is how my Twitter profile looks on my iPad. Your profile page will look somewhat different based on how and where you're using Twitter, but the basics are still the same.
Before we dissect some tweets, allow me to get on a soap box for a moment. Notice how I have a profile picture that shows my face and a description about me?  You NEED a profile picture of yourself; not a cartoon, cute animal, or stock photo. You are not an egg! We want to see your beautiful face and know a little bit about you. It grinds my gears to come across a profile and see an egg. Rant over, let's move on.

When you post to Twitter you are limited to 140 characters unless you use something like TwitLonger. Let's take a look at a basic tweet. A tweet may or may not include a hashtag. Some of us will remember when a hashtag was really a pound sign. (Feeling old yet? I sorta am now.) What's a hashtag you may ask? A hashtag is a word or group of words used for a specific topic.
Source

A basic tweet has no hashtags, special characters, or emojis included with the text. You will notice under each tweet you send there will be three options; reply, retweet, or like. 
When you reply to a tweet, you first click on the left facing arrow underneath the text. 
In the example below you'll notice I've replied to someone welcoming them to a Twitter chat.

Now let's move on to retweeting. A retweet is when you share a tweet already shared by another person. There are two choices for a retweet; you may just retweet the original content or you may quote the tweet which means you add your comments or thoughts about what you're sharing. Below you will see examples of a basic rewteet and quote the tweet. 

Moving right along, let's take a quick look at liking a tweet. When you like a tweet, it's saved to the Likes section of your profile so you can reference it later. In the screenshot above you'll notice each tweet has a heart. The number next to the heart indicates how many likes that particular tweet has received.
Next week I'll share more tips and tricks for using Twitter. Enjoy what's left of your week! I'm preparing to present at my district's iPad conference next Monday. I can't wait to share what I've learned!

Friday, July 1, 2016

Giveaway Time!

Happy Friday friends!! I'm teaming up with some amazing teachers to help celebrate a blog launch!

Congratulations Ashley on launching your blog Ashley's Brainy Centers! One lucky teacher is going to win a TON of great prizes!!! Who wouldn't love free money to spend at TpT and Target?
I'm donating my Coins Task Cards as part of the giveaway. 

There are three sets of task cards combined to help students learn and apply multiple ways to count coins. 
Don't forget to stop by Ashley's blog and enter this giveaway. You don't want to miss your chance to win some serious teacher swag!