Monday, August 20, 2012

Made It and LOVE It!!

This is my third and last "Monday Made It" post.  Goodbye to lazy summers and hello to school starting! 

Oh, I so love my two newest projects.  Love, love, love them!

First up:  Lovely Curtains
I already showed you my little curtain for my window in the door.  I liked it so much that I decided to make curtains for all of my windows.  I got the inspiration from here.  However, I could not find an adorable plastic tablecloth so I found a paper one I loved and laminated it.  (Thanks to Lakeshore and their 29 cents/foot laminating charge, my total cost for tablecloths and laminating came to under $20.  Not too bad since I have 34 feet of windows!!!)  Yes, my new room is giant-sized and I have windows running the entire length of one long wall!  Love, love, love!

...and now onto my favorite of all favorites ...  My File Cabinet. True confession:  I am in love with my file cabinet!

I got the inspiration from here.

I did not take a before picture so you will have to imagination a perfectly fine, gray file cabinet.  Nothing wrong with it at all.  But nothing to write home about.  Now look at it:

And here is another look:

And a closeup:

Love, love, love, love, love!

First I spray painted the file cabinet.  (My beloved custodian hauled it outside for me and then brought it back in the next day when it was dry.)  Then I used a white paint pen to draw the lines.  I know it looks like a five year old drew those lines, but it was me trying my best!  I actually think those crooked old lines look quite charming!  So this file cabinet is now, officially, my favorite part of my room.

Be sure to check out the inspiring projects over at Tara's Fourth Grade Frolics!

Love to all,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Monday Made It Number Two!

Tara over at Fourth Grade Frolics is already on Monday Made It #11, but this is just my second time to link up.

I have been painting like crazy in my new room.  First the bulletin boards, then the bookcases and then ... anything that didn't move.  (Well, not really, but almost!!!)  Besides painting, I did FINALLY made a few Pinterest items that it seems like EVERYONE else made months ago.  Try not to be too, too, too bored.  Here they are:

1)  READ letters

I love these!  I used scrapbook paper and ModPodge.  This was my first ModPodge project ever.  The bubbles were unexpected and a pain, but with persistence, I got rid of most of them.  A few stayed, but I still love my letters.

2) Teacher's Toolbox

While a friend was in my classroom today, she asked me for a postit.  Rather than just handing her one, I dragged her over to my toolbox so she could watch me open the labeled drawer and pull out a postit.  What a dope I am!  But she is a sweetie so she oohed and awed over my toolbox.  Heh heh!

Be sure to check out the amazing, brilliant, creative things that other teachers are making over at Fourth Grade Frolics!

Once I have the painted furniture in place, I will post pictures.  I am so excited that my classroom is starting to shape up and look like an actual classroom (versus a storeroom filled with boxes).

Love to all,

Monday, August 6, 2012

Monday Made It!

Hi all!  It is still Monday for a few more minutes here so I am going to take part in Monday Made It!!!  This is a first for me.  Every week I carefully read all the amazing posts about what you all have made.  Now, FINALLY, I get to add one.  Don't get too excited ... but here are my Monday Made Its ...

Exhibit #1: Cute decorations for the classroom
My last name starts with a J and I just moved to room 8 so these two items will hang somewhere in my new classroom.  I especially love the 8 because I used a paint pen (FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER) to make those dots.  I may make them on the J also, but I don't want to go overboard.

Exhibit #2: Birthday Bags
Actually a former class mom and dear friend decorated these for me. (Thank you Melynda!!!!)  I set out lots of stickers and she got to be creative.  Then I stuffed them with goodies that will be loved by five and six year olds.  Usually I put their names on the bags but this year I am doing it differently.  (Do you notice the beautiful blue bulletin board in the background?  Read more about it in Exhibit #3!!!)

Exhibit #3:  My BEAUTIFUL Bulletin Boards
This may not technically be a "Made It", but I am going to count it.  Since I moved to a new classroom, I decided to paint my bulletin boards.  This is the third time I have painted bulletin boards and the other two times it was super easy; NO problems.  This time was a nightmare.  The paint started running, it was all streaky.  I ended up putting on three coats of paint and used up two gallons of paint.  YIKES!!!  That is a lot of paint!!! (...and remember, I only painted my bulletin boards, not my walls).  All I can think of was that I started on a hot day and that caused all of the initial problems.  BUT now (three coats later), I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how my boards look.  I have had many compliments already (and I don't even have a single thing on my boards yet ... except one birthday bag).  Now I can smile and say it was worth it ... but if you had talked to me last week, there were moments when I thought I would have to cover the paint with butcher paper.  BUT now I am happy and it is so, so, so lovely!

Exhibit #4:  My New Curtains
I saved my favorite for last.  I made a curtain for the window in my back door.  (My new classroom has TWO doors.)  The sun was shining in so this is not a great photo.  But I am in love with this curtain.  (Oh, have you figured out that I am having a blue and green classroom? Blue and green are my favorite colors.  I love nature and love the blue sky and all the green found in plants.  So having lots of blue and green in my classroom makes me feel like I have brought nature inside.)

So ... I got the idea for this curtain from Mrs. Anderson at Welcome to First Grade.  Here is the link.  That brilliant teacher found two plastic tablecloths at Target and cut them in half to make a valance for her blinds.  I loved the idea, but couldn't find any plastic tablecloths that I loved.  I found this one at Party City, but it was paper.  I knew it wouldn't last long.  But I really, really loved it.  So I laminated it.  Perfect!!!  It is being held in place by magnets right now because this is a metal door.  I will probably end up using velcro dots to hold it in place.  I am also going to laminate more of the tablecloth to create a valance for my blinds, just like Mrs. Anderson.

Now, be sure to go on over to see all the other Monday Made It projects at 4th Grade Frolics.  Thanks Tara for creating this great linky party!

Love to all,

Friday, August 3, 2012

iTalk iPads - Guide

This post is dedicated to my new bloggy friend Erica from Minnesota.  Erica sent me the following email:

Hi Camille,
I came across your blog and am in LOVE. I am feeling your adrenaline as I recently found out my teaching partner and I were awarded a class set of iPads for our kindergarten class.  AHHHHH!!!  I am sooo not ready and we start in 3 weeks! Exciting and scary.  Do you have any other advice for newbies just getting started- organization wise/setup etc?  I am all ears in case you do.   Erica

Well, my life has been crazy and my head has been spinning so fast that there was no way I could think of one single thing to post about.  Erica to the rescue!  Seriously, how could I not respond to this sweet email?  So here goes ....

Camille's Quick Guide to Getting Your iPad On  :)

Disclaimer:  I first touched an iPad on March 26, 2012.  A class set of iPads arrived in my K/1 class on April 16, 2012.  GULP!  My kiddos used iPads for 7 weeks.  So repeat after me:  Camille is NOT an expert!!  Camille is NOT an expert!! Camille is NOT an expert!! 

Okay, onward we go:

1)  Smile!  Smile and enjoy the moment.  Magic happened and you, yes you, are getting a class set of iPads!!

2)  Practice! Get your hands on one of the iPads as soon as possible.  Give yourself permission to play with it.  Get comfortable using an iPad.  If you already have one, great, but make sure it is the same (1, 2 or 3) as your students are receiving.  This was super important for me because I had never used an iPad before. Luckily, I have a MacBook and an iPod so had a beginning familiarity.  

3)  Be Aware That Your Students WILL Become Experts!  No matter how much time you have spent using an iPad, you WILL have students (yes, even kinders) that will know more than you.  Accept it, celebrate it, rejoice in it and learn to ask your kiddos for advice.  I learned the true meaning of "digital native" when I placed iPads in my students' hands.  Also, your kiddos will automatically became collaborative when using their iPads.  It is amazing to behold!  Have your camera ready at all times!!!

3)  Learn to Download Apps the District Way! Find out how you are going to download apps.  Talk to your IT people about that. You will need a special iTunes account.  Find out how this is going to be handled.  Our six teachers were each given our own account and password.  I am making this sound very simple, but it can become super complex.  In some districts teachers are not allowed to download apps, that is up to the IT people.  We were given free rein (lots of trust here and I LOVE that).  We were given a small budget to work with, but strongly encouraged to seek out free apps.  (More on that in #3.)

3)  Investigate Free Apps!  Know that apps can be very, very expensive.  Two dollars may not sound like much, but multiply that by 26 iPads and OUCH!!!  If you do find apps you want, look into the Apple school voucher program which gives you half off when you buy in quantity.  (Note: Not all apps qualify for this, but most do.) However, I would encourage you to look for free apps.  In the primary grades, we have thousands of free apps to choose from.  Some of them are fantastic!  Here is my post on my favorite free apps.  Get connected with a free app website or email list.  There are many out there and they work in different ways.  My favorite is Smart Apps for Kids. I have signed up for their daily email and each day receive a summary of their "Free App of the Day".  I like that there is not a long list, but just one app so I can make a quick decision as to whether this app would work for us or not.  They also send out emails if a great app suddenly becomes free for just a day.  (Companies like to do that to boost their numbers quickly.)  If I see a free app that might work for my class, I quickly download it because it may not be free tomorrow.  Then later, I try it out and may end up deleting it.

4) Plan!  There is not one right way to set up your iPads.  However, iPads are different than desktops or even laptops because they are personal devices.  You will want each child using the same iPad each time.  So we numbered ours and the students always knew which iPad was theirs.  Here is my post on how I organized my iPads.

5)  Questions to Ask!  Become good friends with your IT people.  Really, really good friends!   (The six teachers  involved with the iPad Academy in my district have nicknamed our IT guys "The Magic Men".)  Here are some questions to ask:
  • What is the procedure for downloading apps?
  • Is there a budget for downloading apps?
  • What is the procedure for syncing iPads?  (Syncing allows you to add apps to ALL of your iPads at the same time, rather than individually adding them for each iPad.  See #7 for how I go about this.)
  • Is there enough bandwidth in my room for all students to be on the internet at the same time?  If not, what is the limit?
  • Are we allowed to use an app like Rover so that students can access sites that use Flash?  (Since Apple and Flash are mad at each other, you have to use a third party app like Rover to deal with this.  Rover basically streams the Flash sites onto the iPads.  My IT guys checked out Rover and approved it.  It was created for teachers and is free.  It does NOT keep information on students stored anywhere.)
  • Where will the iPads be housed at night?  (I take them to the office at the end of each day because it is the only building on campus that is alarmed.  Oh, side note:  I am in California and out here, our schools are typically not all under one roof.)
  • Will the iPads go home with the students?  (We do not send the iPads home ever.  But some districts do allow for that.)

6) Glitches Will Occur!  Not only are we dealing with technology, we are dealing with new technology.  Be prepared to be frustrated at times.  You cannot just go down the hall and ask a veteran teacher what to do.  Your questions may even stump your own "Magic Men/Women".  But together, you will prevail.  (How cool that there are two of you that are beginning your iPad journey together!!)

7)  Accessories!  Yes, even iPads need accessories.  What you get will depend on your budget.  But here are some ideas:
  • Cases - Ahead of time a friend told me I had to get "grippy" cases.  I didn't know what she meant, but now I do.  You need cases for the iPads that are not slick, but instead are "grippy" so that the students can hold onto the iPads.  If given a choice, get them in different colors to make the cases easier to differentiate.  Mine are all black, so I used four different colors of tape and ran a strand along the front of each case.  The tape won't hold up forever, but it will help in the beginning.
  • Stylus- Since my kiddos are just learning to write, I use several handwriting apps and want them to practice the correct grip.  Using your finger to practice making letters just doesn't cut it for me.  I looked around and picked the AppCrayon from Dano.  These are pricey, but Dano gives a 50% discount to schools.  There are much less expensive ones, but I liked Dano because it was fatter and triangular in shape so it helps primary students grip correctly.   Dano also has a free app called AppCrayon that is good.
  • Charging / Syncing Cart - My district provided a cart that allows us to both charge and sync.  I LOVE IT!  Syncing is a pain, but this cart makes it manageable.  There are some glitches with this cart, but still it makes it possible to sync all my iPads at once.  (Glitch: Sometimes the cables don't connect correctly and a few iPads don't sync so you have to go back and manually sync those.  The first time this happened it caused tears in my class because one sad girl didn't get the new apps that everyone else did.  After that, I knew to check.)

7) Think about your philosophy!  There is no right answer here.  My decision was to view the iPads as tools.  Just like my kiddos use pencils, paper, etc. so they use iPads to aide their learning.  They got their iPads out of the cart first thing in the morning and had them available in a team tub on their desks all day.  I feel like I only scratched the surface in terms of using the iPads as tools.  This year, I plan to integrate them far more.  Not sure what that will look like, but I will keep you posted.

8) Prepare for Negativity!  I hate to bring this up, but want to forewarn you.  Please realize that there may be jealousy and misunderstanding from other teachers.  It has nothing to do with you, so just let it go.  The teachers at my school were supportive, but not so at some of the other schools.  Comments were made about our students not using pencils, paper and paintbrushes, but instead sitting and playing Angry Birds all day.  I typically stayed very quiet at district meetings, but looking back I wish I had shared what it actually looks like in my classroom.  The fact that my students do use pencils and paper and paintbrushes.  They also use clay and crayons and construction paper.  They build with blocks and legos and Lincoln logs.  You get the idea.  We found humor in the anonymous quote "You can always tell who the pioneers are because they have arrows in their backs and are floating down the river."    

9) You ARE a Pioneer!  You are taking part in something that is so new and different that there are no manuals to help you on your way.  I told my students that it was our job to do research for the district.  The question we were supposed to answer was, "Do iPads help students learn?  Of course my kiddos all knew the answer before I did.  (A resounding YES!!!)  

Here is a quote to leave you with:   “A pioneer is not someone who makes her own soap. She is one who takes up her burdens and walks toward the future.”  Laurel Thatcher Ulrich 
So there will be glitches, there will be issues, but your iPad journey will be amazing!  So just start walking!

Whew!  Longest post ever!  Hope this helps!

Love to all,

Links to learn more:
I Teach With iPads - Katie has been using a class set of iPads for a few years and I feel like she is my mentor!!!  (I have only met her in Bloggyland, but I think she is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.)