Pinterest – Get inspired!

I am just loving Pinterest for getting French teaching ideas at the moment too.  If you are an educator and haven’t started using Pinterest – PLEASE do yourself a favor and join Pinterest!  Start searching for the subject you teach and start following some people who have ideas that line up with yours.  You will be amazed at what will happen.  It takes Personal Learning Community to a whole new level.  It’s also very addicting.  You have to be invited to join Pinterest so if you need someone to give you an invite, feel free to contact me and I will beglad to do so.  Surfing on Pinterest tonight, I found the video below and Go Animate! and some other cute ideas like this printable Eiffel Tower.

New loot for my classroom

After going to a foreign language teacher gathering this week, I was inspired to go out and look for bargains that would encourage students to speak more French in my classroom or for items that would just make learning more fun.  I realized after reflecting on my 1st quarter that I only played two games with my students?  What?  What the heck was I thinking?  I seriously need to loosen up and start having fun with these kids or I really will teach myself out of a job for next year.

So, I went to the Dollar Tree and instead of just buying supplies for my classroom, I browsed through the toy section and found these darts.  They have a sticky end and will stick to any smooth surface.  I immediately thought: WHITEBOARD!!  I can easily snag an image of a dartboard and project it from my LCD projector onto the whiteboard.  With students divided into teams, I can ask them a question and the first person to get it right will have the chance to throw a dart and earn points for their team.  This could work with any topic and they were only $1.00!  I bought two packs just in case they get destroyed (which there is an enormous possibility for in a middle school classroom).

I also found these cute little cones.  I immediately thought about games – like use them to mark the starting line for where the kids will dash to do something or maybe do a ring toss.  These have praise words on them as well and are made out of a durable rubbery plastic so you could put them on a student’s desk as a way to quickly praise them for doing something awesome.

I don’t have a photo of the two flyswatters I bought but I’m sure you can easily imagine the solid, plastic kind that are sort of floppy.  A colleague in Social Studies introduced me to the idea of putting words or ideas on flashcards on the wall and letting two students use the flyswatters to slap the card with the word you describe.  OH MY!  What a simple idea and why hadn’t I heard this before?  I borrowed her flyswatters on a whim the other day and the kids loved it!  I put the in two teams since her swatters were two different colors (red and blue teams) and I had two sets of the same vocabulary – one small and one larger sized.  I bought magnetic clips at Wal-Mart sometime ago so I clipped all the cards to the whiteboard and scrambled them all up.  I gave the students 2 points if they slapped the smaller cards and 1 point if they slapped the larger card.  I called out the words in English and they slapped the French word that meant the same thing.  I did tell them to hold the swatter on the word and they only got one slap so they had to make a good choice.  They boys loved the fact that they got to slap something period and of course they loved the race aspect and being competitive.  The girls liked it to but at this age they can handle almost everything.  I seem to keep trying to find things to please the boys and get them engaged.  They flyswatters I found at Harris Teeter in their clearance buggies.

In the same buggies I also found some “Guess Who?” games for half price.  These are the ones with two trays and there are many faces of different people (all races) in slots.  The students draw an identity from a deck of cards then they each ask yes/no questions to discover the identity of the other person.  Since I’m getting ready to teach describing people I thought this would be a great way to get the kids speaking a little French.   They only had 3 sets though so I will have to turn this into a station activity.

So bargain hunting paid off for me this week and I will definitely keep my eyes open in the future for more cheap little things like this to breathe some more life into my classroom.  I am now avidly scanning Pinterest for teaching ideas (instead of just recipes).  Teachers, please share your ideas!

Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software

Dabbleboard – Online whiteboard for drawing & team collaboration – Interactive whiteboard software.

I found Dabbleboard today after posting that last article about interactive whiteboards.  Just thought I would share.  This looks like it might be easier to use than the software installed on my teacher computer and it’s web-based and has a free sign-up.  It also has the advantage of being collaborative so the possibility to use this in a computer lab or when your students each have a computer in front of them is there.  Your students could then add to the drawing.

Stat Check

I had such an increase in traffic over the last few days that I decided to cruise my stats and found some neat features in WordPress in the process.

I had to dig around to find the stats because it had been a while since I’d bothered to look. I logged in to my blog and then on the ribbon at the very top, I clicked on “My Account” and selected “Global Dashboard.” Then I clicked on “Blog Stats” and voilà! (Of course, a glance at “My Dashboard” shows me that I can also access my “Blog Stats” from there too. LOL)

Blog stats showed me a number of interesting things:

  1. A nice little flash line graph that shows my traffic flow over a period of days, weeks, or months. It’s nice to see spikes!
  2. Referrers–“People clicked links from these pages to get to your blog.”
  3. Search Engine Terms–“These are terms people used to find your blog.”
  4. Blog Stats–Summary of total views, my busiest day, views today, and totals of posts, comments, categories, tags, and how much spam my blog has been protected from.
  5. Top Posts & Pages–“These posts on your blog got the most traffic.”
  6. Clicks–“Your visitors clicked these links on your blog.”
  7. Incoming Links–Shows what other web pages have directly linked to my blog.

This is handy information for evaluating your own blog. Sometimes I wonder whether leaving certain pages up on my blog is worthwhile, well, now I can see that directly by looking at my top posts and pages or by looking at the clicks. It’s also interesting to see how people go about getting to my blog, what search terms they enter, etc. Such a neat feature!

I mentioned the fact that I could see what search engine terms people use to find my blog to a friend and he said, “There goes privacy!” I had to laugh because I understand the concern. I know he visited my blog today but I still don’t know exactly how HE got there. His stats are shuffled in along with others who viewed my blog today. Even though I can see how people get to my blog, I still don’t know their identity. The fact is that readers are still anonymous unless they choose to leave a comment and put their name in.

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I am blown away.  Danny Maas has been posting comment after comment on my blog and now I want to give him props on TILT! 

I went through some of his screencasts today and I have learned a few things.  Most importantly, I have been inspired and I’m sure my teachers will be too.  What a great blog with so many how-tos, ideas, and resources.  Thank you for sharing with us all, Danny!

Math Inspiration

I was asked yesterday by a math teacher for help.  It was a sincere plea because we do expect all teachers to integrate technology into their curriculum.  The pressure is on now because the end of the year is coming up and accountability will be in place to measure what integration has taken place over the course of the year.  That said, I won’t rant and rave about teachers being resistant to using technology in their classroom.  I heard the sincerity in this teacher’s voice.  He was genuinely in a quandry as to how to integrate technology in the classroom.  He was also puzzled by how on earth he was supposed to find time to learn how to use it much less integrate it into his curriculum.  Truly, his plate was full.

Having been a classroom teacher, I understand where he is coming from.  I personally think classroom teachers have one of the toughest jobs on earth.  They are pulled in many directions, held to high standards, play many roles to students, and meet for hours.  Time is always at a premium:  time to plan, time to teach, time to meet, time to grade papers, time to stay current with your field, and time to learn new things.

We decided to set a date so I could help him.  I am writing this post to ask for math inspiration.  What are best practices for math teachers to integrate technology into their lessons?  What are some great ways to use interactive tablets, document cameras, digital cameras, etc. so that lessons are enhanced and students are engaged?  I welcome any and all ideas here.