Saturday, October 18, 2008

I feel so cheated...

I found out about a garage sale of a retiring teacher of 25 years. Don't you know my heart skipped a beat. I could only imagine what treasures I would find there. So I set my alarm for 7am, yes 7am on a Saturday morning. I'm so excited I could hardly contain myself. I run to the atm and head toward the mother ship. Of course I was early! I tried to wait patiently as the couple pulled out box by box, but I couldn't wait anymore. Teachers were starting to line up. There were at least a dozen who showed up right after me and a few before me. It was one of those - every man for himself. I started digging, and digging, and digging. I found cool things, but the prices were staggering. Honestly, when you have a garage sale, isn't it to get rid of stuff? She wanted 2$ a book, like a scholastic book! My heart sank a little, but I kept digging. I don't know what grade I will be teaching yet, so it's hard to pick and choose what I'll need. I found a cool math set for the overhead - it had clocks, pattern block shapes, money, etc. The set was 10$ (a little high I thought). I also found another set that was 15$. I went up to the lady and was about to ask if she would take 20$ for both. Before I could open my mouth, she ripped the first set out of my hand and said she already sold that. I quickly put the other set back because she made me mad. I know silly, I thought I was getting some kind of revenge or something. I'm sure she could care less. So I couldn't leave, I had waited all week for this! I decided to pop back into the garage. Another teacher found unifix cubes and was trying to talk me into splitting the box with her. I told her I'd pass, but what I really wanted was base 10 blocks. They seem to be a necessity while teaching. Her ears perk up and she says "Yea I want those too! I ask the retiring teacher, who has already sent me one blow, if she has any. She responds with something that I couldn't make out to be a yes or a no. Her husband chimes in and says, yes I just put some out over there. I race over there. I searched the boxes he pointed to. No luck! I tell the man and he sends me back to ask his wife. Again I ask her, she tells me she thinks she does, and then gets distracted and begins doing something else. I then hear the lady who wanted to split the u cubes with me say, How much for the base 10 blocks. I couldn't believe it! I went over to see if there was any extra, but she was pawing the entire box, so I knew I didn't stand a chance. I said Oh I guess she found them. The man laughs and the "retiring teacher" says oh you can have them all for 5$. WHAT!! Did I hear you right?!?! First I come to your garage sale and you're asking for my right leg. Then you rip my treasure from me and claim to have already sold it. Then you give a lady, who stole my base 10 blocks, an amazing deal!!! What the???!? Ok, I'm sure I sound childish about now. But it's not fair. So I stomped off to my car, pouting. What a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day :)

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I'm still alive!

This has been a very busy semester for me. I intended to document it with this blog, but I just haven't had the time. I am in my 4th week of school and it seems to be flying by me. I'm loving it, but oh how I live for my weekends.

I was assigned to a third grade class and an amazing cooperating teacher. I have to admit, I wasn't too excited that I didn't get my first choice of 2nd grade. I was really worried that the entire semester we would just be focused "on the test". But I am happy to say, it isn't anything like I imagined it to be. I am so happy with my class. I think I may have changed my mind about what grade I want to teach. I love this age group. They are able to do so many hands on activities. My coop teacher is also amazing. I have learned so much from her in a short time. But what I love most is she has made me an equal in the classroom.

I'm working on my first lesson that I will teach. It's a read aloud with the kids having to do some sort of response. I had planned on using the book, The Secret Knowledge of Grown-Ups. It's a super cute story about rules and it gives alternative reasons for why we have the rule. However after much thought, I decided that it was a tougher book to use for this assignment because it wasn't a traditional story book. I have changed my mind to use The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. It's a story of the three little pigs, but from the wolf's perspective. I'm going to have the students respond by re-writing another fairytale from another character's perspective.

I've also signed up to be a sub. I know I will have plenty to write about that :)

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Let the chaos begin

I haven't blogged in exactly 23 days - and let me tell you, so many things have happened in those 23 days.

For starters I got to visit Washington D.C. for the first time. WOW What an experience. I went for a conference as part of my Rockefeller fellowship. I truly mean it when I say it was life changing! I got to meet so many amazing aspiring teachers and so many others who are dedicated to education. I was fortunate to visit an amazing elementary (charter) school - CentroNia. What an amazing school with amazing teachers!! And of course I got to visit and tour D.C., and it's many amazing sites. I was there for 5 short days!! I was able to present my summer project I had conducted at the public library. I taught 8-16 year old computer skills while designing and writing their own comic books. Everyone seemed to love my idea and it was chosen to be represented on the RBF website. I have met lifelong friends and received an invaluable amount of resources as I make my way into the classroom. I am forever indebted to the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, this was an experience of a lifetime that tops the charts!!!

Once I got back from my trip, there was no time to catch up on sleep. I had to get ready for school and my classes. This semester I will begin my field based block of classes. This means that 2 days a week I will be in a classroom and helping teach. YEAH!! I am so super excited about this. I got to visit the school that I will be working with and it is AMAZING!! You can see how involved and caring the teachers are by just walking the hallways, you can see the amazing support of the administration by spending a few minutes in the office and you can see how happy the children are as you peak in their classrooms. I know I am going to absolutely love teaching here. Last week we got to put our down our choices for which grade level we would like to teach. My choices in order were 2nd, 3rd and then 1st. I have always wanted to teach 2nd grade. My 2nd grade teacher is who truly inspired me to become a teacher (thank you mrs. braddock). I will keep you posted on what grade I actually get.

My professors this semester are also AMAZING!! I love them all. I really lucked out this semester. Along with my field block, I am super excited about my general science course. We get to do science experiments just like we did when I was a kid. I am so super excited about this. I am so excited (as you can see) about this semester. As fun as these classes will be, there will be a lot of work (which I'm totally up for), so I will try to blog as much as I can in between to let you in on all my fun!! Have a great semester!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Is that on sale? Check it twice!

I have been back to school shopping like crazy. It's right around the corner and my kids and I needs supplies, new clothes, backpacks and all that good stuff. There are some amazing deals out there....but make sure you are getting the deal! Over the past few days, I've visited and purchased from at least 8 different stores. Of those 8, 6 of them overcharged me! Total it was probably 60$. No joke!! Some of the problems I've run into.
  • Discounts not being applied
  • Coupons not applied correctly
  • Price don't reflect the advertised price.
  • Items being charged twice
I normally don't watch the prices being added nor do I check my receipts. But since I have a lot of shopping to do, I'm trying to budget myself. I was blown away at how much I was being overcharged. I caught all of them because I was at register watching all of the prices. On a lot of my purchases, prices were listed as sale prices with signs but the register didn't match the discount. One sales associate said that all of the stores are trying to do big pushes with bts sales that sometimes the registers aren't getting updated properly with the correct prices. My advice watch your prices. Make mental notes of what the sale price should be. If you see something not being calculated correctly, speak up. Even if it's only 1$ (you can buy a lot for a dollar)! Also double check your receipts. At one store they charged me for an item twice. Everyone makes mistakes, but 6 out of the 8 stores is CRAZY!! What scares me is how many times I've been overcharged and didn't even notice it!!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Mmmmm The Smell of Crayons

What is your favorite childhood memory of back to school? Mine was picking out my school supplies! I didn't really care about the new clothes or shoes, but I had to have the coolest pens, the awesome folders, and all of the other fun supplies they come out with. I absolutely love the smell of a fresh box of crayons. One sniff sends me back in time! To this day, I still get excited over Hello Kitty and Lisa Frank - how can you not, they are so much fun!!!

So as the season is upon us, as stressful as times may seem, don't forget to take in the excitement of back to school. The new clothes, new class, new teacher and a fresh box of crayons!!! Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful school year ~ and don't forget to take time to smell the crayons :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Thing #23 A new beginning

Whew!! I did it. I completed the Library2Play Learn 23 Things challenge. It was set up to be completed in 9 weeks, but I busted my buns and finished in less than a week (I found out about it late) It was such a wonderful adventure. I learned so many new things that I will take to my future classroom. I encourage any teachers to also take the challenge!!!

What were your favorite discoveries or exercises on this learning journey?
  • All of the great tools I can use in my classroom. I really excited to bring all of this technology into my future classroom!
How has this program assisted or affected your lifelong learning goals?
  • I was planning to go for my masters in education technology, this challenged reaffirmed my love for technology and my excitement to bring it into the classroom.
Were there any take-a-ways or unexpected outcomes from this program that surprised you?
  • As silly as it sounds, I am so impressed with myself for creating a podcast. I did so many cool things!! If I'm this excited, imagine how excited my kids will be.
What could we do differently to improve upon this program’s format or concept?
  • I wish I had known about it sooner. I had to really hustle to get through it all. I thought everything else was great though! What a fun challenge!
If we offered another discovery program like this in the future, would you choose to participate?
  • Of course - sign me up!!!
How would you describe your learning experience in ONE WORD or in ONE SENTENCE, so we could use your words to promote 23 Things learning activities?
  • Amazing, Incredible, Rewarding, Fantastic!!

Things #22 Nings

Do you know what a ning is? Neither did I, but I bet you do and you just don't know it. Nings are social networking sites, similar to myspace or facebook. They allow users of similar interest to get together discuss, share ideas, and mingle. It's funny Teacher Lingo is a ning. I love teacher lingo. I actually found out about the library2play challenge from someone's post on TL, yet the last part of the challenge brings me back to TL. Funny how that works!! I think social networks are great!! Why wouldn't you want to group yourself with others who have common interests. I love talking to teachers and getting tips and ideas for my future classroom. I think it's great!! We can all learn from each other. We can also support each other - who better to understand what you are going through than another teacher. I really don't see downsides to them. Nings ROCK!!

Things #21 Poscasts

I made a podcast!! I can't believe I made a podcast. It's cheezy yes, but I wanted to try it out and see how they work. I am so excited to be able to use this in my blog and possibly in my classroom. I will admit, it was a little bit of a challenge to figure out. First things first, you have to have a microphone of some sort. Luckily I had one from my Spanish class I took online. I downloaded a great program (for free) where I created my podcast. You basically just hit the record button. The name of the program is audacity. From there, I exported what I recorded and put it on an online site called, switchpod. This allowed me to provide a link for you to hear my podcast. I will play around more with podcasts - I just hate hearing my voice back. :) But there are so many cool things you can do with podcasts - I can't wait!!

Thing #20 YouTube & TeacherTube

Video websites are such an important tool for teachers. Like the old saying are worth 1,000 words. Sites such as Youtube and Teachertube are great ways to share information with students in a whole new way. They aren't just good for students to see, but it is a great project to actually create videos. You can find videos and tutorials on almost any subject you can think of! Below are videos for new teachers (like me)! And if you like what you see, check out YT and TT, there are so many resources out there.

Thing 19 Web 2.0 Tools

Here are some other cool web 2.0 tools that I have found from the web 2.0 awards

fixya - is a great tool that can help you fix and troubleshoot things. There is tech support and manuals at your fingertips. I'm not sure if it would really come in handy for your classroom,  other than to fix things around the room without having to call tech support :) But it is a super cool tool!

lulu - is  a cool tool that allows you to upload your documents and publish them. This could be a cool idea to write a book as a class and have it published. It does cost and I found it a bit confusing to know what the exact cost to write a book would be. However I did find quite a lot of great teacher resources available for purchase, and you have the option to download or purchase a hard copy. 

live mocha - is a wonderful language tool. Teachers can brush up on their 2nd language or they can prepare for their extra certifications! The best part it's free!! You can enroll in free classes, chat with others, and so much more. They even have flash cards to help with your language journey. I know I will be adding this site to my  bookmarks! What a great tool. Teachers can also use this to aid students in learning a new language. 

Thing 18 Open Office

I think open office could be a great tool for students. Office can be very expensive! Open office is an alternative solution that is free and gives students access to basic document creation, such as spreadsheets, presentations and documents. I think it being free and having the ability to share the documents easily is a great plus. I don't really see any cons, other than the extra fun stuff that comes with office will be missing - but it's FREE!!! (I already have office on my computer, so I didn't download this program, so I might have missed some other cons that aren't apparent until you play in the program.)

It wasn't discussed in this exercise, but I recently found scribd. You can upload your documents and share them over the web. I love it!! It's a great way to share resources that I've created, without having to take up space on my website. Try it out - it's GREAT!

Thing #17 Rollyo

Love it!!! Have you ever done a search in places like google and you get tons of websites that don't interest you? Well Rollyo allows you to create searches that are searched from the website you designate. This is a wonderful tool for classrooms. Bruce created this great video showing how you could use it in your classroom. I am always searching for specific ideas for my classroom, but when I use other search engines, I get tons of crazy sites returned (most not having anything to do with classrooms). So I created a Rollyo search that searches some of my favorite teacher forum/blog sites (teacher lingo, pro teacher, a-z teachers stuff, teachers corner)   It's called Teacher Ideas Mrs. E - I hope you will check it out!! 

Monday, August 4, 2008

Thing#16 Wiki

Wikis are so much fun and can be use for so many things in the classroom. Think of them as a webpage that allows anyone to update or add to it - they are usually on a certain subject. The most popular wiki is wikipedia. I use this site quite often just to find quick answers.

In my multicultural class our teacher had us create a wiki about a mc author. We chose Ezra Jack Keats, and I'm proud of the way it turned out. Before we could create our wiki we did have to get organized and give out who was going to cover what topic, this way everything was covered and nothing duplicated. I would suggest you have set jobs if you are going to use a wiki in the classroom or allow students to sign up for what part they would like to take care. For example, if you are having students create a wiki on an author, separate the topics like biography, books written, awards won, etc. I think it's too chaotic otherwise.

Library2Play has some great suggestions for wiki on the blog:
· Idea #1: Collaborative note-taking. Everyone pitches in and adds a fact or two about a topic. Teachers can encourage students to include opinions, challenges, and appropriate criticism. Students would then write essays using only these notes. Make sure that each addition includes a citation to website, book, or database, including page numbers so that it can be checked.

· Idea #2: History. Students can compile a wiki of famous artists, architects, writers, and other key historical figures from a city, state, or country.

· Idea #3: Create a "top 10" lists and supporting material. This could include scientists and their discoveries, top writers and their books, ... you get the idea.

And there are tons more ways you could use them for. Again just be organized!!! Here some great links to ideas to use wikis in the classroom
Wiki in K-12 Classroom
Wiki Ideas for the Classroom

Thing #15 Library 2.0

I think web 2.0 and library 2.0 are all things that we as teachers should be thinking about and how to bring this technology into our classrooms and teach it to our children. Sometimes I think our children are more advanced than us in technology. They are sponges and are ready to absorb everything. Have you ever seen teenagers figure out a new cell phone or how something on the internet works - they do it in a matter of seconds. We need to give them access to these tools and guide them in their learning. As the article To more powerful ways to cooperate suggests - we (students and teachers) can work together and create new and exciting things. If you give them the tools, just imagine what they can create. I think librarians can serve this purpose too and can help facilitate the knowledge to patrons of the library.

I also think that tools are going to advance the way we teach and educate our children. There is so much functionality with these types of tools. I am excited about the future of technology in the classroom!!

Thing #14 Technorati

Add to Technorati Favorites

Technorati is a way to find blogs. You can do all types of searches, including tag searches. If you have a blog, I suggest you register it with technorati so it will be more accessible to others. I also suggest saving your favorite blogs and adding tags. This site will even rate your blog, mine is pretty low so please show some love and add me as a favorite technorati blog. You can click on the button above.

I'm really loving all of this tagging. The more information you can attach to your favorite sites and blogs, the easier they are to find when you need to look for them again. Try to think of tags that make sense to you and anything and everything that comes to mind when you think of that website. By tagging you are just organizing the internet for you :) and others, but mostly for you! So the more work you put into the more you benefit from it. And tagging isn't really a lot of work, as I'm finding out. You can use and it will import all of your bookmarks - you can add tags at your convenience. You can also dowload tools for your tool bar that allow you save right to your account and add tags!! Try it, I promise you will love it!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Thing #14 Tagging and Social Bookmarking

I'm in love, no seriously in love!! Where have all these tools been hiding. Today I have been introduced to - what a cool tool. I can't wait to use it. Have you ever found a really cool website and bookmarked it to your favorites, but when you think about using it again, you can't find it in your thousands of bookmarks. Well I have, actually it happened just the other day. About a year ago I found a really cool idea to use a mailbox in my classroom. I wanted to give credit to the teacher who had the original idea, and I couldn't find it among my thousands of bookmarked sites. This is going to be so nice!! takes bookmarking sites to a whole other level. You bookmark sites, but you put tags on your sites so they are easy for you to find. But they aren't just on your computer, you can access these bookmarked site from work, school or wherever! Also you can share your list of bookmarks with other uses. Here are some ideas I think this tool will be useful in and out of the classroom.

Research projects - As students research projects at school they can bookmark their sites they have found on a site like - then they have access to everything at home they have found so far. No duplicating work or having to have students print out the websites they have found. I'm sure parents will love this!

Teachers gathering ideas for classroom - Let's say you are working on a unit. You can find ideas and resources and bookmark them on - you can search bookmarked sites by other teachers and double your info! Also you can switch between work/school. No need for separate bookmark lists. And other teachers can access the links that you have found - making it easier for them to plan their lesson.

I am so excited to get my bookmarks tagged. I already downloaded them to the site, now I just have to update tags so it makes it easier to find them.

Thing #12 Comments

I think commenting is very important to blogs. I think when you comment on a blog that you are justifying that person, whether you agree or disagree with them. Bloggers want to know they are being heard by someone, anyone. I really liked what Drape's Take said regarding comments. I think the blogger should interact and respond to comments. I try to respond to everyone who sends me a comment or email. It's why I created my blog in the first place - to help and let others know some tips/ideas that have worked for me. I also agree that sometimes we won't agree with someone's viewpoints, but we should never bash or take our commenting to extreme. We should be courteous with our comments!!

With that, I will follow up with this post as I find some blog to stalk.

Library2Play blogs
Other Blogs
Days of a New DC Teacher
Elbows, Kneeds dreams

Thing #11 LibraryThing

LibraryThing is a great tool to catalog you books, chat with others who have read the same books, join groups with other that have similar reading interests and review the books you've read. I had fun on this site. I love to read books and I love reading books that others suggest to me. I can use this site in so many ways. I can share books that I loved and find out what others are reading. I could make a classroom assignment using this site where students could have accounts and review books. When I was browsing through the groups, I saw several teacher who grouped together so each knew what books other teachers had in the school that could be shared between classrooms - what a great idea!! I even found a widget for my blog that shows everyone what I am reading currently. I also found 2 groups to join. Multicultural books for children and Picture books. I was hoping to find a teacher group or an elementary group to share ideas, but the ones I found were specific to a school or weren't exactly what I was looking for. Maybe I should create one :)

I did love this site. I think it could be a very powerful tool in the classroom. I don't think I will catalog all of my books just yet. Last year I found amazing software that creates a database for my books. It's called bookcollector. But I would be willing to do double entry if the teachers in my school decide to create a group so we can see what books we can borrow from each other. For now I will record the books I'm currently reading so I can continue to use my blog widget!

Thing #10 Image Generator

This was such a fun exercise. I found so many useful tools to use in and out of my classroom. Here are some of the fun things I made.

This site has some cute tools to use. You can create an image with a message on the beach or create a baseball jersey. How fun is that! This is a fun tool for kids. Here is something fun I created. Enjoy! Flower Text!

There were so many great tools on this site. You can create magazine covers, add your face to a funny body, and so much more. I created a magazine cover. I know the kids would love this. I thought this would be a great tool for an autobiography project. The funny body one was cute too and would make cute Christmas gift for parents. 

This site also has some great tools. I had fun playing with the motivator tool. I thought this would be a great way to give out awards in class. I also loved badge maker. This would have been prefect for my comic book class that I held this summer. But teachers could do all types of things with this for themes throughout the year. I also found the palette generator to be really cool! You upload a picture and it will tell you what colors coordinate with that picture. What a great tool for scrapbookers.

I spent all morning on these sites. They really are a lot of fun. So many possibilities with these tools.

Thing#9 More RSS Feeds

Which method of finding feeds did you find easiest to use?

  • Right now, I'm very interested in teacher blogs - and specifically about teaching. Honestly the best method for me to find new blogs is by finding a great blog and looking at their blog roll. I also found teacher lingo, which is just a community of other teachers. So for right now, this seems to be the best method. If I'm looking for something in particular then I think that I will use search sites.
Which Search tool was the easiest for you?
  • I have to say Google Blog Search, it truly was the least confusing to me. Plus I'm used to Google.

Which was more confusing?
  • I would say syndic8, it was very confusing to me. It was way too busy.

What kind of useful feeds did you find in your travels? Or what kind of unusual ones did you find?
  • I found some great feed on education technology. This is the field I think I want to go for my masters, so I'm excited that I found a few blogs dedicated to it. I also found some more teacher blogs that I look forward to exploring.

What other tools or ways did you find to locate newsfeeds?
  • Not news feeds but rss feeds, Teacher lingo - it's a great community of teachers and their blogs. I love that allows people who already have a blog to still join the community.

I'm still learning RSS feeds, I don't want to overwhelm myself with sorting through news as well. I will adjust this as I get used to just reading the blogs in this setup.

Thing #8 RSS Feeds and Readers

Don't you just learning new things, I DO!! I had always seen these little orange icons on websites I frequent. I wasn't quite sure what they are, but now I know!! They are RSS Feeds and they allow you to collect all your websites, blogs, news, etc into a reader. No more checking out 10 different websites, it's all there for you. Like a Google tutorial said, "It's an inbox for the web". And I love it!!!

I decided to go with Google reader. As you know I love Google and I thought it would be much easier to keep track of all my new learning tools if I kept them all in the same place. Here are the items listed on my reader, I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Thing #8 Excercise:

Q:What do you like about RSS and newsreaders?
  • I love that everything is right at my fingertips. I am becoming a blog junkie. I love that I can put all of my favorite blogs in one spot and read them when I'm ready. No more having to go surf through 10 different blogs. I also like that I can add them to folders. The more organized you are, the easier it is to find the things you are looking for!
Q: How do you think you might be able to use this technology in your school or personal life?
  • In my personal life, I will be able to skim through my favorite sites quickly. As far as school goes, I'm not quite in the classroom yet, but I think this will help me keep a step in the latest trends. I know life as a teacher is busy, busy, busy, so this will definitely come in handy once I'm in the classroom, so I can stay up to date with my teacher friends.
Q:How can libraries use RSS or take advantage of this new technology?
  • They can keep themselves and students up to date all in one spot. I was thinking this is also good because the teacher can limit what to share with students. Say for instance the teacher is signed up for a news group and she shares her reader with her students, if an article is not appropriate for the classroom, she can just remove it.
I know I will be using RSS feeds and readers! My question is - how do I add a RSS feed to my classroom website. How cool would it be for parents to get news from the classroom through their readers, vs having to go through and check the different links to my website. :) Pretty nifty! (BTW this is on my list of things I want to learn)

Thing 7 Googlemania

I love GOOGLE!! It is by far the webpage I visit the most. What I love even more are the extra tools Google offers.

I tested out Google Notebooks. GN allows you to save links and info into one spot. I love this tool!! What I usually do is just create folders on my computer and try to put a great description for the file name. I love how you can add labels so you can find things easier in GN. The only thing that I wish it had the capability was to save images. I know I could just list links, but I've run into trouble by just bookmarking and saving links. (I love to search the web for ideas for my future classroom. I had hundreds of teachers website bookmarked with tons of great information. I lost a lot of this great info because the teacher no longer has their website going!) I would suggest if you do use Google notebook to copy and paste all of the information your are wanting to keep and not just links. So for my first notebook I created one for all of my safari theme ideas. I was able to create labels such as "bulletin boards", so that I can easily find all of my notes on that subject. Here is my safari notebook. There are so many possibilities with this tool. Students could use it when doing research projects to keep track of all of their resources. It's great for teachers to keep track of ideas or themes within the classroom. I love this tool and I know I will use it in my classroom!

Another tool that I hadn't heard about was Google Docs. This tool has several templates for many common documents you use everyday. Some great ones I found while looking through it where attendance and grade books. There are so many templates that students and teachers can use. Very cool!!!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Thing #6 Mashups

WOW!! Who knew all of this stuff was out there!! Too much fun!

So a few of my favorites:
musuemr - you can take an image and make it look like people are at the museum looking at it. This would be great for a bulletin board, maybe student of the week. Also could be used for colleagues or someone retiring. Would make a cute send off card!

Mappr - Allows you to put pictures on a map. There are so many things you can do with this one. Maybe a geography project and the students put images of famous sites on the map. Or maybe it's a travel map where the kids can show places they've been.

Trading Card Maker - Wouldn't this be a cool tool for kids to use during an autobiography project or a author study. They have to create a trading card with the author and let everyone know about them in a trading card.

I'm truly enjoying this adventure. I apologize for all of the post being in the same night, but the deadline is a few days from now and I want to finish before then. I just wish I had found this program before tonight :)

Thing#5- Flickr

I had heard about flickr, but had never really used it before. In my comic book class that I recently taught, I allowed the students to use images from Google images. I know have another resource to use that allows for the correct way to use images. I will also be teaching my students the importance of abiding by copyright laws.

I found so many amazing pictures, but what a great resource for teachers. I did a search on classroom libraries and found some wonderful pictures and great ideas!!!

In the spirit of "Shark Week", I wanted a picture of a shark. I found this fabulous picture. The person who took it ran into it while snorkeling - can you imagine? What a beautiful image.

I love Shark Week!! I get so excited when I start seeing the commercials for it. Of course I've been watching it all week :) I have been catching for at least the past 13 years. I think this is it's 21st year on the air. AMAZING!! So far my favorite has been Cash Cab - Shark Week and Survivor - Shark Week.


I have my blog up and going now. I also created a new avatar - isn't she cute!!! That was so much fun! I recently cut my hair, this was the closest thing I could come to it :)

Even though I already had my blog set up, I learned quite a few new things about blogs that I didn't already know.


I have decided to play along with the Library2Play of 23 things to learn. So far it has been very interesting and I am very excited to participate. Come play along with me!

The hardest of the goals for me is to begin with an end in mind. I'm a very creative person and my mind goes a million miles a minute at all times. When I come up with something new I want to learn, or something I want to create, I get overwhelmed because I start thinking about 200 other things I want to learn or create. It's very hard for me to focus on just one thing! Have you ever seen that Gwen Stefani commercial (I think it's HP) she has all these pictures flying around her and it's what she says is constantly going through her mind, that me!!

The easiest habit for me is teaching and mentoring. I had already created a blog before beginning this journey, but I created it to share so that others can learn from me. I love teaching others!! And I firmly believe as the video stated, "the best way to learn something is to teach someone else." I also think that using technology comes very easy to me. I am very attached to my computer and the internet. So much so that everyone in my family call me first when they need to research something whether it be deals for Disneyland or to look up medical symptoms they are having.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The BEST day ever!!!

Last night had to be marked down as one of my best days ever. Of course my wedding and the birth of my children top that list, but last night was so wonderful that it is pretty high on the list.

I have been holding a class at the public library since June. I wanted to teach kids computer skills, but do it in a creative and fun way. After seeing Iron Man earlier in the summer, I came up with the perfect idea! I would have a comic book class. I would have the kids use the computers to create comics (and other small projects) while learning valuable computer skills. It was a total volunteer type thing. The kids weren't signed up for the class and they weren't forced into it by their parents, it was totally on their part to decide to come and stick with the class. My job was to not only teach them computer skills, but to keep them in the class and coming back. It was a tough challenge, as I was competing against other fun summer activities such as swimming, hanging with friends, myspace, wii, etc. Well I DID it!! I originally was holding the class 2 days a week, and teaching different "lessons" on each day. Well I had such a huge turnout of kids that I finally had the split the class and make it the same lesson on both nights so more kids could attend. It is such an indescribable feeling when you know you have captivated children and have triumphed over other things such as gaming systems and the internet.

So I've been holding the the class for about 2 months now. The kids created superheros, trading cards, manipulated pictures, changed their picture into a comic, and wrote and illustrated their very own comic book - all on the computer. They worked super hard and I was so very proud of them. Last night we celebrated their accomplishments with a comic book release party. It was fabulous!! I showed a movie I made of the kids working hard and their finished projects. Then I presented them with the completed comic they wrote. Most of the kids were low SES, and several had mentioned that they didn't have school supplies for the upcoming year. I solicited donations from my school, friends, family and area businesses. I was able to get each kids a backpack filled with most of the items on their supply list. What made it the best day ever? Their faces when they got their completed comic books and backpacks. Their eyes were huge and their smiles even bigger. They were so happy!! What an amazing feeling!! I know I made a difference in these children - some have told me they want to write books when they grow up others want to work with computers; and one even wants to write comics! From this class I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be and doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing - I'm a teacher!!

Just as I think it can't get any better. The coordinator over the youth services of all of the libraries here, wants to take my class and host it at other locations. He also wants me to be involved in a new program that they just received a grant for which will involve taking laptops around and working with kids! I love it and I'm so excited for the future opportunities! So yesterday was the BEST DAY EVER!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mail Call - Safari Style

A while back I stumbled across a website. This teacher had wonderful ideas and was so generous to share them on her website. One idea in particular got me so excited. Her name is Cindy and her website is the virtual vine. You must check it out and bookmark it. It's an excellent site with wonderful resources for teachers new and old. So the idea that got me so excited was that she was using a mailbox in her classroom. A real mailbox that her husband built a stand for. She uses it to introduce new things in her classroom (ie treats, new books, introduce new themes). I just thought this was genius and I knew I had to have a mailbox for my classroom. I told my husband before I get my first classroom, I must have a mailbox (he's a mailman so it's very fitting)

Well on craigslist last week someone was giving one for free. It was already on a stand. It couldn't be more perfect for my classroom. I picked it up and decided to paint it. Of course it had to go with my safari theme. I went to Walmart and found paint that had been mixed but not purchased so it was discounted 50% (I've heard that Home Depot will sometimes give teachers paint like this for free - you just have to ask) I took a tan/yellowish paint and painted the entire mailbox and stand. I knew I wanted to use a stencil of some sort so the spots were very clean on the edges. I went in search of a think plastic that could be cut into a stencil. The creative hardware lady suggested using a garage sale sign. (what a great idea!) I drew the spots freehand. I then used an exacto knife to cut them out. It made the perfect stencil. I then used a chocolate brown for the spots. I'm very excited how it turned out. I'm not sure what I will use the mailbox for. I love the idea of introducing new themes or even as an agenda box for class meetings. Another thought, in one of the yahoo groups I belong to they have been buzzing about having a mail system within the school. I think that's such a great idea too! I'll keep you posted what I end up using it for.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

File Folder Games

I absolutely love file folder games. There are so many great pros to using file folder games in the classroom. 1. They are super cheap to make 2. Very compact for easy storage 3. Great for centers, quiet time, game days or even for students who finish work early. 4 Wonderful for practicing skills 5. All ages of kids like them and they can be adapted to any level, and the list goes on and on.

SOoooooo.... what are file folder games. They are games that you create using a basic file folder. The game usually involves matching of some sort. They range in all levels of skills and you can find all types of themes from math, basic skills, reading comprehension and more - the possibilities are endless. Typically there are game pieces that you glue directly onto the file folder and there are usually pieces that are loose that the kids match up.

FF games are really easy to make! Several of the big educational publishing companies have resource books on file folder games. Most of them you just cut and glue the game pieces on a file folder - that simple. There are also yahoo groups dedicated to file folder games. Google "file folder games" and you will be amazed at how many free ones there are. But you can make your own using clipart or die cuts. The object of ff games is to create a fun way for students to work and improve on skills. The ff game pictured, I created using File Folder Games CD-2004 and is called Puppy Love. The hearts have pictures of misc items. The dogs have a letter on each ear, these represent the first and last sound of the picture. So for the heart with the queen, you would match up the dog with the q and n on it's ears.

I created a tutorial for creating file folder games with a pouch to store the extra game pieces. I recently saw pouch file folders at the teacher store. They were about 5$ for 3 - yes only 3. Using this tutorial, you can make them for much cheaper. They are perfect for ff games and really help keep them together.

FF games are so much fun to create, here are some helpful tips that I have learned as I create them.
1. Laminate, Laminate, Laminate! This will increase the durability of the game.
2. Don't use glue to stick on your pieces, instead use a tape runner like scrapbookers use. This will eliminate bumps and make your game more "professional" looking.
3. Buy little baggies to keep all the pieces together. (You can find them at Walmart or other craft sores)
4. Label all of the pieces with the game title. This is so helpful when you find a missing piece hiding.
5. On the back of the loose pieces write the correct answer so the students can self check.
6. Use colored file folders, they just look better!

Here are some great ff game books/ websites (in case you don't have that creative bug in you)
CD 2005-Reading and Math
CD 104049 Colorful File Folder Games
My File Folder Games Website
File Folder Heaven

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Cake TV

So yesterday morning, I was flipping through the channels. On the Saturday morning cartoon channels, I found this show called Cake TV. I just had to giggle to myself. I swear as a little girl, I was just like this girl. I was a craft nut! I would come up with all kinds of crazy ideas to make things. I remember designing stationary. I had come up with a technique where I would draw pretty designs with chalk, then spritz them with water and hang them to dry. It really gave a cool look to the paper. I would go around selling them for .25 for 2 sheets and an envelope - and people really bought them. It brought back great memories of what a crazy child I was. But these kids really do make some cute and fun things. Yesterday, they made those cute little soaps. They look like so much fun!! I checked out their website and they have a load of craft ideas. Now you couldn't do all of the ideas with your class, but you may get an idea or two to help decorate your classroom - or even ideas for Christmas gifts. So check out their website and you can see just how silly I was when I was younger.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Postcards, notecards and sticky pads - OH MY!

Last year, a friend gave me the great idea to use Vistaprint to print off things for my classroom. I ordered several items including sticky pads, post cards, stamps, note cards and more. All of the stuff was free, and I just had to pay shipping. It was an awesome deal.

Well the VP bug bit again. I recently placed another order. VP has really grown in their selections! They have so many templates that are beautiful to use. So here was my order. I paid a whole 9$ for all this stuff. I will definitely place another order. If you get on VP email list, you will get emails all the time with their freebies.

100 Postcards- to welcome new students to my class.
250 business cards - Free homework pass to be used as an incentiveSticky Notes

Note padNote cards & envelopes

Friday, July 18, 2008

Think outside the box!

I visit teacher stores often. I could honestly spend all day there! I usually don't buy things but rather browse to see what I could make at home for cheaper. I have taught myself to "think outside the box". A few months ago I purchased a clothes rack from IKEA. I had planned on using it as a pocket chart stand. I put it together today to just how sturdy it was. I was honestly blown away at how sturdy it actually was. I bought the rack for a whole 7$, and it really has a cute look to it. The pocket chart stands at teacher stores range from 50$-100$. I love it!! What a savings!! So next time you see something in a store or catalog that you think you just can't live without, challenge yourself to see if you can come up with an idea to use something that is cheaper that still serves the purpose. Think outside the box!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

HTML .. Say What?!?!

Over the summer I took an amazing class, Classroom Management. Part of the class we had to create a classroom management folder including procedures, room arrangement, class schedule, first/second day activities, parent involvement plan, behavior plan, incentives and so much more. I absolutely loved this project. I pretty much started the project as soon as class began. I put so many hours into it and I am super proud of how it turned out. Part of this project, I created a classroom website. I know - I'm a year (2 with my Masters) away from having my own classroom, but I couldn't help it. I must warn you - websites are ADDICTING!! But so much FUN! Here are some tidbits that may help you with yours. I'm using angelfire to host my website. Currently it's free and I get 20 MB of disk space and 1 GB of bandwith. Right now this is plenty for me to build the site and get it set up. I will most likely upgrade when I have my classroom so I can remove the ads. Though the ads really aren't that bad. I highly suggest trying a free website host first and upgrade once you get the hang of it.

Angelfire gives you the option to use one of their templates or write your own HTML. This means that you can purchase those adorable templates and graphics and use them on your website. As I've said before, I use Thistle girl graphics. She just has the cutest stuff and they are very fitting for classroom use. I chose to join her web graphics club, so I still have to write my own HTML (or borrow code) to create my website. But she also offers templates that you just basically plug in your info and all the work is done for you.

So I'm not an HTML buff. Everything I know I've taught myself(with help from tutorials). Once upon a time, I was a computer programmer, so HTML makes sense to me, but I know I have errors in my code. It's ok though, I'm working on it. A site that has really helped is Lissa Explains It All. She is wonderful in her tutorials. The website is geared towards kids, so it makes it easier for us adults to follow along. Another one that I stumbled upon recently was DynamicDrive. They have great codes you can snag.

If your not adventurous enough to use HTML, just use the templates available by the hosting company. Sometimes they have some decent ones. I believe that a plain website is better than NO website! Another option is to use a teacher web hosting company. When I decided to create a website, I ran across several. I didn't really use them, so I can't tell you a whole lot about them. Bloust appeared to be a great site. I didn't really get to much into it, but it offers many resources and tools. Teacher web seems to be really popular. It is already formated for you. You have the option to add your own graphics or use the ones provided. Finally school notes allows you just to post basic notes. It almost appears to be a just a list. Other free website hosting companies (not teacher related) are google page creator, free webs, and geocities.

Whatever route you choose, make your website your own. Websites are a great way to stay connected with parents. Good luck and don't forget to check out my website. (Remember it's a work in progress!)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Student teachers, are still teachers. Right?

Even though I'm not officially a teacher, I still consider myself a teacher. This fall I will be in an elementary classroom for my field based block. I can't tell you how excited I am!

As you've seen I've already started to prepare for my future classroom. And I think that I can already call myself a teacher. So...I'm all about places that give discounts to teachers. Here are some places who have allowed me to sign up for the rewards program without having my official teacher credentials. As with anything, it all depends on where you go and who you ask. I would suggest signing up for these reward programs online. You may be asked to provide the school where you teach, I teach prek so I've used this school's name and I've used my university's name. Just be prepared that they may or may not allow you to sign up for the reward card, but the worst they can say is no! (But all of the listed companies have allowed me to sign up, and I'm still in school) And now is a wonderful time to sign up. With back to school upon us, alot of these companies are offering free breakfasts, free supplies, discounts out the wazoo and even classes. So here they go.

Office Max - MaxPerks for Teachers - get reward $$ for every dollar you spend, also get it for recycling ink cartridges. They usually have teacher specials through the summer. Last year they had free and unlimited laminating (it was AMAZING!) but this year it will only be 50% off. They will have other offers. The only way to take advantage of these it to sign up and receive you card.

Office Depot - Star teacher program - Earn cash back with purchases and recycling. Also have a teacher breakfast where teacher's get goodie bags!!

Borders - Teacher program - Receive 20% off of purchases. This one I believe you have to fill out in the store. They allowed me to sign up as a student teacher and use my university name.

Lakeshore Learning - Teacher's Club - Receive 15% off. Also have coupons that you can use when you have a card. Have to sign up in the store.

Michaels - Knack Faculty - Program that offers classes and ideas for your class. Right now they are offering free classes for teachers. I'm not sure if they offer a discount or not, but the classes sound fun.

Scholastic - Book Club - You can't officially sign up for the book club until you are a teacher, but here is an offer for student teachers to sign up and receive points toward your first class.

Here are a few other places to try. I haven't really looked into them too much, but I've heard they offer discounts: Hobby Lobby, Joanns, Kinkos, and 1/2 priced books. It never hurts to ask any store if they offer teacher discounts. Be honest let them know you are a student teacher and most of the time they will say ok and give you the discount.

I hope these work for you! Let me know if you know of any others that I've left off the list.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Girls Day Out!

Today was a great day! My mom and I decided to spend the day together. She needed to head up north to pick up a book for my brother, and I decided to tag along. Right down the street from the bookstore was our brand new Lakeshore Learning that just opened up. I have been dying to go, but with gas prices I was holding out since it's a bit of a drive to get there.

At Barnes & Noble, I found a very interesting book about A.D.D/ A.D.H.D diet. I recently read Jenny McCarthy's book Louder than Words about her autistic son. It was so interesting and so inspiring. I highly recommend it for parents and teachers. For the past few years, I have had this urge and feeling that I am supposed to do something with autism. I can't explain the feeling, it's just very heavy on my heart. I don't have any family members who are autistic, so I'm not sure where the feeling is coming from other than I'm supposed to help through my teaching. After reading McCarthy's book, I'm even more inspired. I won't give all the details, but she was able to help her son dramatically by changing his diet. I believe a diet can help with A.D.D/A.D.H.D students as well. So I found a book called The A.D.D and A.D.H.D. Diet by Rachel Bell and Dr. Howard Peiper. I'm super excited to read it. I will post later on what I thought about it. I also picked up a copy of the TEXES test study guide. I still have a year before I have to take it, but I thought it would be great to get a jump start on it.

As I mentioned Lakeshore Learning was just down the road from the bookstore. It was AMAZING!! They have such great prices compared to the other teacher stores. They are having a huge sale, 20% off of most of the store. I found this great writing center type thing. It's called Write and Publish. It comes with a stand and 24 different activities. I love finding things and reproducing them in my own way, but the stand and the whole set up was way too cool. I gave in and purchased it. I plan on making my own activities to go along with it. I also found this other cool thing. It was for pocket charts. There is a title that goes at the top, like "I know my phone number", then you place a card with the child's name who knows this. I loved the idea, but the things to know were a little bit below the age I want to teach (I want 1st-2nd, maybe 3rd). As I looked around the store- I handed it to my mom and asked her to think of a way we could create something similar. She came up with an even better idea. Since I'm doing a safari theme, she suggested having a tree, called the "I know tree" and use leaves to put what the kids have mastered. I loved the idea!! I purchased a tree bulletin board set and bought several leaves. I plan to laminate them and just write with dry erase makers. I though I could do things like, I know my 2's, I know how to tell time, etc. I decided to call it the knowledge tree instead, but GREAT idea Mom - Thanks :)

It was a great girls day!! I honestly never spend this much time in teacher stores or spend this much money, but everyone is having such great deals, it's really hard to pass them up!

Friday, July 11, 2008

Back to School Finds

Back to school season is in full swing. The past few days I have visited some of my favorite stores for deals: Target, Dollar Tree, Big Lots and Walmart. I have found some pretty cool things. If you haven't made your way to the Target 1$ spot - you must go. They have great teacher supplies. I have found the following (all for 1 buck). Pocket charts, self inking stamps, counter, helper chart, awards, bookmarks, sticky notes, sticky flags, puzzles, stickers, a teacher bell, accordion folders, and so much more. My 2 favorite finds there are 1 - the pocket charts and 2- the little farm animals. I purchased some of the pocket charts last year during back to school and I was excited that they brought them back. They are very small charts, but can be used for many things. You could use them in centers for chart work (poetry, sentences, sight words and the list goes on), schedule chart, center assignments, cooperative group assignments, the possibilities are endless. Even though they are small, I love that I can print things directly from the computer and use with them. My 2nd favorite the small animals were 50 farm animals in a small plastic pouch. They are the perfect size to use as manipulatives for math, games, counting, etc. Very cute stuff!!
I sold one of my textbooks and made a few bucks. I decided I would stop by my local teacher store to see if I could find any good deals or anything to go with my new theme. I spent some time picking and putting back. I can't find exactly what I'm looking for. Every bulletin board set I found seemed to have something wrong with it - it had monkeys, jungle was written on it or the animals look funny. Anyways I managed to find a few bulletin board trims and a few other tidbits. As I got in line the girl rang me up. I saw a sign that said Terrific Tuesdays where certain items would be on sale each Tue. I asked her what would be on sale next Tues. She had to search around but finally found the listing for next Tues. Now she already rang me up and I was about to hand her my cash, when she announced it would be trims(buy 1 get 1 free). Wouldn't that be my luck. Well I asked if it was too late to take the trims off, so I could come back and get them while they were on sale. She was so sweet and not only took them off, but offered to save them behind the counter for me until Tuesday. Teacher Heaven rocks!! If you have one near you, check out their Terrific Tuesday specials!
Some of the other places I listed had some good deals too!
Big Lots - teacher awards, teacher plan books (I picked one of these up), pencils, sticks and other cute trinkets. All were around 1$
Dollar Tree - teacher awards, stickers, bulletin board trims, and I found these really cool word wall spinners (similar to these). The children spin and do different activities using the word wall. Would make a great center!
I got to work on my website today as well. It consumed most of my morning! I'm having trouble with formatting but got quite a bit done today.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Busy, busy, busy Summer!

This has been such an eventful summer - and we aren't even at the mid-point yet. I've gotten so many things done for my future classroom and I have found some amazing finds!! I've finally decided on a classroom theme. It's my 5th theme (and I don't even have a classroom yet). Drum roll please..... I've decided on a safari theme, not a jungle theme but an African safari theme. I plan to have animals like lions, zebras, giraffes, hippos and rhinos. I found adorable web graphics at Thistle Girl Designs. She has amazing clip art!!I loved them so much, I joined the club (totally worth it). I also created my own website, Mrs. Estupinan's Explorers. I think it will be a great tool to help keep my parents informed and involved in my classroom. One of my summer projects is to update it with teacher resources and have it all ready to plug my classroom information in. I will keep you updated on my progress. I'm really excited about my theme. I think it is going to be fun to decorate with it. I know I'm starting early (I don't graduate until Dec '09) but I want to be prepared as possible. I've even found some great things for my reading area. A few weekends ago we went to this enormous flea market close to San Antonio, called Bussey's Flea Market. It has about 500 vendors and I can't wait to go back. There I found a giant leopard print throw pillow, a leopard back rest pillow, an over sized stuffed leopard, crocodile and giraffe. I think they are going to be adorable and perfect for the kids to snuggle up with.
Besides finding a theme, website and now blog, I've also managed to knock out 2 more classes this summer. I took Classroom Management and Physics. I loved my CM class and had an amazing teacher. I learned so much in such a short time. Physics was a challenge but I managed to get great grades in both of them.
In May I was selected as a Rockefeller Brother Fund fellow. It is a very prestigious award. I was 1 of 25 students chosen across the United States. What an HONOR!!! We will receive funds to pay for our Masters. As part of the program, this summer I had to work with children in some sort of aspect. I decided to have a computer class at my local library. Our theme is comic books. We have learned some amazing computer applications and we are writing our own comic books. It has been an absolute blast!
So as you see, I have been busy, busy, busy!! But I wouldn't have it any other way! So far it has been such a fun and rewarding summer!!