October 2015 | Teaching in the Tongass

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

a few halloween freebies

Uh-oh...our house was "Boo'ed" which means...I had to make a new sign (not really, but I couldn't help it!). So....grab yours by clicking below to download :) You can use it in your school, office, neighborhood..wherever you like!

And if you didn't see my last post about the Teal Pumpkin Project...here's that download as well:
And you can grab these FREEBIES as well (this footprint one has an updated year):


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

teal pumpkin project sign freebie

For anyone that cares to offer treats to kids with allergies (read more about the Teal Pumpkin Project here), here's a little door sign I made. Just click to grab the freebie:

And if you're looking for ideas, I've compiled a list here:
The following are Amazon affiliate links, which allow me to be paid a small commission, which in turn allows me to continue providing blog posts like this :) 


Wednesday, October 14, 2015

parent volunteers

Every year I am somehow fortunate enough to get a couple of really awesome parent volunteers. And in a Title I school with not an ideal amount of parent involvement each year. What I'm trying to say is that if you're thinking, "Well, that's just not gonna happen with my school," you're probably wrong. I've been asked by a few colleagues how I get to be so lucky, and I've always just said, "I ask." Well when I really think about it, it's not just that I ask, really.  It's that I am organized about it. If you ask for volunteers, and then they come into your classroom, you'd better be prepared. You cannot act annoyed that they are standing in front of you while you're trying to teach that oh-so-awesome lesson on bar models. You just can't. So, be prepared, or they won't return. This is a quick post on how I get volunteers in my classroom and keep them all year. Yep, all year.

This one is probably a no-brainer for you (especially if you already read teacher blogs). You need to ask. Then you have a list you can refer to of parents that want to help. If you only have a couple, jot their names on a sticky note and put it somewhere near your work area so you can contact them when needed.
Once you've got a couple of volunteers in your back pocket, USE THEM! You know those jobs we all take home to do or we know anyone can do them (the ones it doesn't take a teaching degree to do), send them home!!! Parents usually work 8-5. They want to help, but can't leave work to cut out your laminating jobs or sight words.  Sometimes I just send out an email asking. No forms, no google doc, just a simple, "Hey families! Who wants to cut out some laminated things this weekend and be my hero?" You would be surprised at how many reply that they do! So, get yourself a Parent Volunteer Binder you can send the work home in.
I keep a zipper pouch with anything they might need. Adult and kid scissors, tape, gluestick, highlighters, white out, pens (red and black), sticky notes/sticky tabs, rubber bands, stickers and a pencil. You can't assume a family has any of these things lying around the house.
My students do math review packets for 5 minutes each day (read more about my math workshop here).  I typically get 1 or 2 parents that are willing to correct work all year. IT HAS SAVED MY TEACHING SANITY. These parents are angels. This is easy, but tedious work and it's definitely something any parent can do. But, I have a specific way I like to correct them as they do the fixing in class, so I have provided a detailed guide to correcting. When I've sent home spelling, I've done the same thing.

 And if you're super lucky, you might get a parent that wants to come in and volunteer in your classroom. Of course, if they'd rather be working with kids, that's a little easier. You can simply have them roam the room if kids are working in small groups or independently. You can ask them to read with a kid in the hallway. But if you have anyone that wants to do prep work for you (or if that's really what you'd prefer--especially when you're doing a whole group lesson and there really isn't much else for them to do), you should prepare a list for them to reference. I use this as my own "to-do" list all year, but I write it so that anyone volunteering can do use it.
I've made a FREEBIE binder cover and volunteer sign up sheet if you like mine. You can grab them below:

So that's pretty much it! Have you had much success with in school or at home volunteers? What are your secrets? Please feel free to comment below!

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Monday, October 12, 2015

how to follow blogs

Once upon a time, I used the Bookmarks feature on my internet browser to follow blogs. Yep, super embarrassing to think about that now, but I know for a fact that not everyone knows how to go about following their favorite blogs (and some people, I can't name names, don't actually follow any blogs--shocking to many of you as that is).  If you have teacher friends that look at you like you are speaking a foreign language when you mention a teacher blogger that is "famous" in the teacher blogger world, you can feel free to direct them to this tutorial so they can join in on the pure amazingness of teaching blogs.  I would bookmark my favorite teaching blogs, then check them about once a week (I noticed that's about how often the authors would write new posts). Thankfully, since that time, I have learned how to follow my favorite blogs and find new ones to read every so often. This is a little tutorial on how to do that. 

So, the first step I use to follow blogs is getting a Bloglovin' account. It's free. It keeps your blogs in one place. bloglovin.com. Get there.
 If you choose the email route, confirm in your email.
 Then, you're ready to start adding blogs to follow!
 If you're a teacher (and chances are, you are if you're on my blog), you can just type in "teacher" to start. You'll find a ton just with that one word. See the "A Teeny Tiny Teacher" blog there?  If you have even the smallest sense of humor, or humour if you're fancy, you'll dig her blog (I laugh at every single post). You can also type in "teaching" and get some more blogs that you may be interested in. Once you sort of look around and what's out there in the world of teaching blogs (and home decor/renovations if you're into that like me), you'll be building up your blog list quickly. You can always "unfollow" a blog if you don't end up liking any of the posts or accidentally add one. I prefer to follow blogs that tell stories about random stuff I can relate to (read about Abby's post pregnancy legging showdown here), show more of their personal side and not just teaching, give tips/tutorials and are funny. Those are just my personal preferences. There are a couple fashion/makeup/hair ones I follow, but to be honest, I can't keep up with that in my life right now, so I don't actually read them anymore #mommyproblems
If you click on an individual blog, you can see several recent posts. Boy....apparently been on a bit of a tutorial kick, haven't I?

Once you've started to follow some blogs, you'll have "unread posts" to sort through. Now Bloglovin' by default just gives you (I think) the last handful of posts a blog you just followed. If you don't want to read them, just click "Mark as read" at the bottom of the post in your "feed" (the list of posts).
And if you come across a blog that you like, you should be able to see one of these symbols that will let you add it to your list to follow future posts. Can you find mine on my actual blog???

And, if you're like me, you might prefer to read blogs while you're waiting in those random times throughout your day. We all have them (mine is in the middle of the night when I'm feeding my baby).  Bored at the doctor's office and the 'zines ain't your style or are old issues? Time to whip out your phone and catch up on some blog reading. Just download the Bloglovin' app and you can have your favorite blogs at your fingertips (yes, I'm writing this at 11:29 at night right after I a schedule post of a different tutorial published haha!).  
So that's it. There are probably other ways to follow blogs, but this is how I roll. 

Sunday, October 11, 2015

how to make your own video

A few people have asked how I made my TpT Love video, so I thought I'd make a quick tutorial explaining my process.
The first thing I did was write a script. Yep, basic stuff. I decided what I wanted to say and typed it out in Powerpoint (Can a person ever go back to using Word? Apparently not.). Next, after I had my script, I looked at pieces of it and had to decide how best to display those thoughts on screen. For instance, when I talked about how TpT is like a community/family, I wanted to highlight what it was like to meet blog friends in real life. Which meant, I needed to show photos. So, rather than just displaying photos of friends like you might see in a Powerpoint collage or something, I decided to do a screen capture.  This is REALLY EASY. If you have Quicktime, chances are, you can do this. Go to your programs/applications and check to see if you have this:
Then, open it, go to "File--->New Screen Recording to capture your movements as a video (this is great for tutorials that you want to save and put on your blog or Youtube channel).  
Next, press the little red button when you're ready to start recording your motions. Tip: you may want to clear your desktop (hide those files in one folder/change your background image) or bookmarks if you don't want anyone seeing them.
Depending on what you're recording, you have some options.
And when you're done (as it says above), look for the little "Stop" button in the top right.
Okay, so now you have your video footage (or part of it anyway). Now you might want to add other audio or edit some more (like adding transitions between scenes, music, titles, credits, etc.).  If you're on a Mac, you probably have iMovie. Go to your applications and look for it.
Go to "File--->New Movie" and you can import your screen captured footage. 
You can also use your own video footage (using your computer, phone, camera...really, they're everywhere these days).  I often just use my iPhone to take the footage. And if you don't have video of something, look for stock video footage!  Be prepared to pay for it. Just Google "stock video" and you'll see a few choices and can search around for what you might be looking for. You can import that as well. Just drag it to the bottom area and start making your video! 

A few simple tips:
Once your footage is imported, you can crop the length of it to get rid of any "yucky" scenes or fluff if you're trying to cut back on time.  You can also change the speed of each clip (that little spedometer can come in handy if you have a time limit).  I suggest you play around with the menu and just see what each item does to your footage.  I learn something new each time I use it!
Use the transitions (lower left) in between your scenes for a more seamless look (scenes ending abruptly are not pretty).  Most movies have a Title at the beginning and a Title at the end (just like real movies!).  You can use iTunes, but keep in mind that if you're using your video commercially, you'll need to see if it can be used (I emailed the company who did my song and they happily agreed--yay!) and make sure you have the appropriate license.  You can also record your audio right in iMovie, add sound effects or use GarageBand to make your own original song. 

And if you liked the "hand drawing/writing" footage from my movie, you'll want to check out Easy Sketch Pro. It's incredibly easy (basically you just drag and drop the clipart and type the fonts) to use and if I can do it, so can you! You can even change the style of hand, pen/pencil/brush, speed, or even if you want to have a hand "push" or "pull" an item across the screen. It's a TON of FUN to just play around with, even if you aren't going to use it in your video :) 

***** If you are using clipart, I suggest you look at the TOU of the artist prior to using it in your video. Chances are you can use it, but it's up to you to check. And remember, just like TpT printables, you'll most likely need to provide a credit logo (the last scene in your movie would be appropriate--"Special thanks to the following clipartists: insert logo" is an example).

Once you're done with your movie, you'll need to "save" it by exporting it. Go to "File--->Share" and choose how you want to share it. I always share as a File so I can actually have the file (I upload to Youtube after).  
So that's it! I am by no means an expert, but am happy to try and answer any questions you may have about making a video! Happy directing friends!

If you found this tutorial helpful, you might also like these:

who doesn't love free?

I'm just popping in to do a quick post on how I use Shutterfly to get FREE things for my business and my classroom. I also did a Periscope about it this morning you can find here if you want to listen to my scratchy voice and watch my blurry video.

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