Happy Thanksgiving, friends! I hope that you have a wonderful time with family and friends!
I have so much to be thankful for and yet I so often “forget” that in the day-to-day little challenges. It’s great to have this day to foster an “attitude of gratitude” – now we just need to extend it to every day!
I have a few things to share with you today and I will have lots more coming your way this month! Stay tuned for news of sales, blog hops & more!
I’m so glad to be a part of this blog hop about Teaching Strategies that Work. Keep reading ’til the end so you can enter the giveaway! 16 bloggers have teamed up to offer some great products AND gift certificates to their stores. I love spending at TPT so this would be an awesome prize! 🙂
A BIG thank you to Celeste at the Education Highway for coming up with this idea, hosting the giveaway and doing so much work to create the graphics and get everything running! 🙂 Of course, she is part of this blog hop so make sure you stop by her blog and share your appreciation!
Join at: https://www.tsu.co/TeacherTreasure
There is a new social media was officially launched last week and is already taking the blogging world by storm. It is called Tsu (pronounced Sue). When you join and start using the network, it feels a lot like facebook. So, why bother? What’s new?
Facebook started out as a fun network to connect with family and friends. I remember reading about it while I was in a hotel lobby during a family reunion vacation. I was connecting with family members who I had only been able to see a handful of times in my life. I thought this sounded like a brilliant way to strengthen those connections and be involved in their lives while living so far away. It was. I’ve enjoyed seeing pictures of weddings and children and little glimpses into their lives.
When I started selling on TPT, Facebook seemed like a natural addition. I was already on Facebook a lot (too much!) so why not use this as a platform to connect with teachers. I enthusiastically participated in blog hops, giveaways and was working to provide and find content that would be beneficial. My facebook account grew quickly from a few dozen and now it is really close to 4,000 likes.
Unfortunately, over the last several months Facebook has been making changes that have been detrimental to bloggers and business owners. They started offering a system to pay for posts to have more a wider audience and limiting how much your post is seen. My organic reach (the number of people who have a chance to see the post) dwindled over this time. If I do not pay for the post to be seen, Facebook is generally showing my posts to about 1% of my followers. I have tried asking my followers to like, comment, choose to get notifications, etc. I have tried paying for posts to be seen. It is very discouraging to write something and then have it filtered and blocked from those who would like to see it. I recently had a really big sale on one of a large bundle at TPT. I posted about the sale on Facebook and Instagram. I had several teachers who eventually saw the post from Facebook and were sad they missed the sale. I extended it and still had some who missed it. It has become a problem. Also, I loved to host giveaways on Facebook. It was fun and easy to host a quick giveaway where you could enter by liking or leaving a comment. Facebook also changed their terms for giveaways a few times over the last few months and at times has severely limited giveaways.
Tsu is a different type of social media. They believe that the content creators (the ones who write the posts) should control the content and even make the majority of the ad revenue that is generated on a social media site. They have an MLM type of structure so that you sign up with someone and both of you benefit from your activity on the site. It is free to join and there is no need to “recruit” anyone to join up with you. You can just use it like you would use facebook – to follow friends and other interests (teaching). The best part – they are not filtering who sees the content. If you are following my store and scroll through your feed then you will be able to see the links to giveaways, freebies, teaching tips, etc. that I post. I can even host a giveaway without worrying about not following the terms of the provider. I am really excited to try this. I have seen so many teachers join in these first few days. I hope that this continues so we can have a great place to network and share our ideas for the classroom! Please go to tsu.co/TeacherTreasure to sign up and start following my page. 🙂
Social media is all about connecting (in this case with other teachers). So, I thought I would share a few simple strategies for connecting to your students and families.
CONNECTING WITH STUDENTS
I was recently at a PD conference where Harry Wong, author of the First Days of School, was speaking. One of the things that he spoke about was the importance of greeting the students when they enter the classroom. That is something that I had already learned from my wonderful co-workers. They all stand at the door to welcome each student. That is not a requirement and no one has asked them to do that. Wong expanded on that idea even further, by suggesting that you train students to take turns greeting each other. What a wonderful way to help your students build their social skills and create a warm and caring classroom environment. I am just starting to implement this idea and am excited about the difference it can make in our classroom.
Most students have so much that they want to talk about — that is why you are always telling them to stop talking and get to work! 🙂 We thrive on those social connections. My 1st graders love to share! We have been learning about bats and I asked if any of them had a seen a bat (outside of the zoo). A few of them had some very credible sounding stories. Then, I started getting stories like…”Once, I was camping and I heard bats outside of the tent.” Hmmm… those noisy bats! That happens all the time! They just really want a story to share. My own boys are getting older (teen and pre-teen) and they seem to compete with each other to be the one to get to tell something. It is a frequent complaint lately that one starts telling something and the other wants to interrupt and finish it! I remember our pastor’s wife sharing about raising teenage boys and that sometime you just have to hang out with them (usually in the kitchen!) and talk about insignificant things (minecraft!) and before you know it they are sharing about the things that really matter. Listen to what your students have to say. Connect.
Help your students feel that they are an important part of the classroom. I read a recent Washington Post article about a teacher who spent a few days as a student. She asked one of the students she was shadowing if they were an important part of the class. Did she make important contributions? Would her input be missed on days that she was absent? The student laughed. No, she did not feel like they needed her in class. How sad. Our students spend so much time with this community of learners – shouldn’t they feel like they belong?
CONNECTING WITH FAMILIES
There are multitudes of ways to connect with parents and family members.
I send emails to my parents most every week to remind them of upcoming events and share what we are learning. I try to think about the things that they want to know. What will their child share with them about the day? What details will they have questions about? When we introduce a new app for the iPad rotations, I will often share that info with them. I will tell them about a topic we are studying or something fun that happened in class. I want them feel like they are also a part of the class. We have a weekly bulletin that is emailed from the office, but many parents don’t really read it. It is information about the whole school — they want specific information. Emails from the teacher will always hold more weight than general office emails.
COMMUNICATE – part 2!
It’s all about communication! 🙂 Many parents want to know about the behavior of their student. Our class has a classroom clip chart. I use a classroom calendar to communicate upcoming events and the students color the square at the end of the day to show what color they were on at the end of the day. I use a marker to put a check mark on the square to keep them honest! 🙂 (not that they would ever purposely use the wrong color…)
I’ve created some praise certificates that you can use to let your parents know when a student has awesome behavior. This is a freebie that is exclusively for my tsu followers. I have another freebie later in this post for EVERYONE! 🙂 Tsu followers – just click on either image below to go directly to the tsu post and download your freebie!
COMMUNICATE – part 3!
Let parents know about the positives in class. Share about the good things that happen in the day. Send home a happy note. Share pictures of the pictures that you take in the classroom – – student’s participating in classroom activities, student work, etc.
I made a freebie with the fall leaves and the words from this display. You’ll have to provide your own scarecrow. The pumpkins were created with strips of orange posterboard. I used a brad at the top and fanned them out and taped the bottom. The leaves are green construction paper. The vines are green curling ribbon and some gold cord. I made the fence out of large brown leaf bags. Click on the scarecrow picture above to download the leaf pattern and words. There are a few different quotes available for the words.
Here’s some more information about creating your door and including the audio QR codes. I had the students decorate fall leaves. They wrote about 3 things that they were thankful for during their Welcome Work (a phrase that I learned from Harry Wong at the conference — isn’t that great? I like it so much better than Entry Task!). Then, I had a grandparent volunteer record them reading it on the iPad. I created a QR code to put on the leaf so that when the leaf is scanned, parents (and others) can hear the message of thankfulness. This idea was MUCH easier in my mind! I found that it is difficult to record the audio on the iPad and then create the QR code on Windows. There were some complications with audio players, etc. Next time, I may get a microphone for my computer and use recordmp3.org.
Here is what I used to create the audio QR codes with the iPad:
*Awesome Voice Recorder (free app) This app will create an .mp3 recording and you can easily send it to dropbox. I saw a few blog posts about linking to dropbox, but I never was able to figure out a way to do that and get the audio file to open up or start playing. It just wanted to send me to a download page. I made the file public and tried to get the link while it was playing and nothing worked. If you know of a way to do this, please let me know.
~~YOU CAN AVOID THIS STEP – just use the soundcloud app!~~
*Sound Cloud – an online platform for sharing original music and audio content. Transfer your files from dropbox to soundcloud. There are options under each file. Click on “share” to get a URL.
~~The Soundcloud iOS app has an recording option. Just record the files directly on Soundcloud to save time.~~
*Goqr.me – This is my go-to QR creator. Just select the globe icon to enter a web address. Input the URL and press enter. Click on download beneath the live preview. I save the code as a .jpg. You’ll want to view the file right away so that you can change the default name to the student name. You don’t want to mix-up the files! 🙂
*Insert the QR code image onto a page in Word, etc. Print.
*Scan – Use a QR scanning app to access the file. I like to use Scan. I could not find a way that would play the file automatically so you do need to press the play button for this method.
GIVEAWAY & FREEBIES!!
There is a big prize package that you could win! This prize includes 8 ($10) TPT store WINNER’S CHOICE to choose an item up to that value and 8 great products! You can enter to win this package by following each store on tsu. You can sign up for tsu @ https://www.tsu.co/TeacherTreasure.
Keep reading to the end of the post for your freebies. 🙂 Enter to win the prize package here:
Visit the Education Highway to see the other participating bloggers and their posts with teaching strategies and freebies!
I’m so excited to bring you this awesome giveaway! 20 teachers have teamed up to buy an iPad mini for a giveaway. The giveaway is open to teachers (classroom and homeschool) who are living in the contiguous United States. The winning entry will be verified and proof of eligibility may be required. Please see the terms and conditions for more information. The entry options are really easy! Good luck!
If you are the lucky winner or you have access to an iPad or other classroom technology, you may be wondering where to start? How can I use these in my classroom? What do the students need to know? Some teachers at TPT compiled some of their best ideas into a free ebook for teachers: Tech Tips for Teachers. It’s full of great ideas!
I was asked to review the Rhyme to Read app. You’ll get a chance to enter to win it at the end of this post! This app requires an iPad running iOS 7 or later. The app is currently $9.99 in the app store. That means each story is only 50 cents!
The app features 20 short vowel word family stories. The pop-up that you see on the picture (can be disabled in settings) talks about how the app works and give bio information for the creators. It was created by 2 teachers who are reading specialists with advanced degrees and many years of experience. I love that! These ladies know how to teach reading! The music can also be disabled in settings.
At the beginning of each story there is a suggestion page. It gives advice about reading the title to the student (so they are familiar with the word patterns that are emphasized in that book) and that students should read the books in order.
The pages of each book feature those word family words throughout the story. The word families are all color coded for ease of use and to help beginning readers. Each page has a little box in the top corner that has sight words that are used on that page. The reader can tap any word on the page (including the sight words at top) to hear the word. To me, this is one of the best things about technology and early readers. I love that the app doesn’t automatically read the words or leave them without help (no audio). I searched high and low for books like this and there are not that many out there with this feature. PLUS, this one is focused on word families!
I’m excited to use this app with my 1st graders at the beginning of the year. It would be awesome for preschool, kindergarten or the beginning of 1st grade. I would LOVE for the authors to create more booklets like this (long vowel word families, blends, etc.). Let’s help this one to be super successful so these amazing ladies can create even more apps for us!
One lucky winner will be able to try this app for free. If you are the winner, you will be emailed a promo code. Be sure to read the instructions to activate. You won’t download the app. You just enter the code on the app store and it automatically downloads the app for you. Remember, this is for an iPad with iOS 7 or higher. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway//widget.rafflecopter.com/load.js
DISCLOSURE: I was provided with a free copy of this app to review. All opinions expressed are my own and this review was written by me. 🙂
I recently saw a post about a teacher using diigo to manage bookmarks and to post to her blog. I was intrigued since I find it so difficult to manage blog post during the school year. Hopefully that will be better next year when I am FINALLY finished with grad school! I also needed a good bookmarking tool.
Diigo has free and paid accounts. They also offer a free upgrade to educators. I love it when that happens! So far, I’ve only signed up for the free account. I was easily able to add a toolbar to the firefox browser. It lets me bookmark, highlight, capture, read later and more all while browsing the internet.
I’m excited to use this new tool for blogging and for organizing teaching ideas.
Here’s a little preview of what it can easily do. I bookmarked some free things I found this morning and added tags. The tags will help you organize your content. I was then able to specify the bookmarks I wanted to share on my blog by entering a tag and clicking a button to generate the html code for my blog. Easy! 🙂
Only 2 more days in October and I am counting them down. The kids are way too excited to focus much. 🙂 Enjoy this list of freebie I compiled for you today!
TPT surprised everyone this weekend with a 10% off sale! I’ve put my store on sale for 20% off so you can save 28% through the 14th. Visit my TPT store to save!
I found a great website that features over 250 free e-books and they’ve just made everything tablet friendly. I tried it out on the iPad and it worked great! It is Oxford Owl by Oxford University Press. This is a UK company so you may want to point out the differences between British & American English if you are in the US. Some of the stories used mum (vs. mom). I’m really excited to introduce this site to my first graders! It would be great for Daily 5 – listen to reading.
Last, but not least, I’m having a mini giveaway! A few days ago I reached 2400 followers on pinterest. I’m giving away $24 in products from my TPT store to 1 lucky winner. They can choose the items they want. To enter, simply follow me on pinterest, and come back here to leave a comment that you are following! The comment should include your pinterest name & email so I can contact you if you are the winner. This giveaway ends on Sunday (10/13) at 8pm PST. Good luck!
I’m linking up with Teaching Is a Gift & A Teacher Without Class for their BLOGLOVIN’ back to school blog hop! If you still haven’t started using Bloglovin’ – now is the time! It is simply a way to follow blogs you love so that you don’t miss out on posts. Long before I started blogging, I was an ardent blog follower. I have picked up so many great ideas by following blogs. I set my bloglovin’ account up so that I get a daily email summary. I like that I can quickly scroll through the blogs and see a picture and a little bit of the post and see if it is one I want to read. This blog hop will let you quickly “hop” through a bunch of teaching blogs and see which ones you’d like to follow. See you there!
A few weeks ago, I started a linky on my blog for links to tutorials that you’ve used to add things to your blog. There were only a few who participated. I was really hoping to find a good facebook pop-up box. I’ve also debated (with myself!) about even having a pop-up box. I find them totally annoying, but it is a reminder that the blog has a facebook page. I don’t mind a single pop-up box that is easy to close and will only pop-up once so I decided to try it. I found a tutorial that was very complicated and then didn’t work for me — obviously, I messed up one of the 1,000 steps! 🙂 So, I was really hoping that someone would link to a good one– no such luck! Well, today I found one and it is SUPER easy and you just have to chance one part of the code so that it links to your facebook page! Here is the link for that one: Facebook Pop-up for Blogger
ADD A BLOGLOVIN’ BUTTON TO EVERY POST
See the bloglovin’ button at the bottom of this post? I just added that feature yesterday and today is my first post with it! It’s pretty easy. This tutorial will work to put any image (with a link) into the bottom of each post — might be a good way to link to your TPT store! You just need to save the button as an image and upload it to a picture host… Well, why don’t you just read these steps:
1) Get a bloglovin’ image — I just right clicked and saved this one from their website. You can go there or save the one I have to your computer.
2) Save the picture to an image hosting service that will let you link to it. I use picasaweb. I always have difficulty getting to the link for the picture after I’ve downloaded it so I’m putting the info. here. If you are using another hosting service or know how to do this just skip ahead to #3.
- Select the image
- On the right sidebar, click on link to this image
- Check the box for image only
- Copy the link that is shown for embed image
3) Enter the link for the picture into this code. Replace the 2nd pink link with your link (it’s the one after IMG which stands for image). Make sure the quotation marks stay there – they’re essential!
4) Go to bloglovin’ and copy the link to your blog. Just search for your blog and click on the link. You’ll now see your blog name and a list of your latest posts. Then just click and save the link that is in the address bar. Use this link to replace the 1st pink link in the above code. Again, keep the quotation marks.
5. That was the hard part! Now, you just need to get YOUR code into your blog and it just takes 3 easy clicks. Login to blogger and go to —> settings—>posts and comments. Add your code to the post template box.
ADD A SIGNATURE TO EVERY POST
1) Create your signature. You can sign and scan it in as an image or use an online signature creator. There’s a Signature Creator Wizard at MyLiveSignature.
2) Use the steps above (for adding bloglovin’) and save the signature online and create a link.
3) Replace the 2 links below (after the pink href=) with your link.
4) Follow Step 5 above (for adding bloglovin’) to put it into your blog post signature.