A New Day of Learning: February 2016

Saturday, February 27, 2016

13 Clip Art FREEBIES

If you are anything like me, you are a sucker for anything that is cute, free, and will help you make colorful and interesting items for your classroom! I have an embarrassingly large collection of clip art and a lot of I found for free! Since I have been a clip art connoisseur for awhile, I thought I would share some of my favorite spots to get free clip art!  Be sure you check each designer's terms of use before using their products.

It is no secret that Educlips is one of my favorite places to get clip art! I own way more than I care to admit! I love it because it is bright, detailed and the color palettes are always spot on.  You can see what I mean by checking out this freebie made with Educlips clipart. 
These cute frames from Ashley Hughes are so cute for making alphabet headers for word walls, labeling cubbies or coat hooks, or adorning the covers of binders and product covers.  My good friend, Theresa, at Trifecta Book Reviews, used these on the cover of one of her literature units. Adorable! 

This kit is seriously adorable and filled with coordinating papers, frames, and ribbons.  I love the bright colors and all the patterns! You can download this mega awesome pack from Instruct and Inspire

This super sweet mini-set is from I Teach What's Your Superpower. I love all of the elements that come with it including the banner, the frames, washi tape, ribbon, and the paper. I could see these being used to make digital cards or for designing your next classroom theme.  So cute!

This cute set just screams summer! Offered as a freebie from A Little Piece of Africa, it features all the clip-art you need to do a lemonade stand themed party or resource.  The summery colors are just right to get you out of a winter funk!

Sonya DeHart is another one of my go to ladies for digital paper.  Can you believe she is giving away 100 papers for free? Amazing! You can't go wrong with a classy colors like black and white.  

# 7 - Summer Fun
When I came across this set from P4Clips, I immediately fell in love with all of the beachy elements. You can see what I designed with it here and here. This set would be awesome as embellishments to summer photos!

I chose to share these mugs with you because you just never know when you are going to need a cup of coffee to adorn a thank you card or attach to a gift certificate for your favorite teaching buddy.  I love the variety of sizes and colors in this set from Lockless Creations.

# 9 - Candy Floss Design Kit
Sculpt Designs brings us the next freebie. As a math specialist, I particularly love the number paper and will have to incorporate it into an upcoming project! I also adore the whimsical swirly paper! I guess by now you can tell how much I love bright colors, too!

# 10 - Navy and Coral Paper Set
This super trendy set is compliments of Teresa Lewis.  I adore navy and coral together and to get 27 different papers is a real treat!

# 11 - Back to School Bundle
Artifex designed this back to school set that comes in color and in black and white. Sweet little kids with missing teeth, stacks of books, erasers, pencils and apples make this a quintessential back to school set.

# 12 - Tartan Plaid Digital Paper
This is my first attempt at creating digital paper.  This is my second. It really is fun to experiment with all the different colors and ways to get effects.  Hope you can use the freebie!

# 13 - Patriotic Themed Digital Papers
Since this is number thirteen on the list, I decided to go with this patriotic sampler from Little Miss i. This pack is perfect for Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Veteran's Day.

I hope that you found some new goodies.  Please remember to be kind and leave feedback if you download the freebies.  I am always on the look out for new freebies and clip art designers.  Give a shout out in the comments if you have any favorites!

Who are your favorite designers?
What is a great freebie you have found?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

10 Ways to use ThingLink

What is ThingLink?

ThingLink is a platform for creating interactive images and videos for web, social, advertising, and educational channels.  It allows you to make your images come alive with video, text, images, and music.  ThingLink works as an app or in a browser which is great for classrooms that have iPads or Chromebook type computers. 

Would you like to see what I mean?  Click on the image below to take you a ThingLink I made full of examples of how teachers are using ThingLink in their content areas. Trust me - you will want to check it out because these examples will get your creative juices flowing!

#1 -  Getting to Know You

Have students take a picture of themselves or draw a self-portrait and then have them tag the image with interesting things about themselves.  They could include: favorite band/song, book, maps of places they have visited, hobbies, career aspirations, etc.  This would be a great way for students to get to know each other when working on establishing a classroom community.  You can check out the one I started here: Getting to Know Mrs. Kabdi

#2 - Identify Parts 

Consider using ThingLink in place of a quiz by having students tag an image with the parts of something.  In an tech ed class, you might have them label the parts of an engine.  In a computer class, you might have them label the parts of a toolbar and tell what they mean.  In a science class, you might have them label the parts of a plant, the water cycle, the periodic table, or the layers of the Earth.  Layers of the Earth Example

#3 - Interactive Reports

Have students choose an image that represents a topic they are studying (be careful of copyrights) and then have them tag the image with their research.  This could include sound clips, videos, summaries of a written paper, podcasts, or even google docs they have written.  Martin Luther King Jr. Example

#4 - Communicate with Parents

Do you ever have trouble getting parents to read your newsletters?  Consider making a ThingLink to show off what the students learned this week.  You could take a picture of their post-note exit tickets and tag them with the names of the students. You could even start your year off by letting students and parents know what to expect in your class. Welcome to 4th Grade Example

#5 - Interactive Bulletin Boards

Take a picture of your bulletin board showcasing the work your students did and tag it with videos of each student reading.  Send the link to parents to show them the progress their child is making.  You can even take a picture of your bulletin board to introduce new content to your students.  Think about introducing vocabulary words, having students watch a video, or activating background knowledge by having students explore a ThingLink at home, during centers, or after they finish other work.  This will help make the most of your instructional time when you are ready to teach.  Technology Bulletin Board Example

#6 - Progress Monitoring

Take a picture of your student and then tag the image with audio or video of the student reading at the beginning of the year and then update it monthly or before each time you meet with parents. Wouldn't it be neat to watch your students progress on mastering a skill in phy-ed? How about a musical instrument? To protect student privacy, I am not including an example, but I think you can see how powerful a timeline of progress would be for the parents and the student. 

#7 - Book Talks

This is a great way to get students talking about the books they have read.  They can make recommendations to their friends, or they can report out on the things on the rubric you provide them. You can then turn the link the to ThingLink into a QR code and tape it to the cover of the book.  Display them in your classroom and students will have instant access to a peer review of a book they might be interested in reading! A View From Saturday Example

#8 - Photo Collages

Using photo collages is a great way to introduce content in a timeline format.  You could put together a timeline of famous artists or musicians, or even a timeline of when the states were added to the union.  You could have students tag each picture with dates or relevant videos.  A photo collage is a great way to keep your students and parents in the loop with which apps you are using the classroom with a short description explaining the purpose.  You could even make a photo collage of your classroom to send home to students before the start of the year to get them excited about coming back.  Technology Example Classroom Tour Example Timeline Example

#9 -  Make Art Talk

I love this idea for art shows! Have students take a picture of their art and then tag it with the story behind their piece.  They can talk about their design process, mediums, and revisions.  Embed the ThingLink link in a QR code and put it next to the art and now the show becomes interactive! Students can also showcase their knowledge of different forms of art through their drawing and it can be used as an assessment. Art Example

#10 - Vocabulary

Turn learning vocabulary into a multimedia experience! You and students can tag each image of the word with the audio file of the pronunciation of the word, a link to the word being used in a sentence, a photo or video demonstrating the word, or a dictionary definition.  Students could present their word to the class or add their tag to a picture of the class word wall. Vocabulary Example

I hope you got some ideas about how to use ThingLink in your classroom and it got your creative juices flowing! I am doing a training this upcoming week for the teachers in my district and I can't wait to see what ideas they will come up with to use ThingLink with their students.  If you need more ideas, check out this resource, which was the inspiration behind my post. 

How will you use ThingLink in your classroom?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Thank You to All Teachers

Right click and hit Save As Image to save this picture
 and give to a teacher who teachers from the heart! 

Dear Teachers,

One thank you doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of how much you are appreciated.  I know that you spend hours lesson planning, and preparing and organizing materials.  I know that you take time out of your day to mentor other teachers, read books that will help you grow, attend staff meetings, grade level team meetings, PLCs, and IEPs -most of which take place during your few minutes of prep.  

However, more important than all of those tasks, is the time you put in building relationships with the children in your building.  We are all in this together and I know you recognize that all the kids are "our kids".  Sometimes that means helping a student from another class when he is having a meltdown, or when you find him crying outside of the bathroom.  Sometimes it means adding another teacher's class to your own, or covering a lunch or recess duty so they can attend to a student.  

You see, the content you teach is important, but the time that you put into building up our young people, giving them the strength and courage to try, and the feedback to learn from mistakes is your most important work. The best teachers, teachers like you, teach from the heart. 

Right click and hit Save As Image to Save this picture and give 
to an amazing educator.

Thank you for being an amazing educator! Your hard work and dedication to one of the most difficult professions does not go unnoticed! You are valued and appreciated! 

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Success From Failure

This post contains affiliate links.  See disclaimer. 

 Last week, I took my son ice skating.  While I was there, I watched a little boy try to ice skate for the first time.  Do you remember what it was like when you learned how to ice skate?  I bet the experience went something like this - put on skates, take one step on the ice, fall, get back up, "walk" in skates on the ice, fall again, realize how bad your feet hurt, continue walking, fall, and realize that your feet still hurt and now so does your bottom.  The outcome of all of this was eventually learning to skate.

For this boy, the experience was very similar, except for he only fell once,  didn't learn to skate, and doesn't want to go back.  Why was he so afraid to let go of the crates that he was pushing around? Fear of Failure.  It is something we have all had to work through before. How do we let kids know it is okay and necessary to fail? How do we help kids learn from their failures?

It is all about how we react to our own failures and how we react when our kids fails.  Take a look at this video:  http://bit.ly/1PtUijc   What do you notice happens when the kid fails?  Amazing responses from the adults, right?  This is an example of a growth mindsets in action.  People with growth mindsets see mistakes as an opportunity and as a necessity to move forward.  They know that people who work hard and put forth effort can be more successful than people who possess raw talent that don't try.  How can we facilitate growth mindsets in our classrooms and homes?

This is a HUGE question and much research has been done on it.  Carol Dweck released a book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success in 2006 and Mary Cay Ricci has a wonderful book called Mindsets in the Classroom: Building a Culture of Success and Student Achievement in Schools, which is an easy read that has a companion guide of activities to do in your classroom called Ready-to-Use Resources for Mindsets in the Classroom: Everything Educators Need for School Success.  The classroom guides help you lead students through examples of products that were invented by mistake and you talk about people who never gave up and as a result of their hard work and effort contributed amazing discoveries and inventions to society!

To help you facilitate discussions about persevering through failure, here are some FREE growth mindset posters! Enjoy! Click on the picture above to get them from the Teachers Pay Teachers store, or you can download them from Google.

You might also like these FREE posters with my favorite quote!

What are you favorite growth mindset activities?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Start Coding with Kids

Have you thought about what jobs will exist in the next twenty years?  It is hard to think about because many of those jobs do not even exist yet! According to code.org, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts that there will be over 1 million computing job openings by 2024.  A computer science major can earn up to 40% than the average college graduate! Who wouldn't want that for their students and children? Keep reading for some tips to introduce coding to kids.

It is okay if you don’t know how to code.  (Repeat that to yourself. It’s really okay!) You can learn the programs that your children are using right along with them.  As you learn, try to resist the urge to hover over them and make suggestions about how you would do it.  If you are just one step ahead, you can show them something neat you learned how to do and then walk away.  They will probably try it out as soon as you’re not looking!

Do some research on apps that you think your children would like.  Fair Warning: Many of these are addicting for adults! You may find yourself considering a career switch to computer science! HA!  Here are some of my favorites with appropriate ages. 
    1. Code Studio - All Ages
    2. Lightbot Jr. and Lightbot -  Ages 4-8 and 9+
    3. Daisy the Dinosaur - Ages 4-6
    4. Scratch Jr. and Scratch - Ages 5-7 and 8+
    5. Cargo-Bot - Ages 7+
There are MANY more options, but this should be enough to get you started!

As you talk about coding with children, the goal should never be to learn to program.  Instead, focus on creating.  Ask questions like:       

  • What would you like to make?
  • What could we create to solve the problem?
  • What ideas do you have to make “it” work?

When you put the focus on creating, children see it as play.  What they don’t know is that you are preparing them to be creative problem solvers!

Coding can look different for each child.  The key is find out what they are interested in and then match the program to the child.  Children can learn to code using Minecraft, Frozen, dinosaurs, and robots - just to name a few.  When children are engaged in a topic they are passionate about, learning is fun - and that’s the goal, isn’t it?

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is get out of their way. Never underestimate the complexity that children can tackle.  I find that a lot children know how to approach technology that is new to them.  Many will use a trial and error method and figure out how an app works quicker than I could explain it.  So, as hard as it is, plant the seed and then get out of the way!

Hopefully you found some inspiration and courage to introduce a child you know to coding! If you need me, I'll be hiding out somewhere trying to master the next level of Lightbot! 

What are your favorite apps for teaching kids to code?

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