Monday, March 21, 2016

If You Don't Want Instagram to Decide for You

By now you've heard or read about the changes coming to Instagram in the coming months. Here's what Instagram had to say about it:
Instagram Will Make Decisions for You, Like It or Not
"The order of photos and videos in your feed will be based on the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content, your relationship with the person posting and the timeliness of the post. As we begin, we’re focusing on optimizing the order — all the posts will still be there, just in a different order.
If your favorite musician shares a video from last night’s concert, it will be waiting for you when you wake up, no matter how many accounts you follow or what time zone you live in. And when your best friend posts a photo of her new puppy, you won’t miss it.
We’re going to take time to get this right and listen to your feedback along the way. You’ll see this new experience in the coming months."
Does this sound familiar? That's because Facebook used similar language when it switched your feed to one based on an algorithm, starting a few months ago. They said you would see less "spam" in your feed as a result of the change, but that you would still see posts from people you follow and like. If that was not your experience, or If you didn't like the changes for other reasons, you might have hopped over to Instagram to escape them. I know I did.
Unfortunately, Instagram is owned by Facebook. Just like Facebook started editing our feeds, Instagram soon will, too. That is, unless enough people sign this petition to make them stop and take notice. Maybe we can convince them to leave the Instagram feeds alone. I've heard of many companies changing their minds about their plans or actions, based on these petitions on
If you would like to convince the powers that be at Facebook and Instagram to leave your feed in chronological order, please click on this link, or on the Instagram photo/caption above. You'll be taken to the petition asking that Instagram leave your feed the way it is now, or at least let you decide what you want to see, instead of making that decision for you.
Thanks for helping bring about positive change in the world!
"See you" next time,

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Enormously Improved and Creative!

I'm so excited to see new technology being used! It can lead to marvelous improvements, especially when creatively used by inspired people!

My New Store Front
I already had a logo and store banner created by Laine, from A Little Peace of Africa. (She also designed this blog, obviously. :) I had recently seen rotating quote area presentations in some stores on TpT, but it wasn't until recently that I found out that Laine had begun designing these, too!

Math Slide

The pictures hardly do these designs justice, though. You have to see the presentation in action to fully appreciate the genius here. Each letter and graphic appears one at a time, until the entire slide is complete. Then the presentation shifts to the next slide. It's really cool to watch!

Social Studies Slide
It's kind of hypnotic to watch, LOL! If you want one of your own, just contact Laine and ask her to fit you in to her schedule. I only had to wait a week, and I'm extremely happy with her creations!

Thanks for visiting!

"See you" next time!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Healing Hearts for Carina

" I wish you could meet my friend Carina. Vibrant is the perfect word to describe her. She is the one that everyone always wants to have as a friend, and the teacher that everyone wants in their grade level. She is an amazing mom and a fabulous wife. She is kind and thoughtful beyond measure.
Tornero Family Fundraiser

Carina and her sweet little family are going through the most heart-breaking of times as they deal with the loss of their baby girl, Chloe, who passed away very unexpectedly. As you can imagine, this is an excruciatingly painful time for them.

On top of all of the medical expenses, Carina is facing her own health issues, and the bills are mounting. My goal is to completely eradicate all of the bills.

I know that nothing can replace the loss that this family is dealing with, but this is what I, along with the help of so many generous sellers and buyers, can do to help.

Thank you so very much to all of the Teachers Pay Teachers sellers who have reached out with kind words and support and who have donated products for these bundles. Without them, this fundraiser would not be possible."

One of the unique blessings that comes with being a TpT seller is the opportunity to give back to the community by donating proceeds from popular products to a good cause. I am grateful to help this family in any way I can. Donating my product was such an easy thing to do for a family in need. You can help, too.

Click on the link to the bundle that matches your grade level. Take a look at the preview for the bundle. If it's something that would benefit you and your classroom, I hope you will make a purchase. Each bundle is worth almost $100.00 is the items were purchased separately, but is on sale for only $30.00. That's a savings for you of almost $70.00. Every penny of the purchase price will go to help the family in need, too.

Take a look at the following bundles by clicking on the picture.

K-1 Bundle Set #1

You will find the following products included in this bundle:

K-1 Bundle Set #2

Grades 2-3 Bundle Set #1

Grades 2-3 Bundle Set #2

Grades 4-5 Bundle

Clipart Bundle
You will find the following products included in this bundle:

I hope you find something that works for your classroom. Thank you for taking the time to help this family.

How to Create QR Codes for Free

I love free stuff, and I think most people do, too. Last time I wrote a post about Ten Ways to Use QR Codes in Your Classroom to make teaching easier. Hopefully you've played around with the technology a bit now, and you're ready to try using it in your room. This post will help you do that, and it's super easy.

First, open the following website by clicking on the highlighted words in this sentence, or on the picture's caption. 

Click Here to Open QR
Follow the numbered directions to create your QR code, starting with #1: Data Type. I chose to link to a website, but you can choose anything from the list. The following picture shows this highlighted in red.

Choose Your Data Type
Next, open a new tab on your computer and go to the site for which you want to create a QR code. For this example, I am going to create a link to Kiddle, which is Google's new image search engine for kids. Here's what the site looks like. (You can check it out by clicking on the caption, if you want.) 

Kiddle Safe for Kids
Next I'm going to highlight and copy the URL of the site, which is shown at the top of the next photo.

Copy the URL
Go back to the tab with QR Stuff open. Paste the URL you just copied into the box on step #2, like this.

Paste the URL Here
If you are using this site for business, you can sign up for tracking to find out how many people use the QR code. Click here if that's you. (Otherwise, don't worry about it.)

URL Shortener for Business Tracking
If you want your QR code to be in a color other than black, you can choose other colors on Step #3. If not, skip to the last step.

Want a Different Color QR Code?
Now your code is ready. Click the "Download QR Code" button for your free QR code. 

Click "Download Now" to Get Your Free QR Code
It should appear almost instantly on your screen, like this:
You Free QR Code Will Appear on Your Screen

I suggest you rename the code, so that you can easily find it again later. Just double-click on the current name and type the name you want. I always leave the part that says, "qrcode" so I can search for them easily on my computer.

Press "Enter" to keep the new name.

Now that you have your free new QR code, how do you print it and use it? Simple.

First, open your favorite word processing or presentation software. I like PowerPoint for its ease of use. Add a text box and/or type your instructions. For this example, I'm just going to keep it simple.

Type Title and Directions into Your Document
Next, add the QR code. In PowerPoint I click on "Insert Picture" or "Insert Photo." 
Click on "Insert Picture"
Then I click "Picture from File" in the drop-down menu. 
Click on "Picture from File"
I click on "Downloads." Then I find the file name I created and double-click on it to add it to my PowerPoint.
Follow These Steps to Add the QR Code to Your Document

If I want to change the size, I left-click on the QR code and then click on "Format" in the drop-down menu.
Lets-click to adjust the Size of the QR Code

In the new pop-up menu, click on "Size," and make sure that the aspect ratio is set to "Lock." Then use the arrow keys to adjust the QR code to the size you want. Then click "OK."
Follow the Steps to Adjust the Size
If your QR code is not centered, simply click and drag to the desired location.

Finally, save your document, print, and post in your room. It's ready for your students to use!
Print Your Finished Document!
I hope you have enjoyed reading about creating your own QR codes for free. If you do this for all the Internet sites you want your students to use, you will save yourself oodles of time in your classroom, plus you'll have far fewer interruptions during center time. 

I would love to hear your experiences with QR codes, or any suggestions you might have for future posts. Please leave a comment below.

"See you" next time!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ten Ways to Use QR Codes in Your Classroom!

You've seen them: those weird-looking black and white computer-generated maze-looking thing-a-muh-bobs. You've heard other teachers extoll their virtues. Maybe you've even been asked at district trainings to use them in your classroom. However, it's one thing to hear about QR codes. It's quite another to use them and be comfortable with the experience. Once you understand them and use them, you'll wonder how you ever taught without them.

10 Ways to Use QR Codes in Your Classroom
In this post I'm going to talk about ten different ways you can use QR codes in your classroom to make your teaching life easier. Yep, that's right, easier! Bookmark this page to refer to as you begin the process. You'll be glad you did.

Okay, I get it. Starting anything new in the middle of the year is scary. You think you don't have the time, and what if it doesn't work? You're already tired and you just want a break. That's why the timing of this post is perfect. Spring Break is coming up for most teachers. State testing has already begun or is about to start. During your downtime, get some rest, and then start exploring something that will make your life easier in the long run. Trust me.

First, you will need to download a QR code reader from the app store. There are many free QR code readers out there. Here's a picture of the one I have on my phone.
QR Code Reader Available Free on the App Store
Once you have downloaded one of the free QR Code Reader Apps, play with it. Scan a few codes to become familiar with the process. You need to become comfortable with the technology before you will be willing to install it in your classroom, which is your home away from home. Here are a few of my own QR codes for you to scan with your new app, to show you how easy it is to use. 
My Instagram Page
Simply open the QR code reader app on your phone. You will see something that looks like this: 

Photo Taken from My Phone with QR Code Reader App Open
See those four white corners? Those are your guidelines. Now move your phone so those guidelines are around any of the the QR codes on this page. Here's a YouTube video I found which explains the process, too.

If the app is working properly, you will instantly be taken to the web page to which the code has been linked. Pretty cool, huh!

My Facebook Page
As cool as this is, how is it going to make your teaching life easier, you wonder? Here's how.

The first reason I decided to use QR codes in my classroom was to free up my time during guided reading groups. I wanted to use my classroom computers as a center, but I was ALWAYS interrupted by students who needed help getting to the appropriate web sites, whether it was for research, instructional videos, or math games. Even though I had the website addresses posted next to each station, my students mistyped the addresses. Every. Single. Time. It was so-o-o-o- frustrating!

Long Internet Addresses Can Be Difficult for Students to Type
The solution to this problem was to use QR codes! Instead of typing up and printing out the web sites for my students, I decided to print out the matching QR codes. Students simply opened the QR code reader apps, focused on the QR code, and were instantly transported to the appropriate website. 
Kiddle: a New Visual Search Engine for Kids (from the creators of Google)
No more students interrupting me for help to get to the correct website, or worse, sitting and doing nothing because they couldn't do the work they were supposed to do!

No More Interruptions During Guided Reading Groups!
Another way to use QR codes is to have a "book" of QR codes next to suggested activities, so that your early finishers can choose their own extension activities from a list you provide. These codes could lead to reading activities, games, videos, Google Docs, you name it. If it is internet-accessible, you can use a QR code to link to it! Plus, you can change these "books" with new links as often as you need!
Students Working Independently on Computers
A third way to use QR codes can help you differentiate your instruction. Tape Qr codes to your whiteboard or place them in a center chart and have each group, or even each student, scan their own codes to lead to their own different assignments. 

Use Qr Codes to Differentiate Instruction
These girls are using QR codes to learn how to use the other technology set up in their classroom.

Use QR Codes for Digital Instructions
Want students to interact with their classroom environment? Place QR codes on pictures or on posters around the room. Students scan the codes to watch a short video or hear narration related to the visual.

You can use QR codes in a listening center with a story to aid in comprehension of the text. Either link to the story being read on YouTube by someone else, or create your own audio file.

Use QR Codes to Link to Audio Files for Listening Centers
These students are recording their radio show project digitally. That way they can practice until they get it right, or edit it digitally. Once the project is completed to their satisfaction, they can link to it using a QR code.

Use a QR Code to Link to a Digital Project
Once recorded and linked, these projects can be viewed over and over again using the QR codes. Post the codes around your room at Open House and have parents use their phones to view them! This example is from a museum:

Parents Use QR Codes to Access Student Projects
Do you have a weekly or monthly newsletter for your classroom? Your principal will be really impressed if you attach QR codes with links to homework websites, like Khan Academy (Math) or Flocabulary (videos, songs, and activities across the curriculum).
Khan Academy Provides Free Math Homework Help
Flocabulary Has Free Songs and Activities to Enrich Your Curriculum
Do you keep a portfolio for your students to show growth throughout the year? Assign each student their own QR code to access their own online file, and have them share it with parents at home.

I saw a post a few days ago where a teacher shared that she uses QR codes to track homework. Every day that a student doesn't turn in their homework, they are required to scan the QR code, which takes them to a Google Doc. Once there, they click on the current day, creating a digital trail and proof that they know they did not turn in the work.

Terrific Blog Post About Using QR Codes to Track Homework
You'll notice the above picture has the QR code crossed out. That's just so that you don't accidentally go into her classroom data. :)

There is no end to using QR codes in your classroom. You can use them on worksheets. You can use them on business cards. Here's an example.

I Have QR Codes for Multiple Sites on My Business Cards

You can use them on your next resume to link to a virtual portfolio about you, your teaching methods, and your classroom. The possibilities are endless!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Make sure to follow my blog to see more posts like this. Join me next time to learn how to create QR codes to link to any internet site in an instant. It's easier than you think!

Have a lovely week. "See you" next time!
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