Friday, December 6, 2013

Glogster Contest

I'm a bit behind in posting anything.  We've been busy here.  November, it was Chase's birthday followed by a 4 day power outage.  Which meant restocking the refrigerator.  Then, of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas shopping (we did Cyber Monday, no way we were stepping out on Black Friday).  So, now time to get back to maintaining the blog.

We've switched to a more relaxed 'class' where he works on a clipboard in a comfy chair instead of always at his desk.  He seems happier with that.  Legos have become a good educational tool.  During the power outage, we worked hard on assembling some of the Lego kits he got for his birthday.  And he was doing a superb job of following directions and staying on task.

Onto this Glogster Contest.  It is a chance to win $1,000 cash for your class.  Your students can participate as well.  You submit a Glog to their contest by tagging it.  Please RT my twitter status and possibly win a Glogster license.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Velveteen Digital Paper Pack

Velveteen Digital Paper Pack on TpT
Velveteen is the new digital paper pack now available in my TeacherspayTeachers store.  This features 8 richly textured 12x12 papers.  Each are 300dpi, suitable for printing or digital layouts.  These papers have a gothic/steampunk influence.  The textures come from my own stock, combined to make a unique texture.

Creating Seamless Textures 

I used 4 stock textures I've made to create a layered effect.  First, I made each texture into a seamless pattern in PhotoShop.  There's two ways I generally do this, usually I can get away with the easier method.  I open my file in PS and create a copy from the background layer so I have my original to work from.  I make a second copy.  On the top layer copy I go to filters and choose Offset.

I go 50% on both axis or one at a time is easier, since I may repeat these steps several times to get a smooth texture.

So easy no hassle method...  I use this for textures that the lines are not precise and can easily blend.  We just need to get rid of the edges.  I click on my layer, which now has a sharp line (or two) visible in the center.  I use a rectangle selection tool to select that area, then invert my selection.  You can feather the selection at this point, however the gradient isn't very smooth.  Then click the Layer Mask icon at the bottom of the layers panel (or go to the Layer menu to add a mask).  This will make a big gap in the middle where the line once was, and you will see the layer below.  Now we will need to smoothly make a gradient.

Use the gradient tool with the gradient set to solid to transparent.  Select 'reflective' to do just the edge, and shift+drag your tool across the edges of the masked area.  Use white to reveal and black to hide.  Blending should be smooth so you cannot see any sharp edges.  You can now merge copy 2 and copy 1.  If you did horizontal and vertical separately, then duplicate your layer again and offset and mask and blend.  Otherwise, your layer should be completely seamless.  You can run the offset again to test this.

To set it as a pattern, simply go to the Edit menu and select "define pattern".  Name your pattern something easy to remember.  You can go into the preset manager later to remove or save your patterns.  I no longer need this work file and do not save any changes, I just close it and go to my digital scrapbook page instead.
Create a new file, 12"x12" at 300 dpi for printing.  I like to work on a transparent bg, but it really doesn't matter for our purposes.  I create a new layer for each texture and name them accordingly.  Simply fill each layer with the patterns I created and it will fill to the size of the document.

Preparing the Digital Paper

I've desaturated each layer so I won't have any strange coloration effects when I add my colors.  As you see by the names of each layer, you can find some wonderful textures on everyday household items, so long as you have either a good camera or a decent scanner to pick up all your bumps and patterns.

Tiling patterns work best with a large image to avoid repetitive patterns.  The dryer sheet was a small file, so zoomed out, it's pattern is discernible.  Ideally, you will not be able to notice any patterns.

I adjust the layer blending style for each layer as I see fit to get the effect I want.  Adjusting opacity and layer orders.  I have them all i n a group so I can duplicate the entire group, hiding the originals.  I always do this to avoid mistakes.  Also, save often.  Now is a good time to.

Adding Color Effects

Now, here comes the fun part.  Adding color and effects.  I do this via the fill or adjustment layer button beside the layer mask button.  It looks like a half white, half black circle.  This pops up a huge menu of choices, but we'll just go with a solid color.  It gives you a color picker, or you can input the hex code for your color.  The whole screen will turn that color.  Choose color blend from the blending options to make the bottom layers your new color.  You may need to adjust opacity or switch to a different blend mode if the effect is not what you are looking for.  Repeat this with any other colors, toggling the visibility off of previous color layers.  In my example below, I added a brightness adjustment layer to lighten up some of my dark greys.  I also made some gradient color splash layers for an added effect.  You'll see the layer mask for these have white to black gradients.

Finishing Touches

Now, go ahead and save again for good measure.  And make a duplicate of all your visible layers used for each paper and merge the duplicates.  Repeat for each version.  I have 8 versions in my example.  I wanted to add a vignette to the edges, which I did a very simple one.  I added a new adjustment layer above all the layers, set to exposure.  I added the gamma and subtracted the exposure.  Then I selected my entire document and shrunk the selection a bit for a nice border.  I feathered the selection and filled it with black to clear out the center, leaving only the edges.  I came in with a brush to add/subtract as I wanted, then blurred it for a smoother effect.  Once finished, save your PSD again.

Saving the Papers

Toggle on the paper you wish to save and hide the rest.  Choose "Save for web" instead of regular saving.  This gives you an optimized file size that is still high quality.  If you were printing enlargements, you could just save each as a jpg, but I prefer to optimize.  Choose jpeg, quality should be the minimal 'high' setting and optimized.  You'll see the file size in the preview window.  Click save and name your file.  Repeat for each paper.

Ms. Gillian Ivy's Class

Ms. Gillian Ivy's Class

The Classroom site is up and running.  We're using Google Sites, as that seemed the easiest as far as handling things like privacy and connection to the blogs.  Though the RSS feeds aren't as easily embedded as I would have hoped with both of them being Google.  And I couldn't find a decent widget to work with their sites.  So many codes like javascript do not work there.

So, here is how I'll be running it.  I'll have my blog here where I'll host my TpT items and just general about homeschool.  The assignments, etc for Chase to read will be on the class blog.  And he will have his blog that I co-admin to post his assignments to.

I'm nearly finished designing his blog.  It is red and dark themed as well, though not as dark as here.  His has a screenshot from one of his favorite games to play, Sanctum 2.  I'll have to teach him how to easily swap his backgrounds when he wants to change them.

In order for the RSS feed to work from his blog to the class blog, his blog is Public, however it is not listed on Google's blog lists.  Also, commenting is restricted and will go through me.  His online persona is XtroyX0r because he used to say 'Xtroy' instead of 'Destroy'.  And it's a cool name!  Obviously, he loves action and fighting games where destruction is a goal.  If you like Shooter/Tower Defense games, then Sanctum 2 is definitely recommended.  I used its mapping for Chase's class one day, with him designing a defense.  Well, here is XtroyX0r's Blog.  Unsure if he'll want to rename it.
XtroyX0r's Blog

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Chasing Grades Redux

I've just finished a complete overhaul of the blog template.  I really loathe using default templates.  The bg is two textures I've made tweaked a bit and made tiling, then added a bit off CSS to fine tune the theme.  I love coding.  Had been meaning to do this for a while but hadn't really decided what direction I wanted to go.  I wanted to reflect my style and aesthetics a bit.  I'm not into all those hot pink and chevron teacher blogs.

Chase's favorite color is red, so I wanted to add that.  I'm working on a blog design for him as well and a new website to host the 'Class' blog.  I didn't really like KidBlog, though it served its purpose.  They've now updated their plans to actually reduce the things that were free before.  And there is now a premium option for custom blogs.  But we weren't able to post some of the embeds I wanted Chase to learn how to do.  Blogger is way more flexible and offers the same level of privacy.

I'm still tweaking Chase's blog preferences and privacy levels, so I'm not linking to that just yet.  Comments there will be moderated, and he will  be getting another discussion on internet safety, etc.  I want him to be able to use social media fluently, but he won't be allowed a Facebook until he's 13, as Facebook rules allow.

I'm trying to interest him in writing and blogging in different styles, such as audio and video and adding images.  Also, I'll be giving him assignments that teach him how to use the internet as a research tool whilst accrediting sources.  We watched a great video on Brain Pop about copyrights and attribution instead of copy and pasting.  It taught him about paraphrasing, and had a quiz at the end to remind him what everything meant.

Wednesday, I'm planning to do School Pictures.  We need to do something for Grandparents Day as well.  My Mom has been waiting for us to visit for too long.  And she is very sad right now, as her little dog of 13 years just passed away recently.  Borrowing the truck is never an easy feat.  We'll have to come up with something.  Her birthday is coming up soon.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Word Search

Here's a fun little word search generator and database.  I found this in Google Chrome's app store.  You can create your own word list or solve one from their site.  You can list yours publicly, privately, embed on your site or print them out.  Might make a good handout.  You can't edit the grid size though.  So it might be a bit hard for younger kids or those who are not practiced at word searches.  Chase has found them to be daunting tasks and not interested.  I'll probably need to make one using his favorite words like "boom", "gun" and "sword".

Friday, September 6, 2013

Hunting for a Good Book?

Sir Fartsalot
Yesterday I read to Chase from "Sir Fartsalot Hunts the Booger" for his reading 20.  We left off on Chapter 5.  Today, after homeschool was all wrapped up he dove back into the book.  By dinner time, he read to Chapter 10.  He quickly devoured up his mega meal of turkey pepperoni sandwich and yogurt w/banana and sprinkles (I let him choose leftovers or a sandwich) and right back to the book.  And once I'd finished cleaning up and dishes, I'd come to check on him.  Chapter 26!  Wow!  I gleefully told his Dad and Grandpa and Great Grandma and posted how proud I was on Facebook...  And he had finished the book before bedtime with time enough to spare.  So I let him watch the amusing video in this post.  Highly recommend this book.  It is full of laughs and it's a gas.  (totally intentional pun)
He hasn't been getting enough sleep lately and has been giving us a terrible time for school.  It is pulling teeth to get him to brush them.  And getting dressed is a contest of wills.  I'm trying to keep his school work interesting and fun.  A mix of worksheets and hands on learning.  And games.  I'm on a mad search for games.

Mini review of one game.  The Lesson Plan Diva had a nice little "Where the Wild Things Are" book report trivia game modeled after Jeopardy as a freebie.  So I downloaded it.  Chase really enjoyed it, however, there's some flaws.  The answer and question sheets are incorrect.  One of the answers was wrong and the questions don't match the board.  Her stuff looks great, but I'll probably create my own material next time.  I want to make sure the problems and solutions are correct and not have to proofread every question.  There were many great reviews, however none mentioned the errors.  I'll have to give her a precise review, she'd probably want to know there are mistakes.  It is still a great resource and you just have to check the answers real quick before going over with the kids.  Where the Wild Things Are Trivia Game  I cut out the board for Chase's interactive notebook.  And worked out a prize system for his totals.  20 pts = 1 prize, 40 pts = 2 prizes and 100 pts = CANDY!  He liked that.

I mentioned before that I won Mrs. O Knows' giveaway for Trainer's Warehouse's wonderful Quick Response Whiteboards.  They arrived the other day and they are a big hit!  We received the 12 pk which has 4 of each color handle, red, blue and green.  We're keeping half of them.  Chase LOVES them.  We did a spelling/Pictionary inspired game where I would make a drawing and he'd write what it was and we'd flip our boards to see if we had a match and then switch roles.  Today we did some math stories where I presented him with word, number and picture problems and he would solve them on his board.  Then I did a spelling activity where he would pick the correct word to match the picture where I have several variations of a word written down.  (i.e. picture of a fan and choices were fun, fon, fan, fin and fen)  He would write it on his board and we'd flip.

He's been running around drawing on this and carrying them all over the house as a little sign.  I would highly recommend them!  I'll have to post up a picture of them in use some time.  The packaging for them was great, it arrived in a bigger box and padded with paper.  There was a catalog for their other products and website as well as a few free items.  They gifted me a small doodle pad for Chase to fidget and doodle in between working on assignments.  Hopefully, it will save his work from being covered in his wonderful art.  And a certificate/sign display holder that can adhere to the wall.  I'll figure out a use for it.  The whiteboards are available singles or there's snap on handles and other options.  So if a pack of 12 won't suit your needs, there are plenty of options.  The little dry erasers that come with each board are okay, but they leave a fuzz bit behind.  I end up wiping it down with a baby wipe afterwards to clean up remaining marks and fuzz.  I have heard using WD-40 will make your dry erase boards perform better and clean up easier.  I'll have to give it a try.  It is something I found on Pinterest...  ;P

Another very exciting thing, at least to me, since teaching is very exciting to me!...  Humanist Homeschoolers, will be lending us a Social Studies textbook for First Graders.  They're a secular free resources for homeschool provider.  They receive support via donations.  I'd like to thank everyone who donated books to them so my son can have a better education.  There isn't a 1st grade common core standard, but I want to keep him on par with his peers.  I'd been alternating between Geography, Biographies of Historical figures, Current Events and local/US histories, etc.  Now, I need science, which HH recommended Classic Science: Elementary Life Science as a free curriculum.  I'm excited to have a great start to his school year.

I absolutely gushed and fawned over his reading skills tonight, I hope he feels proud of himself.  He says he didn't have trouble with a single word, and it is the first chapter book he ever read by himself.  Maybe he won't feel so daunted by books like Harry Potter, since they have so few pictures.  This one had pictures every few pages or small pictures in the text.  But way more text than illustration.  He also admired the fonts and design of the cover art, saying how the black and grey border go nice together and he likes the color of the dragon, and color scheme.  I would have to agree.  Looks like he has an eye for design.  ;)
215 page Chapter book

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Labor Day Weekend

Planning my next exercises for Chase to study throughout the week.  Wanted to do a current event, and there is a lot going on in the news this weekend.  I made a Glog for the Current Events in Syria.  The images in the Glog do not depict the more gruesome details, though the links do go to articles which may have those images posted.  So if you wish to share this with your class, please look through the links first.  They may be more suited to middle school + students than elementary.  I've included a few timeline facts.  No personal opinions are added to this, just facts.  It was hard to find articles with little or no bias.
There's also information about the history of Syria, featuring a Glog about the "Cradle of Civilization".  For my first grader, I'm just having the Glog as a print out for him to learn a few facts from.  The print bg is a bit dark, but otherwise looks alright.  Much better as an interactive learning tool.  I hope others can have more use out of it.  I marked it for all grades, since it is history in the making.

I have Chase's notebooks almost filled for the week's worth of work.  I think I need a reward for that!  I have a gift certificate for Red Robin my Dad bought me for Mother's Day that is burning a hole in my wallet.  I think it is time I demand to go out to eat :D

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Week 1 Impact

My impact report for our first week is up (ignore the school year stats, that isn't right).  He seems to enjoy ScootPad so far.  He is enthusiastic about the practices and likes earning rewards.  And he likes knowing the answers, so far, he has gotten some good marks.

Almost prepared for next week.  Have to put a few more assignments into his notebooking pages.  I've got some great Common Core aligned activities lines up.  I've been using resources mostly from TeachersPayTeachers.  I've been collecting the freebies from the newsletter and clipping what I need for his notebook.

Riddle Me This! Apple Pickin' Edition Freebie from Teacher Bits and Bobs is superb.  I've printed them all smaller so I can fit them in the notebook, then pasted the answers onto the backs of the clues.  This leaves enough room to make a fold flap, which I glue down to his notebook.  Then, under each flap I added an apple fact.

Other recommended resources, Sticky Notes & Glitter, The Lesson Plan Diva, Notebooking Pages, Spoonful, It's the Little Things...  I'll add more links as I come across them.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rebecca Redux

I've finished the coloring of the redesign for one of the Lolli Gang characters.  Here is the new Rebecca.  Now a true Lolita with plaid school girl baby doll dress.  I colored her in a style reminiscent of a t-shirt graphic I made in high school.  Where you use 6 or less colors and layer them on top of each other to get the effect you want.  Here I've used Black, white, red, peach and grey.  I made a greyscaled version as well.

The line art is hand drawn then colored in Photoshop.  I made png files with transparent bgs so she can be used like a sticker.  I'll probably be incorporating this picture into the design of this blog.

Rebecca was the character I related the most to.  She was inspired by Tank Girl but all her own style.  She was a little bit punk and a little bit goth and a little bit of everything she liked.  There wasn't really a central character.  But she was the character that most represented me.  She was fun and obnoxious, she did what she wanted to and always smiled.

It's good to revisit these characters I loved so much but did nothing with.  I had wanted to make a Flash comic, but never did.  I only learned the basics of using Flash anyways.  I really like how she came out.

And the Winner Is....

Me!  I've been entering giveaways like mad lately and by luck, I've won one of the Mrs. O "Knows" giveaways she held for her one year Blogversary.  Congratulations to all of the winners!  I've won a set of Quick Response Whiteboards.

 So what are they?  They are double-sided dry erase boards on a handle.  Great for making quick answers or playing games.  I'll be teeming with ideas of how to use these soon.  Hopefully, it will be a fun exercise for Chase to use this homeschool year.  I think I may donate the rest to his local school, since we'd only need 3 of them at a time.  I don't know what colors we're getting,  I hope red, since it is Chase's favorite color.  I'm partial to red myself ;D

Looks like Trainers Warehouse has a lot of useful and fun teaching peripherals to make school more entertaining.  I'll have to browse through their catalog a little more thoroughly.

Redacted more personal thoughts and posted to my personal blog...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

First week - Midway through

Chase has a strong interest in game development.  So we found this Google Chrome app called Gamestar Mechanic.  It is a fun site that he can make his own maps and level difficulties.  He'll be working on this during computer lab today along with his ScootPad assignments.  This is his reward for following directions and staying on task in class today.

We've been having issues with cooperation, which resulted in him getting computer restrictions.  He has had to earn his free time back.  The last two days without computer has been torturous (for us as well as him), so he is excited about computer lab today.  He has earned his free time after school today, so it should be a good day for me to relax and get more work prepared for the rest of the week.  

Math and Science Notebook
I am out of assignments readied for Math and Language Arts.  We're notebooking for these.  Fo L.A. I've made his reading and comprehension questions more interesting by modeling the stories on his favorite characters and toys.  So far, I have a Lego City story which I used the Lego Comic Builder to make a colorful little comic book to print out and paste into his notebook.  I made a Calvin & Hobbes story for his next day's assignment.  I drew a few frames to paste in and wrote up a summary of the strips.  And Day 3, I made a Ninjago story, paraphrasing some of the world origins from their site.

Fortunately, he has lots of interests, so the list is endless what I can write about.  But I only made 3 days ahead and now I need more assignments!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Classroom Friendly Sharpener Linky

This is a list of several blogs hosting a giveaway for the Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener.  It is supposed to be super quiet, quick and makes perfect pencils.  There's some that have reviews of the product and they seem to have very happy customers on Facebook.  So, I want this.  We have an old school style sharpener that suctions onto the table.  But I hate it, it works fine and all, but it about falls apart and loses suction constantly.  So it is a bit of a hassle.

I've entered all the ones below.  Most use Rafflecopter for entries and have extra chances to enter.  Good luck everyone who enters.  Some of these expire soon.

Pencil Sharpener Giveaways

Rafflecopter Embeds


Saturday, August 17, 2013

Tears and Cheers

So the first day of school was a mix of emotions.  He was kind of combative at first.  We had to do a restart.  He had started gaining then losing behavior rewards before I could even show him what the reward system would be like.

Sokikom and ScootPad are both roaring successes.  He loved the fractions game on Sokikom and said "I love fractions"!  And he eagerly wanted to do the tests/practices on ScootPad once he learned you can earn 50 coins for math and 25 for language arts/reading practices.  And the spelling assignment was 'easy peasy'!  After the student does a few tests the site places them on a learning path to determine their pace and placement.  So the level will be perfectly tailored to him.

And ScootPad allows you to add in your own rewards.  I need to adjust the prices, making sure there are plenty of low priced items.  He really liked the "Stand up and dance" reward/  I played Blue October's Jump Rope song, a favorite of his.  So he got out some sitting at a desk energy and enjoyed himself.

We only did light work today, mostly focusing on getting him familiarized with what programs we'll be utilizing.  After school was over, he still wanted to play on the math games for Sokikom.  ;D  He does love math.  The word problems he kind of balks at, but just straight out equations seem to be no problem.

His overall review of the day, "Boring and fun".

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Freebie - Homeschool Verification

I've just discovered that JoAnn Fabrics has a discount program for teachers called Teacher Rewards.  Excellent!  Well, when you sign up, they want validation that you are a homeschooler.  So, I dug through my e-mails to find the verification code that was sent to me last year.   It was in an ugly e-mail.  So, I've made a handy little card.  Print then cut out, it is business card/credit card sized.  Glue them back to back and laminate.  Or carefully use clear packing tape.  It works to give a little extra protection.  Now, I can bring my card with me and maybe I'll find other teacher discounts everywhere we go.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

BlogLovin' and The Lolli Gang

I've just joined BlogLovin, so need to add my link to it in a blog post.  I've seen a lot of people using BlogLovin, and I might connect my other blogs there as well.  Honestly, I joined because of another giveaway which had BlogLovin following as a required step.  I've missed a few giveaways already because I wasn't signed up. Follow my blog with Bloglovin

So, I'll take this moment to also share the giveaway which brought me to BlogLovin in the first place.  The Primary Chalkboard is a collaboration blog between several teachers/bloggers that focuses on 1st and 2nd grades.  They are having a grand opening giveaway and an awesome back2school e-book freebie that would be a great resource for homeschool and teachers alike.  The focus is on the classroom, but still, lots of great printouts.

I've noticed TpT is seriously lacking in varied artwork of the kids, or at least EVERYONE uses the same styled art for every worksheet you find on there.  So, I'm going to rejuvenate some old characters of mine and make them more age appropriate.  The Lolli Gang was a group of misfit kids, kinda preteen/young teen aged.  A goth/witch girl named Cess Pool, a punk girl named Rebecca but had a rather inappropriate nickname, a sort of art/emo type (made his character before emo's existed) named Skot and a dead (ghost) ska kid who always wore a collared shirt with a tie, his name was Jimmy.  I made these characters in 1999.  I wrote one 'comic book' on notebook paper and using ballpoint (it was my tool of choice back then).  It had a very stylish look to it.  They would have semi childish adventures and a bit of all age clubbing.  Basically, kinda like my teenaged years.  Which would entangle them in mature situations.  For example, the first book, Jimmy died.  But he would return every frame afterwards as a ghost following his friends everywhere.

So, to adapt this idea to a younger audience, I still want them to be misfits, however younger and Jimmy will be an imaginary kid instead of dead.  Don't know if I'll go so far as to make complete stories for them, but I will bring these alternatively styled kids into classroom settings.

Wow, just checked through my entire DeviantART gallery, I thought I had them up there, at least the cover page.  But looks like I never transferred it from my old account, which is now a closed account.  But here is an old scan of Rebecca's character.

Rebecca from Lolli gang by GillianIvy
My style for the strip was a mix between Tank Girl and Johnny the Homicidal Maniac.  I've decided I'm going to steer this blog to be more my style.  I'm not a typical homeschooling Mom.  Even though I dress normal now (or rather don't go out and do anything so wear t-shirt and jeans 24-7 with my hair grown out and naturally colored), I am still the same goth/punk girl I was in high school and throughout my adult life.  I might not go to clubs any more, but I still have the same friends, listen to the same music and love steampunk, goth and punk fashion.  I'm not going to pretend to be some socially acceptable blog mom.

I don't care if I don't make money on TeachersPayTeachers because my stuff isn't normal enough.  I've always done my own thing and that is what I'm still going to do.  And I bet, there's plenty of goth and punk teachers/moms who want stylish resources that don't all look like those big smiley kids.  And I know kids relate to characters rather than big headed stick figures.  I might add a bit more kawaii styling into their designs as well.  I'll probably rename the characters as well, since gangs doesn't sound very good.  The name had a few elements in mind, Lolly, as in under age, lollipops, and lollygagging (funny old word that means dawdling) and gang to mean group.  I'll have to put some thought into it.

I think I'll have to redesign this blog as well.  I really hate this template.  I'm a coder and CSS designer, I should have at least one decent looking blog.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

River of Words Contest 2014

River of Words Contest

This contest is open worldwide for ages 5-19 years old.  Multiple entries are accepted and you can enter as an individual, group or facilitator.  Go to their site for full details.  About 100 finalists and 8 Grand Prize Winners will be selected in April 2014.  A great opportunity for children to have a creative outlet and share their creations.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Audio Glog - Dolch Sight words

Latest Glog.  This one has audio for first grade spelling words.  I used a free text to speech program online to generate the audio files.  The ones on ScootPad allowed download, but for personal use only and not to share.  I didn't want to break their usage licensing.  I could have recorded these myself, but likely, my kid would talk in the background.  Perhaps, as a fun project, I can have him record all the words and spell them out loud.  He loves to record his own voice.  And I can edit the audio files later on.

The words are chosen from the first 4 word lists on ScootPad's Spelling section.  I'm going to use it as an end of the week word review.  To further the exercise, I may have him write a sentence using the words.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Scootpad Fundraiser

I've been adding in more assignments today and fully setting up my Scootpad profile.  So far, I really like this site.  Very clean management and it has core aligned assessments and assignments included.  I'm going to start a fundraiser so we can have the Premium plan all year long.  You start with a trial, which mine ends the second week of school.  The Basic does not include spelling, etc.  But it is a good start for Homeschool plans.  Otherwise, you can go through your school and they can set up a free administrator account.  I set up Three Creeks as my school, as that would be the school Chase would attend if he weren't homeschooling this year.

I was not referred to the site, but one way that you can earn Premium time ($4.99/month) is via referrals.  So, if you already are on Scootpad, I can list you as my referral to help you earn time.  This is a one time offer, since I can only be referred by one person.  If no one requests me, then I'll just make it one of the teachers from my district at random.  Here is my URL if you would like to add me as your referrer: MsGillianIvy.

Okay, so about the fundraiser.  I'll be holding fundraisers throughout the year to help negate costs for homeschool.  I'll be offering things like my artwork, crafts, and maybe mailable baked goods.  I found an awesome cookie that tastes like a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup!  For this fundraiser, I will be offering prints of my artwork 8x10 "Das Faerie Gotik" on donations of $10+.  If donations are higher, then I may add extras into your shipment.  Do not overpay on this fundraiser.  The funds only can be used on this site.  I do not know if funds are transferable to other accounts, etc.  If the goal is reached and you would still like to support us, please check my Etsy store, Miscellaneous Juxtapositions,  for other artworks on sale.

Ms. Gillian Ivy Homeschool Fundraiser

Friday, July 26, 2013

Sokikom Invitation

Gillian invites you to Sokikom for class management.
Join Sokikom for Class Management and Math games
We'll be using Sokikom to encourage good class behaviors with their avatar cash reward system.  Kids can earn rewards via games and being rewarded for good behavior.  I'm inviting friends' and family's kids to join Chase's class to play the games with him.  I will reward them an equal amount of behavior cash each week so they can customize their avatars as well.  If you are interested in having your child join his class, message me privately for an add.

I will need:
  • Your e-mail:
  • Child's name: First Last
  • Login: Nickname
  • Password: *****

Only I will see this information, it should be easy for the child to remember.  I'm only accepting friends and family to participate.  I would like to get to know other homeschooling families in his age group for him to socialize with.  Please feel free to comment and become friends ;D

If you are interested in signing up your own class as either a homeschooler or elementary teacher, it's free and comes with a 2 month trial to the Math Games section.  They have a referral program to extend the trial by a month for each sign up.  Mine ends in September, so please, if you sign up, help me out by extending my time!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Start of Year Welcome

I made a Welcome poster in Glogster, it's set to private, so you'll only see the preview here and the links don't work.  Besides, their embed is kind of a big file.  It's an interactive newsletter welcoming him to the class and getting him familiar with the digital tools we will be using.  There's a wonderful repository of classroom apps (we don't have an iPad or a whiteboard) in the Google Chrome Store.  We'll be using some class management ones for rewards and behaviour incentives.  Because nothing else works for very long!

I spent hours picking apps.  I'd find multiple versions and try them to see what fit our needs.  I've divided my Google home page into 3 app pages, first page is my regular Drive/mail/games/etc.  Second page has the apps that I will be using as a teacher with him.  And the third page are the ones I installed on his.  For this, it requires that the students would have  a Google Chrome account.  Chase has one, but he does not know the password for it, I manage it for him.  But most of these apps are links to sites where the child can sign up from any browser.  Some have parent sign ups as well.  The teacher can send out behavioral reports without needing to exchange numbers and e-mails with all the parents.

Most of these apps are free.  I didn't really check into the pay ones.  Mathboard Addition is a great practice, the full version has full equations.  You set how many questions and the parameters.  They can save the quizzes.  This app requires A Google mail account, so maybe teachers would prefer to set up a 'class account' where they log in and let students take turns using the apps.  Fraboom looks really great, but it doesn't seem to be fully released yet, there were things that said "coming soon".  Also, I hadn't set up an account.

Some of the apps Chase will be using are not on here, I didn't put them all, but I gure we will be cycling through them as we go.  So, I expect this to change a lot.

For Scoot n' Doodle, it utilizes GoogleHangouts and a whiteboard for group drawing.  The Hangouts are private, by invite only, so may be a fun way for classes to interact.  Webcams and mics are not required, there is still a type chat.  But you can also add people via phone calls, so I can call Grandma Ginny and add her to the conversation.  You can even save pictures beforehand to set up the classroom.  I did this last year for Chase's 100th day of school.  He and Grandma Ginny had a lot of fun drawing together.  I thought this would be fun for first day as well as special occasions.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Common Core

Getting ready for Homeschool, we're looking into information about Common Core State Standards and curriculum for our son.  Just a brief skim of YouTube videos shows me people are very passionate against or for CCSS.  Personally, I am not seeing a problem with having a National set of standards across the board.  Yes, there are some very valid points about laws being snuck under the rug when no one is looking (isn't this the Congressional process?).  And companies for profit are backing the Standards with big bucks to dip into the honey pot.  (Bill Gates/Microsoft, in particular)  Schools become required to have computer technology and shell out $$ for programs, hardware, upgrades, etc.  A generation of children trained to use and want electronic gadgets for everything = $$.  But, on the plus side, and this is a big plus side, the funding is going towards children using technology and understanding it.  The technology enhances their education outside of their classroom and to the global knowledge database which is our glorious (and not so glorious) internet.

No, I don't like how the government implements these laws.   I don't really understand how things are just sneaked in since it is their job to be reading and listening and paying attention to every one of these laws as they come across their desks.  If Congress isn't paying attention, to either the law drafts or to their public they represent, then what the hell are they doing? $$$  I know, they do as they're told and get paid.

A bit of background where I'm coming from.  I went to five high schools in three states over a four year period and missed about a month's worth of school between each.  I am a high school drop out.  Every school I went to taught different subjects in different orders.  Some required things that others didn't.  I tried make-up classes and going to a career center (which only made my credits worse).  Each high school had a different number of credits required for me to graduate.  In SC, I was short about 3-4 credits, I think.  Where as MD only required 18 and I would have graduated.  But my final school, I didn't have enough.

I learned different subjects, partially.  Leaving mid-semesters would ensure I got zero credit for half a year of school.  And it was before schools had fax machines, so it would take 6 months to transfer my credits.  By then, I had passed the second half, only to learn I needed to retake the first half the next year. Disenheartening.  Besides the fact that I was homeless for half my Senior year, I had to make up entire classes in order to graduate with my class.

Had there been standards then, in 1997 when I should have graduated, my life may have taken a completely different course.  A High School Diploma is a big deal.  I have had to work harder at jobs to prove my worth because I didn't have that certificate that said it.  But most places wouldn't even have hired me.  And it is not that I am uneducated.  I have an interest in my own hands on learning.  I have taught myself several things.

I know I'm an oddball to have gone to so many schools in so little time.  People would automatically ask if we had a military family.  No, we were just poor and couldn't afford to keep our homes so had to move on.  Circumstance and opportunity too us up and down the East Coast several times.  I learned how to efficiently pack a moving van.  It was like playing Tetris.  But in this huge country, I know I am not alone in this nomadic in and out of the school system.  Now there are standards, so a kid who moved from WV to CA would be getting the exact same level of education as their peers.  Hopefully, they would be placed and transition into their new school without huge gaps in their education.

So, as bad as corporations may be, I do not see ill in standardizing.  I have heard horrible things about the No Child Left Behind, which, as I understand it teaches children how to pass a test, not how to study and learn things.  I definitely think there is an epidemic of dumbing down for younger generations.  They aren't even taught to be fully literate.  Did you know that cursive is not taught at all any more.  I learned cursive in Third grade.  Yes, it is important.  It is about the ability to read it, regardless whether or not it will be frequently used.  I am teaching my son cursive, I do not want him to grow up thinking 'Handwriting' is a font style.

I am glad there is a standard as a guideline for me to follow.  As Indiana does not have requirements for a curriculum that even follows the school.  And we cannot afford a curriculum kit or program which has all his assignments boxed, scheduled and graded.  So I need a baseline so that I know I am teaching him what he needs to know.  Of course, I am still wary about how to deal it out and how much work I give him versus other classroom activities.  I know they change things up a bit.  Which is why I hit Google Apps hard to scour some great 1st grade apps he showed interest in.

I let him pick a few of the subjects.  He chose Japanese Kanjis and Game Design and Coding.  He has advanced skills at computers and maybe he'll be making the apps the other kids are playing.

I'm rambling (I do that when I'm tired, along with typos, but I fix those before you can see them).  What I want to know, what are your first hand experiences with Common Core Standards?  As a Parent?  As a Teacher?  Or, as a Student...  Do you agree with Common Core or do you think there is a better way?  Homeschool frees me from the constraints of it for this year, however we intend to return Chase to Public schools and he will need to be inline with the level of education there.  His Kindergarten teacher and Principal and Guidance Counselor all said he was intelligent and above his reading level.  So I am not afraid of that too terribly.  Just that he may not be as proficient in some subjects as others.

Feel free to open a discussion about Common Core and what you think of it.  Keep in mind my rules on debates in my About section.  Basically, no griefing and no hate.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Addition Story on Glogger

Addition Stories

To use these, you sign up for GlogsterEDU as a teacher and add it to your glogs.  You would assign it to students so they can edit it and send it in.  Editing is fun.  Here, the student would edit "add" for the total and copy & paste extra birds and cats into the blank area, then edit "#" to answer the last two questions.  For tactile application, they should use counters to count out the story.  I like to use Lucky Stars as counters.  I can quickly make a dozen!

Summer Preparations

We've decided Chase isn't ready for school this year.  He still is of the attitude that he doesn't want to be there, be away from Mommy...  So we're homeschooling again.  Trying to get a head start on preparations.  Since last year, we started in the middle of the year.  After having already purchased school books and school supplies, etc.

Today I've gotten the school calendar ready so I can mirror the activities that are going on at the public schools.  Hopefully, we will have more outings, as I want to do field trips and social outings.  I've added a new page to the blog for Chase's First Grade Calendar.  I have 185 days marked, leaving 5 days for days off.  Guess we'll use those for sick days ;)  But hopefully, with little access to the germ cess pools (I mean, school) then we won't be sick so much this year.

I think I'll be giving him more real time application math assignments, like helping me halve or double recipes, figure out the grocery budget and making purchases.  He already knows to round up when he sees something marked as $9.99, it means $10.

I better check the Shelby Library's hours and activities list, since going to Lowell's Library every week may not be as easy.  The Shelby Library is small without much of a selection, but we can request books be transferred to this location.

I may be looking into used curriculum books or reduced rates, rather than attempt to purchase kits.  I've been looking over the Indiana Department of Education guidelines and suggestions.  In Indiana, we do not have a strict or suggested curriculum to go by.  I think he earns better when things are not presented as a worksheet.  Today, he curled up in the chair with me to look up what an Adam's Apple was, since he was concerned about his.  So we found several diagrams illustrating the parts of the throat and read aloud a description of the purposes and differences in genders.  As well as the two origins of the name.

He has always had an interest in anatomy, having said he wanted to be a doctor. Now, he wants to be a game designer, of course.  I may teach him some HTML and CSS.  Since those would both be very good skills to have and I am fairly knowledgeable in both.  I've found an easy to learn code site, which can take it a step at a time for young learners.  Maybe give him a step up from all the technology advanced students in school who have iPads and laptops.  Granted, he has had a computer of his own since he was 2 years old.  Well, with us on there with him.  But he has great computer skills.

Last school year, right before the end of the year, I found out about GlogsterEDU which I had already known about regular Glogster, I had an acct for fun once.  So I already had an idea of what I was doing.  So, basically, you make a worksheet or info fact sheet, or really anything you want, and give your students codes to access online and turn in their assignments online.  They edit the Glog and put in their own answers.  Or you could even just print out sheets for hand outs.  They have a lot of resources for free, so worth checking out.  I plan to buy a year so I can have the full educator account to add him in a classroom.  He enjoyed doing his assignment on the computer instead of as a worksheet.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Class Dojo

Class Dojo
I've started using a new platform for incentives for Chase's homeschool.  It's basically a sticker based award system.  You can have multiple classes, the students can log in to edit their avatars and see their scores, and parents can see the daily reports.

Chase was having a bad first day that I had started it, so has been a little negative towards it.  But today he had a good day and earned a lot of stickers.  I am rewarding the sticker achievements with time he can spend on his computer.

I installed this app via Google+.  But I think it is multi-platform capable.

Now Chase thinks monsters are creepy, so he is keeping his school photo as his avatar.  I think the art is all pretty cute.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Today is Friday

The Daily Planner

 The Daily Planner

Every day, I've been writing up a giant worksheet for Chase.  I use the backside of a desk calendar.  But large format paper, like butcher paper would do.

I keep the same information, Day of the week, yesterday, tomorrow, with the dates written under.  Then we have the word and the number of the day.  Which he has separate worksheets for.

In addition to those, I add in some relevant assignment.  I look through his assignments for the day and add in drawings or activities, or problems for him to figure out.  Today was a Chapter review for following directions.  He misread the directions, so went back and corrected his mistakes.

Following directions
 He seems to like the daily planner and it helps him remember what day of the week it is and reiterates the month and year.  I write them in different ways "January|Jan.|1", so he recognizes all forms.  I've been working him mostly on rhyming, calendar/days and money and handwriting.  Chase does really well at reading and enjoys anything with drawings.  But he needs a lot of practice on the others.  We're only planning to home school for Kindergarten.  So need to make sure he is ready for the first grade.

Today is Friday
 Next week, he will be evaluated by NISEC to see if he qualifies for special needs enrollment in school.  Because of his misbehavior in the school setting, the school staff felt special needs placement might work better for him.  Since he does well on a one on one setting.  He needs to do more independent work.  The assessment is to determine whether or not he has any learning disorder or disability.  Which, I do not believe is the case.  I think he was not adapting well to the school environment , mostly because he learned early on that if he misbehaved, he got sent home.  Which was what he wanted.

 So, our goal is to get him better socialized.  Right now, we're sharing a vehicle with Kevin's father.  Hopefully, with tax returns, we will be able to purchase our own car and have the freedom to travel to social events for Chase.

It has been a lot of stress, but the home school has been less stressful than dealing with 2 months of suspensions.  Chase was facing possible expulsion for his disruptive behavior.  He is happy again and no longer fighting us on everything.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Ready or Not

Back into action after winter break fun and shenanigans.  Started off with a single player version of Rhyming Sight Words BINGO Game, which is now available in my TeachersPayTeachers Store.  Also, there's some new freebies.  Lucky Star Craftivity and Clip Art Talk Bubbles.
Rhyming Sight Words BINGO Printable

We learned about the Venezuela Pebble Toad, an inch long amphibian that falls like a pebble when approached by a predator.  There's a great video clip to show to your kid(s) from BBC's Life series.  I made a little short story to accompany this lesson, which I will be creating a download of for TpT soon.  The video is ultra cute to watch this little guy bounce.

Over the holiday, we decided to pick up a First Grade Workbook for Chase, since he scored so high on his sight words and often complained that Kindergarten was boring and "I know it all already!".  Loudly complained.  So, we've started him on a few sheets from there.  He did pretty well with it, hopefully, he'll find it more challenging.

I'm using GoogleDrive's spreadsheets to keep track of all his attendance records and assignments, as well as the hard copies, with the dates on them.  We're trying to be a bit more organized.  We've moved his work table to the main room beside his art easel.

We've started our own sort of 'bulletin board', aka, the hallway.  Where we're posting the words he can spell from memory on little open book bulletin pin ups.  Which I've added to my Homeschool Pinterest Board.
Bulletin Pin Up from JoAnn.comJo-Ann has a wonderful teacher's resource selection.