Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saturday Snapshots from vacation

Another first this this week - I've never linked up with  Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera for


My husband and I have had a great time being tourists in Northern California. Unfortunately the majority of the pictures are trapped on our camera right now but I did take a few on my phone that I can share.

We started our trip in San Francisco last Saturday. We wandered around Fisherman's Wharf and I ate some chowder in a bread bowl. I went to Alcatraz on Sunday morning while my husband got a couple of work things done. We went to a show called "Beach Blanket Babylon" that night. Monday we went out to Muir Woods and Sausalito. That afternoon we also hung out at America's Cup Park watching some fun videos and going through the really well done exhibit "flying on the water." Tuesday we went out on a sailboat the see some racing. That was a bit of a let down because there was only one boat running the course because the other one was out of commission for repair. In the late afternoon we rode around on the hop on hop off bus with a stop at Haight Ashbury. Wednesday we rode the bus some more and spent time at Golden Gate Park going in the Japanese garden and the Conservatory of Flowers (which was having a special butterfly exhibit). I also went to the maritime museum on the pier with tons of old unique boats that once were used in the bay. That night we did a sunset catamaran under the Golden Gate Bridge. We headed out of town on Thursday morning.

When we left San Francisco we headed down the Pacific Coast Highway (Hwy 1). We stopped for lunch in Santa Cruz and then arrived in Monterey. I went out kayaking just behind our hotel and paddled along cannery row up to the aquarium. There was a raft of 12 otters just off of the aquarium which was very cool as well as a few pairs of seals and a bunch if sea birds. Unfortunately I totally didn't think of bringing a camera. The next morning we drove down Hwy 1 to Big Sur and then stopped at a place with a great view for lunch. I had so much fun kayaking the day before that I convinced my husband to go and we brought a camera. This time there was a raft of almost 30 otters as well as seals and otters scattered in other spots. That night we walked around Cannery Row and checked out all the motorcycles since the Red Bull Grand Prix had started that day. We went into the races today. My husband is a big MotoGP fan. Last year we planned a trip around coming to the races this time it just worked out that it fell during the only time we could come. As luck would have it we are actually staying in the same room we did last year which I loved because you can see otters and tons of birds just outside our window.

We have been really enjoying ourselves on the trip. Tonight they have Cannery Row closed off to cars and it will be wall to wall motorcycles. It was totally crazy last year. We go to the final day of racing tomorrow and then Monday we head back up to the San Fran airport to fly home.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tune into Technology - classroom website

I have a few minutes before I head out kayaking (I actually finished after returning so I have a picture at the bottom) to join

of course I'm a day late but that's the way it goes lately - too many vacation things to do :-)

As for the topic of classroom website, our tech guy maintains our school website which has links to all the teacher sites. All the teachers at our school are expected to have a class website that gets updated at least every two weeks. For the last few years they have been through TeacherWeb. Here is my old one (until it closes down). Apparently it was pretty expensive for the whole school so we are making some changes. Next year everyone is moving to Weebly (which is free). Here is my new site as it currently stands, although there are still a few things I want to do to it.

In the past I have primarily used it as a place to share about currently topics studied (especially when I taught all the subjects) as well as study guides or other handouts. It also included some static items like schedule and general policies. I did use a google calendar for upcoming dates that was embedded as well as links to some other useful sites (like our Flickr page* and ikeepbookmarks*). I sent a weekły email about what was going on in class and when I remembered I also put it on the website (which was not as frequent as it should have been).

Next year my plan is to use the website to showcase student work much more (along with the students' kidblogs*). I also want to post a class picture of the day (with student help) like Linda Yollis. I'm also going to do my weekly update directly on the blog and make let them sign up for the email update (rather than doing the email and then adding it). I plan to show the parents how to sign up at curriculum night and also post a little video tutorial. I do have some frequently used websites on a symbaloo page that is now embedded in the site as well.

I love Weebly because it is SO EASY to use. I showed all the teacher the basics during a planning period near the end of the year. I set up a page for reference with some "how to" things as well as some other class websites. I also like that you can have traditional web pages as well as multiple blogs all under the same address. I plan to set up three blogs within my site (one for class news, one for showcasing student work and one for the picture of the day). Weebly has an app that allows you to do post (not regular site changes) super easy from your mobile device (iOS and android). I also like that you can easily hide pages while they aren't relevant (like the student showcase and photos right now). This allows teachers to plan ahead, eliminate visual clutter and recycle in future years. 

If anybody is considering setting up a Weebly site just make sure you do it under the education section. This allows you to set students up as well as group, topic, or student sites if you should ever want that later on.

* A few other favorites.

I have maintained class Flickr collections for the last few years. Luckily I haven't had any kids that couldn't have their pictures posted. It is great for the yearbook staff as well as the parents to have access to pictures from a bunch of our activities. They can easily download them for their own collections. Students can also use them in projects. Here is our collection from last year.

I don't know how long ago I set up my first ikeepbookmarks account but my guess is about 15 years ago. They are still around after all these years while tons of other websites have come and gone. It is a simple bookmarking site geared to education. It is able to accommodated unlimited amounts of sites in a folder structure. It isn't fancy but it works great and kids navigate it without any issue. I also like that you can lock (hide) folders until you want them revealed. You can also put icons by pages to make them stand out as well as rate them with stars. My kids know that I out eyeballs next to what I want them to look at first.  They also have a bookmarklet that you can add to your browser to quickly add sites without typing :-) Here is my current fourth grade collection.

Kidblog is a fantastic site for students to do individual blogs. They have come a long way since they started several years ago and the founder (in the picture on the left) is a super nice guy. They definitely love teachers and want to do whatever they can to make things work well for student use. I know a bunch of bloggers have talked about this site so no need to add to the chatter.

I do think websites can be a valuable resource for communication when used to their full potential. I am going to try and capitalize more on that this year. Now I need to see what other great ideas I can gather other at iTeach 1:1 or Learning to the Core.

I had so much fun kayaking yesterday that I had to go back with my husband today. 

This time I actually remembered to bring a camera. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made it SF edition

I haven't been able to join up for a couple of weeks since I haven't been home to make anything. While I was home this week I was able to make a couple of quick things on the computer.

The first one was inspired by Pernille Ripp and this post.

Here is my version that needs to be laminated.

I also loved Terri Thorton's post about her STAR literacy Binder. She is actually doing a litte series. Terri was so sweet that she out the cover below as a freebie on the intro post.  


I wanted to include some starfish on mine since I'm doing an ocean theme. I'm still not entirely satisfied since I think it's a bit girly but I'm on the lookout for come better starfish for the background.

I also made a banner for my classroom. I haven't printed up the much larger version that will go between our two team classes. We will add clear stickers with all the students names in the two classes.

I still have a TON of things that I want to make but I'm quickly running out of time. This year I had three weeks at the beginning of the summer that was totally free but I guess I wasn't as motivated as i should have been now I have no time. Oops!

I also made a purchase 

and I made a bunch of reservations but I mentioned both yesterday for the Sunday Smorgasbord. 

Wow, there are already almost 100 posts to look at and it's only 8:30 am PDT. Be sure to check out all the wonderful things over at 4th Grade Frolics.

Sunday Smorgasbord

I'm excited to join the

I'm grabbing a few minute before I head to bed to throw out a bit of recent random stuff.

I was home for a few days this week so I actually got a couple things done for school and ran a bunch of errands. I tried to drop some stuff off at school but they are still working on the floors. I did get a bit of time  with my principal so we could get a few purchases done for fourth grade. I'm excited that we will have Wixie again and that we got the school subscription to The Answer Pad.


I am thrilled that I am finally going to be able to attend a blogger meet up. Woohoo! I think Amanda Madden is fantastic for pulling this all together. We are going to do a sleep over and everything. Click the button and fill out the form if you think you might be able to come along.

I stayed on our boat for the last Wednesday this summer. It is so nice to stay up there after racing but when I get back I have a workshop downtown on Thursday and then it's back to school.

I traded in my car of 9 years for a new toy. I love having a convertible in Georgia because you can actually put the top down for so much of the year. Since I grew up in Connecticut we really didn't have that luxury.


I'm on vacation in San Francisco right now and I went out to Alcatraz Island today. There was a great introduction video done by Discovery that shared all kinds of history that I didn't know. I thought the audio tour really added to the experience up in the cell block. There were also a bunch of baby seagulls around and I saw a mom (or dad)  come back from the water and feed them (gross but cool). I didn't know the island is nesting ground for a bunch of sea birds. They also have some neat gardens.

We also went to the show Beach Blanket Babylon. It has been playing in San Francisco since 1974! It was an absolute blast and I would definitely recommend it. We were sitting in the center of the first row and duriñg a couple of the scenes the ladies on stage were winking and blowing kisses to my hubby - cracked me up.

Tomorrow we booked a tour to visit Muir Woods and Sausalito. That should be fun but I'm really excited for Tuesday. We booked a ride on a sailboat out to see one of the Louis Vitton Cup races (which is part of the America's Cup). There was a race today and I saw one of the race boats and a bunch of spectators while I was on on the ferry from Alcatraz and while we were on the island.

Probably enough random stuff for one day. Be sure to click the button above to check out what other people have been sharing.