Sunday, February 24, 2013

I {heart} iFont Maker!

I have always been intrigued by handwriting in spite of  my sixth grade teacher that insisted we use cartridge fountain pen I am showing my age. I am a lefty. She insisted I slant my paper in a certain direction. NOT good when you're a lefty! If I made a mistake, or smeared the ink, I started over. I hated the process, but loved the final product! I learned not only patience and neat writing, but also how to write with a "left hook" to avoid the wet ink.

In college, I had to demonstrate my chalkboard writing skills. The prof wasn't thrilled I blocked the board, but was amused I could write forward with my right hand while simultaneously writing backward with my left (think mirror vision). He said show your class that and then apologize for blocking the board!

I was thrilled when technology took over so much of my "handwriting" needs. It isn't that I cannot write in beautiful script, I often choose to type instead. When I became hooked on technology I became obsessed with fonts. This eventually led to my new love, the iFont Maker app. It allows me to use my beloved handwriting for products I make.

You can free-form letters or use a font as a guide. The font is loaded to their site where you decide to download or publish the font for others to use. You can use your finger or a stylus. It can be a little tricky for lefties that cannot see what they have drawn.

When I have a block of time and my iPad is nearby, I make fonts. I made three new fonts on Saturday.

I will give a the link to the first three people that comment. I would love to know what you think of my fonts. You don't need iFont to use the fonts as they are True Type fonts.

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Winner and winter

I am sorry it took longer than I expected to post the winner of my giveaway. My father had taken a turn for the worse on Tuesday and was returned to ICU. It appears that he is finally making gains with his health and may be sent to a rehab facility soon.

Congratulations to Jeannine at Creative Lesson Cafe. She is the winner of my giveaway. I have sent you an email. Enjoy spending your gift certificate.

I had another snow day today. Winter Storm Q, that dumped snow across the central states coated our roads with a layer of snow, sleet, and freezing rain. The day off was a blessing. I got some sleep and got to visit my father. I also was able to visit with my big sis and brother-in-law that flew in this morning from sunny Florida. It was 86 degrees in Florida. She would have been freezing, but my father's room was a very toasty 75 degrees. She seldom comes North during the winter, and was not happy driving from Detroit this morning with the icy roads.

I hope you had a great week. My week is ending on an upswing.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Writing and a Freebie

We adopted a new language arts curriculum last spring. We chose a program called Write Steps for our writing program. It is written by teachers in Michigan and is aligned to our state assessment and the common core. That wasn't as much of a determining factor for purchasing it, as much as a need for  consistency at each grade level. It seems as though we have had a school improvement goal of writing or writing across the curriculum f-o-r-e-v-e-r! We still struggle with writing.

The Write Steps program is more of a framework. If you are not passionate about writing, it can hold your hand to get your students writing. They include videos to help teachers, and writing samples. I don't see it as being a very motivating program for those that love to write.

As part of the curriculum review process, I piloted Scholastic's Traits Writing and loved it. It was pricey. I weave as much of that into my writing lessons as possible. There are short interviews with real authors (of the mentor texts). I love the mentor texts that came with the program. Unfortunately, I am the only one that uses it. So much for consistency!

I also am using a writing center. I had been looking for some new materials when I found Rory's story cubes at Target a couple of weeks ago. I made a writing center activity to go with the Story Cubes. There is a Basic, Getting You Started, and For Lefties version. Click on the link  to download it for free from my Teachers Pay Teachers store or Teacher's Notebook shop. 


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Friendship Lunch Please!

Our friendship lunch was today. I am so glad the students chose this option over a pizza party or ice cream sundaes. It was so enjoyable. We had a lovely lunch in the classroom. They had each created a wonderful lunch and box specifically for the individual receiving it. I made lunch for my new student. She is so sweet. She is the perfect addition to our class. She, like most of my girls, loves teen idols. I had glued photographs from teen magazines of Justin Bieber. My lunchbox was a cute dog. The designer loves the stories about my chocolate lab drooling on my lap as I grade papers, and she knew we were watching a Shiloh movie.

This year's selection of lunchboxes were some of the best matched to the receiver. I usually let students guess as to which box belongs to them. Many had let the name of their secret pal slip, so they wanted something different. They asked me to match lunches to individual students. I did well until I got down to the One Direction boxes. My girls request them every day on Songza, while the boys say their songs make their ears bleed! In the end I was able to match all but two boxes. I guess that shows I really do know my kids!
Anyway, take a look at their boxes. Can you choose the winners?

Were your kids wild today? After 100th day celebrations on Wednesday, and thoughts of a long weekend for kids, our school was c-r-a-z-y! The best part was my class wasn't crazy. We shut the door and did our own thing. The only reason you couldn't hear a pin drop was because of our movie, Shiloh 2: Shiloh Season. Our principal came over the PA in the early afternoon to scold students about lunch, recess, and hall behavior. My students were thankful the scolding didn't include them. I love my kids!

I have a giveaway going for a TpT gift certificate, if you are interested.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

100 a few times and a giveaway

This is my 100th Post! Yippee! I have had 20,300 views. This is pitiful for many of you, but quite a feat for me! Why should this matter? Keep reading.

Tomorrow is the 100th day of school and Valentines Day is Thursday. At fifth grade, we don't do very much with these special days. Being partially departmentalized our schedule has little wiggle room. Tomorrow we will do some multiplying and division with multiples of tens, hundreds, and decimals using some task cards and a game of "Scoot". Thursday we are having my annual Friendship Luncheon. Students have the name of their secret pal safely secured in their backpacks. Their shoe boxes have started their transformation into a cleverly designed lunchbox befitting the receiver of said lunch. I will be back later in the week with pictures.

Our morning will be routine, but then the fun starts. The students are excited about eating in the classroom. (Our cafeteria is usually a pleasant place, but with several inside recess days in the last two weeks, they have had the "Red Light" on. The music has been muted, so lunch with friends where talking is encouraged is a welcomed relief.) We have a later special service on Thursday, so my students will eat and then watch the movie Shiloh 2 (Shiloh Season). We recently read the story as our class novel, and cannot wait to see if the story line holds true to the book. The movie's length? Almost 100 minutes!

We will fly through Friday with anticipation of the students' long weekend. We have professional development on Monday :( but it should be a good one. (I helped plan it!) My only hope is that I survive the week. My dad is hospitalized again, this time with a broken shoulder from a fall. His goal when he had heart surgery at 81 (3 years ago) was to live to 100. He wants to dance at my daughter's wedding. She is 17 and can't date until she is thirty at least! Lol!

If you have stuck with this rambling post this far, I am going to give away a gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers for $10 (sorry). The winner may be lucky number 100. If during this give away I can reach 200 followers, I will give a second $10 gift certificate away. Good Luck!

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Novel Studies

Since I last blogged, I decided to take the plunge and open a Teacher's Notebook store. I don't have a lot of things in the store yet, but hope to add more products soon. With today being an unexpected day off with ice, I parked myself in front of the computer to start the long process of rebuilding units.

When we did our curriculum adoption last year, we added more novels and book club activities for the students. I had gotten away from many of the novels when we first departmentalized because of time constraints. We couldn't get through the anthology selections let alone get through many full novels. The couple of novels I did were scaled back, so I am rebuilding my novel study guides.

Both of my classes have a different novel study almost complete. I have added things as we read, but wasn't pleased. I am much more satisfied with the unit I ended up with for my second class, Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. My homeroom is reading Shiloh Season because we read Shiloh in the fall. I had made quick changes when I taught that unit. (We were reading it during our standardized testing and I wasn't sure how much time we could commit to it.)
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I still have my Freedom Train unit that I need for the middle of next week. I am determined to have it finished to run before Monday. The snow/ice day bought me a little more time, but not much! My inclusion students will be reading Who Was Harriet Tubman? Both stories compliment our biographical studies and our Wax Museum. I will write about that in another post.
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I would have completed more, but I got TWO telephone calls from my son. He followed his heart to North Carolina back in November. We get texts and a weekly calls, but that never seems to be enough. He is the first to move away, and I hate it!

The weather that so much of the country has dealt with has missed my little corner of Michigan. I pray the Nor'easter moves back off the coast soon.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Currently and What an Honor!

Where does the time go? It seems like we just got back from winter break. How can it be February already? Time for Farley's linky.

I share things with the readers of this blog that I seldom share with colleagues. Most of my friends don't know I blog. Several have no clue what a blog is. Blogging has become a form of validation I didn't realize I wanted or needed. The followers, comments, and awards let me know I have something of value to offer. One such award came today in an email. It was a message from Top Masters in Education. They have selected my blog as one of the top 25 elementary school blogs. They have included me with a group of bloggers I could only hope to be someday. Some are the ones that I first stalked. What an absolute honor!  

Have a great weekend, and don't forget about the huge sale at Teachers Pay Teachers!
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