Sunday, January 27, 2013

Movers and shakers

I have some serious movers and shakers in my classroom. You know, the kids that constantly tip their chairs, stand to do their work, tap their pencils, are always on the go. Some of these kids have diagnoses of ADD or ADHD some do not, some families have chosen to have their child take meds to help with focus, some have not, regardless I needed to find a way to keep these kids moving so their brains can focus. 

One plan I tried at the beginning of the year was sending a math student to get a drink down the hall. It gave him the chance to wander, see new people, and get out of his normal environment. Just the routine of taking the walk to get a drink helped the student get his brain ready for leaning. He would spend most of math class standing or sitting in one of the fold-up rocking chairs (from Target -LOVE them!). 

I also have the tippers. The kids that tip their chairs and often find themselves on the floor. I am all for kids moving but when their safety is at stake I know I need to find another way to help them out. Here are some of the seating options my movers and shakers have.

This chair has adjustable legs. The height of one of the legs was adjusted so it was shorter than the rest. This allows students to rock the chair without putting them in danger of tipping. 
-This one does take some getting used to. When students first sit down then think they are going to tip backwards but it has quickly become a favorite.

The occupational therapist at my school offered this to one of my students. (Her husband made it) Its called a t stool and looks quite dangerous, right!?! However, the student that uses it has found that it is much safer than chair tipping. As soon as the stool starts to fall the student is able to stand up and the stool falls over. This has been an amazing addition to the choices the students have. Many kids like the movement it allows them while keeping them safe.

These next two are discs (around $20 Amazon) are a much more traditional way of helping the movers and shakers. The top one (teal) is filled 3/4 of the way with air so its squishy and light. It has two sides -smooth and pointy- and users can select the side they find most comfortable. The bottom one (yellow) has a heavier sandlike feeling and is a big heavier to carry and has a much different feel. 

I also have beanbags ($15 at Walmart) and folding rocking chairs (Target) that students can sit in during work time. I try not to have them sit at their desks too often. They always have that option but I find they are much happier to grab a clipboard and find a comfy spot on the floor/beanbags/rocking chairs. 

I have also found that students like to use Bendeez (bendable sticks found on Amazon) or the Tangle Jr Sensory Fidget Toy (Amazon) to keep their hands busy or to keep calm while listening. The occupational therapist at my school has been a invaluable resource. She is always so busy but makes the time to listen to my concerns and always has suggestions and tips. She has helped me to find many of these resources and is always a great go to person.

And when all else fails, brain breaks are a great way to get some of the wiggles out. There are many videos on YouTube, and countless quick activities to reset the brain for learning. 

Best wishes for you and your movers and shakers!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tests, tests and more tests

We are in the thick of NWEA testing at my school. (Northwest Evaluation Association) We administer these computer based assessments three times per year beginning in second grade to monitor student growth. They give immediate and specific feedback for each test taker and results can also be viewed by class. Students are tested in math, reading and language. These tests are really helpful in setting individual student goals as well as for the whole class. It also gives teachers a look at possible areas of teaching strength and weakness.

I have a student that is very bright but has been struggling for some time and is finally on a wonderful plan.  I have been convinced this plan is working for some time now but the test results were my absolute proof. Prior to the plan the student has always done well on these tests and met the benchmark scores and even exceeds them on occasion. Fast forward to present day, the student exceeded the expectation in math by 14 points and even more impressive is the reading score which exceeded the expectation by 30 points (which puts the student off the charts - past tenth grade.)  BIG FAT WAHOOOOOO!!!!!
Here is the icing on the cake! I was discussing the plan, the success, the testing, etc with the student and how much pride. The student replied (no joke), "Its because of how you teached me."  I am not holding out much hope for the language test, lol!

Another student's score increased by ten points from the fall. He was so proud, beaming the rest of the day, and decided to share the love by making this sweet note for me.

(Flip note over)

This also made me chuckle. Another person who rocked the reading assessment but could, perhaps, use some more grammar/language instruction. This just makes me love my class even more.  

One more giggle today- 
A student describing hotdogs: The outside of a hotdog is the pig skin and the inside is the insides of the pig.  

Oh dear, I would say she is not far off but still, ick! I don't know how much more inside recess I can handle!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Make your own font

Oh what fun I have had experimenting in the graphic art world. After conquering clip art I became curious with making font. I found My Real Font as an app on the iPad. 
Its another FREE app (wahoo cheers the thrifty -cheap- teacher) that is incredibly easy to use. The app guides you through handwriting each letter and saving the set. There is then the option to send the font as ttp. I send it from my iPad in an email, open it on my computer and download the file. Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy!

I have my eye on iFontMaker which is an app on the iPad for $6.99. This program has more options including the ability to make straight lines.  It also shows up bigger on the screen (My Real Font is pretty small and does not have the ability to make perfectly straight lines.) iFontMaker also allows the user to edit lines by clicking and dragging.

This font was one of the first ones I made, the rest are here. MyRealFont is really user friendly and addicting!  I find myself looking at font everywhere I go! Inspiration is everywhere :)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Creating Clip Art

Have you ever been looking for clip art, or some graphic art and not been able to find it?? I find that frustrating, especially when I know what I want and could easily draw it myself. When I first started looking into clip art I thought I needed an expensive program but it turns out that by using an app ( a free app!!!) on my iPad it was inexpensive and very easy. I started by drawing a picture with pen and paper and scanning it into my computer. This was a bit labor intensive, as my printer/scanner isn't really the best, but it worked. After I scanned an item into my computer I opened it using Preview on my Mac and was able to crop and edit from there. I used the instant alpha tool to crop which lets me choose a large area to crop, then go to invert selection (under edit), then crop (under tools). When I finally have the image the way I want I save it as a png file.

After doing some research (and using some other, more difficult apps) I found the Sketchbook Express app on my iPad (free, yay!) and have been using that program to draw. I have found the program easy to use after spending some time playing around. It is user friendly and you can be a novice like me and still make it work. When I have the image the way I want it I save it in the program then send it to my photo gallery. From there, I am able to email it to my computer and edit as detailed above.

It turns out that creating clip art/graphic art is easier than I thought and I find it to be soothing and a way to relieve stress.
Here are some of my hearts, just in time for Valentine's Day :)

You can find them in my TPT Store 

Happy Creating!