Thursday, November 12, 2015

Google Draw Idea: Locker Laurels

At Sandburg, we have this tradition that was started last year called "locker laurels," where students attach small signs to their locker to represent various clubs/sports/groups/teams that they are members of here at school. Some students have quite a few on the front of their lockers!

Mr Walker and I thought it would be funny to create a series of locker laurels for random reasons and to covertly tape them to empty lockers around the school... to see if anyone noticed. A sort of art installation/performance art hybrid deal. After toying with a few ideas, the "Mr. Gail Fan Club" emerged:

I used an awesome simple graphic design website, called Canva, to design the laurels.  A funny thing happened though. As the students began to notice the laurels around the school, they began to take them to put on their own lockers! Others asked Mr. Gail how they, too, could join the Mr. Gail fan club. Awesome!

A few teachers were confused by them and took them down completely and threw them out. Whomp whomp. Well, it was fun while it lasted. 

The other side effect of this endeavor was that it was the inspiration for a Google Draw assignment for 7th graders. Students can design their OWN locker laurel, a personal logo, if you will, to display on their locker! Something like this, maybe:

I'd love to have the kids use Canva, but since the TOS lists 13+ as the age for users, I have to reconsider the tool for creation. Google Draw should do nicely in this case. I used it for my laurel pictured above. 

As an alternative to a personal design, students could choose a team or activity here at school and design a laurel for that group. Who knows, maybe it could actually be used in the future!

- Mrs. L.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Embarrassing Myself via Scratch

I made a ridiculous Scratch project today with a ridiculous soundtrack that I recorded myself with a microphone. Just to show 6th graders what can be done with a few simple scripts on Scratch. 


And feel free to follow my Scratch account for all future embarrassing endeavors in the name of student achievement. :)

- Mrs. L.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hapara + Powtoon: Cool things I've learned this week (so far)

I learned two cool new things in the last week that I wanted to share:

1. Hapara has a really cool feature within its "Interact" function (where I would normally go to see what tabs students have open, to make sure everyone is on task - but I hate being the internet police! - a necessary evil...) that allows me to send a pop-up message in the lower right-hand corner of everyone's Chromebook in the class.

I've been using it as a time-management device to remind students of how much working time is left, and it gives yet another mode (visual, via text) of communication besides the usual "teacher announcements" that can sometimes get automatically tuned out by students. Yay!

2. I taught myself how to use Powtoon! It's a really cool presentation/animation web tool that we're going to use (hopefully, if time allows!) in 8th grade to tell some modernized children's stories/fairy tales/nursery rhymes!

So, I made a Powtoon about the Powtoon project! If you're interested, check out the guidelines I created here:

I get really excited when I learn new stuff like this, and I want to make sure that I keep posting them here so that I can look back and remember how much I've done in my first year teaching computers in middle school.

- Mrs. L.

Friday, October 2, 2015

IAEA Presenter 2015

I am going to be a presenter at this year's IAEA Conference on Friday, November 6th, 2015, in Lisle, IL. Mr. Leban and I will be giving a presentation called "Harnessing the Power of Social Media for Art Teachers" - which is super cool, as it ties in both my art expertise and my current technology position beautifully! Although this presentation is geared specifically towards art teachers (it IS an art teacher conference, after all), the content of our presentation is applicable to ALL elective teachers. ...Probably any teacher, actually!

So, I wanted to see if anyone out here had any specific questions or topics that you would like to see covered in our presentation? Feel free to leave a comment here, or contact me directly via e-mail. My husband and I will do our best to address concerns, questions, and topics from all of you as part of our presentation!

For more information visit the website for the conference here. Hope to see you there!

- Mrs. L.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Organization: Rolling Chairs and Earbuds

Last week on Friday, the maintenance guys were awesome (as usual) and replaced all of the rolling chairs with REGULAR non-rolling chairs! I was so excited, although the students were (for the most part) disappointed. No more yelling at kids about rolling across the room or constantly adjusting the up and down mechanism. Score! 

Seriously though... those chairs were a HUGE distraction, and I'm super excited to see them go. Believe it or not, the room looks bigger without them, too!

Yesterday, I was talking with a couple of young ladies about earbud woes and how to carry them throughout the school day, and I was directed to this tutorial about making an earbud case from a mint container!

I love love LOVE this idea, and plan on making one (or more) for myself! The best part is the clip-on keyring, because it can easily be hooked onto your chromebook bag, pencil case, or bookbag. Another idea is to just stash this cute plastic case in the zipper pocket in front of your chromebook bag - it'll keep the cords from becoming tangled, and leave room for other stuff!

Remember, you'll need to bring earbuds or headphones to computer lit class each day anyways (and you'll probably need them for other classes, too), so why not have a cute container to keep them in?

- Mrs. L.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Chromebooks and GAFE: Learning New Stuff Every Day...

Every day I learn something new about using Google Apps and Chromebooks. Sometimes it's big, and sometimes it's really small or obvious to others - but to me it's a "lightbulb" moment.

Last week it was keyboard shortcuts. Like, how to take a screenshot, or a partial screenshot. And the keyboard shortcut to move layers forward or back in a Google Drawing. So simple, but so efficient! 

Here are a couple of screencasts I created to illustrate some simple tasks that were new (to me) on a Chromebook this week:

- Mrs. L.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

You Tube: Welcome to 2015-16!

Welcome to my first "official" year of teaching computers in middle school! Previously, I taught a whole bunch about computers, but within an art context. I was an art teacher for my first 13 years of my teaching career. Lucky 13.

I'm really excited for what's to come. I'm not even sure how I'll structure this blog just yet. TBD. So in the meantime, enjoy my classroom tour "vlog."

- Mrs. L.