Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Don't Lose Your Dongle!

My crafty, art teacher background comes in handy quite often. This time, it's helped me to come up with a way to keep my bluetooth dongles from being lost and/or forgotten after being plugged into a student chromebook! 

My littleBits code kits have a bluetooth dongle that needs to be plugged into the students' machines in order to function correctly. Well, despite numerous reminders and attempts at attention-getting signage, students would still leave the room with the dongle still plugged in. Other devices utilizing "dongle" technology include wireless mice, the keyboard for the Kano computer kit, and pretty much anything else that works wirelessly and needs an adapter to connect. 

By the way, I could totally call this a bluetooth adapter, but the word "dongle" is wayyyy more fun. And I teach middle school, so that's where my humor is at. Dongle it is then! 

So... I had some extra yarn lying around from the time I tried to crochet some Dot and Dash hats, so I decided to repurpose the leftovers into chunky tassels that I could attach to each individual dongle. I'm (pretty) sure no one will walk out of the room with a giant purple and gray yarn tassel attached to their chromebook... fingers crossed! 

Making a yarn tassel is fairly simple. I used a tutorial graphic found on Pinterest, much like this one below, to guide me:

via craftberry bush blog

Now, depending on the shape and size of your dongles, you may or may not be able to attach your tassel to it by simply tying. Mine are fairly small, so I utilized a combination of tying and hot glue to create a strong attachment between the two: 

It's basically a blob of hot glue over the yarn knot and around the plastic. You know, super fancy. Just be careful to leave the metal USB plug part intact with enough room so that it still plugs in completely.

Ta da! It's now infinitely more difficult to lose these babies! If you're feeling extra, try customizing your tassels to your school colors or create a color-coding system for your devices. Enjoy!

- Mrs L.

Monday, March 12, 2018

DIY Emoji Magnets for Your Classroom

Not only do I have a magnetic white board in my classroom, I have a long metal electric supply channel that runs around the perimeter of my classroom (from back when this room was a traditional desktop computer lab setup) that is perfect for using magnets on. Therefore, I love all things magnetic: tiny organizer jars, wire baskets, erasers, clips, hooks, and decorative magnets for the sake of decorative magnets.

I guess this DIY falls into the latter. Middle school kids are motivated by all things quirky and trendy, so it helps to be on top of these things as much as possible. I can't keep up with it all, but I know that emojis are a "thing" right now. I thought it would be fun to print out full-page versions of some emojis to use in the classroom.

First, I did a regular old Google Image search for emojis. Then I printed the image files out as large as possible on a page.

Emojis are easy to search via Google Images, or you can borrow from my folder of emojis here!

After printing them out, I thought, "hmm I should laminate these so they last longer."

After laminating and cutting them out, I thought "hmm I should make these into MAGNETS for the whiteboard!"

And so it was.

I went on Amazon and ordered a 10-pack of these adhesive magnet sheets. I stuck my laminated printouts (I was only able to get 1 per sheet, but I had some leftover magnetic sheeting I could use with stickers or smaller images) onto the adhesive, and used regular old scissors to cut them out.

Voila! Giant emoji magnets for your whiteboard.

Fun, right? Think of the possibilities! 

- Mrs L.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

ICE Conference 2018 Recap (Tardy to the Party!)

My blogging has been a little bit slacking as of late... I've been lucky to be pretty busy doing a bunch of other fun things that have kept me away! But, today I am procrastinating about grading stuff (it's seriously my LEAST favorite thing about teaching) so I thought I'd check in and do a little (albeit tardy to the party) recap from my 2018 ICE Conference experience this year!

I was super fortunate to get to attend all three days of the conference this year - woo hoo! It isn't easy to be out of the classroom for that long, but this conference is so packed with awesome ideas and PD opportunities that I genuinely feel like it's worth it. You can check out lots of photos from the event here.

I got to present twice this year at ICE: once as an assistant for a 1/2 day workshop on using Ozobots in the classroom, and once as a solo presenter for one of my all-time fave tech tools, WeVideo!

photo courtesy @MrLeban

Instead of one keynote speaker to kick off each day, a panel discussion was hosted, featuring a group of well-known and influential education leaders. I really liked getting to see so many teachers I look up to, sharing together in one discussion.

Of course, I went to some pretty amazing sessions, too! My favorite one was a presentation by Carrie Baughcum (@heckawesome) and Dana Ladenburger (@dladenburger) on Learning Mascots!

I've long been interested in sketchnoting, which Carrie is a total PRO at. I love how she turned this talent into a motivating social-emotional learning strategy for use in the classroom! I am a constant doodler, and hope to start using my own #LearningMascot in my classroom!

The vendor hall is always a great experience, and on day two I got to bring my husband along. We spent time talking with vendors and checking out new products for the classroom. The big winner for us was the Bloxels booth - they totally got me to buy a starter set at a special show discount price, which we took home and starting playing with alongside my 6-year-old son right away! It's so much fun!

I also enjoyed taking with the people behind the products we currently use here at school: PowerSchool, EverFi, Hapara, littleBits... I'm sure I'm forgetting a bunch. Fingers crossed that some of the conversations we had will be brought back to the developers to make improvements in the future.

And of course I spent a chunk of time on Wednesday in the WeVideo booth, talking with teachers and answering questions about the service. I had fun with Greg, our WeVideo sales rep, challenging visitors to take and post selfies with us in exchange for green screen t-shirts!

But possibly the best thing about education conferences is getting to meet people that you know, sometimes from IRL, and sometimes only from the internet! It's so cool to meet face-to-face and talk with the ever-growing community of professional educators that love to collaborate and share. Thank you to everyone (both old friends and new!) who said hello or stopped by to talk!

- Mrs L.