Wednesday, March 11, 2015

My First Symbaloo Webmix

I was introduced a few months ago to Symbaloo.. and finally had the chance to try to my own webmix earlier this week. Here is what I was able to create in a matter of a few minutes. It is super easy! I copied and pasted the links to each App from the iTunes to show some of the Apps our TK and Kinder teachers have been using to support their students. Many of these Apps are used during free time or centers. If you have others to recommend, please let me know!

View on Symbaloo

iPad device management tip

Maybe it's just me, but I love to customize my devices!! Every time I get a new device, that's the first thing I always look to change, the default settings. Which, of course means changing my wallpaper.

On an iPad, you have two options to customize your wallpaper: the Lock Screen and the Home Screen. This feature can be utilized in the classroom for many different reasons and help teachers accomplish different goals. Depending on your technology setup in your classroom, your devices might be for each student or shared among students or teachers. Personalizing the wallpapers can help to easily identify individual devices. In my own 1:1 iPad, fifth grade classroom I took advantage of this feature to easily identify the owner of each device. On the first day of school, I always had my students use their cameras to take a "selfie" and set that image as their Lock Screen. My students were required all year to keep a selfie or easily identifiable image as their Lock Screens. Then I allowed them free choice of their Home Screens. This system worked wonders in my classroom because my students enjoyed personalizing their devices and we were always able to quickly identify devices.

Of course, for Kindergarten classrooms their wallpaper screens have to be cute! Many of my school sites have a set of 6 iPads for each TK and Kindergarten room. So we took this personalization system to the next level! (Since selfie images wouldn't really work with shared devices.)

For one class, the teacher wanted the wallpaper screens to be numbered. We used Keynote to create the images. We selected different presentation themes for each device. We enlarged the size the each number to fill most of the screen, then typed the teacher's name smaller and towards the bottom. Once in presentation mode, we screen captured the image. Once the image is in your camera roll, it can be set as your wallpaper. We aligned each image to show the teacher's name only at the very bottom. This way, when the screen is locked, you can view the teacher's name, however, once the device is unlocked, you can no longer can see their name. Many of our schools in our district are No Excuse Universities, and are apart of the No Excuses Network. Each classroom at these school sites have adopted a college. For these teachers, we searched for their college logos and saved these images into their camera roll. To customize the image further, we added the image into Keynote to add the device number and teacher's name. Now we have class sets of iPads that look uniquely personalized.

Here are a few of the iPad wallpaper set ups that I have helped my Kinder teachers use in their classrooms.

Also, if devices are stored in lockers, the locker slots can be labeled and help with collection and distribution of devices. If your devices are shared, this system could help assign groups of students to the same iPad each time they use the device.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

New Commitment to Blogging!

After having some time to really, I mean really think this over, I've repeatedly found myself struggling to find the right way to share my thoughts, opinions and adventures with the world. Constantly, I find myself thinking about blogging, and dreaming of one day, I will be that teacher with blog. Every time I craved out a little time to work on a blog post, or research ways to customize my blog template, I always found ways to distract myself from actually accomplishing these tasks. It became a never ending cycle for me that looked something like this: creating a post title, typing out a few sentences as my mind would begin to freeze. My own thoughts would cloud my head and fill with worry. Will my thoughts, opinions and advice be enough to create a meaningful blog? Am I going to make tons of spelling and grammar mistakes? So I'd stop right there. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my job and could talk for hours about anything related to education. Why can't I write about it? I'm not sure but today I've finally decided to conquer my fears.

I am committing to sharing my journey with all of you. This isn't easy for me because I over analyze EVERYTHING so I've decided to accept the fact that what I have to share might not be perfect, but life's not perfect and that's how we learn best! Jumping out of our comfort zones and pushing new limits. Fingers crossed this time I can hit "Publish" and continue to repeat this cycle of sharing my thoughts with the world, instead of my close colleagues and friends.