Monday, February 21, 2011

ActivInspire: Drag A Copy and More

Sometimes just knowing a few simple tricks in ActivInspire can save the day. In my last post I mentioned that I had put some action objects on my page by using the Drag and Drop feature. That sure saved me big time in front of those first graders when my tools mysteriously disappeared!
This is a link to a handout I created on how to: Drag a Copy, Drag & Drop, and Drag an Application. Here's why you might want to know how to use each of these features.

Drag a Copy: Anytime you want to use the same icon or image repeatedly you might like drag a copy. If you're asking students to drag the coins on the flipchart to demonstrate an amount, or if you ask students to put a sun or cloud on a weather map or calendar you'll want to use drag a copy. This saves you from guessing just how many pennies or suns you might need. Just put one and add the drag & drop action to it and you'll be able to drag a copy forever and ever.

Drag & Drop: Normally you and your students would use the toolbox to access tools. Some of the tools can be put right on the page so students don't have to search for the tools in the toolbox. The page reset button is a necessity for interactive pages. Drag & Drop lets you drop these commonly used buttons onto the page and possibly you'll be able to put your toolbox away.

Drag an Application: There are times you might want one of your computer applications to be at your fingertips within ActivInspire. For example, if you’re working with student photos you might want Photo Booth on your flipchart page so you can take pictures of your students and drag them right on to your page.

Download the handout here.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Eeeeek . . . I Lost My Toolbox

I worked hard on a flipchart for the first graders on counting change. I went through each page of the flipchart with a fine tooth comb, making minor changes every time I looked at it. Today was the big day to actually try it out with students. I walked in feeling rather confident. The kids had their marker boards and a bag with change in it all ready to go! I opened ActivInspire and realized very quickly that my toolbox was missing! This has happened before so I calmly quit ActivInspre and opened it again. Still no toolbox! I looked under every menu and tried various icons. I quit ActivInspire again and it still didn't come up. So we went on anyway. Lucky for me I had used the drag and drop action to put the forward, reset, and eraser tools on each page. Well, we had to revamp somewhat!
Once the lesson was over and I had a couple of minutes to regroup I searched for the solution to the missing tool box. This seems to be a bug in ActivInspire's latest version. If this ever happens to you do this:
1. open the preferences (found under ActivInspire in the upper left hand corner)
2. choose the layout tab
3. change the location of the main toolbox. You can always change it back if you want.
That's it! Your toolbox should now be showing again! I just want you all to know the solution in the event it ever happens to you.
BTW, I didn't kick and scream at my computer. I didn't throw out my plans. I just had to revamp. The first graders were just fine with it! I'm going back in next week and we'll complete the lesson. It's going to work flawlessly!

First Graders Create Paper Slide Videos

Yesterday a class of first graders created their first paper slide videos! Students were divided into groups of three. Each student had a job. One person was the videographer, one was the narrator, and one was the paper slider. The first graders are learning about pennies, nickels, and dimes which made perfect content for the paper slide videos. Most of the slides were printed from the computer but they certainly don't have to be. Some paper slide videos start out with completely blank slides. Personally, I like a mix of computer text or graphics with original student work. Enjoy our first attempt with paper slide videos with first graders. We'll be posting more in the next week as several other grade levels are creating paper slide videos.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Instructional Strategies Online

Let's just be honest here. Sometimes our teaching gets boring! You know it! But why is that? Could it be that we're teaching the same topic again year after year after year and we're teaching it the same way we've always taught it? I'm almost bored to tears just typing that last sentence! (yawn, yawn) I'm going to suggest we take a look at some new and different instructional strategies. Yes, we probably have to teach the same content we've taught for years but there are no rules that say we have to teach it in the same manner! Take a look at Instructional Strategies Online. Do what you have to do here. Print out some of these strategies, write them in your lesson plan book (if you're still using one!), bookmark this site! Vow to use a different strategy everyday until these strategies become more commonplace in your classroom. Your students will start begging for strategies! We all love variety and novelty. Change things up a little. Get your students involved and engaged. This site just might be what you've been needing!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Clutter Free Web Pages - - Readability

Ever distracted by ads, photos, extra clutter while trying to read a news article?  Have you noticed when you've found a recipe online that there's a button that says Print Version?  That button gets rid of all the clutter and gives you a nice printable copy of the recipe only.  Well, that's what this site called Readability will do.  It will clean up your page.
First go to the site.   In step 1, you can make the settings what you want.  I like narrow margins with a small font.  This will save paper if I decide to print it.
In step 2 just drag the bar that says READABILITY up to your bookmarks toolbar menu.  That's ALL you have to do to set it up
Now go to a news site and click on an article.  Once the article is loaded, click once on Readability in your toolbar menu.  Voila!  You now have a nice clean page - free of distractions AND printable.  You'll see three options on the left side of the page.  One is to revert the page back to its original, next is to print the page (this is really going to save ink and paper!), and the third option is to email it to someone! 
Try it and let me know what you think!  I'm thinking some of our students could really benefit from a clutter-free Internet environment!
If you prefer to learn by video, you'll see an instructional video on the Readability website.  
Big thanks to Elaine Plybon (former Hutch girl) who shared this site in the Shining Stars DEN webinar.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Gift to You!

Advent calendars were a tradition at our house while our children were growing up. It was exciting just to see what shape the chocolate was under each flap. I don't really think they even liked the chocolate. It was just the thrill of the unknown!
This Countdown to Christmas wiki, an advent calendar for teachers, is my Christmas gift to you this year. I hope you experience the thrill of clicking on each page as a new link becomes active each day and seeing something new (or maybe something old) that you'll be able to use in your classroom and in your home!
You will be able to respond to each topic by clicking on the Discussion Tab on each page. Please share how you might use this in your classroom. We'll learn so much from each other by sharing in this manner!
Join the wiki and you'll be able to upload photos of any of your projects. You should see the words Join This Wiki in the upper left hand corner.  Further instructions are on the first page of the wiki.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Metrics Wiki

How many feet are in a yard? 3 How many inches are in a foot? 12 How many quarts are in a gallon? 2? How many cups in a pint? 2? Eeeeeeek! The numbers are all different and the units don't even sound the same! Which ones measure length and which ones measure capacity? This is so confusing!
Let's take a look at the metric system. How many millimeters in a centimeter? 10 How many centimeters in a decimeter? 10 How many decimeters in a meter? 10 How many meters in a decameter? 10 You get the idea? 10 is the magic number. That's what makes metrics so simple! If you've been afraid to learn metrics, take some time to learn the prefixes. That's the secret to understanding metrics. And don't just learn the tested ones. It doesn't make sense to only learn milli-, centi-, and kilo-.
This wiki was created to compile resources for teaching metrics in sixth grade. Most activities/resources are appropriate or easily adaptable to other grade levels too. Each page of the wiki has an open discussion forum. Please join in on the discussion and share your ideas!