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CACountieswordle

How much do I love Wordle?  A lot!  A whole lot!  Wordle is a very cool tool that is free to use.  You enter a bunch of words and it creates a graphic for you.  The size of the words in the graphic depends on how often they appear in the group.  So, I put in all the counties names, added the word “Counties” three times and the word “California” five times.  Voila.  You can adjust the layout, color, and orientation of the words until you are happy with it.  Because the output is not a graphic, you’ll need to use a screen capture to get your graphic to use on the web or other places.

After teaching 5th grade last year, I was used to tons of resources for teaching about the US States and US History.  This year, I’m teaching California history and geography.  There are not nearly as many resources available.  So, cool tools like this . . . they work!

Feel free to use this graphic if it would be helpful to you.  If you click on the graphic, you’ll be taken to Flickr where there is a larger version available.  Please make it clear it’s created by Wordle when you share it.

The best benefit of reading the Two Writing Teachers blog is that they share their good ideas.  Recently, they shared the amazing deals available from VistaPrint.  VistaPrint is an online printing service.  They regularly court customers to try new products by offering them for free.  No, really!  You just pay shipping and you get free stuff.  Cool stuff like business cards, magnets, brochures, rubber stamps and more.

So, how does that help teachers?  What do we need with carside magnets?  Well, there are an amazing number of creative teachers willing to use free stuff in creative ways.  Check out this site for ideas [click].

Here’s what I did with my first free order from VistaPrint:

The window decal is to put on the small window on my door.  The Clean Desk Awards are just that — if I spot inspect desks and they are clean and tidy, they get the award and a small treat.  The Missing Work postcards will be given out once a month or so to help students stay on track.  The magnets will be given out at Back to School night to help parents keep my contact information handy.  And, the rubber stamps . . . they are part of a series I’m planning that will include late work, REDO, Show your work, 100% (You get a treat!), and more.  Anyway, the possibilities are endless.

Oh, and the shipping costs?  Well, it’s hardly cheap but considering all the products were free, $17 for 7 day shipping is pretty reasonable!

I’ve set up a Wikispace for my classroom {click}. I’m thrilled with how easy it’s been to set up. I’m more than thrilled with the fact that they gave me a free upgrade as a teacher.

Thank you, Wikispaces!

I hope that I can find it useful in my classroom with only 2 computers that students can use available.  If nothing else, it’s a place for me to make resources available to students but also to keep them available to myself.  I hate it when I work on something and then can’t find it again. 

Which computer did I do that on?  Do I have it here?  Is it at home?  Did I delete it? 

I’ve taken to mailing everything to myself at my gmail account just so that I have access to it no matter where I am.

I see this as being a long term project — I intend to use this hard work getting this set up in the future.  If I’m teaching 5th grade again, great, I’m all set — if not, well, I can use this as a basis to start the next project for the next grade level.  In the future, I’d love to have the students take part in editing these pages as well. 

Oh, I have lots of plans!  Blogging about Books!  Wouldn’t that be a great book project?  

I’d love input, links to resources, advice, etc.   For now, I’m just going to bask in the glory of how easy this was to do and how useful I hope it will be!

the only thing that is really working is my ability to stay focused on the future and just survive.  With that in mind, I have come up with ONE thing that would improve my working life next year in a big way.  I need a desk — a real desk.  Right now, I’m using a student double desk and that ain’t it.

This desk from Ikea (click on the picture for more details) isn’t my end-all, be-all desk either but it will work and that’s pretty important.  It has what I need and I can make it work.  And, it’s around $140.  I know I’m going to get it next summer to be ready for next year but it would be super-cool to get it over the Winter break so I can be ready for THIS year!

So, in class, we’ve been working on Narratives and we’ve been working on uses of quotation marks. And, as it’s getting near to Halloween, I thought I’d toss in a Poetry Friday lesson for the kids. We read “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s a bit much for 5th graders but I promised them that it was moody and dark and creepy. Most of them felt it — heck, for me, as I read it, I got goosebumps a little bit (yea, I’m that good at reading aloud! 🙂 ) Also, we are lucky enough to have a lot of ravens at our school so we get to see and hear them everyday.

The best part of it all was the fantastic discussion that we had afterwards. I had intended that they read through it and point out words and phrases that set the dark setting. Imagine my surprise when one of them pops up and tells us all who Pallas was and gave me a chance to talk about why the author included the bust of Pallas as the resting place for the Raven. Fantastic.

This lesson is definitely NOT going in the “Nevermore” category! 🙂

One more thing, I found a great resource for teaching this poem. The Interactive Raven — check it out!