Sunday, September 30, 2012

Back to School Update

Lovely readers, I apologize for my delays in posting. As with most of you, I'm caught up with adjusting to the beginning of the school year. In upcoming weeks I plan on reviewing a few apps and adding my two cents as it pertains to middle school.  For now I want to share a few updates with you!

As most of you know, I've been placed in a larger room this year. I'm slowly beautifying it and organizing myself. This post will mostly cover my upgrades to the room, but will also cover a recent purchase (read on!) that I am very proud of.

One corner of my spacious room
This year I decided to purchase pocket charts to organize my students folders. I bought two pocket charts, using one for my 7th graders and the other for my 8th (located at the base of the chalkboard in the picture).  Each pocket was labeled by student class. This pocket chart organizational structure makes it much easier for students to find their work compared to the one large bin I has used last year. Feel free to ask about anything going on this corner.

Now on to the other corner!

The other corner of my room. I have a sink!
Notice the pink and blue student behavior charts. I've entered all my female students names on the pink chart and male students on the blue chart. After each session, if a student conducted themselves accordingly (followed directions, participated, demonstrated effort etc.), they receive a sticker for the day. Those who accrue five stickers will have earned a prize. This year, the prize options are Hershey's Chocolate Bars or Twizzlers (for those with chocolate and peanut allergies). I did this last year and it proved to be quite motivating. For those who required a great deal of motivation, I used student performance cards in conjunction with this behavior chart.

My bulletin board before its finishing touches.
After the final touches. Ta-da!

This year I put up a bulletin board in my room and created a post about it a few weeks ago. Since then I've added a few finishing touches on it. As you may (or may not) notice, I've outlined my popcorn with a black marker, as to make it "pop" more, also I stapled all the letters as opposed to securing them with thumbtacks. Lastly, I've added a hyphen in between "Speech" and "Language." What do you think?

Colorful circles cut out of construction paper.
 These Pinterest inspired circles are my recent obsession! After tracing circles of varying colors and sizes I pasted them on top of each other other and stuck them to the front of my desk. I've added them to my widows and doors as well. They add a bit of cheeriness to the room without being too cheesy for my middle school students. 

Love this hot and cold laminator, purchased for just under $20!

The purchase of my hot and cold laminator has really excited me. I'm now able to preserve all the wonderful checklists, activities, cartoons and seasonal images that I find on Pinterest!

Purchased this joke book today for $2.50 at Five Below.

I love finding joke and riddle books, as it is a great way to target higher level thinking with my students. It is a great way to end if your session runs a bit short. I'm very excited about using the one I purchased today.

What and how have you been adjusting to the school year? Stay tuned for my future app reviews.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Grumble Noise {Review}

The Grumble Noise is one of those apps parents and educators scoop up the minute they hear it's free.  As it turns out, that is exactly what I did! This app contains beautiful illustrations, interactive touch screen capabilities and a captivating storyline.

Choose from two options located in the home-screen
 Readers can choose to read the story themselves or have it narrated.

Primary image
Image after one click

Upon touching the screen, interactive elements are elicited. Users can hear characters snoring, dragons roaring and mysterious grumbling. Images such as facial expressions and body movements can also be altered with a simple touch of the screen.

Image after one click
                   Primary image

Image after two clicks
I really enjoyed the interactive nature of this app. The sound effects and animation make reading "The Grumble Noise" enjoyable. However, there are a few things I would change. One being the text size. It would be great if users were able to enlarge the text to their liking, as I personally found it too small. Also, the narration of the story is a bit over-exaggerated. My adolescent students would not appreciate the rate or tone, however it works well for younger children.

At the middle school level, I would use "The Grumble Noise" with students who are lower functioning  (referred to as "Life Skills" students). These students would benefit from the simple storyline and engaging interactive components. Important skills such as foreshadowing, perspective taking, problem solving and even decoding can all be targeted with this free app (for a limited time).

How have you used this app with your students? 

App Compatibility
This app is compatible with iPad and requires iOS 4.3 or later.

Disclosure Statement: I was provided a copy of this app by the developer. No other compensation was provided. This review includes solely my opinions. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Back to School Bulletin Board

I bet that most of my dedicated readers (i.e. YOU) are back at your respective schools.  When I showed up for the first time on Wednesday, I was ecstatic to learn that I was to be working out of a new room.  My old room was so small that it felt like I was working out of a converted broom closet, as it had no windows or ventilation. Pardon my exaggeration.  It wasn't that bad, but you get the idea...

My new room still needs a lot of love. For the past few days, I've been working hard to get it up to snuff.  One of my projects was to beautify my bulletin board. I was inspired by Ashley from Talk It Up. What do you think? 

Please note, I am not a crafty person at all. I just wanted to liven up the room a bit. The letters were made by me, I printed the letters on colored paper and cut them out (I'm on a budget). I purchased the cardboard popcorn containers from the dollar store, and found popcorn clip art and traced it onto file folders. To add a bit of a 3D effect I decided not to staple the containers flat onto the board and instead opened them up. I'm thinking of adding an "&"or a "-" in between "Speech Language" what do you think? What creative ways have you made your bulletin boards relate to speech and language?

Feel free to follow my Pinterest board related to bulletin board ideas!

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