Friday, March 31, 2017

Do What You Can't


I love the idea of a new phone. The other day Samsung released a new Galaxy so I tuned in to watch the show. At the end they played this video and I fell in love with the idea, do what you can't. It reminded me a lot of growth mindsets, positive attitudes and the Jar of Awesome.

Now that I have watched it a billion times, and currently listening to Rocket Man, I started to think about something I did recently, something I never thought I could do.

Back in February I was talking to Sarah Valter and she mention this idea of writing every day as a part of the Slice of Life, something the Two Writing Teachers did for the past ten years.

Writing something everyday that would be put online for people to read? No way, not in a million years. My writing skills are not publishable online and I was pretty sure that I had nothing to share. 

I put all the self doubt and fear aside and just jumped right in thanks to Sarah. One post every day for the whole month. I just wrote. I didn't really edit, just ideas on the digital paper.

Then I get this email. I was pretty terrified because I didn't think my writing was any good. Melanie is a co-author of the blog. 

This showed up on the Two Writing Teachers website as part of the Slice of Life.

I was tempted to go back to that post and edit it, change it up a bit and write more. In the end I didn't, it was my raw thoughts at the time. 

What does all this mean? How does it connect back to the video of the bird that can't fly but does?

#1 Surround yourself with great people. Without Sarah's encouragement I never would have attempted this challenge. While I don't think I am very good at expressing myself when I write I am trying. If you want to get better you gotta try.

#2 Just start doing. I'm sure there are plenty of people who will criticize from the sidelines but it is harder to hear them though the clacking of my keyboard.

#3 Now I need to find someone to join us as we Slice our way though to the next challenge. Together we can fly like the bird in the video.

I didn't link my Slice anywhere on this post. I'm sure you can find it in like five seconds of Googling if you want to read it. If you do let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Lenka + Google Photos = Perfect B&W App Smash Up

I took this picture during our second spring break visit to the Snow Factory in the loop.  The app I used is called Lenka, a very simple black and white camera app for iOS and Android. While I like the images it takes I wanted to see what would happen if I took the editing a step further with Google Photos.

In the Lenka app I selected the image I wanted to edit and clicked the share button at the very bottom.

I scrolled and found the Upload to Photos button.
Click that option.
On the next screen click Upload.

I clicked the pencil icon at the bottom.
This will allow me to start editing.

I adjusted the Light section a bit. 

Here is the final image.
I'm not 100% happy with it yet but I can keep editing to make it perfect.

Sometimes I can get a perfect image from the Lenka app and other times I adjust it a bit to make some of the details a little sharper.

Side note: we would highly recommend trying out the Snow Factory. The wait can be long but it is worth it. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Taking It Up A Notch - Adding Text To Images

PicMonkey is a super app for editing and putting text on your images. This app will work on iOS and Android, so no matter what device you have this app is for you.

This post is dedicated to show you how to add text on your images.

Open PicMonkey.
Scroll over a bit at the bottom to find the Text tool.
Click on the tool.

Just start typing the text. You will see it start to appear on the screen.
Click Done in the upper right corner.

Choose font and color.
Click the check in the upper right corner when you are finished.

The final product, text on the image.
Super easy.
Super fast.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

App Smashing - Making Images Pop

I know the idea of app smashing (or whatever you call it) is a big thing with Seesaw and other similar tools. I decided to try out this idea with two commonly used photo apps to see what I could do. Both are free and are very easy to use.

The effects are super amazing and I'm just getting started. By pairing these two apps I can get some of my pictures to a totally new level of amazing.

The kids and I spent some time walking around the sculpture park the other day and I snapped a few random photos. We found this piece and thought it looked interesting enough to take a few pictures of it. After reviewing the images I saw the angle was a little off so we thought it would be easy to fix it in an app.

We used PicMonkey and Google Photos to fix up the image into something we would be proud to print and hang. These two apps allowed us to take a so-so image and create something that would pop.

PicMonkey - App 1 of 2

We started by opening the PicMonkey app, then clicked on the image we wanted to start editing. When the bottom menus appears under the photo, we clicked Effects.

Click on Lush. This effect makes the image's colors more vivid in one click.

I maxed the effect out by sliding it to 100.
Click the check in the upper right corner of the image when you are finished adjusting it.

I then clicked Save in the corner then Share.

Click Upload to Photos.
Then clicked Upload on the next screen.
This saves the image into the other app where you can take the editing to the next level.

Google Photos - App 2 of 2
Open the Google Photos app and find the image you just edited in PicMonkey.
Click on that image.

Click the little pencil at the bottom of the image.

Click the center icon at the very bottom. This will give you access to many editing tools.

I clicked on color then pumped up the Deep blue filter by dragging it to the right.
This filter makes the sky into something amazing. It only works if the sky is actually blue.

I noticed my image was a little off and I wanted to straighten it a bit. I returned to a previous screen and looked for the icon above. It looks like a little square with two arrows.

To adjust the image all I had to do is drag left or right.
This created an image that was at a more visually pleasing angle.

Now with the image perfect I can post and share it.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

National Geographic + Mentor Text + Author = Amazed Kids

What if I told you that all you needed to do is click one button and a real author would appear right before your students?

That is exactly what happened over at Concord the other day. A group of excited second graders gathered around the carpet to hear Jill Esbaum talk and ask her questions.

She has written a number of books, some of which are even used a mentor texts in the Lucy Calkins series.

The advice and stories she told where exactly what you would want every child to hear. Jill talked about how she has to constantly edit, research and write to keep her craft sharp. Sometimes the publisher rejects her ideas but she never gets discouraged. I think some of the kids where pretty shocked that even a famous author gets turned down.

Best idea ever was matching up one of the authors with something the class is studying or writing about.

Interested in bringing in an author thought Skype? Check out this post for more information.

Pro Tips
Here are a few ideas on how to run something like this in your classroom.
  • Make a test call a day or so before you go live. You want to make sure your audio works! Doug and I can help you with that.
  • Make sure you read a few of the books they wrote before Skyping.
  • Have the students think of questions they could ask if called upon.
    • Write those on note cards. It is really hard to remember what you want to ask when face to face with the author. 
Sound like a fun idea? Reach out to us and we can help make it happen.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Why does Google Docs keep correcting me!

Have you ever been typing and Google Docs keeps automatically changing the word on you to something that isn't correct? This is a similar experience like autocorrect when you are texting.

Example 1 - I'm typing your but it autocorrects to you're
Example 2 - I typed 3/4 but it autocorrected to the smaller version.

Follow the steps below to fix the issue.
1. Click Tools.
2. Click Preferences.

1. Click the little X next to the incorrect autocorrect to delete it.
2. Click OK.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

KEEP this idea in mind.

Google Keep is a simple Post-It Note site/app and it just got slightly better. I love using Keep as my scratch pad of ideas. The hard part was taking these ideas and quickly expanding upon them in Docs.

This is a screenshot of the app on my phone showing a series of notes I took about the upcoming solar eclipse. I could share these notes with Doug but they are not in any certain order. I needed to take it up a notch so I opened Google Docs.

1. Click Tools.
2. Click Keep notepad.

Your Keep notes will appear on the far right side of the screen. All you need to do is click/drag items to the Doc. 

This is such a fantastic addition to Docs. I can continue to brainstorm ideas in Keep and later expand on them in Docs.

Why not just do all the writing in Docs? Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by a huge blank page, Keep is just a tiny little digital Post-It. I'm pretty sure some of your students feel the same. Forward this post to them, you never know who could benefit.

Seesaw - Summer 2018

This post was created to help guide our Seesaw session. Seesaw is a student-driven online portfolio which can also be used for parent c...