July 31, 2011

Make Your Own Posters!

I discovered a really fun website today, and I thought I'd share. Block Posters lets you take any picture and blow it up any size you want. The great thing is that you don't need any special paper. Each part of your picture prints on a separate sheet of plain ole' copy paper and all you have to do is put the pieces together.

I decided to do this with my newly created Noise Levels chart I made. I created this chart using Microsoft Word, so I had to convert it to a JPEG before uploading it to Block Posters. I did this by first converting my Word document to a PDF (click "save as" and change the file extension from .doc to .pdf). Once you have your PDF open, go to "File" and "screen shot". You can then select the part of the document that you want to convert into a JPEG. Once it is selected, copy it and paste it into a Word document. You can then right click on the image and save it as a .jpeg.

Okay, real computer people out there are probably laughing at me, because I'm sure there is an easier way to go about this. That's okay.

You can then upload your photo to Block Posters. On the middle of their homepage click where it says "click here to start." Then browse to find the picture you want to turn into a poster. You then choose how many pages you want your poster to be and whether you want it oriented vertically or horizontally. Here's what I decided for mine.



I am excited to know that I can blow up posters for free at home! How much fun would this have been as a teenager? I also decided to redo my class rules and my reading comprehension strategy posters today to fit with the rest of the Hollywood theme I have going. Have you discovered anything new you're excited about using in the classroom this year?

July 26, 2011

'Zines

No one has yet realized the wealth of sympathy, the kindness and generosity hidden in the soul of a child. The effort of every true education should be to unlock that treasure.
~Emma Goldman


I stumbled upon this quote the other day, and it really made me think. It's so easy to become frustrated by the way we perceive children in today's society. As I think about 29 ten and eleven year olds entering my classroom in a few weeks, I realize that I need to shift my thinking. I want to create an atmosphere where students are engaged in the real issues going on in today's world. Here's an idea that I stole came up with.

'Zines - We tried creating these last year, and it was definitely a worthwhile experience. Another teacher in our district did these originally, and if I could remember her name I would love to give her credit! Students were able to choose a topic, and create a magazine centered around that topic. Students were required to include stories, articles, and poetry about their topic. They were also able to add anything else they wanted, such as advertisements, editorials, and games. Students also had a lot of fun creating their own magazine covers using this cover creator. I also decided to play around with LiveBinders to create a resource for students to use when creating their 'zine. If you haven't used LiveBinders, I think you should give it a try. Basically it lets you organize all of your links, documents, etc. in one place. Also, it lets you embed a cool little binder widget like this one.

Zines

Here are some picture of our 'zines.  







While I think we accomplished what we set out to with our 'zines, there is always room for improvement. I came upon this video from the Penn State Exemplary Digital Teaching Archive Project (EDTAP) and it takes the idea of making 'zines and focusing it in a way that makes it more meaningful for students. Take a look and prepare to be amazed by the conversations going on in this fifth grade classroom.
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