Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Combining Landscape and Portrait slides in PowerPoint

When I first started making products for my students years ago, they were always made in Word.  And I fought the program, trying to move things around.  These days, it's so easy to create them in PowerPoint there's no reason to go back.                                                         These cards for the homonyms their, they're and there were created cards in landscape. I printed them out on card stock and laminated them to use at school for students to play games and review with each other.
But then I wanted a worksheet as a quick individual assessment.  It made sense to put that in Portrait mode, but PowerPoint doesn't let you shift slides from landscape to portrait in the same file.  I didn't want to create two different files.
If you have that same challenge, the fix is easy!  Simply create two different PowerPoints, one in landscape and one in portrait.  Then, merge them when you turn your PowerPoint into a pdf.

For me, I created my cover and task cards as one file in Landscape. Then I created my worksheets and credits page in Portrait mode, and saved that as a separate file, and then saved them both as pdfs. I used smallpdf  to merge the two files.  It was pretty easy!  You download your first file, then add additional files.  Presto, chango!  Within seconds, you have one file, combining both portrait and landscape files into one.

homonyms, task cards

I hope that helps you!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. Learn from my mistakes!

Mistake #1:  Ignore Books that Book Lovers Rave About
I'd been hearing about this book for a while now, and I was aware that it won the Newbery, but for some reason, it just never made it to my reading list.  Now, you have to wonder why a book that won not only that, but the Coretta Scott King award didn't somehow attract my attention, but the fault lies entirely with me, not with the book.

Our school's PTO held a book fair last week, and when I saw the book sitting on one of the shelves, I put it in my "to buy" pile.  The parents were gracious enough to let my pile sit behind the counter since I came in and out more times than was healthy for my pocketbook!  And then, didn't the PTO go and give me all the books in my pile!  I was floored, and so grateful!

Mistake #2: Try to Sell a Book to Students That You Haven't Read
I've been able to get away with that from time to time, although it's not a habit I would recommend.  It's sloppy, but sometimes I want to get books into students hands fast.  If I'm familiar with the author, that helps, but this time I didn't convince anyone.  I could tell, because I didn't see too many kids writing the title down on their "Books I Want to Read" list.  

And now, having read it, I can see why.  I had completely missed the point.

The book is written in verse, and it goes between the pulsing rhythm of the basketball court to the confused musings of a twelve year-old.  This is the kind of poetry I love, where letters slide down and across the page, as much meaning found in how the letters are placed as in the word that's chosen.

I could not put this book down! Twin brothers, schooled in basketball by their former pro father, start to separate emotionally as one boy meets a girl.  The story is told from multiple points of view, but the lonely twin is the primary focus.  

I loved the introspection coming from a boy.  I loved the strong, Assistant Principal mom.  I loved the banter between father and his sons.  I loved the "play by play" going on in the boy's heads.  And I loved the values both parents shared for their sons.

Don't wait like I did!  Grab up this book and read it aloud to your students, or hand it to that reluctant reader who'd rather be holding some kind of athletic ball than a book in his/her hands.  

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Show and Tell Tuesday

I'm a little late to the party started by Stephanie at Forever in 5th Grade, but wanted to join with some pictures to share!

Students held our 5th annual Mini-thon, a fun-filled evening of activity and dancing to raise money for the fight against childhood cancer.  It's hard to see the amount on the first card, but 5th and 6th graders alone raised $16,374.19!  With the 7th and 8th graders, who celebrated later, they raised over $31,000.00!  So proud of kids who go above and beyond for causes they believe in!

The weather this month has been a little bit wacky!  Warm days followed by nearly hurricane-force winds, grey skies, and rain.  Welcome to March!  On one day that was especially gorgeous, I took kids outside.  We were reading a play and they broke up into groups to read.  My kids (all kids?!) love reading plays, especially if they can have a role.  It doesn't matter if their reading is smooth and fluent or choppy and uncertain.  They all want a role, and they usually help each other out.  Gotta love that!

Why are these students lying on the floor trying to imitate a spider web?  Funny you should ask!  This is what happens when a Quiz Bowl team gets a little brain-dead at a tournament, and their coach (me) decides they need a break.  What do you do when you find an empty hallway?  Lie down and try to create one huge yoga pose, apparently.
This was a big event in our home two weeks ago.  My husband Glenn was sworn in as Deputy Secretary of Education in our state.  Standing next to him on the one side are our two daughters and me (holding the Bible Glenn was given by his parents when he was seven.)  On the other side is our governor, next to him is Glenn's boss, the Secretary of Education, and at the far left is the Secretary of State.  It was a treat to meet these folks for the first time, and discover that they all are friendly and comfortable in their own skin.  It was a really lovely ceremony, topped off by a surprise late appearance from our son who was taking midterms at his nearby college when this picture was taken.

So that's been my month so far!  Why don't you link up with Stephanie and show and tell a few things that are happening on your side of the world?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Lucky to Be a Teacher Giveaway

When I think about teaching, especially in the month of March, I realize that, despite the cabin fever we're all experiencing, I'm really a pretty fortunate professional.  I get to do something I really enjoy feel really passionately about.  I get to ignite curiosity in my students!  My eyes sparkle and my heart melts when
  • a student talks excitedly about a book
  • says "Oh, I get it now!" after working through a math problem
  • a student helps another student navigate unfamiliar territory
  • a student leaves me a note
  • a Related Arts teacher tells me my students are great to teach
I get to watch someone who doesn't know very much about something become pretty comfortable discussing and explaining it.  How cool is that?!

Brooke from Countless Smart Cookies  has organized a wonderful giveaway to celebrate teachers this month!  Click on this one if you teach these older kiddos.  I'm giving away a "teacher's choice!"


So....why do you feel lucky to be a teacher?  
Share some love, and have a great Friday!