Monday, September 24, 2012

Cyber Mondays: Puzzle Maker

Hello all, since there are so many wonderful resources on the web, I thought I'd start this series, and maybe someday make it a linky party, if I ever learn how. ;)  First, let me just say that the graphic above was my very first semi-successful GIMP project.  I'm still brand new to the whole computer graphics thing.  My first sessions trying to use this program left me absolutely livid with frustration because I just couldn't seem to make it do what I wanted.  When reading the online users' guide, I could only understand half of the language in it ;)  But now, slowly but surely, I'm beginning to get hip to its little quirks and idiosynchrocies.  What I love is that it's free, and it's built on a community of users and developers who built it for the benefit of everyone involved.  So, if there are any GIMPers out there, I'd love some tips or advice. 

So, now on to what's really important.  I wanted to begin this series with something I used last year with my students.  It's an interactive web tool that makes crossword puzzles.  In a classroom with a computer lab, you could have students create and trade puzzles, especially if you have different groups working on different sets of vocabulary words.  Since I don't have internet access when I'm working with students, I bring a puzzle already printed for them.  Another from the Thinkfinity community is this biography cube maker.  Any time they can cut and paste and put something together, I'd like to think the learning will stick more firmly.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

My First Post... YAY!

Well, hello to the cute, creative and wonderful teaching blogosphere!!!!  After reading many blogs for the past year or so, and thinking about starting one all summer, I finally felt that this would be the right time.  I like to muse over fresh starts.  I find them not only at the start of a new year, but on my birthdays, and at the beginning of a new school year.  I dream of the possibilities, make resolutions and try to imagine doing things just a little differently, instead of slipping back into the same old worn-out routines. 

My name is Jessica, and I have my hands full with several varied things at the moment.  I work one on one with elementary school students who struggle with reading and mathematics.  It’s only my second year of service, and so I often wrack my brain to find just the right solutions for a particular need that my students may have.  (This is where you all have been so helpful).  I’m also passionate about music education.  I teach early childhood music classes at a local dance studio, so I may talk about that from time to time.  I also teach touch-typing and keyboarding skills to blind and visually impaired adults as a prerequisite to further assistive technology computer training.  I’m also in my first semester of grad school, trying to take only one or two online classes at a time so things don’t get too nutty ;)  I want to specialize in urban education and ESOL.  I just feel unsure much of the time what to do with my professional “coat of many colors” if you will.  It just seems like the things I’m involved with don’t really go together.  But, hopefully, I’ll figure it out one of these days soon. ;)  I have many wonderful friends that inspire me too, with whom I love sharing quality time. 

I remember being in first grade, having this whole unit at the beginning of the year all about insects and especially butterflies.  I’m still amazed at how dramatically they transform in the process of metamorphosis.  In a way, I feel this is what we help our students to achieve, at any level.  We set up the right conditions and they become confident, capable and self-assured.  For education to really be effective, it has to change something inside of us; the way we think, or the way we perceive the world around us, hence my title.  What’s up with the chicks, you might ask?  Well, as I grew up, we always had three or four pet chickens in our medium-sized suburban yard.  We thought they made great pets, and the eggs were great too.  I got to see the baby chicks creep out of their cardboard box onto the grass, discovering the world outside for the first time.  As our students master one small concept at a time, they too discover the world, in a way.  They come to own their knowledge, and survey the vastness of what is possible. 

I just want to give a quick shout-out to the Honey Bunch Blog Design!  Thank you ladies for coming up with such a cute design for me!  So, I look forward to sharing ideas with all of you, and hope I don’t ramble on too long, as I am prone to do. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Just testing to make sure everything is working properly.