Hide Your Desktop Icons in One Easy Click

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Hi everyone! Let’s start the new year off right by being organized (or at least pretending to look organized). 😆

I saw someone use this tool and I knew I had to install it on my computer. I love to store files that I am currently working with on my desktop and as a result, my desktop can become quite cluttered. When I am presenting in front of large groups of teachers or students, I don’t want them to see my desktop. Although I try to keep it tidy, sometimes it just isn’t the case. This solution is quick and easy!

Click here to see a previous post about organizing your desktop.

This is a FREE app called HiddenMe Free: Hide Desktop Icons. It is available in the Mac App Store. Download it and then you will have a small black circle in your menu bar. Once you click on it, you can hide your desktop icons like magic! Additionally, you can set up a hotkey that will automatically hide your icons when you press those keys you’ve set up. Screen Shot 2018-01-11 at 10.39.07 AM

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Happy clean desktop to all! 👩🏼‍💻

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Classroom Screen: The Best Screen for Every Classroom

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Ok guys, this is cool. As soon as I saw it, I couldn’t wait to share it with you.

When I have my students work on a project, I typically use my big screen to display a QR code, set of directions, maybe a diagram for students to follow, timer, etc. As you can imagine, that’s a great deal of various windows to have up on your screen at once. Well, that is no longer the case. Laurens Koppers, a teacher in the Netherlands, saw a need for this and he created one screen that has all of these options for teachers. This is one of those great tools for teachers to use on a daily basis. There are options for a random name generator, sound levels for classroom management, QR code display, text for directions or assignment guidelines, timer, clock, and a traffic light for students to monitor their behavior.

www.classroomscreen.com

All you do is pick which widget you want up on the board for that particular working period and your students can refer back to the board for the information they need while they are working.

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This is an example of the screen I was using today. I love to use timers because my classes are so short. Then, I always have the steps for our projects up on the screen so my students can refer to those if they forget a step.

 

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Tips and tricks from the creator of this site.

I hope that you find this as useful as I did when I saw it a few days ago. I think it’s a great tool for teachers!

Cheers! 🎉

Create Transparent Images in Keynote and Preview

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Happy New Year! I am so excited to share this cool tip with you all! It is with two of the most powerful tools: Keynote and Preview!

What I typically do is use Keynote and create images that I use in many other projects. After I create my graphic, I take a screen shot of my image or I save the file to my computer as an image. From there, I open Preview on my Mac and I use the Instant Alpha tool to erase the white background that came along with my screen shot. This was very time-consuming because I was making over 20 images to use in one project.

BUT WAIT! THERE’S AN EASY FIX FOR THIS!!! I discovered that you can create your image in Keynote and copy your entire image and use Preview for Mac to create your graphic with a transparent background. After you copy all elements of your image, paste to your clipboard and export the file as a .png (Portable Network Graphics) file. HOORAY! Don’t you love it when you find a simple solution! So, here’s how to do this on your Mac!

Visual Instructions:

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*Make sure you uncheck the Alpha box.

Text Instructions:

  1. Use shapes to create your image. This can be anything from photos to badges you want to make for your classroom.
  2. After you have everything the way you want it, select all (Command A) and then copy all of these elements (Command C)
  3. Open Preview
  4. Click File>New From Clipboard
  5. Your image will appear and it is the perfect size, too! Just the elements from your creation!
  6. File>Export (make sure you uncheck Alpha because it is saving it as a transparent image)
  7. Now you have your perfect image with no white in the background!

Cheers! 🎉

Creative Writing with Emoji Prompts

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What kid does not love emojis? I came across this website byrdseed.com/emoji and thought this would be a great lesson for my students. I feel strongly that our kids don’t have enough creative writing time, so I wanted to give them time to dig deep into their creativty. I recently introduced my students to their Google accounts, so I thought this would be a great way for them to explore writing in Google Docs. I instructed students to open their documents and then create a new tab so they could go back and forth from the emoji prompts to their document. The kids absolutely loved this project and the stories they wrote were creative, witty, and fun to read.

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This is what the emoji prompts look like once you start clicking “and then”

How It Works:

Each time you click “and then” users get a new emoji to include in their story. I had my students take screenshots of their emojis when they were finished and include them in their document under their title. Additionally, I had the students underline the word that corresponded to the emoji they used. I found it interesting how students interpret what the emojis are…because they certainly are open for interpretation! Here are a few samples (screenshots) from some of my students! Super fun writing activity and they all gave it two enthusiastic thumbs up! This lesson combines lots of useful technology techniques with creative writing.

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Audio Alphabet Books in Keynote & Clips

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My name is April and I am a Keynote junkie. There, I said it. I feel better already. 😜

Anyone who knows my work, knows that I love to use Keynote to do just about anything creative. I love finding workarounds and new ways to use an old favorite tool. When Apple updated Keynote this summer, I was instantly engaged with all of the new shapes and all the things you could do with them. You can easily break apart the complex shapes and come up with your own creations. Before the addition of all these new shapes, I would draw my own shapes with the pen tool, so this is definitely a time saver and a great way to add creativity to projects.

This particular project focuses in on vocabulary, letter sounds, phonics, shape recognition, and organization. Students will open the Keynote template and insert shapes inside each of the block letters. What I noticed when I had students complete this assignment was the time they took to go through each shape and say the shape’s name out loud and determine if the shape started with that letter (even older kids did this). It’s also important to note that some shapes have multiple meanings, for example, the party hat could be viewed as hat, party, or birthday. Once they have filled their shape, then I told them the trick to see how many shapes they may have missed. This is always a great “gotcha.” If you click on the search bar in the shape tool, just type in the letter and you will see all the shapes that begin with that letter or are associated with that letter. For this project, I gave students one to two letters to work on, I do not have them create all letters of the alphabet. You will see the template I’ve created down below.

I also really love it when important learning and technology come together. This project takes students down a powerful path in using Keynote to change slide background colors, insert shapes, change a shape’s color, size, and rotation as well as exporting slides as images. I love a good work flow and this project turned out to be really fun.

This project is suited for elementary aged students and would be particularly helpful for our ELL students. However, think about ways to stretch this type of project to suit the needs of older students in language arts classes or to accompany literature unit when studying the main character’s traits. I could see this same type of idea used for science classes when studying the periodic table of elements. I challenge you to think about how you could create your own Keynote slides to use in conjunction with shapes, words, letters, or other elements.

This project can range from complex to simple depending on grade level, user experience, and time. Here’s some ideas from simple to complex:

  • Using the template provided, create an alphabet book in Keynote and fill each outlined letter with shapes that begin with that letter. To take this further, if you are using Keynote for Mac, students can record narration on their slides.
  • Using the template provided, create an alphabet book in Keynote. Use animations to bring their letters and shapes to life. Export this as a movie.
  • Using the template, each student in the class creates one slide with one letter using their iPad. Once all students have completed their slides, they can take a screen shot of their picture (only once they press play in Keynote) crop the black out of the picture and use the picture to create one big class book in Book Creator or iBooks Author. To do this, I’d select one iPad as the master iPad and have students Airdrop their photo to the one iPad to create one book. Additionally, if photos are on one iPad, you can select all photos and tap share and send them to iBooks. This is a great option for those using iPad and don’t have Book Creator.
  • Finally, for this project example I share below, students used the template. Each student had one or two letters to complete. Once they were finished, they exported their slide as an image (Mac). They used Airdrop to send it to one iPad in the classroom. Once all slides were collected, we opened Clips and each student added and narrated on their slide. Then, this becomes a whole class published project.

If you create your own slides, here are some tips and some workarounds I went through when creating this project:

I searched for fonts that were outlined. I downloaded the font to my computer. I created all of the slides and then using Airdrop, I sent the files to my student’s computers. What I didn’t initially think of was that they would be missing the font. So, my workaround was to create the slides and export the slides as images. I created a new Keynote presentation and imported my newly created images on each slide. I used Instant Alpha to create transparent letters. Then, I saved those files and used Airdrop to resend to my students. You will be able to download the Keynote file with no workaround! YAY!

Here’s an example from one of my classes (4th grade): https://vimeo.com/239898222

Download the Keynote file HERE

Hope you have as much fun as I did with this little project! Cheers! 😀

Swift Playgrounds: Learn to Code 1 & 2 Vocab Cards

 

coding vocab.001“Everyone should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.”–Steve Jobs

Swift Playgrounds is an amazing app developed by Apple that can teach anyone the concepts of coding. The great part is that you don’t need any prior experience before diving in…I promise! 😀 As a teacher and professional development leader, I absolutely LOVE that Apple has given us many resources to be able to teach this to our students because it’s true…EVERYONE CAN CODE!

So…What is Swift?

Swift is a coding language meant to be easy to use so that anyone can learn coding and app development. Some of the world’s most popular apps were created in Swift.

So…What is Swift Playgrounds?

Swift Playgrounds is fun, engaging, and interactive. In Swift Playgrounds, students use real code to solve puzzles and interact with characters.  To explore more complex coding concepts, there are lots of challenges for which to build skills. Finally, students can make their codes come to life by programming robots and drones. Talk about cool!

Learn to Code 1 & 2 in Swift Playgrounds

Learn how to code in a fun 3D world with your new pal, Byte! At first, students will guide Byte through the 3D world and then they will move on to more advanced lessons. I love the teacher guides that come along with this because it lays out for you the lessons to teach coding concepts so there is a clear connection between real life and the code they use within the app. After all, coding is following a set of commands or instructions to accomplish a goal. In this case, it’s to get Byte through the 3D world.

Coding Vocabulary (aka: Coding Lingo) 😀

The vocabulary used to understand code can be tricky at first. I find it helpful to really have students learn the vocabulary so that they understand the concepts one needs to fully understand the code they are writing. This also allows students to build on each skill as they go through the lessons. I created vocabulary cards that go with the teacher guides for Learn to Code 1 & 2. Learn to Code 3 will be coming soon. I created these cards to print and display on the wall space in my room. Students can refer back to the vocabulary as they complete each lesson. Additionally, I created a Quizlet with the same vocabulary words for students to practice. I created these for my students and I thought yours would equally benefit! Hope they help you out! The only thing left is to get out there and get started!

Click Swift Playgrounds to download the vocabulary cards.

Click here for the Quizlet link.

Resources from Apple:

 

 

 

 

Digital Skills Learning Badges

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 12.14.00 PMHappy back to school! If you’re like me, I have loved the #AppleTeacher movement to encourage teachers to learn more about using Apple tools in the classroom! What I love about it is that teachers can learn new skills in utilizing the most powerful technology tools for learning and teaching all at their own time! I thought, why not make this same concept available for my students? I have created digital skills badges for all of the Apple applications I use in my classroom as well as other applications that we use frequently. Additionally, I created badges for skills such as Internet Safety and Keyboarding. Here’s what you need to know to create your own Digital Skills Badges!

  1. Think about what skills are most important for your students to master. You can create skills on just about anything and you can use my template or create your own. My template is broken down into skills using a variety of applications and included are both iPad and Mac versions.
  2. I created a website where students can take the skills quiz to earn their badge once they are finished with a final project within that application or learning component. For example, our first learning module is on Internet Safety. Once students have learned about Internet Safety, they will work in teams to create a project. Once their project is finished, they will take the quiz and upload their final project. I felt that taking a quiz wasn’t enough…I wanted to see the projects attached to the skill so that I could understand the creative process students went through to finish their badge.
  3. All of the apps I have listed involve creation. To me, it’s not about how well you know the tool, but what you can do with the tool AFTER you’ve learned the skill. (Can I get an AMEN???) 😜
  4. I put all of my quizzes in Google Forms so that I can view or grade them once they are turned into me, but you could easily use something such as Quizlet, Quizizz, Go Formative, Survey Monkey, Socrative, Padlet, Flip Grid, Answer Garden, or Wizer.
  5. Once students earn their badge, then, I will add their name to two different versions of “shout outs!” First one is I have a bulletin board outside my room where I have each badge and I will add student’s names as they earn their badge (coming soon!) The second one is a Padlet where I have each badge with student names as they earn them. Adults love to earn badges, so why not give kids this same experience!

RESOURCES:

I will post more resources and examples of student work once I kick this off with students, but I just couldn’t wait to share it with all of you!

For more information on the Apple Teacher program: https://appleteacher.apple.com

Cheers!