Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Today, I'm linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday and Technology Tailgate for Techie Tuesday.

We've all used Wordle with our students. It's such a neat way for students and teachers to produce beautiful word clouds. Now there's Tagxedo!  I know. So what? What's so great about this one? It just makes word clouds. Yes... but you can make these word clouds into various shapes that go along with the words that you are using. You can even put a URL in and the program will pull words from the website and create a word cloud.

As an example, in the News field I typed in "teaching", chose a font, theme (these can be changed later), and hit submit. It takes a couple of seconds for the cloud to be created. 

Here's the word cloud in an apple shape. I changed the font and colors. If I wanted to change the theme I could do that here too. Look at all the possibilities! 

After that, all you need to do is save it! Then you can print it out or embed it.

Here's an example of a Tagxedo word cloud from this website:

Oh the possibilities and combinations are endless! Enjoy!!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Training, Training, Training

I don't know how this post will go over. I'm sure some will agree and others will disagree but I'm going to put it out there anyway. Hey! Maybe it'll spark some conversation at least!

I've been at the dreaded professional development all week. Today's the only day I haven't had it. I've been learning about GT students. It has been extremely intense starting at 8:30 and going until 3:30 with a one hour lunch session thrown in. Yesterday, I don't think I talked to anyone but my mom because she was dropping off my daughter and my husband.

While there, I kept hearing other teachers say things like, "I can't believe this is how I'm spending my summer vacation," "I'm only here because I have to do it," and "I can't believe they expect us to take four days of this training and give up my lunch!" I listened to the griping around me. I started thinking about what they were saying. Why is it that we as professionals don't like doing what other professionals do, which is to learn and continuously improve what we do? I know we all have children and families. Our time is very valuable. Professionals in other areas have the same issues.

I have a seven month old. I want to spend as much time with her as possible because she's constantly growing and changing. I already miss so much while working. I'm torn. I also love what I do. I want to not just be a mediocre teacher but a great teacher. One that changes the way the students think. One that makes them think!

How else are we supposed to be better without learning? I consider it part of my job. I know every summer I'll be attending professional developments. As teachers, I don't think we should complain about the time that we put in to learn more about the profession but instead embrace the knowledge we're given, digest it, and see how we can apply it to our own classrooms.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Quick Update: Vistaprint Lovin'

I've been waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Today they finally came!! My large car magnets from Vistaprint. I won't be using them for my car of course. Although, the way my students have a tendency to ignore me that might be the way to go. I'll be using them for my whiteboard. One is a magnet about homework and the other is a magnet for contact information with QR codes on it.

I can't wait to use these this coming school year in my classroom. Each magnet is 11x17. I just love them!!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Summer Reading

As week 1 of summer vacation winds down, I'm looking around my house and I see this brown paper bag. I know I brought it home with me from school at some point while cleaning my classroom but can't remember what's inside. I look. Oh yes... books I need to read this summer.

Summer Reading!

Four of these books are part of a collection of books for the American Revolution themed book club we will be doing next year. The Notorious Benedict Arnold, The Fifth of March, Or Give Me Death, and Chains. They will be paired up with Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen. Our kids loved Woods Runner the past couple of years. Hopefully, we will have just as much luck with these four novels. 

Reality Check by Peter Abrahams was recommended by some of my students last year. The best that they could describe it was "Mrs. Bush, this is a really good book! I would read it again." Now, if my 8th graders are telling me they would read it again then I definitely need to check this out. 

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander was also recommended by my kiddos. They liked it because it was funny. I started it (noted by the green flag) but I got sidetracked by the other things going on during the end of the year madness. I have to agree with them that so far it is quite humorous!

I'm really looking forward to reading The Sunflower. This year we used The Sunflower in my PreAP Language Arts class as part of The Holocaust book club study. It reminded me of the book The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult (my favorite author ever!!). The first half of The Sunflower is a story of a dying Nazi asking for forgiveness for the crimes he committed during The Holocaust. The remainder of the book is commentary from different authors and individuals about their thoughts on the situation. 

The final book, Bounce, a colleague of mine recommended. It's non-fiction. It takes on the idea of talent vs. practice and what sets people who are successful apart from those that aren't. I thought it might be an interesting read. 

I suppose I have a lot of reading to do and I guess I better get busy!

Oh! I've also finally linked up with Farley. Here's my June Currently!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Pinterest vs. eduClipper

First let me start by saying I adore Pinterest. I have the app on my iPad and iPhone. I check it religiously in the morning, noon, and night. I can't get enough of it. Then, along comes a website called eduClipper. Oh what's this? You know the categories on Pinterest? The one specifically called Education? Well, this is it. An entire website of all Education themed what they call clips. Obviously, they can't call them pins.

Screenshot of eduClipper

eduClipper works the same Pinterest does. You create clipboards and pin education related sites, documents, links, etc. to the clipboards and share them with the masses. The nice thing about eduClipper is you can create classes and have your students enroll and view specific boards you've designated for them. I can see this being extremely helpful when you're wanting to share documents or videos with them for a unit of study. The only thing I see missing right now is that there is no app. I'm a little obsessed with apps for my iPad and iPhone.

All in all, will I be abandoning my Pinterest for eduClipper? No way! I can't. I'm addicted. Will I be using eduClipper for my classes? I can definitely see using it next school year and trying it out with my 8th graders. It might be a hit! If you've used it successfully I would love to know how you've done it. Leave me comments below!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


This weekend is the first weekend of "summer vacation." What am I doing at the beginning of my summer vacation? Creating a new blog (this one right here!), getting new ideas for next school year, and doing the dreaded chores that have been waiting for me for the past few months. I know it's extremely exciting!

So, what exactly is the intent of this new blog? Well, as a middle school teacher and blog lover I've noticed that there seems to be fewer blogs devoted to middle school than to elementary school. Elementary school teachers have all these great ideas for their classrooms for organization and work happening in their classes. Middle school teacher blogs are harder to come by. I'm hoping this will be a valuable resource for people looking for classroom organization ideas and to show off the awesome things my kids do!

The plan is set. The hard part starts now. My dedication to writing and posting has to gear up and continue! The laundry is done and the baby is waking up. Time to get back to summer vacation.