Sunday, January 31, 2016

Create Your Own Valentine's Choice Boards

Valentine's Choice Boards

Since Valentine's Day is just around the corner... I thought it might be fun to incorporate Valentine-themed writing activities into my curriculum.  To do this, I decided to create a Valentine's Choice Board for my students.  For anyone unfamiliar with choice boards, in a nutshell, choice boards provide students with multiple assignment options that they can pick and choose to complete.  This option fosters a more student-centered learning approach by allowing them to decide their own learning path.

How To Create A Valentine's Choice Board

When it comes to creating custom visuals, Google Drawings is my tool of choice.  This amazing tool provides me with access to a nice selection of shapes, fonts, background colors, custom page settings and more.  Check out the steps I took to create my choice board below.

  1. To get started, go to Google Drive and click on the red "New" button on the left side of your Drive page.  From here, a drop-down menu of options will appear. To access Drawings, hover your mouse over "More", located at the bottom of the menu.  This will display an additional menu where you can locate and select "Drawing". 
  2. Once you click on "Drawings", a new blank canvas will appear.  To set a custom page size,  go to "File" and chose "Page setup" then click the down arrow in the display box and select "Custom". Here you can type in your custom dimensions and specify by inches, centimeters, points or pixels. For my choice board,  I typed in 8.5 x 11 for my dimensions, selected inches and clicked "Ok".
  3. From here, my next step was to choose the background image for my choice board.  I decided to use a corkboard image that I already had in my Drive.  To do this, I went to "Insert" and "Image".  This opens up a variety of options for accessing an image, but since I knew my image was already in my drive, I clicked on "Drive".  Once I located my image in drive, I clicked the image and then chose "Select".  I resized my image to fit my page by holding the shift key then clicking on the white handle to drag my image to the desired size.
  4. Next I chose to add a title using the word art tool.  To access this tool, go to "Insert" and "Word Art". Type your title in the box that appears and press enter.  Choose the color and font you wish to use, resize it using the white handles, then click and drag your title where you would like for it to go.
  5. To display my content, I chose to mimic the look of a grid containing 9 cells.  From here, I clicked on "Shape" icon located in the top toolbar and chose the paper shape to resemble a sticky note.  Then holding shift, I clicked the white handle to drag the sticky note to the desired size.  I removed the outline by clicking on the pencil icon and selecting transparent, then I clicked on the paintbucket icon and changed the color to white.  Finally, I added a heart shape on top of the sticky note, removed the outline and changed the color to red. Once I had one template created, I copied and pasted two more and lined them up to create one row.  Holding down the shift key, I selected this entire row and copied it, then pasted it twice to create my last two rows of images.
  6. Once all of my images were created, I added my information by clicking into each individual heart and typing the activities.  To add interactivity, I clicked on each individual sticky note and then clicked on the link symbol to paste the online resource that corresponded to each assignment. 
  7. Now that my choice board was completed, I clicked the blue "share" button in the top right corner and set the permissions to "anyone with the link" can view.  You can copy and paste this link to share it with your students or coworkers.  If you want to share your boards on your blog or website, you can easily embed them by going to "File" and "Publish to the web".  Then click on "Embed", choose your image size and click publish.  Copy and paste the embed code as HTML and your choice board will magically appear on your blog or site for your students to access. 

To see the final product, check out my Valentine's Choice Board below.  Hover over each heart icon to access each of the online resources for each activity.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Join The Google Educator's Group-SWVA

Looking for a Google+ community with great Google Apps resources and ideas?

Check out the Google Educator Group for Southwest Virginia on Google+.  Our community provides the latest Google Apps updates, educational resources and innovative ideas for how to implement the Google Apps platform into your classroom.

If you are currently a member, leader or co-leader of another GEG we would love for you to join us and share the wonderful ideas and projects going on in your community.

Check out our banner below and click "Join Now" to access and join our G+ community.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Exploring Edmodo Spotlight

Exploring Edmodo Spotlight

What is Edmodo Spotlight?

For anyone who has not had the opportunity to check out Edmodo Spotlight, I definitely encourage you to do so.  Edmodo Spotlight provides educators with access to an unlimited supply of educational resources that have either been created or recommended by teachers.  To simplify your search time, Spotlight allows you to search for content by subject, grade, resource and price.  For me personally, Spotlight has been my go-to place for accessing resources to meet my specific needs.  Whether I am looking for resources for my 2nd graders, my higher education students or for professional developments, I can always find what I am looking for.  If you are already an Edmodo user, you might also want to consider contributing your own educational content to Spotlight.  This is a great way to not only share your ideas and resources, but it also provides you with opportunities to connect with like-minded educators sharing similar passions.

How do I access Edmodo Spotlight?

To access Edmodo Spotlight, simply click here.  You don't have to be a current Edmodo user to access Spotlight.  However, if you wish to be a contributor you would be required to set-up a free Edmodo teacher account.  On the other hand...if you already have an Edmodo account, you can easily access Spotlight from your homepage once you have logged into your account, by clicking on the spotlight icon (see image below) located in the top-right display banner near your profile picture.

Are there many free resources?

Most definitely! There is a large selection of high-quality, free resources for you to choose from and enjoy without having to break the bank.  Most educators will upload a variety of resources and share them for free.  However, resources that have taken valuable time to create may come with a small price tag and rightfully so... who wouldn't want to earn a little cash for their hard work and effort? 

My favorite free Spotlight resources

Click on the images below to check out my favorite free resources that have been added by educators in Spotlight.

Digital Badges by Wee Teck Toh

Mind Mapping, Flowcharts, Diagrams, Charts & Outlines by Anthony Luscre

Zoo Webcam Symbaloo by Jodie Johnston

Wonderopolis by Brian Lewis

Sunday, December 6, 2015

My Favorite Tech Tools of 2015

31 Tech Tools of 2015

Since we are wrapping up 2015, I thought it might be fun to share the tech tools that I used most over the past year.  Below I created an advent calendar displaying 31 of my most used and favorite technology resources.

Creative Commons License
My Favorite Tech Tools of 2015 by Christi Collins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015