Wednesday, June 30, 2010

4 Summer Sanity Savers

What's this about teacher's having more time during the summer? I've been on summer break for only a few weeks; and when I don't have a toddler attached to my leg I have a laptop attached to my hand- and I'm still not getting all my stuff done.

Here's 4 things I'm doing to keep myself sane:
  • When you read a blog that shares several great links, don't open each link and save each individual one, just save the blog post. Ex: Richard Bryne over at Free Tech for Teachers recently wrote a great post about resources for teaching about presidents. I'm not teaching presidents right now so I don't need to open up each link and tag them separately. I just tagged the entire post in my delicious under "presidents." Then when I teach it, I can easily go back through the post.
  • Ditch the "read it later" button. I love it but it's just another way for things to pile up and add additional stress. I deal with items right then and there, or file them into delicious where I can always go back.
  • Unsubscribe. It's not necessary for me to follow someone's blog and twitter; I'm tidying up my RSS reader by getting rid of some feeds and just making sure I subscribe to the user's twitter handle. Most twitter users will tweet about their blog posts anyway. 
  • Give up some of your ideas about the perfect summer. Sadly teachers can feel that they have to use the summer to make up for the past ten months of neglected parenting/friendships, etc. This is hard for me. I quickly learned my grand plans of daily trips out, blogging several times a week, reading fifty books, painting, traveling, and cleaning out the china cabinet this summer just might not happen. Not only do I need rest and relaxation- but my little tyke needs it too!

Bonus Item: For those that blog- keep your blogs short this summer! Save yourself sanity and consider those of us who read. We love reading your lengthy and profound thoughts- just not twenty a week. Keep your points short and sweet. Seth Godin is awesome at this!

(Author's Note: The photo was taken by Old Shoe Woman, found using a creative commons flickr search.)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

With Or Without Books The Library's 'a Hopping!

I told myself the last time I wasn't going to drink anymore.

I'm beyond addicted. It's just so good, I really think they put some sort of drug in the mix to make susceptible coffee drinkers like myself completely hooked. The McDonald's Carmel Frappe. It's delicious. And it's the perfect accompaniment to this beautiful, warm, summer June day, as I sit here in my hometown's public library. A few years ago they didn't even allow beverages in the library (so I can clearly blame them for the tall frosty beverage at my left, right?). For the record, I feel horrible about this purchase; aside from the obvious fact my tasty indulgence is laced with caloric guilt, as a budding vegetarian and common sense American I have huge health and ethical issues with McDonald's.

(pause to take a nice long carmel-y sip)

I've read numerous blog posts over the past few years, as well as studied the topic in one of my graduate courses, that books are on their way out- out of our shelves, out of our libraries, out of our cultures- in favor of ereaders, like the Nook or Kindle.

I'm not here to argue that point, because I think there is some obvious truth to that, and I'm not entirely sure it's a bad thing; but as I sit here in the library I can't help but notice, this library is hopping- with or without books (though our library has a great selection, as well as subscription service to My Media Mall where I can checkout digital books). It's nearly noon on a Wednesday and it's packed, kids checking out books, adults at laptops, computers, in the stacks; talking, sharing, reading, typing, laughing (and yes, sipping those lovely beverages now encouraged to help bring about the "cafe atmosphere"), it's inspiring to a teacher to see. There is so much life in this building, and I can't imagine that would go away just because books might.

Libraries across the nation are innovative, they are working double time to keep up with our evolving digital culture; everything from changing the outdated decor, to offering more services. It becomes a haven for us cheap bibliophiles, and offers a non-threatening escape for emergent readers.

The library continuously amazes me and I look forward to exploring more it has to offer this summer.

For now, I may go look up books on addiction...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

25 Edu-Game Websites to Explore This Summer

Here's a quick list of 25 awesome websites with educational games that you can share with students and parents this summer! There are certainly many more, so please share your favorites in the comment section!
  1. Chess Kid- Learn to play chess and play against kids all over the world.
  2. National Geographic Maps has some excellent exploration and geography games for young explorers.
  3. Discovery Channel Man vs. Wild game requires a use of geography, math, and critical thinking skills.
  4. Moppet Games offers math facts, hangman, memory, picture search, and other games for young learners.
  5. The Ruler Game teaches you measurement using virtual rulers.
  6. Inside the FBI Become a detective through history and current news with these games.
  7. Starfall has various reading games for early readers.
  8. Spelling Match Practice your spelling skills.
  9. The Enchanted Palace takes you through the history of the Kingston Palace, a fun way to sleuth!
  10. The University of Nottingham offers this website to custom make your own parts-of-speech practice activities.
  11. The Children's University of Manchester has games online for all subjects.
  12. Spelling City offers another way to practice spelling.
  13. Grammaropolis A fun way to practice grammar with kookie characters.
  14. Learn to Type with this alphabetic rain game.
  15. Fun for the Brain is a huge resource of various fun math, science, and English games.
  16. Math is Fun has games in geometry, arithmetic, and algebra and more.
  17. ABCya! has games in every subject and every grade level.
  18. Scholastic features a variety of games from the stacks.
  19. Word Twist is an online game similar to Boggle.
  20. The Problem Site has a variety of educational games based off solving problems.
  21. Ghost Blasters the game might be spooky but math isn't!
  22. Gamequarium features games in all subjects at all levels.
  23. Primary Games feature a variety of games for our youngest learners.
  24. Grammar Ninja lets you try to improve your grammar skills.
  25. Maggie's Earth Adventure features games in geography, but also in math, science, and Language Arts.