Sunday, November 27, 2016

Making a GIF and updating my TpT website

Am I amazing or what?!?



I am totally going to toot my own horn right now.  I (read the directions and after many missteps) figured out how to:
 a) create the appropriate sized pictures to go in my TpT quote box
 b) save them as jpegs (and adjust the pixel size!)
 c) upload them to a FREE GIF maker 
 d) save the GIF
 e) embed the GIF in my TPT quote box

Aren't you impressed?

This is honestly something I've wanted to try, but have been feeling really intimidated by.  I'm not going to lie, it took me forever and a day just to figure out the series of steps to make a static "cute" quote box.  But, then, since I'd already spent the better part of an hour trying to figure out which character I'd messed up in the line of code, I decided to go for it.  

And you know what, making the GIF was the easiest part of all! 

So these are the images I decided to use.  I wanted to spruce up my store for the upcoming CYBER MONDAY & TUESDAY SALE (which you ALL know about, right?) and so I made these in PowerPoint and then went from there.


HOW TO CREATE SLIDES & SAVE AS JPEG IMAGES


  1. Create a NEW slide show, click on THEMES to select SLIDE SIZE.  Customize the slide size: Width: 4.25 inches x Height: 1.75 inches.
  2. Design the number of slides you'd like in your animated GIF.  (I'm not a graphic designer, so I'm sure that my slides will get better over time.)
  3. SAVE YOUR WORK!
  4. On my Mac, I can select SAVE AS PICTURES.  When I select it, I can choose the file type JPEG.  Then click OPTIONS.  At the bottom, I can adjust the pixels.  I set my max height to be 150 pixels, and the width automatically changed (to about 380).  (Do not exceed 175 wide x 450 tall).

HOW TO CREATE GIF FROM JPEG IMAGES


  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website GIFMAKER.ME
  2. UPLOAD your JPEG images from the folder on your computer.
  3. (I found that if I uploaded the "whole slide show" three times in a row, it wouldn't freeze at the end of the animation.)
  4. Select your timing.  I used 1500 milliseconds.  It might be too fast.  2000 milliseconds might be too slow.  Play around with it.
  5. I left ALL OF THE OTHER SETTINGS alone!  (Including number of repeats.  It was set to 0, which means infinite.)
  6. On the bottom right you can select DOWNLOAD GIF.
  7. It will open as a preview and defaults to your DOWNLOADS folder.  However, I renamed it from the preview and saved it into the folder with my other store banners.

HOW TO UPLOAD YOUR GIF TO A FREE WEBSITE


  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website IMGSAFE.ORG
  2. Sign up for a free account.  Then LOGIN.
  3. UPLOAD your GIF from the folder on your computer.
  4. Go to MY IMAGES and select your new GIF.  It will open a web address where it is housed online.  COPY the entire web address.

HOW TO MAKE YOUR URL TINY

  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website TINYURL.COM
  2. PASTE the web address in the provided box.  CLICK  MakeTinyURL!
  3. On the next screen it will give you a shortened web address.  You will need this for "hacking" your quote box.  (I suggest that you not only copy to clipboard, but also write it down. Between this step and actually pasting into the code, I made many errors and had to try again and again.)

HOW TO HACK YOUR QUOTE BOX

  1. Open a new tab in your browser, and go to the website Glitter Meets Glue
  2. Read the directions CAREFULLY and follow the steps for linking your product page to your quote box. (It involves a pinterest pin and a TINYURL.  I followed her instructions.)
  3. When you get to STEPS 8 & 9 and you edit your Teachers Pay Teachers profile, you will need to use your GIF TINYURL in the place of

Sunday, September 18, 2016

small changes, BIG project

WOW!

This morning I decided that I'm going to pay $20 to feature my All-in-One Bulletin Board: Molecular Genetics on Teachers Pay Teachers next month.  (I'm hoping everyone is following a similar pacing guide, and will hit THE CENTRAL DOGMA OF BIOLOGY at the same time I will.)

From September 19th through the 22nd, my product will be featured at the top of the product listing page (IF the user selects to sort by SCIENCE and 9-12.)  I can use my earnings to pay for the promotion, so I don't have to put up any money up front, which is really nice.  

Because I'm featuring this product, I decided that I needed to go back and make sure I applied the advice I got from Misty Miller, as well as make a few minor changes to my logo and preview page.

I needed to :
1. Copyright EVERY page
2. Include my PLEASE READ: Terms of Use, Follow Me, Provide Feedback, and Credits pages
3. Update my thumbnails and previews with a watermark

Of course, its never as simple as 1,2,3.  First I had to update my logo to include a font that I know I had purchased, therefore have commercial copyright permission to use.  Then I had to go in and update the image on my PLEASE READ document and the thumbnail for the preview.  While I was in the preview, I also moved the blocks around to make the product description more visible.  Then I had to edit a typo on the Follow Me page, create the Provide Feedback page, and edit the Credits page.  Once all of those minor changes, that took 2 hours, were done, I was able to insert the PLEASE READ pdf into the existing pdf.  I had to add in the copyright text on each page and I finally was able to upload the modified document 3 hours after I began.

I hope that now my edits will be faster, all I will need to do is insert the copyright and the modified PLEASE READ document into each of the All-in-One Bulletin Board files and then upload to TpT.  I know I need to edit my bundle so that they contain the copyrighted pages, and then I'll have to make time to do the previews and modify the thumbnails.  But, that is not happening today.  Today, I'm done with TpT, and on to grading tests and entering grades online.

Have any of you had to modify your TpT materials?  Have you found a simpler way?

Monday, September 5, 2016

Learning how to improve my store


I did what every great student needs to do, I asked for feedback.  I wanted positive words of encouragement and constructive criticism on my overall look, pricing, and quality for my Sunshine State Science store on Teachers pay Teachers. 

I went on to the forums and I asked for input.  And from the 6 responses I got, I was very pleased.  I had some great insight on what to include from Misty Miller, who's blog, http://justathoughtortwotpt.blogspot.com is just a treasure trove of helpful hints for anyone that wants to improve their Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Misty has GREAT advice, and better yet, EASY TO FOLLOW instructions on how to improve almost every aspect of your store.  Her first suggestions for me were to include the copyright on every single page of each document, add a Terms of Use and Credits page (along with info on how to Follow Me), and finally to add hyperlinks in my product descriptions.

    


Over this long Labor Day weekend, I took her advice.  I created the documents she suggested, and I included them on my TWO new products.

It will be a loooong time before I get a chance to edit EVERY SINGLE ONE of my 71 products to make sure they are up to date.  But I will do at least one per weekend until Christmas Break, and then I'll reassess.  (I also have to be sure to switch out my clipart ~which I think is all public domain and copyright free~ to be sure that I'm not infringing on anyone's intellectual property rights.)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Focus on ENVIRONMENT & CULTURE

I grabbed this piece of the Indiana's DOE's Walkthrough Checklist, and while they use their own RISE evaluation tool and Florida uses the Marzano system, the verbiage has showed up in the evidence section of my observation results, so I'm certain that portions overlap.

The first week is so important for setting expectations, practicing classroom routines, modifying behavior, preparing for all the uncomfortable growth the brain will do throughout the year.  And for some reason, my first thought every year is, DECORATE!  Not organized, neat & uncluttered, but full on Pinterest-ed!

Rather than taking the time to set up the bins and boxes, I quickly Clorox-ed the cabinets and surfaces and began my room beautification process.  I spent days, at least two full ones, hot gluing posters to my walls, making makeshift bulletin boards from cork squares and plastic tablecloths.  I posted all of my Learning Goals, Marzano Scales, Essential Questions, Vocabulary, and even made a place to celebrate success as evidence of my deliberate practice.  I went to multiple stores to stock up on new hot glue sticks, double sided tape, borders, fabric scraps, and cute pushpins.  As I looked at Pinterest Biology classrooms, I felt less than average, Let me tell you, when I got to the end of the day on Thursday, I felt ready to move on to updating my syllabi and photocopying my first three days work of handouts.

Feeling good on Friday, I left knowing I wouldn't have to wait in line for the copier.  I could tackle a new lesson planning software that promises to make my life easier, as soon as I manage to figure it out (without training).

And then Monday morning arrived.  Two full days before students reported, half of the artifacts I had dutifully displayed were dangling, a quarter were already on the floor.  Ugh!  Really?  Phew!  At least the Learning Goals, Marzano Scales, Essential Questions, Vocabulary, and Celebrations of Success had weathered the humidity and soaring temperatures of a weekend without AC.

By the time students were waking up on Wednesday, the dangling had begun drooping and dropping.  My masterpiece, the All-in-One Display, had lost its battle, oh how the mighty had fallen.  (And I didn't even get to take a picture to use on my TpT store!!! GRRR!)  The hours of work staring up at me from the dusty, cockroach trodden floor.  I pulled down the last of the hangers-on and tidied up.  I. WAS. ANNOYED, but optimistic.  Maybe I'll have my kids re-glue them to the walls when we are ready to display their first set of content review bulletin boards.  It can be part of their project, design the display space...

I didn't spend the time organizing my supply closet, (read: I threw everything in and closed the door.  The tornado may have touched down less than a quarter mile from school during orientation, but it wrecked havoc on my supply closet!) or setting up all of the interactive notebook supply bins.  I wasted my time decorating and it was all for naught.

So.  Lesson learned.  Pinterest has beautiful rooms with banners and borders and alternative seating options... but I need to use this year as an eye-opener.  The check boxes don't ask for color schemes or coordinating frog themes, they ask for organization, neatness and lack of clutter.  I can get points for an orderly environment.  I have already displayed the Learning goals/data on the panes of the cabinets where plenty of clear tape will hold them in place.

Next year, I'll set a reminder on my phone to read this post and start with CLEANING and ORGANIZING, not decorating.



Sunday, August 7, 2016

$10 Dry Erase Tables

Let me start off with this.  THIS WAS NOT MY IDEA, I found a post by Sprout Classrooms from 2014 and pretty much followed her directions to a T.


UPDATE!

Tables in Use

"Important Things"

Neuroplasticity
Everyone's Engaged



Dry Erase Table Transformation


BEFORE
Primer
AFTER

Time:

Total Time = 5 days
Primer ~ 3 hrs + overnight
Dry-Erase ~ 2 hrs + 3 DAYS cure


Cost:

My total cost was ~$120 for 12 tables
$10 per table!

Materials:

  • Acetone 
  • Lint-Free Rags
  • Latex Primer (indoor)
  • Paint Roller & Pads (2 x smooth finish)
  • Paint Stir Stick (...which I forgot, so an old ruler...)
  • Paint Can Opener
  • Disposable Paint Tray (2)
  • Rust-Oleum Dry Erase Paint (1 kit for 3-4 tables)
  • Tarps or Sheets (to make your custodians happy)

Procedure:

DAY ONE: 

Clean & Prime


Clean
Supplies
Prime
  1. Use acetone on a lint-free rag to clean the table tops.  DO NOT USE SOAP (per the directions on the primer can).
  2. Shake the primer vigorously.  Open, stir completely, pour into paint tray.
  3. Roll primer on to table tops and sides, using a somewhat thick coating.  (I did NOT sand the table tops, once I cleaned them, I went straight to primer and had no issues.)  
  4. DO AT LEAST 3 COATS.  Per the directions on the primer can, allow 1 hour between coats.  The dry erase paint does not have much of a white background, so you want complete coverage with the primer.
  5. Allow to set overnight.
Save any leftover primer for next summer - the original post suggests reapplying before each school year. (I did 12 tables and used 2/3 of the gallon of primer.)

DAY TWO: 

Dry Erase Paint

Product
Combine
Outcome
  1. Shake the dry-erase coating and base paint cans vigorously.  Open each, pour A into B and stir completely.  Pour into paint tray.
  2. Roll dry-erase paint on to table tops and sides, using a thin coating.  (This is a VERY thin paint, be careful with splashing.)  The roller will make it look texturized as you apply, but it does dry to become a slick surface.
  3. DO AT LEAST 3 COATS.  Per the directions on the box, allow 30 minutes between coats. 
  4. Allow to cure for 3 days.
I used 3 boxes of dry-erase paint for 12 tables.  I have a back up box, just in case, but after testing, I didn't seem to need an extra coat, even though I have some "dull" spots.

DAY FIVE: 

In an inconspicuous location, like the side of the table, test your markers.

Test Your Markers!

EXPO - Bold Colors
EXPO - Multi Pack
CRA-Z-ART Dry erase
some residue
all clear
significant residue
  1. Let the marker dry on the surface for about 15 minutes.
  2. Erase.
  3. Use white board cleaner (or water) to clean completely.

My Notes & Opinions:

Overall, I'm amped to try these out with the kids on the first day of school! I think they are really going to enjoy working problems and brainstorming on these tables, rather than in their notebooks.  I can see a lot of jig-sawing and collaboration in their future.

EVERY.  SINGLE.  TEACHER. who stopped by to say hello during pre-planning exclaimed, "WOW!  How did YOU get new tables?!?"  When I told them about the dry erase surface, their envy grew.  Even the custodians, who were justifiably concerned about their newly waxed floors, were pumped.  The white certainly brightens up my window-less lab.

I read that the PINK EXPO markers leave a stain, and although my test pink did not, I am going to pull the pink markers and not use them.  I am disappointed that the Cra-Z-Art markers I found on clearance left such a residue.  I'm not going to be using these with kids.  I'll see how they do on my normal teacher whiteboard, and if they stain there, I'll give them away.  Wah. Wah.

From the blog post by Sprout Classroom, I calculated 4 boxes of Rust Oleum Dry Erase Paint for 12 tables (that are approximately 3' x 6').  I only ended up using 3 of the kits, even with 3 coats.  We will be using the tables regularly and I'll see if we need to add a coating of dry-erase over the Labor Day long weekend.  If not, maybe Christmas break will see a reapply, or maybe right before the end of the school year. (I didn't like using my back to school planning time for this project).

Last, but certainly not least, I tend to be an "ask for forgiveness" person.  However, in this case, I definitely asked for permission.  My principal had to get the go ahead from the county level to "alter school property" so I'm glad I didn't just wing it.  If you'd like a copy of the email, I used Genius Hour Projects as my driving factor, please request it in the comments.

What do you think?  Is this something you will try?

Think Outside the Box

Think Outside the Box