Friday, June 15, 2012

Instant Grammar Check with Grammarly

I recently received a comment from "anonymous" about the slogan in this picture:
Cute ideas here. I'm always looking for ways to enlighten my middle school library. As an English teacher-turned-librarian, could I please ask that you punctuate your quote above the chalkboard correctly? I am the best; therefore, I should act the best. As it appears, it's a run-on sentence. Thanks. 
I was mortified! How could I have this posted in my classroom for two years and not have noticed the incorrect punctuation? This is our class slogan. Every morning we launch our day enthusiastically using hand and body motions! Ugh!!!

Coincidentally, I had just been asked to do a product review for Grammarly Grammar Checker. I simply typed the sentence into the blank document on Grammarly and selected "start review". Within seconds, I had the information I needed: Add a semicolon before "therefore"! Duh! (I added the duh). Grammarly also suggested that I change some if the wording, but that would change the meaning and origin of this slogan. The idea behind these words is to encourage students to tell themselves and everyone else that they are the best. The second part is extremely important because we frequently talk about the choices that we make in our everyday lives. We start our day proclaiming that we will choose to act our best. The slogan originated from Charles and Nafeesha Johnson of Edusoul. While it is not grammatically perfect, it is the perfect way to start our day!
Grammarly Grammar Checker Product Review
Grammarly is not only an instant grammar checker, but it also checks spelling, writing style, and originality. Simply paste your test in to the blank page and select "start review". Grammarly will provide a detailed report giving suggestions and examples for correct usage of grammar, punctuation, spelling, writing style, and much more.

This site will be extremely helpful for my high school-age children when they are unsure of correct punctuation and grammar usage. The Grammarly grammar checker is a comprehensive grammar editing tool that checks your text for the proper use of more than 150 common and advanced grammar rules, including everything from subject-verb agreement to article use to modifier placement. When checking grammar using Grammarly, all of the grammatical errors are categorized, clearly displayed, and organized for your review and revision. The plagiarism checker is another notable feature. If text from another source is detected, Grammarly demonstrates how to properly reference material from other sources.

Grammarly will also help with my blog posts. I tend to be informal in my writing and am guilty of using dashes and ... instead of correct punctuation. I like to think of it as my unique writing style, but actually it is a bit of laziness on my part. I have installed the Grammarly button on my side bar so I will no longer have incorrect grammar on my blog posts!

*This is a sponsored post.

How to Create a DonorsChoose Project

DonorsChoose is an online charity that makes it easy for anyone to help students in need. Teachers create projects, donors fund it, and students learn! - Teachers ask. You choose. Students learn.
How to set up a project:
It is very easy to set up an account and a new project with DonorsChoose. Just go to their website and set up an account. Then, take a look at some of the other projects teachers have submitted. You can even narrow your search to see who has submitted projects in your area or school district. Next, you need to decide what you want for your classroom. Your first project should be no more than $400. Once you decide what you want, click on "create a project" and begin the process. You will need a catchy title and opening sentence to attract attention. You will also need to describe your class and why your students need this project. The next step is my favorite: Shopping! There are quite a few stores in the eSchoolMall to look for your items, so you may want to take some time to browse and select just the right items. I used Best Buy for my first project and Lakeshore Learning for my most recent project, but you can use more than one store. Just find what you need and add it to your list. Once you have everything done you will submit it to the DonorChoose staff for review. If everything looks good, they will publish it. If they feel it needs tweaking, they will allow you fix it before publishing. I did not put a deadline on either of my projects - I just let them run for the 5 month limit. I didn't think my first project was going to get funded because it was getting close to the deadline, but at the last minute, it was fully funded! DonorChoose people work extremely hard to find donors. You can also promote your project via email, Twitter, Facebook, and your blog. 

Why I use DonorsChoose
It is very important for me to keep my students engaged and learning in new ways. Many school districts cannot afford to fund the extra equipment and materials that enhance the learning experience. DonorsChoose allows me to think big and meet the needs of my students without spending my own money!

My Projects: 
My first project (created July 9, 2011 and fully funded by October 2, 2011): webcam, USB microphone, video camera $349 

My current project: (created June 10, 2012): 4 portable cd players, 4 headphones, storage rack, and 3 listening skill packs $517 

*You earn points for doing all of the required steps of the project - including a timely thank-you package to your donor. You must also spend points to create projects, but after a few projects you will have earned enough points to apply for big ticket items including field trips and school visitors.

Key Stats (taken directly from DonorChoose)
Project requests currently in need of funding
Projects that get fully funded
Projects costing less than $400 that get fully funded
Donations that include the optional donation to our operations
Teachers who said their funded projects increased their effectiveness in the classroom

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Not a Box

A friend of mine recently introduced me to Not a Box by Antoinette Portis. It is about a creative rabbit who turns a box into lots of different things and he makes it clear that it is NOT a box!

This book has so many possibilities in the classroom or it would make a great baby gift!

In the classroom I would use it for:
  • A writing mini-lesson to inspire my students to use their imagination and think outside of the box
  • Making predictions. After the first page or two, the students might be able to predict what the box is.  
  • Modeling sentence structure: Ask "Is it a box?" and they would respond "No, it is NOT a box!"
I wonder if Caine of "Caine's Arcade"
 read this book?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

#2ndchat is Back!

It seems that every grade level has an active Twitter chat each week. Last year #2ndchat somehow fell by the wayside, but a few of us have decided to resurrect it. Whether you are a seasoned 2nd grader teacher or a newbie, please join in on the conversation!

The chats will take place every Wednesday at 7:00 CST. Just follow the #2ndchat hashtag on Twitter or use Tweetchat for a better experience!

Vote here for the topic you would like to discuss:

See you there!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

HearAll Assessment Recorder Giveaway

Enter HERE to win the HearALL Assessment Record!
Hop on over to Thoughts of a Third Grader Teacher! She is giving away a HearALL Assessment Recorder. This tool has many great uses in the classroom. The first one that popped into my head was using it for Daily 5 rounds: A student  records themselves during Read To Self and then plays it back. This would help improve their fluency and prosody! 
How would you use it?
Lutton 519
No compensation was received for this post - it just increased my chances of winning one for myself ;-)

A Few of My Favorite Things

Join in on the linky fun! This is a great opportunity to visit some new blogs and meet some great teachers! 
  • Create a blog post about your favorite things
  • Use the picture above to link to Sharing Kindergarten's post
  • Add the link to your post on her blog!

Some of the Frugal Teacher's Favorite Things:

1. The Daily 5 and the Cafe books by Gaill Boushey and Joan Moser have changed the way I teach!

2. Skype in the Classroom! Connecting my students with scientists and classrooms around the world has opened a world of learning opportunities!

 3. Twitter Chats! I love participating in #D5Chat, #teachchat, #elemchat, and #globalclassroom chats. I have learned SO much chatting with educators around the world!

4. Zumba! This is a fairly new love, but it's one that I hope will last a long time. A teacher at our school leads a Zumba class several times a week. It's so much fun and feels really good!

What are your favorite things?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Vacation, Setting Goals, and Cleaning the Garage

It's the first day of summer vacation and I am already thinking about how I can make the most of my time off.  I have found that if I publicly list my goals I tend to follow through with them. I set some goals for the 2011-12 school year and I am pleased to report that I was able to achieve these goals and then some. So! Without further ado I present:
My Summer of 2012 Goals!
  • Clean the garage:  My sister-in-law just retired after 20 years of teaching and I have inherited a lot of her classroom items - which have been dumped in my garage that was already in disarray. I am very excited to go through and see what goodies she has left me! Unfortunately in Texas, it's difficult to work in the garage when it's 90 degrees at 8:00 in the morning so it may take a while to get through everything.
  • Learn, Learn, Learn! Last summer I discovered a world of educators on Twitter and through blogging. This summer I plan to get some new ideas and learn even more.
  • Plan for 2012-13: I am already thinking of ways to make what I did last year better: Skyping with a purpose, making the most of student blogging, and fine-tuning the Daily5/Cafe routine are a few things that I will be working on. 
  • Relax, be healthy, and have fun! I am also going to limit my time on the computer this summer and make time for healthy and fun activities. It's very easy to get stuck on the couch with the laptop and not realize how much time has passed. 
Do you think it is important to set goals? 
What are your goals for this summer? 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Freckle Juice and Shaving Cream

Well, we survived our last days of school and had some fun in the meantime! My students were really helpful in getting things packed up, cleaned, and organized. A few highlights of the week included reading "Freckle Juice"  and using shaving cream to clean our desks:

The shaving cream was really fun. The students loved the texture and smell. They said it made our room smell like a dad!