Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Best New Elementary Educational Website

Just recently, I ran across a fantastic new (…at least to me) educational website. No matter who you are, this will be beneficial as long as you know a child (personal, grandchild, student) who is in kindergarten to fifth grade. It is completely free…no account to be set up. The kiddos can just get on the site and go to town. The activities address relative standards and lessons they’ll be learning about at school. The site contains an enormous amount of activities in all K-5 subject areas (even keyboarding skills) covering the Common Core Standards you’ve been hearing so much about.

“Keyboarding skills???” ask. Ladies and gentlemen keyboarding is quickly becoming an essential skill for upper elementary school-aged children and possibly lower elementary later on. With full implementation of Common Core and its high-stakes testing component, PARCC, keyboarding knowledge will be important since the test is taken on the computer. Children need to know how to type, drag & drop, copy & paste, etc. In spring 2014, the PARCC Field Test will be administered to over one million students across PARCC states.

Also over the past few weeks, the fourth and fifth graders at our school have been taking the state Writing Assessment administered through the new Measurement Incorporated Secure Testing (MIST) platform which is also on the computer. This platform contains Common Core-aligned writing assessment tasks that are geared toward determining students' literacy skills across other subjects. This component counts as a portion of their over-all state testing composite score. Even though a child might do well academically, it's possible to make mistakes or flub the test due to poor keyboarding skills.

RoomRecess has lots of engaging activities to help children in this area as well as many others. It's a truly worthwhile site for the little people in your life. Check it out.

*Thanks for dropping by!


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Sunday, February 2, 2014

5 Go-To Resources for DIY Blog Design

For those of you who have just recently started blogging or are considering it, this post is for you...especially if you're hands-on and are interested in building your design yourself. I've not been blogging long and have never attended any related workshops. I just dove in head first. Thinking back on my experiences, these are the resources I found most helpful.

First was using Grab My Button Code Generator to create my grab button. This was the very first thing I tried designing on  my own. Since then, I've done another and one for a friend. I'm a little OCD and wanted all the blog buttons on my page to be sized equally and centered. I wrote a how-to post about this if you'd like to take a look at it.

The second thing I wanted for my blog was a cute little sign-off signature. For this, I used the Signature Generator at Cool Online Tools. It was very easy to do.

Thirdly, I found a font color code picker (I know...that sounds funny.) This tool at febooti software helped me match the font colors in my grab button, my sign-off signature, and favIcon to a color used within my blog.

Next on my list was to get a favIcon. This is the little graphic in front of your blog address on server tabs and favorites lists. These are great to have because they make your blog tab or name in a list stand out and easy for others to find your blog among other icons. I used FavIcon from Pics by HTML Kit  for this. It's easy just to use your blog button image to create your favicon.

Last up are social media icons (so last as a matter of fact that I haven't actually done this myself yet...but, plan to really soon.) I found an awesome site that I plan to use once I decide to do away with the first little set of icons I had made before I completely changed my blog design. I still think they are cute and just haven't wanted to toss them yet. The site I plan to use is Born Creative. They have all kinds of fabulously cute social media icons for which you can determine the size and color. The only drawback might be them not having created one for a source you use. They have the major ones though.

Well...that's it. The five tools I've found most helpful while tinkering with by blog's design. I hope you find them as helpful as I did. If you decide to try any of them, I'd love to hear how they work for you.

*Thanks for dropping by!

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