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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Easy iMovie Trailers


Even since I started making videos for online learning, I have struggled with editing.  For some reason, I could not seem to use iMovie.  I guess this is always sometime I found confusing as I even remember abandoning Sony Movie Studio years ago.  So I would just shoot my videos in one shot.  Some of my videos were 25 minutes long, so this was not ideal. 

I recently was able to clear my art room of a few shelves and create an empty space right behind my "filming" area.  I thought this would be the perfect space for a blue or green screen.  Full disclosure, I might be quite far from learning how to do that, but I want to do that eventually.  So I came across a post about four easy projects to try today. I couldn't find the article, but there are many online.  I basically opened iMovie on my Mac and started doing it. I cannot believe how easy it was! I know people have told me this, but I made several trailers in minutes.
                                      

I simply dragged in the video clips almost randomly.  There were all more recent ones of my nieces and nephew.  I picked the adventure trailer and dragged in clips. I was able to change the text a little on the storyboard and upload it to my You Tube account. I then was able to text the family the link to the trailer.

In minutes, the kids were watching the videos.  I made a few more.  Of course, I was thinking this would be great for school. I know that some of our gifted students made these with our amazing school librarian for a competition. Really, the possibilities are endless.

I was able to get a class iPad through a grant of our educational foundation.  Sadly, iMovie did not come with the iPad.  I have to do a work order to get apps.  I have to remember to do this first thing in the school year.   I'm sure some students will have their own iPads or phones in order to do this.

Some educational projects:
*book trailers
*geography projects on a certain country or region
*act out a chapter of our class novel
*make a video of signs or posters with errors that need corrections (editing)
*pick a topic and share research through a trailer
*have a mystery object or topic and let audience figure it out

Really, I will probably have the best results by letting small groups come up with their own projects.  I don't want to "limit' students with my ideas.  They always come up with things beyond my scope in projects they design.

For teachers, I already made a quick "teen" trailer for what students can expect in 7th grade for language arts.  I also plan to do one for social studies.

"Discovering" iMovies trailers makes me wonder what else I am missing? I am also wondering if I should try editing again.  I really want to "flip" my class and have a lot of lessons on video due to the amount of students missing class.  With our curriculum it is pretty difficult for students to catch up on what they missed because we do several activities (group and partner) and direct instruction each class.  If I could edit well, my videos would be MUCH better!  

Monday, July 10, 2017

Landscaping with Black Cloth and Mulch

The side of my house has been getting worse for years. The previous owners had put down the black cloth and mulch to keep weeks at bay.  Over the years, I added less and less mulch.  The cloth began to tear, shrubs died, and a sea of weeds started to take over. The truth is that I didn't really know exactly what to do with it.  I don't even really see that side of my house that much.  There used to be a huge bed of black-eyed susans in one area. I also used to plant hollyhocks and sunflowers in the bed. Then, last year I was out talking to my new neighbor and was horrified at how bad it had gotten!  My brother's friend had some kind of machine that cut it all back last year, but it grew back twice as bad.  These pictures are after it got cut back once. 
The day my air conditioner died. The area was covered with weeds, some as big as trees. Actually, some of the "weeds" were trees. My brother came over and cleared the area so the guy could get to the unit. He was able to patch up the unit until he could replace it. I also ended up getting a new furnace.  
I noticed that my rose bush was really overgrown and covered with weeds and all types of other plants.  I started to clear it.  Soon I was outside for hours in the blistering hot sun.  
Finally, after several wheelbarrows of weeds hauled away, I got to see that the actual rose bush was now quite small. A lot of the wood was dead.  I was getting eaten alive by bugs and almost collapsing from the heat. However, I had to keep going. 
I put heavy gloves on and was pulling a lot of spiky weeds by hand. I noticed that I had little strawberry vines, chamomile, and mint also growing weed.  I pulled it all out.  I had some not-so-sharp clippers to trim smaller bushes.  Some stuff I just could not get out.  

There were so many little weeds that I really couldn't pull them all out. I realized that it was black plastic time.  After pulling out all I could, I found some pins and black plastic and cloth in my garage.    I spent a lot of time on this front part.  I even sat in the grass pulling out weeding in the rocks, but there were so many. I think I need to use boiling water or more rocks.  That shrub is some type of bayberry and a landscaper told me not to touch it.

 
A few days later I started with the black cloth.  I really had no clue was I was doing.  There were still some smaller shrubs and little bushes that I could not pull out.  I decided to cover them. 
Somehow I spent hours pinning down the cloth.  For some parts, I used the heavy plastic.  It was hard because of the rocks in the soil and the heat.  I started dumping out the bags of mulch and getting filthy! One bag of mulch did not cover al that much. I had to get going through.

Then came the moment where I completely ran out of metal pins. I went a little further and tried to weigh down the cloth with rocks.  However, I did not know what to do with the area below my deck. I have some bushes that are pretty close together.  I would like to have some privacy shrubs or trees here. Maybe even bamboo in pots to create a plant wall? 
I had to stop at this point because I was wiped out. Yesterday, I put down two more bags of mulch. I probably need another five bags to finish.
I also need to pin and lay down more cloth. Then cover this with a lot of mulch.  I still have the issue with the white rocks.  I believe there are french drains under them. I even used the mulch bags to cover some spots where the cloth didn't overlap.  I weighed those down with rocks. It might take a lot to kill the weeds under the cloth.  After getting the mulch, I plan to make a few holes to plant rose bushes.  However, that can wait.  I just want to side to stop looking like an eye sore!

So far, I think it looks a lot better, but I still have to cover some of the black cloth with mulch. The black cloth should last for five years.  I probably do need a truck load of mulch.  However, after the cost of the AC/furnace, I will have to do that next year.
     
UPDATE:

The battle against weeds is not over. The weeds seem to be sending out shoots to find the light and live beyond the black cloth.  The rocks seems to spout more weeds than ever.  I went out today and started pulling.  As I would pull, more weeds seemed to appear before my eyes.  Was I going insane? Where were these weeds coming from?  I noticed weeds sprouting up in places were the cloth or plastic gaped. Some weeds already poked through the black cloth!  I found some Pinterest pins on natural weed killers.  I dumped a gallon of white vinegar, two cups of epsom salt, and about a fourth of cup of Dawn dish detergent into a bucker.  I didn't add any water. I filled up the empty Dawn bottle so I could target some hard to get to spots.  I dumped the bucket into a watering can and tried to drench the weeks going through the rocks.  It didn't go too far.  I knew I was going to have to hand pull what I could again.  I put the weeds in the bucket.


 Better than the wheel barrels full from last week.  I was on the ground moving rocks and pulling. I only had plastic gloves on so I will still occasionally getting spiked from certain weeds.  I did the whole length.  As I'd return from dumping each bucket, it really seems like new weeds were popping up!  I got everything I could see.  If this doesn't work, break out the poison!  (Well, I also am going to try boiling water. However, I don't want to wash off the salt, vinegar, Dawn mix.)

Since I ran out of landscaping pins, I am trying to weigh down everything with rocks.  This is not the best strategy, but it will have to do for now.  I also am going to hold off on more mulch until I can do a better job of covering the gaps.  I am considering another layer of plastic on some areas. I could not cut down some of the bushes/trees enough and I think some of them are now poking through the plastic.  My goal is not perfection, but just to prevent this area from being an eyesore.  I do want to get more rosebushes next year or maybe even in the fall. 





Sunday, June 25, 2017

Chalkboard Dot Labels for Art Supply Boxes


Ever wonder how to organize your school art supplies?  I have used everything from supplies in the packages (Fail!) to big mixed bins of supplies (Mess!) to individual desk boxes (Items stolen.) I finally found a workable solution. Plus, I wanted labels that would mesh with my rainbow chalkboard theme.
I am really lucky to have these book shelves in the back of my classroom.  I think I have the only room in the school with this set-up.  Aside from our classroom library, I do store our art supplies and some paper on the top shelves.  We did try to set up a make-up work station, but no one used it. For ten years, I've been trying to figure out a system for make-up work that "works!" When I used classroom folders, we could just slip the papers into the absent kid's folder. However, students now bring their binders to class, so we can't do that. I say "we" because I always have a student job of "absentee helper." 
I bought these clear supply containers from Really Good Stuff probably eight years ago.  We (again this is a student job) used to try to make each box a complete set of colored pencils, markers, a sharpener, crayons, scissors, and glue.  We would also add a pencil and eraser.  Students would always end up taking the pencil, eraser, and sharpener. They also always seemed to prefer to share boxes to get missing supplies. 

What seems to work better is just grouping the supplies together.  For example, I now have three or four boxes of crayons where they can just take what they need and (hopefully) return them.  We probably use the colored pencils and markers the most in social studies, so I have several boxes of each.  When we are doing a bigger project, I try to arrange the desks in groups.  However, if we are having an exam in language arts where I have four classes compared to one, I don't move the desks. 
I did clean up that top shelf. This is the boxes in progress!
To make the labels, I used Power Point. I have downloaded some free polka dot patterns in rainbow colors from Teachers Pay Teachers.  I copied and pasted ROYGBIV colors onto a slide. I used four colors per slide to fit my boxes.  Then, I took a screen shot using COMMAND-Shift-4 on my Mac which then goes to my Dropbox account.  I edited this and copied it over the polka dot pattern. Then, I used Scrappy Girl dot font in white to type in what I needed.  I didn't laminate them, but reversed taped them in the boxes.  I knew if these labels were on the outside, they might peel off.  I had help from our wonderful building sub, Miss O. She always volunteered to help copy and do things when she had a little downtime.  I think she actually took these and worked on them while covering other classes. Thank you, Miss O. The end result was really cool and looked much neater.  Every box fits perfectly on this shelf and students started using them immediately. 

I also want to give a shout out to an anonymous women who donated a big haul of books to me.  I know that a lot of kids have asked for these I Survived books.  Even my 6 year old nephew was interested in reading some of them.  This kind lady also gave me a bunch of other high interest series such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Big Nate, and 39 Clues. The nicest thing?  She would not take any money for these books as her garage sale was wrapping up.  She even gave me the plastic bin!  

Okay, truth been told, my mom and I need to stay away from garage sales. This lady also gave my mom free curtains! 




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

New Health Plan

A few months ago, I started Shakeology.  I was really feeling sluggish and did not have the energy to exercise.  I would come home from school and often get directly into bed.  I started the Shakeology and bought the Power Greens to add to it. My first order was a mix of all different kinds.  I really liked the chocolate the best and probably the strawberry the least.  I really did get an energy boost from this and almost a body buzz.  My body started to feel good again.  I still wasn't exercising, but I started to think about exercising again.  

For my second order, I choose the greenberry flavor so I could add the power greens to it.  The taste was pretty good. The only issues were that I was still feeling hungry after having a shake.  I checked the carbs and they were pretty high.  So I was drinking this and having my regular lunch with it.  Shocker, I started gaining weigh.  In the meantime, my mom bought me the Lose Your Belly Fat book by Dr. Travis, on tv. I learned more about gut microbes and probiotics, etc. 

So I started buying kefir, leeks, turnips,parsnips, and other things I've never eaten.  I really tried to like some of the new food. The kefir was fine in a yogurt shake.  I hated the turnips and could not choke down the parsnips.  I just didn't like the odd tastes. I guess the worst were the leeks. I even turned one batch into a leek soup.  I blended it in a blender and followed the recipe. Hmm, I really think I could eat this again. However, I think you get the health benefits from only lightly grilling the leeks.  I also tried quinoa and really liked that. The big question is: Was I losing weight? Nope, I gained another solid ten pounds.  I still didn't have the energy to exercise. 
So, after trying a bunch of little things, I've back to the Atkins. I started again Sunday. I've already lose five pounds and it is only Wednesday.  My appetite reduced by 90% by Monday. I have been drinking Detox tea on and off.  Yesterday I felt sluggish and tired. However, today, after my -5 pound loss weigh in, I couldn't wait to get to the gym.  I've also been walking with a friend and have been to the gym three times since Sunday!  I feel pumped!  I am stretching. I am doing the bike.  I'm back in the weight room. I'm on the elliptical.  

My Facebook friend who sells the Shakeology texted me if I wanted to order.  Nope, one reason is that I'm getting out of credit card debt and money, but the other reason is the carb level.  I've been inputting every bite into My Fitness Pal.  I really haven't been drinking enough water. I'm also planning to stretch several times a day.  

Another big thing that is helping is my cool towel. I got it at Walmart for $9.99. It has been one of the best things I've ever bought!  (Also, it came in handy when my AC broke.) All I do is wet it and it stays at about 60 degrees. As someone who is always hot, this is a huge boost to my energy. I can go and do a lot more with my cool towel gracing my neck.  I bought another one (different brand) on Amazon and I don't like it that much.  It is more of a nylon fabric and you have to snap it. 

Tomorrow, I suggested to my sister that we take the kids to a local amusement park.  Even though it is hot, I think I'll do fine.  Yep, I definitely be bringing my cool towel. 


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Charlotte's First Birthday Tea Party

 Happy birthday, Charlotte!  We love and adore you so much.  You are my little sunshine and buddy.  It's hard to believe that you are already one!
Instead of having a big party for Jackie and Syd, my sister wanted to have a big birthday party for Charlotte's first birthday.  The theme was to be tea party.  Since Charlotte broke the ice tea maker the night before the party, the only tea was iced tea in bottles.  However, we had champagne punch and bottles of water also.
My sister made most of the decorations this year.  I didn't get out of school until two days before the party.  The color theme was gold, salmon, and mint.  

Before the party, I bought the big balloon tank this year.  I try to start blowing up balloons as late as possible as they only seem to last a few hours.  Luckily, Spiderman was able to quality test them. 

I bought many of the decorations from Orientation Trading and Amazon.  There was a line of vintage florals that went perfectly with the color scheme and theme.  We wanted to have a ton of white and pink roses everywhere. Yet the day was very windy and we ran out of time. My sister cut some of her roses from her front to add to the tables. 
For the favors, I bought cellophane bags and these really cute plastic tea sippy cups from Orientation Trading. I also bought this tea pot lollipops, tea party butter mints, bubbles, and various leftover candy from the pinata to fill the bags.  The bags were a huge hit with the kids.  


              
For the music, we decided to use Alexa from Amazon.  I started out with classical, but it got a bit dull so we were able to just switch it to "party music" or something more upbeat. My sister made the Charlotte banner as well as a few photo banners. Apache is wondering what is going on.  
My brother brought and blew up this GIANT football.  I was terrified that it would crash into the punch and cake table and destroy everything.  Luckily, I was able to block it once and no cakes or drinks were injured.


My brother's girlfriend Mareena was enlisted to draw on the chalkboard wall in the kitchen.  It took her about an hour and the wall was a huge hit.  What an amazing artist!!!
                           
 I bought a hat and gloves for Sydney to wear.  She refused to try on or hold the gloves, but she did put on the hat for about ten seconds! What a doll.  Senior and I took our annual selfie!

I took a selfie with the Guest of Honor.  My sister was able to use some of her leftover wedding decorations to decorate the poles on the back porch.  Aunt Joanne and Charlotte took a shot for their Facebook post! 
 
Our cousin Rachel's kids actually wearing the hat.  Thanks to Brody and Nora for being great sports.
               
 
After eating, it was time for the cake.  Would Charlotte smash her birthday cake? Only time would time.
                                 
After the singing, our sweet girl was not quite sure what to do? Why was she wearing this hat? Why was everyone gaping at her?  Daddy helped her stick her hand in her cake.  Good stuff! Yet the best was about to come: presents!
 
Charlotte absolutely loved her gifts.  She got several baby dolls, a hand crocheted bear with a purse from Karen, and a lot of cute outfits, books, and toys. However, someone who also loves dolls was lurking in the background...
 
Yep, Sydney was eying up each baby and a little pocket puppy while Charlotte was distracted.  A Cabbage Patch baby might have been "borrowed" and declared to be Sydney's.  Luckily, Charlotte got several and really couldn't wait to play with her Little People RV. (Full disclosure: Syd also took the pocket puppy!)
Did you ever see a happier baby?  She seemed to know that the party was for her.  This was her day and she loved every minute of it.
 We almost (okay, we did) forget the piƱata.  I got saved from trying to make one by Oriental Trading Company's teacup one.  The kids had a blast breaking it open and feasting on the forbidden candy. 
The party was nearing it's end.  The balloons fell and the kids were STILL ready to play more.  It was soon Charlotte's nap time and the other ones went swimming. 
Ma and I as I try to gulp down more punch.  As we say every year, "This is the last big party..." However, we have three more birthdays this summer to celebrate.  These kids love to party!