Friday, August 31, 2012

ArtKive: the clutter free way to save and enjoy children's artwork!

ArtKive: a free app to 'archive' your 'artwork'

ArtKive is a free app that allows you to set up your account and add kids by name and grade level.  Then, you can add people to your account, if you choose to do so.  I added my two children: Jacob and Riley.  I added my husband and my mom to my account.  This way, I can easily share my kid's artwork with family.  I look forward to printing my kid's artwork into a coffee-table memory book!

Below is an exert from the DailyCandy... please check out their site by clicking here...

"Artkive, a new app for iPhones (the Android version launches in September), lets you store, share, and print your kid’s scribbles without a moment of “I can’t throw this away” guilt.

Simply snap a picture of the artwork and the app automatically tags each image with your child’s name, grade, and date created. Add a title or description and then share the gallery with other parental units or whomever you invite to your circle."

Here is how it works:

1.  Set up an account (your name, email, and password)
2.  Add a child (name and grade level)
3.  Create your share circle (add family and friends)
4.  Snap a picture of your child's artwork or upload from your photo album
5.  Tag which child the artwork belongs to
6.  That is it - the program will automatically time stamp your photos!
7.  You can view your artkive by selecting certain children's portfolios, too.

For classroom use, I think it would be a creative idea to add my students to my account.  I could snap photos of their projects throughout the year.  Then, at the end of the school year, I could print their work into a book so that I can have a yearbook of memories from their creations.

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*Thanks to DailyCandy for sharing this great, free app!*

Friday, August 24, 2012

Launching Writing Workshop: 25 Free #CCSS Lessons with Anchor Charts & Printables

25 Common Core Lessons to Launch your 2nd Grade Writer's Workshop

Fall is my favorite season for several reasons.  I love the smell of my pumpkin vanilla candles filling the air, the crisp nip in the air, and the anticipation of returning to school.  Though our students do not return until after Labor Day, my colleagues and I returned to school this week for professional development.

I was so excited to attend our grade level meeting yesterday because we had scheduled one of our favorite consultants to come and work with us to plan for writer's workshop.  Sandy Biondo is nothing short of amazing.  My team loves working with her because she has a wealth of knowledge and delivers it in such a practical way that we become so inspired and instantly start collaborating on ways to implement the units she and her team developed.  

Prior to posting these resources, I did ask Sandy if I had permission to share the lessons and resources.  She assured me that they were posted to a public site and were alright to share with other teachers.  

As my students progress through the units, I plan to post about each resource.  I'm starting with the Launching with Small Moments unit since that is where we will start with writer's workshop.  There are 25 lessons in this unit.  The unit also includes all companion resources and suggested mentor texts.  My blog posts often serve as bookmarks for my own teaching resources, so  I like to store information for myself as well.  I figure if it helps me, perhaps it could benefit someone else as well.  Therefore I'm sharing the widget I've created that contains the suggested mentor texts for this unit.

Suggested Mentor Texts for this Unit:
(there are some great stories here!)

Hint: *When I create widgets, my husband knows which books are on my wish list so that he can add them to our cart when the money is available.  I create widgets instead of simply placing the books on the Amazon wish list because when the books arrive, I like to refer to my organized widgets and determine what genre or unit I planned to use the book for.

Unit 1 Launching With Small Moments

Companion Resource Materials to Support the Lessons: anchor charts and printables

Unit 1 Launching With Small Moments Resources
Another way to access these free lessons and resources:

1.  click here to connect to Claco (where I bookmark all of my teaching resources - it's like Dropbox)
2.  hover over the image and a blue box will appear - click it to go to the website
3.  scroll all of the way down... you will see 2 paperclip icons: one on the left (contains the 25 lessons) and one on the right (contains the companion resources: anchor charts, printables, and more)

3 Units Coming Soon
Lifting the Level of Narrative Writing by Studying Craft, Revision, and Opinion

*Be sure to Follow this Blog to get Continuous Resources*


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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Back to School Tip: Win $ for Your Room from @MindMaple

MindMaple if offering Creative Teachers $250 from Amazon!

MindMaple is an awesome sponsor of Kleinspiration, and I'm happy to tell our readers that they're offering a great contest where the winner will receive a $250 gift card from Amazon!  Their software is very easy to use.  Plus, it's fun creating mind maps!  Please note, this contest ends in about one week, so if you haven't started mapping- it's time to map out a strategy of how to get it done.

I recently did a post on the MindMaple map my daughter, Riley, created on Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.  Riley will be in third grade in September.  Below, you can see the map she created.

Now, until September 1, you can submit a map of your own as an entry to win the contest.  The winner will be announced on September 3.  It's super easy to enter...

Enter to Win $250 for Amazon purchases from MindMaple:
click here to see the contest

1.  Sign up for MindMaple: click here for the free Lite version and here for the full version ($9.99)
2.  Make a MindMaple Mind Map of your Favorite Book (just like Riley did)
3.  Email your Map to:
4.  Like MindMaple on Facebook - click here

{click here and scroll down to see the last MindMaple winner}

Back to School Tech Tip: Safely Text Your Class with @Remind101

Ever wish you could send out a mass text to a group?

I started using remind101 when it first launched last year. I enjoy how simple and effective the site is to use.  A friend of mine also uses remind101 and states, "The impact it's had on my students turning in assignments and the amount of time it has saved me is incredible."
When I first started using remind 101, I immediately loved the platform and the thoughtfulness behind it.  The concept was beautiful in it's simplicity: A safe way for teachers to text message students and stay in touch with parents.  Easy to use, easy to manage, safe communication.  100% free.   All of the bugs were worked out - no real phone numbers flying around, everything was safe and easy to use. 

Since then, the developers have not rested on their laurels, continuing to develop new ways in which we can safely communicate with important groups.  This summer, remind 101 has launched their free app, which provides another avenue of communication for those ever-so-connected teachers, players, and parents.  They have also begun support for Canadian phone numbers. 

As the new school year begins and you meet parents for the first time, it's the perfect opportunity to discuss with them how they would like to receive communication from their student's class - and remind101 is a great way to make it happen.

remind101 App now available in iTunes
free. fast. safe. effective

I'm so excited to recommend this app to Kleinspiration friends because Brett, a personal friend, and his brother have worked so hard to get this little project ready for teachers.  I've been working alongside Brett before the app launched to test the features while the product was in beta - how fun!  I'm honored to have such innovative buddies in the Valley.  The app is a great tool and is a direct reflection of how in tune to their audience the team at remind101 is.  We asked for an app-and they gave it to us. 

remind101 Description: (per iTunes)

Remind101 provides a safe way for teachers to text message students and stay in touch with parents. It is 100% free and is used by over 200,000 teachers, students and parents to send millions of messages every month.

*Message your entire class of students or parents in seconds.
*Teachers never see students' phone numbers. Students never see theirs.
*Students and parents join by sending a text message. No computer needed.

*Revolutionized my approach to parent communication -Jessica D.
*Love it! Easy. Quick. Unique way of communicating with parents/students -Michael B.
*Communicating with a click from a mobile device is instant & saves me important teaching time! -Erin K.
*It has made a HUGE difference for many students in getting homework in on time -Craig N.
*Improved my students' morale, behavior, AND grades! -Catherine F.

*Unlimited students or parents
*Unlimited text messages
*100% free
*No ads, ever.
*NBC. NPR. Huffington Post. Edutopia. Edweek.
*K-12, higher ed, coaches, principals...
You can click here to see how other teachers are using remind101!

Sign up for Kleinspiration updates by following the steps below:

You can set up as many groups as you'd like.  This way, it makes sending group texts so simple!  Hmmmm.... perhaps I could set up a Kleinspiration group?  As I'm thinking out loud and writing at the same time, I think this might be a fun idea.  How cool would it be to get automatic updates as soon as I launch a give-away, freebie, or hear about a workshop that has limited seats?  

Yes, I can't wait to set this up for my class! 

First: sign up for a Free remind101 account: click here

Next: After you've signed up for an account, get the app!  

Then:  Check out remind101's Back-to-School Blog!

click play to view my short screencast on setting up an account
listen for bonus features in the video about freebies

Disclosure: remind101 is a contributing sponsor of Kleinspiration

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

From AOL Squatter to Start-Up Sensation: The Eric Simons Story & Claco Launch

a student's story through a teacher's eyes...
- Eric Simons: founder of ClassConnectInc & Claco

As I stare at my blank writing canvas, I contemplate where to begin with the remarkable story of such a talented and inspirational person.  Perhaps the beginning is as good of place as any to tell it best.

Eric Simons reached out to me via Twitter a little over a year ago.  This was the same time I was getting my own feet wet with blogging and social media.  At first, I ignored his direct message on Twitter to check out his new product.  However, a few days later, this persistent stranger sent me another message.  This time, he mentioned that he started his company when he was 19 years old.  Of course, this caught my attention. 

We spoke on the phone one July evening on 2011.  I found out he had just graduated high school, moved to California, and received funding from Imagine K12 to continue working on a company he started, ClassConnect.  As a mother, I kept wondering what his parents thought about his decision to put off college and pursue his dream of being an entrepreneur half way across the country.  We set up a date to Skype to continue the conversation.

I knew after our first Skype conversation in early August of 2011 that not only would Eric and I form a relationship over social media, but we would become great friends.  I also knew that his parents must be very proud of the courage their child possessed to take such risks and follow his dreams.

I was drawn to his extreme enthusiasm for creating something bigger than he understood.  I was honored because he valued my ideas.  I was interested in his story and wanted to know more.  We continued to touch base weekly by Skype, text messaging, phone calls, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

August 11, 2011: Our first Skype conversation

After searching the archives of our Twitter conversations, I found it interesting that I was just out to visit the team in Palo Alto, CA during the exact time in which Eric and I first formed a friendship - one year ago exactly.  Eric didn't start ClassConnect a year ago.  His story dates back to his high school years.

August 2012 - visiting the team in Palo Alto, CA
Visiting Facebook: Erin Klein & Jack Hanford 2012
 For the rest of my photos, you can follow me on Instagram:

Eric is an adventure seeking - risk taking - full of life with a love of learning kind of guy!

Stop Reducing Education to Employable Skills
- Shift towards a Creative Talent Oriented Education  - Yong Zhao

Eric explains...
As a student I was your worst nightmare.
I couldn’t stay focused in school, I wasn’t interested in homework, and I wasn’t motivated by grades.

This dismayed my parents and frustrated my teachers. Then, during my junior year of high school, my chemistry teacher pulled me aside and asked the question that changed the focus of my life: "What would make you interested in learning what I’m teaching?" I was stumped. She didn't ask me to try harder, she didn’t ask me to stay after for help or study more - she asked me to figure out how she could grab my interest. No one had ever bothered to ask me that before. A few moments later I replied, "let’s get everyone working together on computers – I'll even build the software for us to use".

I'm reminded of the words Yong Zhao uses to describe entrepreneurs, "black collar workers - inspired by Steve Jobs." He defines entrepreneurs as people who are unhappy with the current situation and choose to change it.  Zhao explains that these people don't wait for someone to create a job for them, they create the job for them self.  This is precisely what Simons was doing in California.

Do we teach our kids to fish or do we give them the fish?

- no one ever said to get me a coach in what I'm good at but to get me a tutor in what I suck at
Cameron Herold

Meeting Pat Simons
- the young entrepreneur's mom - 

I recently had the pleasure of spending nearly a week in California with the ClassConnect team, including Eric's mom, Pat.  The first night I arrived, Pat and I stayed up for hours talking.  She described Eric as a child who was interested in learning everything about the world he was growing up in, except what he was supposed to be learning in school.

This was perplexing.  Doesn't school teach you about the world you're growing up in and prepare you to be successful within it?  Sadly, Eric had a different experience.  While he aspired to create, produce, and connect, he struggled with standardized testing in a traditional learning environment.

I am fortunate enough to work in an environment where I'm not bound by standards and test scores.  I focus on the individual learner and support the strength's that child possesses.  As a community of learners, we grow from each others knowledge, experiences, questions, and creativity.

Yong Zhao describes a classroom culture where the curriculum follows the child.  The curriculum develops the strength of the child as it is personalized and strength based.  He states that school shouldn't be about fixing student's deficits but rather enhancing their strengths.  Zhao explains that this happens beyond our walls because the globe is our campus.  I couldn't agree more. 

Claco offers a space for teachers to create and share curriculum across the globe.  Eric's dream is for teachers to network together to find the best possible resources for each specific student.  Imagine if we shift the educational focus from fixing deficits and move towards enhancing strengths.  How much more creative potential and confidence would children share with the world?

From ClassConnect to Claco
- the AOL Squatter turned Start-Up Superstar - 

Eric launched ClassConnect and received an overwhelming positive response from teachers around the globe. Nearly every popular #edtech blog on the web from Hack Education and Edudemic to FreeTech4Teachers and Web20Classroom was sharing his product with their readers. 

Though Simons was receiving popularity among the education crowd, it was living out of the AOL headquarters building that gained him international notoriety.   Eric received funding, hired a team, found a home, and went to work on improving ClassConnect.  Eric never gave up, and against all odds, his entrepreneurial spirit continues to propel his success.  Today, he is launching Claco!

Eric's attitude is to be admired.  He states...

If you were to invest in a company, would you invest in someone that closed up shop and went home or would you invest in a person that against all odds figured out a way to pull everything together when everything was literally stacked against them? 

Simons Launches Private Beta for Claco
- a beautiful, clean platform to make the best lessons open for all - 

“It was pretty shocking to find out that it wasn’t that I didn’t like school,” Simons says, “I just didn’t like the way they were delivering content. It was boring.” (source)

Claco is a free community for great teaches to collaboratively generate content and share it with the world.  Simons is opening Claco to private beta invites.  His goal is to get quality content on the site to start before he opens it to the public.  I admire Eric's patience with rolling out his new site.  It takes a great deal of restraint not to open the site to everyone.  I know he is anxious to receive feedback and share his work with all teachers, but he's able to recognize the downfall in doing so right now.  The product must be built to it's fullest potential at the highest quality before it can grow legs and expand.   

Tell me & I forget. Teach me & I remember. Involve me & I learn.

 - Benjamin Franklin -


 Do your students believe they can achieve anything? 

Each member of the Claco team shares these characteristics.  It was such a refreshing trip to visit these young and passionate people.  We shared many laughs together over the delicious lunches and dinners that Eric's mom would make.  Their commitment to their work was admirable. 

Being on eastern time, I was typically up first.  I'd walk down town to grab a coffee.  By the time I would return, Matt (one of the coders) would already be back from his quick jog and working on his computer.  Eric and Albert were usually up next, heading straight to their computers.  Jordan, their social media manager, would arrive not much later.  She and Jack (her social media partner) would get to work, too.  The team would only take a break to run a quick lap around the block to wake up or to eat.

They each put in about 18 hour days.  Interestingly enough, they each consider themselves 'average' students in school.  However, as a teacher, the work I witnessed was anything other than average.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Blog Hop: Back to School Product Premiere

Back to School Product Premiere
Great teachers are coming together to share our favorite products that we have created. 
This graphic organization packet contains twenty-one different templates that can be used across grade levels and across content areas.

The templates include the following strategies: asking questions, making predictions, main idea and detail, making connections, cause and effect, sensory detail, making inferences, fact and opinion, fantasy and reality, fiction and non-fiction, problem and solution, sequence of events, story elements, story mapping, venn diagrams, main and supporting characters, using transitional words, character traits, and vocabulary.  Feel free to add this item along with many other great items you find on the Blog Hop to your cart!

{click here to follow me & visit my store}

Thanks to Christina for setting this Blog Hop up for Back to School!

Bunting Books and Bainbridge

Thursday, August 9, 2012

WordFoto: a picture is worth a thousand words!

meaningful words for meaningful moments

WordFoto is an app that allows you to take a picture and select words to become part of your photo.  I paid $1.99 for this app and quickly practiced how it worked by selecting two images from my camera roll.  A closer look at the photograph of Jacob would reveal that the words cute, sleepy, tired, and rested cover the image.  After doing this WordFoto, I started thinking how this could be used in the classroom.

Reading Workshop

As a teacher, I could have students snap a photo of an image and choose adjectives to describe their picture.  I could also have them take an action shot and select verbs to describe the photo.  During reading, students could draw a picture of a character they're reading about and use traits to describe the person or animal.  

You can see Riley's WordFoto below this paragraph.  She drew a picture of her favorite character, Merida, from the recent Pixar film, Brave.  She thought of words to describe Merida and used them to create this image.  As a teacher, I could allow her to use this as a scaffold to her writing and even conference with her to think of additional characteristics.  Together we might think to add traits such as being determined to describe Merida.  It also allows me to check her thinking.  Perhaps I'd ask her to explain how this character was forgiving since she chose to include this word in her image.  I also think these images would make a great cover for a project, addition to a portfolio, or work of art to display.

 2nd grade ex. using WordFoto to describe a character
Writing Workshop

I thought it might be a good idea to incorporate this into writing workshop.  During our personal narrative unit, students could take pictures of their face, hands, and feet to describe in detail what each part is doing or expressing.  For example, a student could snap a photograph of his or her hand and choose words such as reach, stretch, grasp, tingle, and squeeze to describe potential actions the hand may be doing (ie: As my hands tightly grasped the handlebars, my knuckles began to tingle and turn white).  This could help to cement a visual for young writers to include detailed actions that help paint a picture for their reader. 

During math, students could take photographs of geometric shapes and describe the attributes with carefully selected words.  There are several uses for this app - what are some creative ways you've thought to use this with your students?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

@Remind101 has improved features & now supports numbers for Canada!

remind101 - always improving communication to keep you connected

Remind101 is a free service teachers can sign up for to safely communicate via text messaging with their students and their student's parents.  It's free to sign up, simple to use, and effective when sending brief messages.  Yes, there is an app for that!  Currently, the app is available on iOS.

{click here to download the free app}

Remind101 has great new features coming soon.  They just announced that they now support Canada numbers.   Additionally, they are launching an Android app.

I'm always impressed by the creative ways users are taking advantage of this tool.  Terri Street just shared an amazing story using remind101 to remind students when preparing for their trip to Rome.  Terri also kept in contact with parents as children boarded the flight and toured the city.

{click here to check out the blog for more great stories}

Sign up for your free account today ~ click here!

Disclaimer: remind101 is a sponsor of Kleinspiration

Give-Away: @SteveReifman launches 2 new books to help start your year off just right!

Begin your new school year by incorporating the valuable strategies and suggestions found in these two straight-forward, user-friendly resources.

1) The First 10 Minutes: A Classroom Morning Routine that Reaches and Teaches the Whole Child

The First 10 MinutesA consistent, effective morning routine sets the tone for the upcoming school day and prepares students for high quality learning. In this book Steve describes a three-part routine that reaches and teaches the whole child.
Part 1 introduces the morning check-in, an activity that addresses the affective domain by building a sense of inclusion and mutual caring, strengthening teamwork, increasing class bonding, and helping each child feel acknowledged and valued.
Part 2 features three types of class discussions that focus on moral and character development and emphasize strong work habits and social skills. The goals of these brief conversations are to inspire children to maximize their amazing potential, build a sense of purpose, and increase student motivation to learn and succeed.
Part 3 adds a physical component to this routine that both energizes and de-stresses children to help them achieve an ideal mindset for academic learning. After completing this warm-up routine, students will be calm, relaxed, focused, and confident.
(23 pages)

2) The First 30 Days: Start Your School Year With Four Priorities in Mind

The First 30 DaysGiving the following priorities the time and emphasis they deserve in the beginning of each school year pays big dividends for you, your students, and their families. In this book Steve brings these priorities to life with a wide variety of activities, strategies, suggestions, and sample pages.

  1. Establish procedures, routines, and expectations so students know how to function efficiently and effectively in your classroom. Keep this training period going until performing these routines and procedures becomes second nature for students. Generally, 4-6 weeks will be sufficient.
  2. Build a cooperative classroom culture through icebreaking and team-building activities so students feel safe and comfortable and see one another as friends and assets, not rivals.
  3. Establish a sense of purpose in your class so students understand why it is important to come to school each day and work hard. Children who understand the many purposes of their learning will behave better, work with greater motivation and enthusiasm, and find greater meaning in their work.
  4. Communicate with your students’ families about the new year. Build a sense of excitement, optimism, and possibility as you share your plans for the coming months. Be proactive. Doing so gives you the opportunity to package your ideas and articulate them in the best possible light. Proactivity increases your credibility, strengthens your voice, and reaffirms your position of leadership.
(40 pages)
Steve is hosting a give-away to contribute 5 copies of each book to Kleinspiration readers.  
Thus, I will select 5 separate winners to WIN both books!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Back to School Cyber Search Give-Away!

 Free Teacher Materials for Back to School

Are you getting ready to head back to school (or perhaps you've already started)?  Well, I've teamed up with eleven other fabulous bloggers to make your life a little easier.  Each of us will be offering you one of our resources for FREE on Saturday, August 11th!  You'll be able to use these resources during your first month back to school - and we all know we can use all the help we can get during the "busy season".

The total package is worth over $40, and you won't have to enter any drawings or wait to see who wins, because everyone  will be a winner!

I'm contributing my Graphic Organizer Pack.  This graphic organization packet contains twenty-one different templates that can be used across grade levels and across content areas.

First, Second, Sixth, Seventh -

The templates include the following strategies: asking questions, making predictions, main idea and detail, making connections, cause and effect, sensory detail, making inferences, fact and opinion, fantasy and reality, fiction and non-fiction, problem and solution, sequence of events, story elements, story mapping, venn diagrams, main and supporting characters, using transitional words, character traits, and vocabulary. 

Sign Up for a Reminder!

To be sure you don't miss this event, sign up for Candler's Classroom Connections, Laura Candler's free email newsletter, and you'll receive an announcement on Saturday morning reminding to download your free gifts. I'll also be announcing another special back-to-school offer to help you get your school year off to a terrific start!

Please help us spread the word about this special event. Pin this blog post on your favorite Pinterest boards, and email a link to this page to your friends. Most of all don't forget to sign up for Laura's newsletter and to return to this page on Saturday to begin your search for your free gifts! 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mars Rover: News for Kids!

Big News for Monday Morning!

I was up far too late last night eagerly sifting through the prolific Tweets of my friend, Amanda, a sixth grade teacher, who was fortunate enough to be at the NASA social for the Curiosity Mars rover landing at JPL in Pasadena.  As if being there for this historical moment wasn't good enough, she was able to connect with some truly amazing people...

My two children, Riley and Jacob, were quite curious and had many questions about space exploration and what was happening.  I shared the 7 Minutes of Terror video with them:

Followed by the"Call Me Maybe" Mashup:

Amanda even shared a set of Bingo cards you could use with your class:

click the BINGO image to access the freebie

Mars Education Program put together a free 131 page activity book:

click the image to access the freebie

{click here for the JPL Mars for Educators site}

Here are a few more sites to satisfy your space curiosity:

{click here to make your own kid's crafty Mars rover}


{click here to visit Amanda's site to read about her NASA Social adventure}


{click here to follow my Science board on Pinterest}